|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (October 2012)|
|Paris, with the skyscrapers of La Défense in the background and the Eiffel Tower in the foreground|
|• Total||14 km2 (5 sq mi)|
With its 560 hectares (5.6 million square metres) area, its 72 glass and steel buildings and skyscrapers, its 180,000 daily workers, and 3.5 million square metres (37.7 million sq ft) of office space, La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district. Around its Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), La Défense contains many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises, and is home to no fewer than 1,500 corporate head offices, including those of 15 of the top 50 companies in the world.
The district is located at the western-most extremity of the ten-kilometre-long Historical Axis of Paris, which starts at the Louvre in Central Paris, and continues along the Champs-Élysées, well beyond the Arc de Triomphe before culminating at La Défense. The district is centred in an orbital motorway straddling the Hauts-de-Seine département municipalities of Courbevoie, Nanterre and Puteaux. La Défense is primarily a business district, and hosts only a population of 25,000 permanent residents and 45,000 students. La Défense is also visited by 8,000,000 tourists each year, and houses an open-air museum.
In September 1958, The Public Establishment for Installation of La Défense (EPAD) buildings (of which the Esso Tower was the very first) were built and began to slowly replace the city's factories, shanties, and even a few farms. The Center of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT) was built and first used in 1958. These "first generation" skyscrapers were all very similar in appearance, limited to a height of 100 metres (330 ft). In 1966, the Nobel Tower was the first office skyscraper built in the area. In 1970, the RER line A railway was opened from La Défense to Étoile. In 1974, a contract for a Défense-Cergy high-speed hovercraft train was signed and soon abandoned.
In the early 1970s, in response to great demand, a second generation of buildings began to appear, but the economic crisis in 1973 nearly halted all construction in the area. A third generation of towers began to appear in the early 1980s. The biggest commercial centre in Europe (at the time), the Quatre Temps, was created in 1981. In 1982, the EPAD launched the Tête Défense competition to find a monument to complete the Axe historique, which eventually led to the construction of Grande Arche at the west end of the quarter. During the same period, hotels were constructed, the CNIT was restructured, and in 1992, Line 1 of the Paris Métro was extended to La Défense, which made the area readily accessible to even more of the city.
On Bastille Day 1990, French electronic composer Jean Michel Jarre staged an ambitious concert at the site, using the Grande Arche and three of the area's towers as projection screens, and building a pyramidal stage above the road. The free concert, titled simply Paris la Defense, attracted two million spectators, stretching all the way back to the Arc de Triomphe. This beat Jarre's own previous world record for the largest attendance for a musical concert.
After a stagnation in new development in the mid-1990s, La Défense is once again expanding and is now the largest purpose-built business district in Europe.
Important corporations headquartered at La Défense include Neuf Cegetel, Société Générale, Total, Aventis, Areva, and Arcelor. The tallest skyscraper, the Tour First belongs to AXA, constructed in 1974. It is 231 metres (758 ft) high, has 50 floors, and is the highest inhabited building in the Paris area (a title previously held by the Tour Montparnasse, which was the tallest inhabited building until the Tour First was renovated between 2007 and 2011, bringing it to its current height from a previous 159 metres (522 ft); the tallest structure in Paris is the Eiffel Tower).
In December 2005, Bernard Bled, CEO & Chairman of EPAD (La Defense Management & Development Office) announced an ambitious 9-year development plan called "La Defense 2006–2015".This important modernisation plan has to give a new dimension to the district and focuses on four main axes: regenerate outdated skyscrapers, allow new buildings, improve the balance between offices and residential housing and make the transport of local employees from their homes to La Défense easier. There are 3 aims: building 150,000 square metres (1,600,000 sq ft) of offices within demolition/rebuilding projects, building 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft) of offices within new projects, and building 100,000 square metres ( 1,100,000 sq ft) of housing.
The government confirmed in July 2006 this plan which has to be carried out around 2015. It is justified by the strong estate pressure, which plays in favour of building new skyscrapers near Paris. Those constructions have also the advantage to be more economical than little buildings. But it will have to overcome some difficulties: French economy faces a short-term slowdown; the government tries to balance tertiary sector employment in the whole region again, because La Défense today concentrates a major part of those jobs; and traffic is already saturated in the district, while it would need huge investments to extend transport infrastructures.
It launched high profile international competitions and/or construction greenlight of several key 300-to-320-metre (980 to 1,050 ft) tall sustainable development-style skyscrapers such as Tour Signal, Tour Phare, Hermitage Plaza, and Tour Generali. During said December 2005 Press Conference, EPAD released to the public an elaborate 3D animation film titled "La Défense 2015".
Area specifications 
- Divided into 12 sectors
- 400 acres (1.6 km2)
- 3,500,000 square metres (38,000,000 sq ft) of offices
- 1,500 businesses (of which 14 from the national top 20 and 15 from the global top 50)
- 150,000 employees
- 20,000 residents
- 210,000 square metres (2,300,000 sq ft) of shops (including the 120,000 square metres (1,300,000 sq ft) Quatre Temps Shopping Mall, the largest in Continental Europe)
- 2,600 hotel rooms
- 310,000 square metres (3,300,000 sq ft) of flagstone and sidewalk
- 110,000 square metres (1,200,000 sq ft) of greenery
- 60 modern art sculptures and monuments
View from Neuilly-sur-Seine.
