20.3.09

Paris la Défense

To build new skyscrapers or towers is not allowed in Paris anymore and until further. There are some high buildings built around the 70’s, the highest being Tour Montparnasse (see previous post), a second one is the hotel Concorde Lafyette (see previous post). There are also some fairly high buildings along the Seine in the 15th arrondissement (see previous post) and also on the eastern side of Paris.

In 1958 a decision was taken to start development for especially office space just outside Paris, to the west. It started slowly with the construction of a “Centre of New Industries and Technologies” (CNIT) - the building is still there but transformed – and a few modest 100 m (330 ft) high buildings.

So, this is not really Paris, but has got the name Paris La Défense. It’s situated in the neighbour département Hauts-de-Seine in the municipalities of Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. In the 70’s the real development started and has continued since. In 1981, what was then the biggest commercial centre in Europe, the Quatre Temps (the Four Seasons) was opened. Some of the earliest constructed towers have already been replaced, with new, higher ones. Several of the biggest banks, insurance companies, communication companies... have now their main activities based here, not mentioning hotels, restaurants, shops, university... The highest buildings for the moment exceed 180 meters (some 600 ft) and plans until 2015 include buildings reaching more than 300 meters (some 1.000 ft) – up to 93 levels. The area is getting bigger and bigger – and some towers are replaced.

Today some 150.000 people work and some 20.000 people live here. With the continued development, the idea is to increase the “living-proportion”. Already today, it’s obviously Europe’s largest purpose-built business district. As Paris La Défense is in line with the so called “historical axis”, going from the Louvre (see previous posts) via the Arch of Triumph / “L’Etoile” (see previous post) and to make some kind of monument to complete the axis, the “Grande Arche” was built (1990). It’s actually an office building. You can reach the top by the outside elevator (which I did – see the top photo). You may notice that the Arch is turned at an angle (6°). Different explanations are given; one being that the architect wanted to emphasize the depth of the building, but there seems also to have been difficult ground conditions. There are tens of modern statues, including by Miró (the colourful one), César (the thumb), Calder (the red spider)... and also an old one from 1883, called “La Défense de Paris”, which actually gave the name to the area. From the Paris centre you can reach the area by normal or by express metro.

I wish you a nice weekend! ... with a slowly but surely progressing spring!

61 comments:

Mona said...

The Modern Architecture in France looks as stunning as the hertiage buildings. I can never stop being surprised at your blog! :)

James said...

Everytime I go to paris I plan to see La Defense and everytime I don't get around to it.
Thanks for the info and the photos, next time I'll be sure to check it out.

Shionge said...

I missed out La Defense during my last trip so that is a must to visit in my next visit.

On the other hand, I hope the construction of new buildings will be slow coz we love the old Paris :D

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Good collection of images of contemporary Paris structures...
now I am waitig for your mail...

hpy said...

Ce n'est absolument pas mon quartier préféré! Tes photos montrent malgré tout des constructions intéressantes. Sans doute devrais-je y faire un saut lors de ma prochaine visite en RP, mais je pense que je me contenterai de ton exposé.

Cergie said...

ENFIN ! Paris la Défense ! J'ai commencé Cergipontin avec : il te manque une vue depuis les douze colonnes de notre Axe Majeur dont la plate forme est au niveau de celle de l'Arche.
Je ne peux qu'aimer un endroit où l'un de mes fils travaille (il cherche à partir quelques temps à l'étranger pour le compte de sa société)

SusuPetal said...

Le Defense is just amazing, I think it's fun -the architecture is so wild!

Have a nice weekend, Peter!

claude said...

ça bourgeonne dur à Paris !
Le quartier de La Défense n'est pas celui que je préfère de ma ville. C'est trop moderne. Olivier s'y plairait lui.
Le pouce de César, je crois l'avoir déjà vu sur le blog d'Alex.
Ce doit être celui de l'autre main.

lyliane said...

Je l'ai vu construire ce quartier et j'y ai eu des clients de mauvaise renommée pour l'instant, faisant des milliards de bénéfices.
Il y a une vingtaine d'années dans les avions il y avait de la "pub" pour le quartier, Michel recevant un représentant de son travail, venant de Singapour à voulu que l'on l'y emmène après avoir vu ce reportage!!! On s'attendait plûtot à le promener à Versailles...

GMG said...

Hi Peter!
Wow! Finally you went up the l'Arche and look at the result! What a post!!!
I always had mixed feelings about La Defense, but finally I joined those who love it... ;)
Have a great weekend!
Blogtrotter

Matritensis said...

What is the top height allowed to build in Paris?
Have a nice weekend Peter!

Adam said...

There are very few architectural success stories here, but at least Le Corbusier didn't get his propositions accepted.

Bizarrely for an area of such tall structures, much of the development is underground. I know many people who work here, who travel in underground by public transport, walk underground to their office...which is underground! They can then walk underground at lunchtime to a shopping centre which has almost no natural light. In the winter, they never see daylight!

