At the corner of the Champs-Elysée and the Louvre, the Luxor Obelisk is one of the must-see monuments of Paris. Foreign tourists may know it already thanks to movies such as The Devil wears Prada where the characters often shot by night, generally in a luxury car. A decorum that became a symbol of Parisian chic and elegance and yet it has a story.
On the origin, it’s one of the obelisk of the Luxor temple in Egypt, dating back to the 19th dynasty and ordered by Ramses II. The obelisk is made of syenite, a magmatic rock and measures 75.45ft and weighs 253 ton us. It’s covered in hieroglyphs including Ramses II’s cartouche where the king donates to god Amun-Re. The top is made of a 11.81 ft high pyramidion made of bronze and covered in gold leaves.
It’s in 1836 that the monument joins the Place de la Concorde. It’s a gift given by Egypt vice-King, Mehemet Ali, to France as a token of good friendship, with the agreement of Jean-François Champollion. Two obelisks have been given, but only one is taken off and transported to France. In exchange, Louis-Philippe I gives in 1845 a copper clock that is now decorating the Cairo citadel. The second obelisk actually never left Egypt and has been officially given back by François Mitterrand during his first seven-year term.
Today, the Obelisk proudly rules the Place de la Concorde, just in front of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre and its pyramid as a reminder to its origin. It’s also facing the Eglise de la Madeleine, the Champs-Elysées and the Palais Bourbon and makes the happiness of photographers and tourists.
Good to know: according to Egyptians, the clock given in exchange to the obelisk has never worked. This is what Cairo inhabitants haven been saying, the clock may have been damaged during the shipping.
Place de la concorde
Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris 8