The most western point of my trip to Paris is a visit to the biggest business district in Europe called La Défense. It is outside of central Paris, but easily reached by the metro. It's a place that attracted me for its abstract appearance. Clean large office buildings, lots of statues and modern art, and then there is of course this relatively new huge landmark: La Grande Arche!
La Grande Arche marks the end of the "Axe historique" that I mentioned a bit earlier on in my tips. The Axe Historique (or also known as the "grand historic axis", "Voie Triomphale" or "Triumphal Way") is an amazing nine-kilometre long linear route which dominates central and western Paris. This route is consists some of Paris' most famous landmarks like the Louvre with its Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe and ends up right her at La Défense with its Grande Arche.
The day was grey, the sun had disappeared and the clouds and an occassional drizzle of rain had taken over. This was not the day and not the weather to visit La Défense. The large office buildings were like huge chameleons, taking on the grey boring colour of the clouds. The sharp contrast between the blue sky and the glittering modern architecture was missing. La Défense was missing the sparkle I had hoped for. My camera clicked, but without a smile. It could have been so good, now it was just one big disappointment. La Défense is not the easiest attraction (if you can call it that) in Paris to enjoy. It does need the sun to shine! And you do have to love your modern art and architecture to enjoy this place.
Although I'm not a big fan of modern architecture, I have to admit that I really liked La Defense.
In a huge contrast to the old historical part of Paris, I had the impression of being in another world, in other time. Or better in Besson's "The 5th element"...
Wearing the name of a monument commemorating the defense of Paris of 1871, La Defense is divided in 11 zones, with business offices, parks, sport facilities, a botanical garden and an open-air gallery.
La Defense is new and modern part of Paris. It is also business district of the city. La Défense is named after the statue, La Défense de Paris, which was built in 1883 to commemorate the soldiers who had defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
There you can see Grande Arche 100 metre high and other tallest and modern buildings.
If you don’t afraid of high go up on the top to see the amazing view.
So why I hear you say, am I suggesting you go and visit a business district in Paris?
The best answer I can give is that it is like a modern open air museum. The architecture of the buildings is absolutely stunning. They are intermingled with sculptures. And to cap it all off, a new Arche was built in 1989 "La Grande Arche". If you like architecture, you have to come here.
The picture shows La Grande Arche on the right hand side and a sculpture by the famous Spanish (or Catalan - a region in Spain) artist Jean Miro. If you like his art, he has a very impressive foundation in Barcelona (Spain), which although I am not a particularly arty person, I thoroughly enjoyed.
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.
Les Miroirs is placed in the center of the small square surrounded by Henri La Fonta's building.
Being also considered the largest mosaic in the world (2500 sqm), known as the Grande Mosaique, don't think (as we did) that you will see a huge area on the soil covered by mosaic.
It is actually consisting in 10 cylinders decorated with mosaics (see the pictures).
Poisson Tower that ca be admired from the patio has a giant clock-barometer giving the weather for the Paris region.
I've read that it also marks the hours with flashing lights, but guys, we've stared at it for half on hour before, at and after 21:00 and nothing happened.
I'm not quite sure what this thumb is supposed to symbolise. But is is huge, and a fairly intesrting art piece. You see some people taking some very cheesy pictures of people with their thumb extended (sorry I couldn't bring myself to post one here...).
This sculpture can be found in La Defense which is the business park in Paris. This park is worth visiting for several reasons, and is one of my favourite 'unusual' parts of Paris.
I was pleasantly suprised when I visited this area. The enormity of the fantastic buildings reminded me of somewhere like New York, not Paris.They was a huge outdoor cinema showing the construction of the area over the past 15 years. If you stand at the great arch and look staight ahead you will see the Arc d'Triomph, in perfect line.
La Defense is a new modern part of Paris at the western side of the city. The striking modern architecture of La Defense finds its culmination in the Grand Arche at the end of the Grande Axe Historique of 8KM, which stretches from la Defense to the glass pyramid at the Louvre. The Grande Arche and the two Arcs de Triomphe are all three in one line along this axe.
East of the Grand Arche in the direction of the citycentre is the Parvis, place de la Defense and Esplenada de General de Gaulle. I liked to walk here between the striking modern architecture and the many sculptures and murals of contemporary art, turning the area in a 'musee en plein air' of modern art.
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...
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.
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!
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.
From the west side of the Arc de Triumphe, you will notice some skyscrapers and another arch.
This area, called 'La Defense' is the business center of Paris. It is said that this is the biggest one of Europe. Here, you will find many French and international multinationals.
The hollow cube in the middle is called "La Grande Arche" and was built in 1989. Elevators will bring you to the top for another great view of Paris.
After visiting the Arch de Triomphe, we decided that our next step was this Arch, when we arrived we realised that we needed more money as the standard metro ticket does not work, but we were lucky and they let us pass lol without paying the extra.
when we arrived the day got worst and began to rain, so we though it would not be worth to pay the extra 7 Euros (as it is not included in the Museum pass) for a rainy and clouded day... We said to come back, but we did not had time