Walking in La Défense in Winter? What a weird idea you may think. That’s exactly what we thought too until we decided on a bright sunny morning in February that we should go and discover a few hidden places in what is Europe’s largest CBD.
The district of La Défense is centred along the Historical Axis that slopes gently from Pont de Neuilly up the Grande Arche. Called the ‘Dalle’, the artificial platform is made up of a concrete slab which ingenuously hides all the transport links (motorway A14, the roads, métro and train railway lines) to create a huge pedestrian area. Most photos of La Défense taken by tourists show views of the great perspective from the Grande Arche to the Arc de Triomphe… but there are fewer people (outside workers and locals) who dare or think to venture elsewhere in the district. But the district has many other other views, such as this one we discovered this morning with the First Tower, the Eiffel Tower and Tour Montparnasse in the distance:
It is on the sides of the district that we focused our attention, where we found squares and statues, footbridges linking La Défense to the other suburbs down the ‘Dalle’, and futurist vistas that definitely do not have the typical image we have of Paris.
Let’s start our photo journey!
The GDF-Suez Tower (former T1) is one of La Défense’s tallest towers, overlooking Courbevoie. The tower rises 185 m above the street level.
The Total Tower (187m) built in 1985 used to be the tallest building in La Défense. Its structure is still stunning today.
Next to the Total Tower stands the Areva Tower (184 m) formerly known as Tour Framatome and Tour Fiat. The office skyscraper was built in 1974 and is 184 m tall. Entirely black, its square prism shape is said to have been inspired by the black monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s movie “2001: A Space Odyssey“.
The Total Tower from bottom to top!
The Coeur Défense Tower With its edges rounded, the Cœur Défense Tower (161 m tall) is the building with the most floor space in Europe along with the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest. Until 2009, it belonged to the global financial services firm Lehman Brothers. The first Starbucks café outside Paris was opened on the ground floor of Coeur Défense in the mid-2000.
The glass and concrete Carpe Diem Tower was completed in 2013. It is 166 metre tall and can welcome 3,000 workers.
The top of a Wallace fountain in La Défense:
Halfway through between the Grande Arche and the Pont de Neuilly:
The Aurore Tower (110 m) dating back to 1970 is being dismantled to give way to the future Air2 Tower (202 m) by 2018-2020. Behind it stands the new D2 Tower 171 m, inaugurated in January 2015.
The Majunga Tower (195 m) by architect Jean-Paul Viguier was inaugurated in 2014. Today the Majunga Tower is the third tallest skypscraper in France, after the First Tower (231m) and Montparnasse Tower (210m). The work of art in the front is Le Moretti, a cylindrical sculpture made out of many different colourful pipes masking an ventilation shaft.
The summit of Tour First, France’s tallest skyscraper (231 m), is quite singular:
With the Total Tower in the background, here is the statue of La Défense from which the CBD takes its name:
The elliptical ground shape of EDF Tower (165 m tall) was completed in 2001. The length of the tower is slightly less at its base than at its top due to the extrusion of a conic section of the tower.
One of the two sides of the Grande Arche which house offices:
The Société Générale Towers consist of two twin towers (167 m tall) were completed in 1995. The northern tower is named tour Alicante and the southern one tour Chassagne. Behind them was built by the same bank the even taller Granite Tower (184 m) in 2008.