Outside of the city's 20 arrondissements (districts) and about half an hour from the city centre by Metro, La Défense is a bustling 31 hectare area renowned for its captivating modern design.
The iconic symbol of this part of the city is the cube-like Grand Arche, designed as a modern vision of the Arc de Triomphe, reaching 109 metres tall and 107 metres wide – large enough to fit the Notre Dame cathedral. Come here at night and the glass and marble structure will be beautifully illuminated. The viewing platform however has been closed to the public in recent years.
Here you'll also find the Les Quatre Temps shopping mall, the largest in continental Europe with almost 186,000 square meters of retail space. Packed with well-known stores and brands as well as hundreds of restaurants and a huge cinema, it is a popular destination. You can also make the most of the fresh air on ‘Le Dome’, an outdoor terrace, which has more great places to eat.
The district takes its name from the bronze statue 'La Défense de Paris', built by Louis Ernest Barrias back in 1883 to commemorate the servicemen who fought for their country in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. You’ll find this statue situated beside a pedestrianized strip close to the colourful Agam fountain. Set against the backdrop of the futuristic buildings, the statue is a captivating sight well worth seeing up close.
You’ll also find more recent works. Among them are Cesar's towering 'La Pouce' (The Thumb), and Calder's stunning 'Le Grand Stabile Rouge' (The Red Spider), alongside Miró's colourful 'Deux Personnages Fantastiques' (Two Fantastic Characters), which can be found outside Les Quatre Temps.
Situated on the outskirts of Paris to the west of the city, La Défense is accessible by all major bus and metro routes, as well as by train. It takes about half an hour to drive here from the heart of the city and there’s plenty of street parking available.
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