Ruth said...

Like James, I have intended to go to l'arch and never have.

It is very satisfying to stand at the Louvre and look down that avenue of the sun toward La Défense.

I wondered about the angle myself.

Ruth said...

Oh and thank you for the slow spring wishes. :)

Catherine said...

Plus plaisant à regarder sur photo qu'en vrai.
J'ai travaillé à Courbevoie, et Nanterre, et j'ai arrêté juste avant d'entamer une profonde dépression : ) A visiter sous Prozac. Même le centre commercial m'angoisse.

Emm said...

How silly of me - I never knew there were skyscapers in Paris. I love that this post opened up my eyes.

Cezar and Léia said...

Modern and futuristic architecture!
I love this cosmopolitan way of life!
Love you Paris!
:-)
Have a nice weekend!
Léia

krystyna said...

Paris is always beautiful
and your photos are always amazing!
The Modern Architecture is fantastic,
but I like the Ancient little bit more.

Have a great weekend!

april said...

Oh, I didn't know that La Défense is not part of Paris. One can take wonderful and interesting photos there (as you have done) but who would like to work there or live there?! Does anyone live there or is it just office buildings?
As I see the view from top of La Grande Arche est merveilleux - oops, wonderful. But the skyline seen from the Eiffel Tower is not the nicest.
And I was astonished how many works of art you have found there. They, too, make great photos.

Shammickite said...

Stunning views of the modern buildings. I saw many of them from a distance when i was in Paris, but I concentrated on the heritage area of the city. But My youngerSon went to see the big square building and took some very nice photos.
Such a contrast between to ancient and modern. Great photos, as always, Peter!

Abe said...

Have you ever seen or read any information about birds that fly into the glass and are injured or killed. With so many glass buildings or windows I would guess the kill and cripple rate is very high. I was surprised that there is a similar problem with wind turbine farms.

Starman said...

J'adore la Défense. There is more artwork at la Défense than almost any city in the US.
You can get there easily on the #1 métro or RER A.

Carole said...

La Défense : j'y ai travaillé quelques années; j'aimais bien, le midi on pouvait faire les magasins....alors je te dis pas quand c'était les soldes !
A bientôt pour un notre quartier...peut-être le mien qui sait!
Carole

Eddy said...

Jamais je n'aurais pensé que l'on pouvait faire un si superbe et si interessant post sur "La Défense".
Merci, maintenant je vais voir cette oeuvre moderne, archictecturale démeusurée et lieu de bureaucratie d'un autre oeil.

alice said...

Coucou Peter! Voilà un Paris que je ne connais pas du tout. Tu réussis à nous en donner une vision attrayante, malgré le verre et le fer. Et malgré Total qui, outre les dégâts provoqués par ses pétrôliers pourris sur nos côtes, symbolise plutôt bien tout ce qui donne des hauts le coeur...
Bon weekend printanier!

claude said...

Au fait Cristina est de retour sur son blog.

marie6 said...

Amazing buildings, this is one place where Joe would think he's in heaven! Can't imagine the look on his face!

Kate said...

I wonder if I'm the only one who doesn't like these buildings? For me it changes the character of Paris, and I'm not enamoured of it. Oh, well!!

richard said...

Makes me think - "Blade Runner"

Kate maybe doesn't like them but I think that just emphasises the decision of Paris to keep them outside the City we all know and love

Jessica said...

I prefer the old, low buildings, even if the new ones do have some nice sculpture in front of them.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing these pictures. I enjoyed seeing a new perspective of Paris. I have not seen those pictures. It makes it look totally different.

Dusty Lens said...

Steel and glass, while it can be beautiful in it's own way,; this new city will never compare to the historic city.

Peter said...

Mona:
... and I can never stop being amazed by yours! :-)

James:
Of course, it will hardly be number one on the list! :-)

Shionge:
One reason to build here was to save the "old Paris"! :-)

Peter said...

Terrie:
I have been quite busy... will send you a message in a moment! :-)

hpy:
C'est comme tu préfères! :-)

Cergie:
J'ai hesité de parler de l'Axe Majeur...; j'étais sur que tu en allais parler! :-)

Peter said...

SusuPetal:
Now, during the latter phases and with the more recent contructions, it seems that the architects have tried to add some phanatasy! :-)

Claude:
Ton commentaire ne m'étonne pas! :-) Je crois en effet qu'une autre copie de la pouce se trouve à Marseille.

Lyliane:
J'ai mis le building de Total en évidence! :-)

Peter said...

GMG:
It was a bit of a disaster the first decades, under construction, never finished. It starts now to be quite complete and the impression is also in my mind more positive! :-)

Martritenis:
Depending on the area it seems today to be limited to 25, 31 or 37meters. The discussion is however ongoing regarding the possibility to build a few new towers in the outer parts of the city.

