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La Defense: the modern district of Paris

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La Defense is the most important business district in Paris and the largest business center in Europe. It is located in the western part of the city at the end of the axis which, starting from the Louvre in the center of Paris, crosses the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe. The name of the neighborhood derives from the statue called La Defense of Paris (La Défense de Paris) and erected in honor of the soldiers who defended the city of Paris during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

The neighborhood is characterized by numerous modern buildings, skyscrapers, offices, condominiums and shopping centers. Most of the modern buildings that make up the La Defense district are mainly occupied by offices, but many spaces are also used by large shopping centers. The neighborhood extends for over 160 hectares inside and outside a circular network of one-way boulevards. This area was divided in 2011 into four main sectors: Arche Nord, Arche Sud, Esplanade Nord and Esplanade Sud.


The symbol of the neighborhood and modern Paris is the Grande Arche or Arche de la Defense. A monument designed by the Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and built between 1983 and 1989. The building is completely covered with Carrara marble, gray granite and mirrored glass. It is a cube 70 meters wide and 93 meters high which houses 115,000 square meters of offices. On its top there is a panoramic terrace.

Another symbol of the neighborhood is the Center des Nouvelles Industries et Technologies, known as CNIT. Building that is now used as a conference center and as a home for offices and shops. Other impressive modern constructions are the Total, Areva, Gan, Société Générale towers. Finally, the modern church of Notre Dame de Pentecôte is worth mentioning.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can use the La Défense-Grande Arche and Esplanade de La Défense metro stations to reach La Defense.

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