One of the things about visiting or living in Paris is that it can often feel like you are living in a giant museum. Everything is old, you are surrounded by history.
All of this changes in La Defense, Paris' modern business district just aside Paris. A sky scraper city of modern buildings and sculpture makes a significant change from inside Paris.
What to see
There is a 10 kilometer straight line from the Louvre, through Place du Concorde, through the Arc de Triumph, down the Avenue du Grand Armee and to the Grande Arch de la Defense. This is called the Historical Axis.
If you catch the Metro line 1 to Esplanade de la Defense you can walk up the last part of the Historical Axis.
On this short walk (about 15 minutes) there are a number of sculptures, water features and parks. There are around sixty in total, and thus the area is considered to be an open air museum.
The major feature of La Defense is Grande Arch de la Defense. The Arch is a 110m/360ft arc, mirroring the Arc du Triumph. The Grande Arch is an office block which houses government departments. In the past it was possible to visit a viewing deck on the roof of the Arch but this is now closed.
Surrounding the plaza in front of the Arch are several major shopping malls with a wide selection of shops, cinemas, and restaurants/cafes.
Through the other side of the Arch there is a long wooden walkway out into the suburb, continuing the Historical Axis.
Things to do
How to get there
There are two options for getting to La Defense. By Metro or by RER. The Metro is preferable.
Take the Metro Line 1 from anywhere in Paris in the direction of La Defense. Get off the Metro at Esplanade de la Defense if you want to walk up the esplanade. Otherwise take the the metro to La Defense which will take you to the Grand Arch de la Defense.
The metro is preferable to the RER as the T+ ticket will allow you to access La Defense. If you take the RER you will need a zone 2 ticket.
Take the A line to La Defense (direction St-Germain en-Laye, Poissy, or Cergy).
The A line does not give you the option to stop at the Esplanade,.
If you are taking the RER to La Defense you will need a zone 2 ticket. The Paris T+ ticket will not allow you to exit at La Defense on the RER.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 10km/ 6mi
Time to get there: 10 minutes
Transport Method: RER A line or Metro 1 line.
Approximate Price: Free.
Worth: 2 hours (more if you are shopping)
Website: http://www.ladefense.fr/ (in French only)