The forgotten triumphal elephant

Very little remains of the work of 18th century French architect Charles Ribart. That is sad, considering that in an age when the fashion was for grandeur, he was an architect with a sense of fun.

Sometime in 1758, Ribart planned an extraordinary addition to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, to be constructed where the Arc de Triomphe now stands.


It was a jaw-dropping building consisting of three levels, and had the shape of an elephant, with entry via a special spiral staircase in the underbelly.

The building was to have a form of air conditioning, and furniture that folded into the walls. Furthermore, a drainage system was to be incorporated into the elephant’s trunk.

Sounds fascinating, right? Well, the French Government did not find the idea amusing and turned down Ribart’s proposal .

Napoleon would later conceive a similar construction, the Elephant of the Bastille.


What if the Government had given Ribart the nod? What if he actually managed to pull it off? What if the supposedly magnificent structure was still standing today?

You can only imagine.

Featured image source: Victoria and Albert Museum



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