Have you heard about La Grande Arche de la Défense, Paris

Looking for an off-beat place to visit in Paris? Have you heard about La Grande Arche in La Défense located in the 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 as 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. 

grande-arche-de-la-defense-paris-france | La Grande Arche de la Défense
Source – Google

La Grande Arche de la defense is a cube-shaped structure standing tall at 116 meters to give an insight of 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. 

Related Read – Places to visit in Paris in 3 days!

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

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 Arc De Triomphe was planned at the Etoile to La Défense which is 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.

Three towers at La Défense Paris France | La Grande Arche de la Défense

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. 

La Défense skyscraper Paris France | La Grande Arche de la Défense

#A Forest of Towers

After the second World War ended, at the beginning of 1950’s 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.

forest of towers at La Défense Paris France | La Grande Arche de la Défense

Suggested Read – Things to know before visiting Paris!

#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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– The Wanderer

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53 thoughts

  1. 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!

  2. Wow this looks so incredible. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of something so amazing. Going to look into this.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. Definitely never heard of it. It doesn’t even look like it belongs in a place like Paris! Out of the ordinary!!!

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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 🙂

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