Adam:
Yes, Le Corbusier had some wild ideas! :-) Some good, some would have been less appreciated today.

Peter said...

Ruth:
There is also one theory saying that the (Danish) architect wanted to have the building in line with the two high buildings in Paris - the Eiffel Tower and Tour Montparnasse! :-)

Catherine:
Je suis d'accord avec toi, mais ça s'améliore. Ca devient plus vivable. :-)

Emm:
Not really in Paris - it's outside the city limits! :-)

Peter said...

Léia:
We all love Paris, don't we? :-)

Krystyna:
I believe that the major thing is that real architects who get the right to "create" can make their job. .... and as said above - this area is just outside Paris; thus the present city centre should basically have a chance to reamin fairly untouched! :-)

April:
Outside yes, although the name is Paris La Défense!

Some 20.000 people seem to live there today, but it is planned to increase considerably. :-)

Peter said...

Shammickite:
If I had to choose, I would also remain with the older buildings! :-)

Abe:
No, I haven't seen anything particular about this bird problem, but you are probably right! :-(

Starman:
Yes, there are tens of statues and other decorations. That's good! :-)

Peter said...

Carole:
J'ai oublié lequel est ton quartier! Si tu me le dis, j'arrive! !-)

Eddy:
Peut-être j'ai tendance de ne pas trop montrer le mauvais coté des choses? !-)

Alice:
J'ai mis Total en évidence, le bulding le plus haut - pour le moment! Les lignes, surtout vues de loin, sont aujourd'hui, aussi à mon avis, assez attrayantes. Ca s'améliore! :-)

Peter said...

Claude bis:
Bien! je vais faire un tour! :-)

Marie6:
Will you show him the post? I guess you want to make him happy? :-))

Kate:
You are not the only one! ... but don't forget, this is NOT Paris, it's just outside Paris! :-)

Peter said...

Richard:
Yes, I think the decision to build it here was right. What was demolished in this area was not the nicest part of the Paris region: :-)

Jessica:
I believe you are not the only one, but sometimes something new is required! ... and once more, this is outside the city milits. :-)

Michelle:
Yes this is a different Paris... although it is not Paris! :-)

Peter said...

Dusty Lens:
Great chances that you are right! :-)

Azer Mantessa said...

*biting my nails*

but i really like the modern architecture a lot!!! They are so unique in their own way being like that.

Paris La Défense ... great!

now i am so confuse!

Cutie said...

I didn't go to La Defense. Maybe when I got money, I will go to Paris for my honeymoon. And by then I will make sure i get your advice where to visit. hehe..

Shammickite said...

Pter: I appreciate the way you post a personal reply to each commenter on your blog. You are a true gentleman! Thank you.

Shammickite said...

ooops sorry Pater, how very rude of me, I didn't check my spelling of your name before I clicked on "publish comment".

Peter said...

Azer:
Confused, biting your nails...! Try to calm down! :-)

Cutie:
You should absolutely come here for your honeymoon... and would be happy if I could be of some help! :-)

Peter said...

Pter, Pater, Pjotr, Piteur, Peter... No problem for a "gentleman"! :-)

Virginia said...

Well forgive me for dragging in here late Peter! I was wondering where you were. Hadn't seen you on the blogs and thought maybe you had scooted off on one of your great trips and hoped your weren't ill. Now I see, visitors! Hope they had the pleasure of some of your fabulous tours.

La Defense is a place I have never been and had no idea it was so vast! The art is very interesting!HA I think I'd like to visit this trip. You proved there are photo ops every where you turn. I will be back to read it all in detail. Don't we all love Paris in the springtime!!!HA

Olivier said...

c'est marrant, il y a tout pour me plaire a la defense, des oeuvres d'arts moderne, de l'architecture top revolutionnaire, mais je sais pas pourquoi, j'ai jamais aime, ni accroche

catherine said...

et bien moi au contraire je trouve que ce quartier gagne à être redécouvert comme tu l'as fait : ta juxtaposition de photos est très réussie et tu as bien rendu cette atmosphère si moderne. Ton reportage me donne vraiment envie de me re-promener à cet endroit.

afiszone said...

Paris is a Beatiful City

Ruth said...

Oh, that makes it even more interesting! Thank you for telling me.

ALAIN said...

Que de souvenirs ! Heureusement, ce ne sont plus que des souvenirs.

JM said...

The second collage looks science fiction! Truly amazing! Great work with these four shots, just fantastic!

Peter said...

Virginia:
Soon April in Paris! :-) Nut, you will arrive only in May of course!

Olivier:
Il faut peut-être retourner? :-)

Catherine:
La Défense s'améliore! :-)

Peter said...

Afiszone:
Yes, no doubt! :-)

Ruth:
At least it's one theory. The architect is not any more there to tell us!

Alain:
On est bien à la retraite! :-)

Peter said...

JM:
Thanks... and thanks to the architects! :-)

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