Paris/La Défense

La Défense is a collection of modern high-rise office and residential buildings built according to an evolving central plan on the western outskirts of Paris, beyond the last Parisian loop of the river Seine. La Défense is the site of the Grande Arche, one of Paris' most modern and imposing landmarks, situated at the western end of the grand axis formed by the Champs-Elysées, the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe.

La Défense is a purpose-built business district; in the 1960s, Charles de Gaulle led an effort to level the area and concentrate skyscrapers in a single business district, rather than altering the character of downtown Paris with large commercial buildings. Despite being officially and popularly recognized, and invariably associated with Paris, La Défense is neither an official administrative unit nor is it in Paris. The area of La Défense is actually at the borders of three communes of the Hauts-de-Seine department beyond the borders of Paris proper - Nanterre, Courbevoie and Puteaux.


Organization and administration

Since 1958 and up to 2007, La Défense was managed by a special government-formed entity called EPAD (Établissement Public pour l’Aménagement de la Région de La Défense), whose primary goal was the development of the new district by selling building rights to companies and institutions willing to invest. In 2007, the current management, administrative and promotional duties were transferred to the new body, called EPGD (Établissement Public de Gestion du Quartier d’Affaires de La Défense), which subsequently renamed itself Defacto and started to promote La Défense as a tourist destination as well.

Get in

By métro

Note: Both stations are in zone 3, but the line 1 stations can also be accessed using a T+ ticket or a zone 1-2 only pass.

By train

La Défense can be reached on RER A, Transilien L, Transilien U, tramway T2, station La Défense. The RER A and Transilien stations are in zone 3 and cannot be accessed with a T+ ticket.

The station layout can be very confusing but 'Les Quatres Temps' is color coded. There are many maps around the shopping center.


stairs below Grande Arche
La Défense seen from Arc de Triomphe

In La Défense


Each of the buildings of La Defense tells a story of architectural trends that were en vogue at the times of its construction and design. A tour of La Defense can be a quick overview through the most recent period in the history of architecture


There are over 60 works of art displayed in the open air throughout La Defense, interspersed within public spaces and freely accessible, and authored by some of the biggest names in modern art.

Beyond La Défense





Take an organized tour of La Défense organized by the Hauts-de-Seine department tourist board.



Besides the 40+ food and snack places at the 4 Temps, rue de Bezons has a few budget eateries, including a good bakery, a couple of Turkish joints and a McDonald's that normally stays open until midnight.

The La Coupole underground gallery, accessible through exit G of the metro station, is somewhat depressing but convenient for its restaurants and express cafés.

More fancy (and expensive) restaurants are located inside the hotels of La Défense:



Staying in the La Defense area may be a good option for exploring Paris - the Metro line 1 gives you a direct connection from Grande Arche to central Paris in 15 minutes. La Defense is also located favorably for visiting Versailles. As an added benefit, you will get the unique sights from Esplanade de la Defense towards Paris when entering and disembarking the metro, but on balance you will be staying in a jungle of steel and concrete with next to no nightlife.

As this is a business district, most hotels are business-oriented, so do not expect any kind of Parisian flair, but perhaps a swifter service - and larger hotel rooms - than in central Paris. Unless you choose to locate yourself farther from La Defense proper, do not expect bargains, but you will probably get a higher standard for the same price as a much smaller and less comfortable hotel in downtown Paris.

You can also choose to stay farther from La Defense proper, within one of the three municipalities which share the La Defense area. This may significantly add to your transit times and complicate your transit, but then you may get really good rates there.

Unexpectedly for a business district, La Defense is neither close nor well connected to either of the airports serving Paris. Bear this in mind planning your travel.

Central La Défense

Unless you are very familiar with the La Defense system of underground motorways and parkings, driving to hotels there is not recommended. Take the metro, RER or tram and walk the distance over the Esplanade enjoying the unique retrofuturisic atmosphere (and unique views of downtown Paris).

Do note that distances between your hotel and the entrance to the metro station can be significant, even when you are staying in a very central location, and the only way for you to get to the hotel is to walk through the uncovered Esplanade and walkways.





The area around Place Charras, in Courbevoie is a short bus ride or a 15-minute walk away from the metro.





Go next

Routes through La Défense

END  W  E  16th arrondissement 1st arrondissement

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, August 26, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.