Grande Arche de La Defense, Paris
At my first visit, I di not see this, so I wanted to see it now. When standing under it I knew I wont go all the way up. I don´t like high places, and espesially when it has so much empty space under. But I think the place was worth seeing anyway.
For some reason, we had missed info it being at Defense area, so it took a while to understand with RER to take there, it was A-line.
There is a big thumb close to it. ;) I don´t know if it´s only art, or is it with some reason, but funny anyway.
One Finnish band has a song about man whose job is cleaning windows, and how there is so many windows that you need to start from begining again when you have cleaned the last one. It kept playing in my head when I saw all the windows. ;)
This is of course the building you cannot miss in La Défense! Coming from the lower metro station you have it in Front of you, 500 m away, and you walk to it looking around at statues, buildings, perspectives, and slowly approach, approach and notice how it grows in the sky.
This hollow cube has been designed by Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen and structural engineer Erik Reitzel, who won the tender emitted by French government, under President Mitterand; the purpose was to extend the “historical axis” of Paris, going on one straight line from Louvre Palace to the Concorde Obelisk, the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, and now very far, the Head of Defense. The Grande Arche has been inaugurated in July 1989, bicentennial of the French Revolution.
The website below gives lots of information (tabs are in French!) about the building, technical details, and more little stories, like the fact Notre Dame Cathedral could fit in the hollow of the cube.
Nice is to make a visit on the roof from where you can have a great view over Paris and the western suburbs, using the fast panoramic lifts. There are three ways to get up, in fact:
1) pay the fare for the lift: 10 Euros, and you can go to the roof museum and go on the roof.
2) Make a reservation at the roof restaurant “ô 110”, and you can use the lift free. The menu of the restaurant looks good, but expensive.
3) Tell the lift attendant you made a reservation at the restaurant with a big smile. . . use the lift free, and don’t go to the restaurant. . . . . :) I had no problem last time (Sept 2008, bad weather day), with another VT-er, but there may be checks upstairs. . . . take risk. . . . . :)))
I like this big cube with simple and perfect shapes, at day or night, from far or from close. . . . . This monument, hosting mainly government offices has character.
During day time there are lots of ways to look at the Grande Arche, like for example from the Agam Fountain (picture 1), see it from under Calder’s Spider (picture 2), or in Spring with Cherry blossoms (picture 3). I love it a lot at night, lit by bright lights, and hidden behind the water plays of the Agam fountain, in rhythm with classical music (picture 4), or when it appears so brightly in the dark blue sky (picture 5), displaying a sort of a crystalline shape. . . .
This was one of the places I had not visited until this some what dull and slightly wet day in October. Le toit de la Grande Arche was an interesting place to visit with both metro and rail stations located in close proximity. No surprise as it is located in the main (big) business district of the city.
In 1982, an open competition was launched and 424 design proposals were received and presented to the jury. The winning design was from unknown Danish designers, Johann Otto van Spreckelsen (Architect) and Erik Reitzel (Engineer).
It was inaugurated on 14 July 1989 on the occasion of the bicentenary of the French Revolution; during the 15th G7 summit that was meeting in Paris at the time. The Grande Arche opened to the public on 26 August 1989.
Some design facts:
• The Grande Arche is a hollow cube with sides which are 110m long
• It weighs some 300,000 tonnes.
• It is covered in Carrara marble and glass
• The panoramic lifts travel the 110m in 66 seconds
• Commercial enterprises occupy the north and south walls of the cube
• The structure is anti seismic, as it rests on 12 pillars
There is a charge to visit the Arche, but the views from the top are excellent – and of course you can visit the galleries and the Computer Museum at the top. There is also a quite exclusive restaurant open during the week only.
Located in the la Defense business district, this 119 meter high arch was built in 1989 as a "20th century Arc de Triomphe", to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Grand Arch is situated so it directly faces the Arc of Triumph. The Defense business district is a modern marvel and really is worth seeing, a stunning 180 degree perspective from old Paris.
We took #1 Metro line La Defense late one afternoon. La Defense reminds me of what Walt Disney had in mind when he talked about the experimental prototype community of tomorrow. The center piece of La Defense is the Grand Arch. The two sides of the arch are office towers, with an art gallery and observation deck across the top. What looks like scaffolding going up in the center, is actually the rails that the circular glass elevators run on to take visitors to the top of the arch. It is quite a ride; one man on our assent got in, shut his eyes and asked the operator to let him know when we were at the top. You won’t want to close your eyes the view is breathtaking. The view from the observation gallery back down the Champs Elysees is incredible. If the conditions are perfect you can stand at the top of the Grand Arch at La Defense and look straight down the Champs Elysees to the Louvre. The ultra modern buildings of La Defense frame the view of the historic city of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe clearly marks the beginning of the shopping district that stretches down the Champs Elysees to the obelisk at Place de la Concorde and the modern Farris Wheel that marks the gateway to the Tuileries. The view stretchs for miles in front of you, with the lights of the cars creating a blur of light as far as the eye can see. Take your binoculars with you and enjoy the view.
People don't seem to include La Defense in their itinerary when they come to Paris which is a real shame.
There are some great building at La Defense and wonderful architecture.
The view from La Grande Arche is amazing, you can see as far as the Arch de Triomphe on a clear day.
