La Défense, Paris
The trip to the "island" of La Defense is several kilometers long, and somewhat boring. The monotony is broken in Porte Maillot with an ugly but simultaneously appealing building.
A simulated odd door brakes a blind and flat facade, giving some expression to the whole.
After the long minutes browsing your guides to discover what the hell is that pavilion, you will be arriving to La Defense or Étoile, which means back to tourism.
The Arch at La Defense is on a straight line with L'Arc du Triomphe and The Carrousel Arch in front of the Louvre. It is one of Francois Mitterand's "Grand Projets." Access is as simple as taking Metro Line 1 to either La Defense, or if you want the experience of walking towards the Arch, get off at Esplanade de La Defense. The name refers to the office-park and surrounding areas, but most people mean the arch when they say La Defense.
Frenchmen as usually surprise all the world with the original understanding of architectural decisions. First all the world was surprised with singularity of Tour d'Eiffel, including its ugly impregnation in a landscape of Paris. Later the world was surprised with ugliness of the center of Pompidou. Precisely also it seems surprisingly inharmonious the decision of construction of area Defens with its skyscrapers. Perhaps, after a while we shall get used and we shall admire with its beauty?
You can watch my 2 min 27 sec Video Paris La Défense out of my Youtube channel.
Developed in the 1960's as a business district, la Défense came back to light after the construction of la Grande Arche in 1990. La Défense is officially located outside the city of Paris and completes the axis that runs from le Louvre and through l'Arc de Triomphe. Ambitious building projects continue to be built in what has become one of Europe's biggest business districts. Apart from la Grande Arche, the stunning Mitterand-era cube, there is little for tourists to see, as most of the district is dedicated to businesses.
I was nearly not going to go to la Defense but so glad I did in the end. The architecture here is stunning - tower blocks to the sky each with their own character. The artwork inside the Grande Arche is weird to say the least but the view from the top is incredible. Definitely worth the metro trip!
The French seem to have a passionate need to put a piece of art in any open space that they come across.
the business district of La Defense is no exception, with the main concourse between the Esplanade metro station and the Grande Arch proving to be a perfect setting for the deranged outpourings of an array of modern artists.
The Miro of two giant humanoid type figures (well if you have a warped mind , perhaps) is perhaps the most important, but there are plenty of others which may take your fancy. I especially like the group of figures around the Esplanade station, that also has a couple more casting a rather weird eye of you as you enter the Line 1 platform heading towards the centre. I also liked the pond in the same area which affords a great view along the main 'axis' of Paris, through the Arc d'triomphe to the Lourve in the distance.
Nearer the arch you will find a more traditional scuplutre that shows the manning of a the barricades in the real 'defense' of the city in the Franco Prussian war. It is this statue that has given the are it's name when it began to take shape in the 1960's. At least the sixties architecture is stuck out here, rather than along the Champs-elysee as Le Corbusier had envisaged.
Where the Louvre is the place to be in Paris if you love old art, La Defense is the same for modern art-lovers. Both modern architecture and modern art visible here. This tip is about some beautiful pieces of art in the centre of La Defense:
One of the most colourful pieces of art is definitely the fantasy-sculptures of Joan Miro, at the central square in from of the Grande Arche. The red-blue-yellow-white and black shapes suggest that only childish fantasy can bring life into a concrete desert like La Defense.
A bit further to the centre of Paris, away from the Grande Arche, you?ll find a wonderful fountain made by Yaacov Agam. It?s very colourful, and if there is water inside, it moves to the rhythm of music.
There also is a steel construction called Stabile l?Araignee, made by the American artist Calder. It?s a huge red, heavy construction that indicates that there is still contact with the earth, although all the high building only move away from the earth. The bows in this construction show the bond with Mother earth.
And then, at the beginning of La Defense, all the way to the centre, and at the end, behind the Grande Arche, there are two identical pieces of art: two ponds with lots of metal pillar with flashlights attached. It shows the ends of the peaceful, traffic-free area of La Defense, and the beginning of the loud world of heavy traffic, airports and metro-stations. The water under the pillars shows the peacefulness of La Defense.
Came across this quite impressive 'coffee table' type book recently. Paris, despite being one of the finest looking cities in the world has always had a reputation of embracing the 'new'. After all, it's most famous structure was years ahead of it's time when it was erected.
This book vistis the obvious modern choices of Grand Projets like the Grande Arch at La Defence, Mitterrand's Library and the silly pyramids at the Lourve, but also looks at some of the more out of the way places. A fascinating insight.
Lots of people probably won´t even see this statue, but for me it was big fun. Walking from the Grande Arche towards metrostation Esplanade de la Défense (line 1), I was amazed by this wonderful statue of Mister Frog.
I´m a big frog lover, even though they are made out of bronze and 2 metres high. This one even has a tiny little frog in its mouth too.
Haha, just loved it :D
When I was in Paris, my house was near La Defénse and on my first day I went there for a brief visit.
It's a modern place, different from the "classic Paris" but I think it's interesting and the gorgeous open-spaces are very good to rest or walk around.
Curiosity: L' Arc du Triomphe and L'Arc de La Defénse are clearly alligned.
This is the ultra modern skyscraper district in the west of Paris and headquarters to many of Frances biggest companies. However the most famous thing there is the Grande Arche de la Defense which is a huge hollow cube of white marble. Its the westernmost point of the Paris' Grand Axis/Voie Triomphale which stretches through the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre. All the monuments - inlcuding the Pyramide at the Louvre and the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde - sit in a straight line with each other.
It's great to leave Paris as we all know it and find yourself in the middle of the modern buildings. And La Grande Arche is magnificent and worth seeing. Stand in the middle of the Grand Arch and take a look towards Louvre - You will see Arc de Triumphe, Champs Elysee, Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Gardens and Louvre standing in the same axis.
La defense - La grande Arche
Large office block at la Défense near Paris, shaped like a square archway. From the centre of Paris, you can take the subway (line 1) to la Défense.
GRANDE ARCHE DE LA DEFENSE
A NICE MONUMENT THAT YOU CAN ACCESS
TO THE TOP WITH PANORAMIC ELEVATORS,
VIEW FROM 110 METERS
OPEN FROM 9:30 AM TO 8:00 PM
price 46 FF -
33 01 49 07 2757- 1 PARVIS DE LA DEFENSE
As already stated at the beginning of this page. The new neighborhood 'La Defence' with it's huge officeblocks and the 'Grande Arch'. A very different kind of Paris then the classical buildings in the (old) centre. Nice is that the whole centre of the district is pedestrian zone, which results in a very quiet and clean area. Roads, as well as parkinghouses, metro, are subterranean.