Looking for an off-beat place to visit in Paris? Have you heard about La Grande Arche in La Défense located in western Paris? Today, I’m going to provide you with some information on a modern day Arc de Triomphe aka La Grande Arche de la Défense, standing as a monument to humanity.
Paris is well known for its iconic Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, museums, cafes and what not. There is also an urban side to the Paris city which drove my urge to explore La Grande Arche de la Défense.
La Grande Arche de la Défense
La Grande Arche de la Défense which is simply called La Grande Arche or Grand Arche was primarily built with the concept of modern-day Arc de Triomphe. French President François Mitterrand supported the idea of urban Grand Arche as a 20th-century monument for Arch de Triomphe to stand by Humanitarian views. As the older Arc De Triomphe refers to the military wins, La Grand Arche was perceived as a tribute to humanity. The idea was captured in 1980 and the construction of the La Grand Arche monument began in 1985 and was ready in 1989. La Grande Arche was designed by a Danish architect – Otto von Spreckelsen and later Erik Reitzel.
La Grande Arche de la defense is a cube-shaped structure standing tall at 116 meters to give an insight into a three-dimensional era. As opposed to the Arc De Triomphe, La Grande Arch is built primarily of glass and marble from Italy. An important point to note here is that the La Grande Arche is placed at an angle to form a peripheral axis to Tour Eiffel and Tour Montparnasse – two highest buildings in Paris.
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There was a viewing deck on the top of La Grande Arche de la defense was closed due to an accident in 2010 which is why I couldn’t get visit the top view of Paris and Eiffel from here. Although it has now reopened back in 2017 and now also has a restaurant and a museum for tourists.
La Défense is the largest office complex in Europe and is filled with skyscrapers and urban architecture. After the First World War concluded, an axis from the Arc De Triomphe was planned at the Etoile to La Défense which is the western edge of Paris city. There was ambiguity over the height of buildings to be built there as per current Triumphal manner. Later it was agreed to build urban skyscrapers at the end of long avenue so as to avoid the obstruction of Etoile’s view.
In 1931 though, the authorities organized a new competition, but the intent was to limit the height of the buildings along the Triumphal Way. Only at the end of the long avenue, at the Défense towers were allowed. This was recommended by the authorities as towers close to the center would obstruct the view on the Etoile.
A Forest of Towers
After the second World War ended, at the beginning of the 1950s the La Défense site was selected as an office space. The forest of towers were the first skyscrapers to be built of equal height. The towers would contain 25 stories where 25 offices will come up. Later on, various companies started to root for taller towers and hence the complex today holds various towers of varied heights. The highest tower stands at 589 feet, and this caused public criticism towards the forest of towers which ultimately led the authorities to build modern age La Grande Arche de la defense.
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Shopping at La Défense
Considering the largest business complex in Paris, and connected through RER trains, the La Défense holds a basement for a mini shopping mall. The shopping at La Défense is pretty economical as compared to other areas of Paris. I bought so many perfumes, watches, and clothes as souvenirs from La Défense for my family back home. So, don’t hold back and limit yourself to the typical Paris as seen in the Instagram era, but also visit this urban side of Paris to shop, dine or simply hang out.
Have you been to La Grande Arche de la defense or work there? Do share your experience with me!
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[…] Trocadero metro station was just 5 mins from my hotel from which took me straight to Gare de La Défense – a metro station in Europe’s largest office complex located just beneath the Grand […]
[…] Sayin’ Paris is decent for shopping is prior understatement. If the weather is not on your side, check out Les Halles, La Beaugrenelle, or Le 4 Temps at La Defense one of the biggest shopping malls in and around Paris. If you are at La Defense, you can also visit the Grand Arche! […]
[…] closed after an incident in elevators. Read more about La Defense in my detailed post here!! After completing the Grand Arche Tour, I was left with half day for exploring the city, so my […]
The buildings look amazing. Thank you for sharing with us. I will look in to it
Glad you liked it🙂
wow! I haven’t heard about this side of paris before, there are so many modern buildings too! I imagine it as winding streets and old cafes!
I agree it’s so not expected Paris🙂
I have never been to that side of the city. So interesting. Thank you for sharing and giving us info on it.