Designed as the architectural centerpiece of the sprawling satellite suburb of La Défense, this massive steel-and-masonry arch rises 35 stories (it's tall enough to shelter Notre-Dame beneath). The arch is ringed with a circular avenue patterned after the one around the Arc de Triomphe. It extends the straight line linking the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, avenue de la Grande Armée, and place du Porte Maillot. . An elevator carries you up to an observation platform, where you get a view of the carefully planned geometry of the surrounding streets. This all seems really impressive until you see the nets rigged up along the arch - bits started falling off so they were put in place to capture the bits (keeping unsuspecting tourists safe?)
It's open from 10am to 6pm each day and it'll cost you 7.50€ to go inside and ride to the top.
Although very modern, La Grande Arche in La Defense cannot be other then impressive.
The construction to this immense arch began in 1955 and is still developing.
Made of glass and white Carrara marble the arch is actually a huge cube (110m) in which the Notre-Dame Cathedral can fit easily.
The arch is housing offices of French government and international companies, but also galleries, a library and a restaurant.
From the top terrace a magnificent view of Paris can be admired.
After the construction of La Défense the people of Paris complained about the large amount of high, concrete buildings and wanted to have a nicer sight from the top of the Arc the Troimphe. From here you can see La Défense very good. The former president Mitterand thought out the solution. He wanted a 20th century Arc de Triomphe as a gateway to La Défense. The idea of a Grande Arche was born.
The Danish designer Otto van Spreckelsen drew a cube-shaped arch with a height of 106 meters. The vertical parts of the arch contain offices. The top floor is a exhibition area, that is accesible by a glass lift. At the top you have a nice view over La Défense and at the centre, that is 4 km´s away.
The Grande Arche is the third Arch in the line, starting in the centre of the Louvre with the Arc de Triomphe du Carroussel, going all the way over the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe and then over the Rue de la Grande Armée all the way towards La Défense. A straight line of more then 7 kilometres.
If you intended to go go to La Défense, if you like modern architecture, don't bother paying to go to the top of the Arch, as this is a business area with high towers which really block the view to paris, so not interesting to pay and only see the Arch of Triumph from up there, and nothing else...
The Grande Arche, completed in 1989, is the most striking structure in la Defense. You cannot miss this new landmark ! The cube-like Grande Arche measures 110M along each side. The Notre Dame fits in its open central part.
The Grande Arche, designed by the Danish architect von Sprekelsen, is made of granite, marble and a lot of glass all around. It houses all kind of business and governmental offices. At the inside of the structure you can see the transparent elevators. You can go up to the 35th floor. I will do this the next time.
This is the more modern adaptation of the Arche de Triumphe and is in alignment with the previous. It was designed to commend those who fought in war after World War II. I apologize for the quality of the picture, but it is due to the primitive ability of my scanner. Still, I hope you get the scope and majesty of how Paris provides such wide, beautiful pedestrian venues where real estate values must be astronomical Still, it is a good investment as Paris is a unique city of destination and your views are reimbursed by the cost!
Six kilometres out from the Arc de Triomphe at the far end of the Voie Triomphale, has put La Défense high on the list of places to which Paris visitors must pay homage. Created by a Danish architect, Johan-Otto von Spreckelson who won a competition called by the President Mitterrand, this hollowed-out cube, weighing 300,000 tons, 110m high and 70 meters wide (The whole of Notre-Dame cathedral would fit in its frame), was entitled "La Grande Arche". This monument, dedicated to Fraternity, is built of concrete with a facing of Carrara marble and grey granite. On the esplanade are works by Takis, fountains, luminous signals and statues by Mirò. Various ministries have their offices in the massive supporting pillars, the human rights commission (Fondation des Droits de l'Homme) and major corporations have their office there. The Arche also includes a large exhibition hall.
Seated up above on the terrace one can admire the impeccable success of its perspective, whose lines can be followed to the Arc de Triomphe, along the Champs-Élysées to the obelisk on Place de la Concorde, over the Tuileries gardens to the Louvre's Cour Carrée, assuming that the weather is clear and the air free of polluting fumes.
On our last visit in June, 2004 we had taken Mick’s daughters with us.
Having seen many of the more traditional buildings, Keri asked to see the Grande Arche.
We probably wouldn’t have gone there had we been on our own but are glad we did.
This Arch is huge! And stands in a parallel line down the Champs-Elysees with the Arch D'Triomphe, The Place de la Concorde and the Louve.
This area is very different from the rest of Paris. Very Modern Well worth a visit.
I’ve also put 2 other sections to this tip because as you turn around from the arch
There are some very interesting buildings…..See football crazy.
as you get off at the La Defense, you will see why i say, it's huge...
my suggestion will be to take a walk, from the Esplanade de La Defense (M1 line, 1 stop before La Defense), you will be amused at the buildings, and of course, the big cube. this area has a lot of contemporary statues, and settings, it's worth the walk.
if you can, start after it's dark, or go when the sun shines :) it's not that astonishing, if it rains :)
NOTE: La Defense is Zone 3, which means, that if you have a Carte Oragne for Zone 1-2, or a simple ticket, you should buy a special ticket for the journey (basically it's only true for the RER).
- if you travel to the Esplanade de La Defense, that's Zone 2, so a normal ticket is ok
- if you take line M1, to La Defense, you can go out without having to buy a complementary ticket (I usually do this)
check out my Travel tips for Paris, for more information about the Zones and the Carte Orange