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La Défense is a collection of modern high-rise office and residential buildings built according to an evolving central plan on the western outskirts of Paris, beyond the last Parisian loop of the river Seine. La Défense is the site of the Grande Arche, one of Paris' most modern and imposing landmarks, situated at the western end of the grand axis formed by the Champs-Elysées, the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. La Défense is a purpose-built business district; in the 1960s, Charles de Gaulle led an effort to level the area and concentrate skyscrapers in a single business district, rather than altering the character of downtown Paris with large commercial buildings. Despite being officially and popularly recognized, and invariably associated with Paris, La Défense is neither an official administrative unit nor is it in Paris. The area of La Défense is actually at the borders of three communes of the Hauts-de-Seine department beyond the borders of Paris proper - Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux. (less...) (more...)

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Points of Interest in Courbevoie

In La Défense

  •    Grande Arche de la Defense, 1 Le Parvis de La Défense,  +33 1 49 07 27 27. A high-rise building that looks more like hollow cube than an actual arch. The viewing platform on its top has been closed to visitors since an elevator incident in April 2010.
  •    Center of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT). The largest unsupported concrete span enclosed space in the world.
  •    La Defense Museum, 15, place de La Défense,  +33 1 47 74 84 24, e-mail: Sunday through Friday : 9am – 5pm, Saturday : 10am – 6pm. The museum presents the history of the development of La Defense, with many plans and scale models


Each of the buildings of La Defense tells a story of architectural trends that were en vogue at the times of its construction and design. A tour of La Defense can be a quick overview through the most recent period in the history of architecture

  •    Notre-Dame de Pentecôte. This unusual church building was erected in 2001 and designed by Franck Hammoutène


There are over 60 works of art displayed in the open air throughout La Defense, interspersed within public spaces and freely accessible, and authored by some of the biggest names in modern art.

  • Le pouce, a giant statue of a thumb by Cesar Baldaccini, stands between the CNIT and the Grande Arche
  • The abstract Spider by Alexander Calder simply cannot be missed on the Esplanade
  • The Bright Trees by Vassilakis Takis visually close the Esplanade

Beyond La Défense


  •    Tours Aillaud. Southwest from the Grand Arche you can find those tall cylindrical concrete residential towers, painted in various colours. Representing a 1970s urbanistic experiment, the 18 towers remain controversial and unique, and continue to house thousands of inhabitants in over 1600 apartments.
  •    Parc André Malraux. The expansive, calm park around a lake extends westwards behind the Tours Aillaud, and is to La Defense quite what Central Park is to downtown Manhattan. You can take spectaular pictures of the La Defense skyline juxtaposted against the park's greenery from there.
  •    Nanterre Catherdral (Eglise Notre Dame de Pitie), 28 Rue de l'Église. Built in the 1920s, it is no match for Notre Dame in either historic importance or architectural detailing, but it can be an interesting destination for those interested in sacral architecture.


  •    Pavillon des Indes. The wooden Indian pavillion was moved from Paris to Courbevoie following the Universal Exhibition of 1878, and remains a curiosity amidst the much more modern architecture of the commune.


  •    Théâtre des Hauts-de-Seine. A 19th-century theatre building

Leonardo da Vinci Engineering School

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Organization and administration

Since 1958 and up to 2007, La Défense was managed by a special government-formed entity called EPAD (Établissement Public pour l’Aménagement de la Région de La Défense), whose primary goal was the development of the new district by selling building rights to companies and institutions willing to invest. In 2007, the current management, administrative and promotional duties were transferred to the new body, called EPGD (Établissement Public de Gestion du Quartier d’Affaires de La Défense), which subsequently renamed itself Defacto and started to promote La Défense as a tourist destination as well.


Take an organized tour of La Défense organized by the Hauts-de-Seine department tourist board.


Besides the 40+ food and snack places at the 4 Temps, rue de Bezons has a few budget eateries, including a good bakery, a couple of Turkish joints and a McDonald's that normally stays open until midnight.

The La Coupole underground gallery, accessible through exit G of the metro station, is somewhat depressing but convenient for its restaurants and express cafés.

More fancy (and expensive) restaurants are located inside the hotels of La Défense:

  • Côté Parvis (Hôtel Hilton), 2, pl de la Défense,  +33 1 46 92 10 10.
  • Quinte & Sens (Pullman La Défense). Under the direction of chef Jean-Paul Corbillet, the Quinte & Sens offers modern cuisine, including two-course "power lunches" for €29


  • Apogé, 21 esplanade du Général de Gaulle (metro line 1, esplanade de la Defense, beneath the Allianz tower),  +33 1 49 03 03 03. 12h-20h, Mon-Sat.. Apogé is a dynamic, all-in-one stop for French wine. Part bar, part merchant, part oenology school, its passionate, friendly founders are happy to share their expert advice. Not only are over 100 wines available by the glass, but every bottle for sale can be tasted before purchase. A beautiful terrace and frequent tastings with producers.


  •    Les 4 Temps, 15 Le Parvis de La Défense,  +33 1 47 73 54 44. The "Quatre Temps" shopping mall, which when constructed was the largest shopping centre in Europe, has numerous big name as well as small stores, several cinemas (showing French and subtitled foreign movies) as well as a large supermarket and grocery store. It is accessible from an entrance to the left of the "Grande Arche" or via the metro station. 230 stores (Auchan, C&A, Darty, Virgin, Zara, Go Sport, H&M, Uniqlo, Toys’R’Us), 16 movie theater screens, 40 restaurants.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Paris/La Défense on Wikivoyage.