LA DEFENSE - Paris
The Grand Axis of Paris began
in the Tuileries Gardens in the seventeenth century and was projected
beyond the River Seine in the twentieth century, becoming the pedestrian
core of a major business district. It runs through the Arc de Triomphe
and culminates in the Grand Arche, a hollow office building topped
with an art gallery and viewing platform. Dan Kiley, the American
landscape architect and garden designer, was responsible for a 0.5
mile stretch, the Dalle Centrale, between the River Seine and the
Grand Arche. It is an exercise in classical modernism, embellished
with water features and other works of art. Kiley wrote : "It
is filled with large pools of water animated by jets and waterfalls,
shaded seating areas, earthen bocce courts and open-air cafes..
Above ground we planted long, linear bosques of pollarded London
plane trees on either side of the corridor". He insisted on
having all four rows of London plane. West of the Arche, a decked
bridge extends the axis towards St-Germain-en-Laye.
"La Grande Arche"
Six kilometres out from the Arc de Triomphe, at the far end of the
Voie Triomphale, has put La Défense high on the list of places
to which Paris visitors must pay homage. Created by a Danish architect,
Johan-Otto von Spreckelson who won a competition called by the President
Mitterrand, this hollowed-out cube, weighing 300,000 tons, 110m
(352 ft) high and 70 meters (225 ft) wide (The whole of Notre-Dame
cathedral would fit in its frame), was entitled "La Grande
Arche". This monument, dedicated to Fraternity, is built of
concrete with a facing of Carrara marble and grey granite. On the
esplanade are works by Takis, fountains, luminous signals and statues
by Mirò. Various ministries have their offices in the massive
supporting pillars, the human rights commission (Fondation des Droits
de l'Homme) and major corporations have their office there. The
Arche also includes a large exhibition hall.
Seated up above on the terrace one can admire the impeccable success
of its perspective, whose lines can be followed to the Arc de Triomphe,
along the Champs-Élysées avenue to the obelisk on the Place
de la Concorde, over the Tuileries gardens to the Louvre's Cour
Carrée, assuming that the weather is clear and the air free
of polluting fumes.
La Grande Arche - 1 parvis de la Défense
How to get there
Metro line 1 : La Défense
RER A : La Défense
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