The CNIT, Center of New Industries and Technologies.
The stairs of the Grande Arche.
View from Arc de Triomphe.
View from Eiffel Tower.
Open-air museum 
- César, Thumb (1965)
- Joan Miró, Two fantastic characters (1976)
- Alexander Calder, Red Spider (1976)
- Yaacov Agam, Fountain (1977)
- Richard Serra, Slat (1982)
- Shelomo Selinger, The Dance (1983)
- Bernar Venet, Two Indeterminate Lines (1988)
- Takis, Bright Trees (1990)
- Igor Mitoraj, Tindaro (1997)
- Emily Young, Four Heads (2002)
- Patrick Blanc, Green wall (2006)
- Louis-Ernest Barrias, La Défense de Paris (1883)
Alexander Calder, Red Spider, c. 1976
Takis, Bright Trees, c. 1990
Shelomo Selinger, The Dance, c. 1983
La Défense tallest towers 
Completed highrise buildings above 90 m (300 ft) (1967–2008) 
|1||Tour First (ex AXA, ex Assur)||1974/2010||office||231||787||55||Courbevoie|
|3||Tour T1 (GDF Suez)||2008||office||185||610||37||Courbevoie|
|5||Tour Granite (Société Générale)||2008||office||183||603||37||Nanterre|
|7||Tour Alicante (Société Générale)||1995||office||167||548||37||Nanterre|
|Tour Chassagne (Société Générale)||1995||office||167||548||37||Nanterre|
|11||Tour Adria (Technip)||2002||office||155||509||40||Courbevoie|
|Tour Égée (Ernst&Young)||1999||office||155||509||40||Courbevoie|
|15||Tour Défense 2000||1974||residential||136||446||46||Puteaux|
|17||Tour Descartes (IBM)||1988||office||130||427||40||Courbevoie|
|18||Tour Les Poissons||1970||mixed||128||420||42||Courbevoie|
|21||Tour Sequoia (Bull, Cegetel, SFR)||1990||office||119||390||33||Puteaux|
|23||Tour Michelet (Total)||1985||office||117||384||34||Puteaux|
|Préfecture des Hauts-de-Seine||1974||office||113||371||25||Nanterre|
|27||Grande Arche||1989||monument, office||110||361||37||Puteaux|
|32||Tour Nuage 1, Tours Aillaud||1976||residential||105||344||39||Nanterre|
|Tour Nuage 2, Tours Aillaud||1976||residential||105||344||39||Nanterre|
|40||Tour Prisma (Tour Kvaerner)||1998||office||97||318||25||Courbevoie|
Upcoming highrise buildings (2010–2016) 
|Name||Use||Height||Levels||Municipality||Status (2008)||Estimated Year of Completion|
|Hermitage Plaza II||mix||323||1,060||93||Courbevoie||approved||2018|
|Hermitage Plaza I||mix||323||1,060||91||Courbevoie||approved||2018|
|Tour Generali||office||265||869||50||Courbevoie||cancelled/resold?||On Hold|
|Tour Majunga||office||193||591||42||Puteaux||under construction||2013|
|Tour D2||office||171||574||37||Courbevoie||under construction||2013|
|Tour Carpe Diem||office||166||525||32||Courbevoie||under construction||2013|
|Hôtel Melia La Défense||hotel||87||285||23||Courbevoie||under construction||2014|
Canceled projects 
- Tour Sans Fins (1989): 425 m (1,394 ft)
See also 
- "La Défense, Tout sur ce quartier d'exception". Ville de Courbevoie. "Ce territoire stratégique pour l’économie nationale s’étend sur plus de 560 hectares. Chiffres clés: 180 0000 emplois, 25 000 habitants, 45 000 étudiants, Plus de 8 millions de touristes"
- "La Défense, Europe's largest business district". "La Défense is home to no less than 1500 corporate head offices, including those of 15 of the top 50 companies in the world, which makes it the biggest business center in Europe"
- Fallon, Steve; Annabel Hart (2006). Paris. Footscray, Victoria: Lonely Planet. p. 155. ISBN 1-74059-849-0.
- La Défense > Artworks: Guide 2013. Leaflet published by Defacto, Établissement public de gestion du quartier d'affaires de la Défense.
- La Défense : 50 ans d’histoire 9 November 2008, Danielle Birck (French)
- L’Epad signe cinq nouvelles tours à la Défense 27 January 2010 (French)
Further reading 
- Schaugg, Johannes: High-Rise Buildings – La Défense, Books on Demand 2009, ISBN 978-3-8391-4523-4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: La Défense|
- Satellite image from Google Maps
- la Défense de Paris
- (French) Site officiel de l'EPAD (Établissement Public pour l'Aménagement de la Défense)
- (English) Connecting-Paris, web site created by the Chamber of commerce and industry of Paris to help companies setting up in La Defense
- (English) Expatriates Magazine, A printed publication distributed within various corporations situated in La Defense helping international employees integrate within the workplace and city
- (French) Les bâtiments de la Défense
- (English) Structurae: Structural engineering and architecture guide to Paris-La Défense
- La Defense travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Défense Network