Paris – exploring La Defense

I imagine Paris is a city similar to London in the sense that it has well known sights and attractions, particularly in the centre, but also has lesser known areas that are also filled with interesting things to see.

As soon as we stepped off the metro at La Defense our first thought was that it must be the Canary wharf of Paris. After a bit of research we found out that it was in fact the biggest business district in the whole of Europe with 3.5 million square metres of office space!

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Situated west of the city, La Defense is part of the Paris metropolitan area and has so much more to see than just skyscrapers.

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The district is named after the statue La Defense de Paris which commemorates the Parisian resistance during the Franco-Prussian war. It stands pride of place in the middle of the area and it is not the only artistic structure you will see. Dotted around are a total of 60 modern art structures and monuments.

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I really liked the contrast of the colourful, fun looking artistic structures with the backdrop of the rigid office blocks. One of the newest buildings in the area is the Grande arch which was a project that was supported by the French president Mitterrand who wanted a twentieth century version of the Arch de Triomphe. The nice thing about it is if you face directly opposite the Grande arch you can see the Arch de Triomphe directly in front of you, albeit quite far in the distance.

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Either side of the Grande arch are two large shopping malls which house every shop you could think of which probably helps to bring a lot of Parisians as well as tourists to the area.

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I was quite surprised that although it is a business district there is still lots of greenery around the area. As we were there at the weekend it was fairly empty but I can imagine it thriving with people during the working week.

If I had known it was the business district before travelling to La Defense I probably would have been put off staying in the area but there was so much to see that I’m glad I didn’t look it up before our trip.

I am not really familiar with the different districts of Paris but would love to visit and explore other areas. Have you visited Paris? Where did you stay?

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