La Défense – Paris

Last week, I went to Paris for 5 days to get a break from my everyday life. I have not been to Paris before, and have heard almost all of my friends, who have been there, telling that it’s a very beautiful and a romantic place – except one, who said it’s only a must visit to see some of the popular places, but that the city itself isn’t worth all the hype. I must admit, that I share the same opinion after experiencing the atmosphere of Paris – Paris is crowded, busy, and definitely not clean at all, and I don’t feel it’s as romantic as people tell you – but it depends on taste for sure. Compared to Rome, Paris isn’t my cup of tea, and I love Rome more. Though I’m going to give you guys a small guide and share my experiences with Paris and the places I went to.

I had actually planned my trip to Paris in medio May, both had to reschedule it, as we were not sure about whether a strike/lockout in Denmark was coming or not. We therefore went to Paris in medio June, and I guess it’s a better month, as the weather was pleasant at this time.

Finding a place to stay at:

Beware! If you want a very neat place to stay at, it might be a bit tough, and compared to other cities/places, the hotels of Paris don’t really live up to the standard, as what I found out according to many experienced reviews. For example, there is a lot of difference in 4-star hotels in Paris compared to other cities, and we therefore went for a 5 star hotel.

We decided to stay in La Défence. La Défence is a huge business district, which is a part of the Paris Metropolitan Area, but is located 3 km west from the City of Paris. This is therefore a more calm area to stay at, and though the area is busy, has big shopping opportunities etc., there are a lot of space for yourself, which I find very pleasant. Compared to the rest of Paris, I like La Défense more because of the calmer atmosphere. We stayed at the Sofitel Hotel in La Défense, which I’m going to write about in another post.

Here are some click from La Défense 😉

You can see the Eiffel Tower at the top of Esplanade de la Défense – here by night 😉

Some architecture in La Défense 😉

La Défense if the westernmost district of the 10 km-long Historical Axis, that starts from La Musée du Louvre and ends in La Défense. Here, in La Défense, you also find many beautiful, modern architectorial buildings and arts, and of course the popular Grande Arche. La Défense is an area with 150.000 eployees, 1500 businesses, 20.000 residences and 2600 hotel rooms – busy? Yes! Beautiful? Yes!

The Grande Arche de la Défense, which is actually a building of business , is the central and most defining building of La Défense, and the third arch of the Historical Axis of Paris – right after Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (posts about these coming soon!). It is mostly referred as the Arche de la Défense or as the Grande Arche.

Did you know, that the Grande Arche was actually designed by to Danish men – the Danish Architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and the Danish engineer Erik Reitzel – for a great national design competition, that was launched in 1982? The Grande Arche was completed in 1989, and is a 20th century version of Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, but for humanity and humanitarian ideals.

Besides all the beautiful representative architecture, La Défense also features an open air museum with a lot of beautiful statues and modern art.

Here’s the most significant statue, La Défence de Paris (hence the district is named La Défense), which is a statue by Louis-Ernest Barrias, that commemorates Parisian resistance during the Franco-Russian War of 1870.

Another popular monument of La Défense, especially popular for photo shoots, is Le Moretti,  designed by Raymond Moretti. It is made of reinforced plastic and fiberglass, and is 30 m high. Le Moretti is actually used to ventilate the working beneath the Esplanade de la Défense – one of the 2 stations in La Défense. Le Moretti is made of not less than 642 reinforced plastic and fiberglass tubes in 19 different colours.

Bassin Takis

This one is from 1988, designed by Panayotis Vassilakis (known as Takis, hence the name Bassin Takis), is a pool with lights placed on the top of the Esplanade. While standing here, you have the look over Pont de Neuilly and Arc de Triomphe.

The little “park area” in La Défense, placed after the Bassin Takis with sculptures by Shelomo Sellinger, called Le Danse.

The Oiseau mécanique – Mechanical Bird – a sculpture of steel by Philolaos, is a result of his work for EPAD’s prject to bring life to La Défense.

Another beautitful art is the Fontaine Monumentale, designed by Yaacov Agam.

Personnages Fantastiques by Miró, is the colourful sculptures seen in the picture below. It is a pair of gigantic marionettes. These 2 sculptures were installed in 1976, and later the shopping mall 4 temps was built behind the sculpture.

As mentioned above, La Défense has a great space for shopping with 2 shopping centres – Les 4 Temps and Cnit La Défense.

In Cnit..

4 Temps is the largest shopping centre in Europe, covering 140.000 m2 and with 250 shops, including a food court. I loved shopping here, but didn’t by much – I most went for delicious macarons. LOL 😉 While walking around on our first day, we went to Mezzo di Pasta in 4 Temps to get our lunch. I actually like the concept – you can choose among 5 types of pasta (1 is cavatappi and then 4 types of ravioli) and among 6 (or more) types of sauces, and there are vegetarian opportunities to go for. I got a small box of ravioli with ricotta and spinach and a veggie tomato sauce, and som fresh cheese. Fast food, but delicious.

The last day in Paris, we went to Les 4 Temps for shopping, and here we got our dinner at Vapiano Restaurant, that has a huge selection of pasta, pizza, and more. A cozy place, by the way.

~ AJ

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