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La Défense

La Defense

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Why you will love it?

Have you ever dreamt of a neighborhood without cars? Only a huge pedestrian platform surrounded by skyscrapers, sculptures, fountains and carefully planted gardens. La Defense is all that….and more. Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

La Défense
Line 1 - Esplanade de la Défense / La Défense
Line A - La Défense

Wednesday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am
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Monday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am Tuesday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am Wednesday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am Thursday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am Friday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am Saturday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am Sunday : 0:00 am - 0:00 am

Our Insiders' Article


Visiting La Défense is to be transported from an old-world Paris to a new-world business center in a matter of minutes. Covering a total area of 560 hectares, La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district, located in the northwestern suburb of Paris. Every day, 180,000 workers (mainly white collar) go to their offices in one of the 72 skyscrapers in the district. Not only is it the home of 15 of the top 50 companies in France, it is also the home of 25,000 people and a welcoming place for over 8 million visitors per year, thanks to its shopping center, architecture and open air museum.


La Défense is a suburb situated directly outside of Paris. It’s always easy to spot as its most iconic building, the Grande Arche, constitutes one end of the Historical Axis: a perfect alignment between it, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, Luxor Obelisk (Place de la Concorde) and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in front of the Louvre. Metro line 1 is the perfect and most practical way to reach La Defense. The RER A is also a possibility, but endless corridors and escalators can be a hassle.

Parisianist Tip: Avoid morning and evening rush hours as the public transportation lines are saturated.


In the 1950s, France’s booming economy required new office space. With the exception of the Tour Montparnasse, it is not permitted to build skyscrapers inside the limits of Paris, therefore the site of La Défense was chosen to welcome the modern business area. Tall buildings replaced the factories, slums and farms previously occupying this land. One of the first buildings here was the CNIT (located close to the Grande Arche), built in 1958 and still a landmark today.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the first generation of skyscrapers were limited to a height of 100m.


By the late 1960s, La Défense was a success. With increasing demand, construction of the second generation of buildings, higher than the previous ones, was planned. But the 1970 economic crisis took its toll. From 1973 to 1977, not a single square meter is sold in the area. Construction projects that hadn’t started were simply cancelled.


As the economy improves in the late 70’s, a third generation of buildings was planned, including the 4 Temps shopping center: the biggest commercial center in Europe in 1980. In 1982, plans are made to build a building to complete the historical axis, leading to the construction of the iconic Grande Arche. Both constructions popularized the business area.

Parisianist Fun Fact: In 1990, French star Jean Michel Jarre’s concert on the Grande Arche attracted 2 million spectators, beating his own world record.


The Grande Arche is the most recognizable building in La Défense. The project, which was to mark the historical axis with a monumental architectural creation, was won by 2 Danish architects in 1982. Construction lasted 4 years and the opening ceremony was held in 1989, a year marked by historical celebrations: the Eiffel Tower’s 100th anniversary and the French Revolution’s (and Declaration of Human Rights) 200th anniversary.

Parisianist Tip: Although the roof of the Grande Arche is not accessible to the public anymore, the view from the top of the stairs is still impressive.


La Défense is currently undergoing a 9 year modernization plan. It includes construction of new towers, but it is mainly the restructuring of existing towers, both for office space and housing. Today, the highest tower in France, called the Tour First, is located at Esplanade de La Défense metro station, close to the river Seine.

Parisianist Fun Fact: In 1991, world famous architect Jean Nouvel planned to build the second highest skyscraper in the world at that time in La Défense, but the project was abandoned.


With all of the traffic going through La Défense situated underground, everything is designed for pedestrians on the surface. A walk from Metro Line 1 station “Esplanade de la Défense” to the Grande Arche is highly recommended, as you will discover many curiosities along the way: a small vineyard (at the very start of La Defense’s pedestrian platform), plant arrangements, statues and other artistic creations. Some of the highlights include sculptures by César and Miró.

Parisianist Fun Fact: The name “La Défense” comes from the statue “La Défense de Paris”, created in 1883 to commemorate the soldiers who had defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian war in the late 1860’s. The statue is still visible and is located in the middle of the area


La Défense is also a perfect place to go shopping. In the 4 Temps shopping mall, which is one of the biggest shopping malls in France, you will find all of today’s trendy brands: fashion, cosmetics, gifts, toys and more. And if you feel a little hungry, there are plenty of restaurants with a wide variety of international dishes, but try to avoid traditional office lunch breaks (12:30PM-2PM). The CNIT is also an enjoyable shopping center, but much smaller than the 4 Temps. It’s unique architecture makes it an interesting stop along the way.


So if you are looking to get away from Old Paris for a couple of hours and enjoy a walk in a pedestrian district full of skyscrapers and sculptures, La Défense is surely the place to be. It is a business district, so it is not recommended for an evening visit, although most buildings are nicely lit up.

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