Wow! This is so interesting. I have never heard of La Défense but it looks like an architectural marvel. I love the pics you have shared!
Thank you, glad you liked it 🙂
Wow this looks so incredible. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of something so amazing. Going to look into this.
Glad you liked it 🙂
Wow how interesting! I’ve never heard of this area either. So much history! And the buildings are beautiful.
i haven’t heard of la defense before reading this. it looks like a very interesting part of paris. i would love to visit one day!
Paris is definitely one of the most beautiful cities and I think their architecture is amazing! This building is proof of that! Thanks for the insight on this one!
I’ve only been to Paris once, and definitely didn’t see as much as I could have. I had an awesome experience, though, so no regrets. Thank you for sharing about this lesser known area.
I’ve seen this building from a distance but never knew what it was. So interesting!
How interesting, I’ve been to Paris (10 years ago) and never knew that area was there! We only had one day, though, so we hit the big tourist attractions.
I agree, Paris has a lot of big tourist spots🙂
Such amazing architecture. When talking about Paris, I always think of Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. Now I know one more wonderful and unique place. The building is so attractive and magnificent. Thanks for sharing us those beautiful pictures.
Oh it’s so interesting to find out things about Paris I didn’t know of. Whenever anyone writes about Paris it’s always the Eiffel Tower and the big named things. But it’s nice to hear and see the beauty of other things Paris has to offer.
Glad you liked it🙂
I haven’t heard about La Defense before. The building is looking great good architecture.
Glad you liked it🙂
That’s so interesting to see an urban side to Paris. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it, especially when doing research for my trip to Paris! Good to know it exists for any future trips!
Glad you liked is🙂
I’m a huge fan of architecture and discovering new buildings when I travel. So this is fantastic information for when I finally get to Paris!
I know about the La Défense because I used to be an investor and I stayed in the area last year when I was in Paris. I think is definitely an area worthwhile visiting, completely different to central Paris but stunning in its own way.
I agree, different than routine Paris but unique in its own way!!
Definitely never heard of it. It doesn’t even look like it belongs in a place like Paris! Out of the ordinary!!!
Yes it’s little off beat for Paris 🙂
What an interesting read – we had never heard about La Défense, the buildings are huge! I hope we can visit there next time we head to Paris!
Glad you liked it🙂
Damn I didnt know it was beautiful and a nice spot to visit . I was in Paris last year and Ive heard it’s a good place for shopping so I wasnt really interested in shopping and I didnt go there. but I def must go when I go back to Paris. Thanks for sharing now I know what is it
Glad you’ll liked it🙂
Very interesting article. When you usually think about Paris, you think of traditional architecture, but this is a great glimpse into some of the more modern styles in the city. Thank you for sharing.
Glad you liked it🙂
I only saw the skyscrapers from far away, but they look amazing in your pictures! The history is also very interesting. Ad who knew that there is a second, modern “arc the triomphe” in Paris? :p
Yes even I almost missed Grand Arche while roaming in between of high – risers 😀
I love to visit Paris and I do so every year as I do not live far from France. I never really came up with the idea to go to La defence. I see that you can take some great photo’s. Yours look great! My most favorite location to take photo’s is at Trocadero garden near the Eiffel tower.
Yes thats my favourite too 🙂
OH my goodness, this post takes me back to my years in Paris. Yes, I’ve been a few times to La Defense. I though it was a place full of very interesting modern design. It definitely give Paris a new feel for sure. nice info and photos you have here too.
Yes it was a different Paris, though I loved every part of it.
I’ve never heard of La Defense even though I’ve been to Paris. I like the look of these buildings, they’re so impressive. It’s good to know they made something out of the area after the war.
Yes it little on Paris outskirts and tourists usually skip it.
While I know La Défense is huge and go through a lot to go to university or for shopping I had no clue it was the largest office in Europe. Nice post 🙂
Thank you 🙂 so glad you liked the post 🙂
I´ve never heard of La Défense before, but thanks to you, now I know what it is!
Oh I’m so glad I could provide some nice and new information 🙂 Thank you for the lovely words 🙂🙏🏻