Tuesday, January 19, 2010

La Défense

La Défense is the place that everyone loves to hate. Torn between protecting the historic center of Paris with its low profile and wanting to create a modern, high-density business district, regional planners came up with the idea of building the skyscrapers across the Seine, straddling the towns of Nanterre, Courbevoie, and Puteaux. Up close, the atmosphere, to my mind, is quite sterile and the windswept Esplanade uninviting. But from a distance, when the light is hitting those towers just right, here catching the first rays of the morning sun, it has its own kind of beauty. (Sorry about that light pole; no way was I going to risk my neck trying to get across the traffic choked intersection at Porte Maillot to get a more pristine view.) La Grande Arche was built to anchor a western extension of the axis that runs from the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.

Although the district is the largest business center in Europe, it's going to get even bigger. The crane pictured here is just one of the new projects anticipated between now and 2015. Time, the economy, and modern architecture march on.


debbie in toronto said...

on the day I climbed all the steps to the top of the Arch de Triomphe I saw exactly that view...the sun was hitting the buildings and it looked amazing..that Arche is unique and looks like the future...I think they did a great job of keeping the footprint of the old Paris but edged it with the new...doesn't bother me one bit.

Belle de Ville said...

La Defense is amazing to look at and a more attractive modern alternative to the montparnasse.
Paris for me is about the old and the new and La Defense, while not exactly new, shows that Paris is more than 18th Century apartements particular and Haussmanian boulevards.

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