When traveling through Paris, France there are many sights to behold and an abundance of things to do. One particular part of this magnificent city that is a must-see is the district known as La Défense. Once a run-down area with shabby houses and dilapidated farms, officials of the Public Establishment decided that it was time to clean up this area. They rebuilt the space as a salute to the French soldiers who were killed during the Franco-Prussian War. This area became known as La Défense.
La Défense contains some of the most interesting skyscrapers in the world. When the first skyscrapers were being built, they did not exceed 25 stories, which resulted in companies beginning to push for taller buildings to house more businesses. However, the public vehemently protested the taller buildings as they posed an obstruction to the view of the Arc de Triomphe.
Partly in response to public sentiment, an additional memorial arch was built at the opposite end of La Défense, the Grande Arche de la Défense. This arch is a mammoth construction inlaid with marble and glass. It is styled with sleek, modernistic lines as an alternate side to the more decorous Arc de Triomphe. The Grande Arche de la Défense provides epic views of the city to those who ride the elevators contained within its walls. At night, the dancing waters of the illuminated fountain add to the magical feeling of the Grande Arche.
Things to Do
La Défense is the largest business district in all of Europe. It contains some of the best hotels, restaurants for fine dining, and shopping. The architecture alone attracts photographers from around the world, from the styles of the buildings themselves to the interesting skyline they create. The architectural style trends can be easily traced with a trip through La Défense. The large, square designs of the 1960’s, considered ultra-modern at the time, have gradually evolved as styles have changed. The trend is continuing even now. Skyscrapers are now being built with renewable energy systems, such as the Tour D2 which is currently under construction and should be completed by the end of 2013. With a shape that resembles a massive prism, with the exception of rounded lines, the Tour D2 combines elegant beauty with energy efficiency. Another must-see aspect of La Défense is the impressive display of contemporary sculptures that have been added to the district in recent years.
La Défense is a unique area that houses some of the most revolutionary designs in architecture crafted from the 1950’s to present day. For those who are looking for an exciting night life, La Défense is probably not the best choice. But, for those who love architecture, history, and the quiet, gentle atmosphere of art, La Défense is a must for one’s travel itinerary in Paris.