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Arènes de Lutèce
Arenas of Lutetia
Along with the Gallo-Roman Baths at the Musée National du Moyen-Age in the Hôtel Cluny, the or Arenas of Lutetia are among the oldest tourist attractions in Paris.
The Roman amphitheatre, which dates back to the 1st Century A.D., was once the site of Gladiator-style combat and other Roman entertainments, with seating for an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 spectators and animal cages beneath the stands.
After the fall of Lutetia in 280 A.D., the amphitheatre became a ruin and eventually was filled in as medieval Paris grew.
In the 1860s, the arena was discovered during excavation for the Rue Monge (now a major thoroughfare in the 5th arrondissement), and the dug-up ruins were turned into a public square in 1896.
Today, the Arènes de Lutèce form the core of a public park that neighborhood residents use for boules, bouncing footballs off the apartment buildings behind the arena, and other urban recreation.
When and how to visit:
The park is open daily from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. during winter and until 9 p.m. in summer. Admission is free.
Of the three entrances, the easiest one to find is at 47 rue Monge, where an arched passageway leads from the sidewalk. (See photo below.)
If you're coming by Métro, the nearest stops are Cardinal Lemoine (Line 10), Jussieu (Lines 7 and 10), and Place Monge (Line 7).
The Arènes de Lutèce are hidden from the street by apartment houses and park walls.
Iron bars cover cages that once held wild animals or gladiators.
A passageway at 47 rue Monge is one of three entrances to the amphitheatre, which is now a city park.
Top photo copyright © Paris Tourist Office. Photographer: Marc Bertrand.
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