La Défense

La Défense (100)

La Défense is a modern business district. It basically comprises skyscrapers of offices connected by a large area of level ground known as Le Parvis: more than 30 hectares for pedestrians that include hanging gardens and sixty works of art that turn Paris into an open-air museum.

The name of the district comes from the monument titled “La Défense de París”, built in memory of the soldiers who defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. This sculpture by Louis-Ernest Barrias is in bronze and was officially unveiled in 1883. 

The district began to take shape as it is today in 1958 when the State created a planning body. The first organisational plan was passed in 1964 and work began on the first buildings that gradually replaced the factories, cabins and farms that could still be seen in the area.

At the time it was considered one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects in the world. The first towers all had the same structure and could not be higher than 100 metres. Later on the legal height was increased. 

In the 80s they developed the area which at the time was the largest commercial centre in Europe: Les Quatre Temps. In this period, François Mitterrand promoted the tender for projects that would lead to the construction of the Grande Arc, the main attraction. This large arch in the form of an empty cube, designed by the Danish architect Otto von Spreckelsen, was opened on the 14th of July 1989. It is made with white marble, granite, and glass and each side measures 110 metres. 

This magnificent construction which also houses offices, an exhibition hall and a conference centre, symbolises a window open to the world.  And from its rooftop you can enjoy some wonderful views of the city.

With nearly 80 hectares, La Défense is today the largest business district in Europe.

You can explore La Défense on foot or on a pleasant mini-train that takes you around the most interesting points in about 40 minutes.

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