01 September 2015

Prancing Around in Paris: La Défense

For some reason we wanted to do more than just discover the Parisian side of Paris. So we went all the way to the outskirts of the city, heading to La Défense. This is actually not in Paris anymore, but still functions as Paris' business district. This is where all the skyscrapers are located, and therefore provides a very different atmosphere from central Paris.

We used the metro to get there. Other people use the RER, but there is a slight fare difference between the metro and the RER, and given the ticket we had, the metro made the most sense. It only added a couple of stops.

This is the only place in the Paris metro area that has tall buildings. Paris typically is flat, and therefore this place is rather interesting, as it provides a good contrast to the otherwise European flavor of the city. While most people consider this place as a business district, there are also plenty of interesting things that a traveler would find here.

The name of the district actually comes from the name of the statue above, which is La Défense de Paris, commemorating the Parisian resistance during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

For example, there are plenty of public art. There are colorful statues, statues of large fingers, and various other things. I definitely enjoyed my stroll while I was here. I guess the only thing I didn't like was the weather that time, which was quite cloudy and generally uncooperative.

And yes, there is the Grande Arche. I loved this building. It was designed by a Danish architect, who died before seeing the building get completed. I loved the views, the steps, the panorama, that this building gives. It is such a stark contrast, showing modernity and technological advancement, facing an otherwise traditional and historic city.

Visit this place if you can, it's a refreshing change to the allure of Paris. As much as I love Paris for its old-style cafes and European vibe, I am glad that there are contrasting things like this neighborhood, providing balance to the city.


  1. I kind of like La Défense. My university was nearby, at Dauphine, so I used to escape there for a quick snack (and to meet my aunt who works in one of these buildings). The underground is a bit claustrophobic, though.

    1. Zhu,

      I liked it too, mostly because it was different from most of the other scenes in Paris. This had no romance, no joie de vivre, just pure modernism.