Skyscrapers of La Défense seen from the Saint-Jacques Tower in central Paris
|• Total||1.6 km2 (0.6 sq mi)|
La Défense (French: [la de.fɑ̃s]) is a major business district of the Paris Metropolitan Area and of the Île-de-France region, located in the commune of Courbevoie, and parts of Puteaux and Nanterre, just west of the city of Paris.
La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district with 560 hectares (5.6 million square metres) area, 72 glass and steel buildings of which 18 are completed skyscrapers, 180,000 daily workers, and 3.5 million square metres (37.7 million sq ft) of office space. Around its Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), La Défense contains many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises.
The district is located at the westernmost 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 along the Avenue de la Grande Armée 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 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".
- Divided into 4 major sectors
- 400 acres (1.6 km2)
- 3,500,000 square metres (38,000,000 sq ft) of offices
- 1,500 businesses
- 150,000 employees
- 20,000 residents
- 210,000 square metres (2,300,000 sq ft) of shops (including the 140,000 square metres (1,500,000 sq ft) Quatre Temps Shopping Mall)
- 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 stairs of the Grande Arche.
View from Arc de Triomphe.
View from Eiffel Tower.
- 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)
- François Morellet, La Défonce (1990)
- Guillaume Bottazzi, Peinture de 216 m² (2014) 
Takis, Bright Trees, c. 1990
Completed highrise buildings above 90 m (295 ft) (1967–2014)
|Tour First (formerly tour AXA)||1974/2011||office||231||758||52||Courbevoie|
|Tour Total (Coupole)||1985||office||187||614||48||Courbevoie|
|Tour GDF Suez (T1)||2008||office||185||607||37||Courbevoie|
|Tour Granite (Société Générale)||2008||office||183||600||37||Nanterre|
|Tour CB21 (formerly tour Gan)||1974||office||179||587||42||Courbevoie|
|Tour Alicante (Société Générale)||1995||office||167||548||37||Nanterre|
|Tour Chassagne (Société Générale)||1995||office||167||548||37||Nanterre|
|Tour Carpe Diem||2013||office||162||531||38||Courbevoie|
|Tour Adria (Technip)||2002||office||155||509||40||Courbevoie|
|Tour Égée (Ernst&Young)||1999||office||155||509||40||Courbevoie|
|Tour Dexia (CBX)||2005||office||142||466||36||Courbevoie|
|Tour Défense 2000||1974||residential||134||440||47||Puteaux|
|Tour Eqho (formerly tour Descartes)||1988||office||130||427||40||Courbevoie|
|Tour Les Poissons||1970||mixed||129.5||425||42||Courbevoie|
|Tour Sequoia (Bull, Cegetel, SFR)||1990||office||119||390||33||Puteaux|
|Tour CGI (CB16)||2003||office||117||384||32||Courbevoie|
|Préfecture des Hauts-de-Seine||1974||office||113||371||25||Nanterre|
|Grande Arche||1989||monument, office||110||361||37||Puteaux|
|Tour Nuage 1, Tours Aillaud||1976||residential||105||344||39||Nanterre|
|Tour Nuage 2, Tours Aillaud||1976||residential||105||344||39||Nanterre|
|Tour Opus 12||1973||office||100||328||27||Puteaux|
|Tour Prisma (Tour Kvaerner)||1998||office||97||318||25||Courbevoie|
Upcoming highrise buildings (2016–2020)
|Name||Use||Height||Levels||Municipality||Status (2015)||Estimated Year of Completion|
|Hermitage Plaza II||mix||323||1,060||86||Courbevoie||Construction start in 2016||2020/2021|
|Hermitage Plaza I||mix||323||1,060||85||Courbevoie||Construction start in 2016||2020/2021|
|Tour Trinity||office||140||459||32||Courbevoie||Construction start in 2014/2015||2017|
- Tour Sans Fins (1989): 425 m (1,394 ft)
- Tour Generali (2011): 319 m (1,047 ft)
- Tour Signal (2009): 301 m (988 ft)
- "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
- 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)
- 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.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for La Défense.|
- Satellite image from Google Maps
- la Défense de Paris
- Site officiel de l'EPAD (Établissement Public pour l'Aménagement de la Défense) (French)
- 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 (English)
- Les bâtiments de la Défense (French)
- Structurae: Structural engineering and architecture guide to Paris-La Défense (English)
- Défense Network