La Défense District: What to See? What to Do? Where to Eat?

Located in the North-West of Paris, La Défense district is known to be one of the largest business district in Europe, thanks to its 30 million square feet of offices spread across 71 towers. It is not just a business district though, but a highly cosmopolitan place. Let’s discover its hidden secrets together.

 

What to visit in La Défense district?

Contemplate Paris from the rooftop of the Grande Arche

Grande Arche
© Alexandre Prévot

It was on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution that the office building – also known as the Grande Arche de la Fraternité – was opened. It is now one of the must-see attractions of La Défense district.

Four panoramic elevators give you access to the rooftop, culminating at 360 feet. Once there you can enjoy the streets of Paris as you have never seen them.

The 320 feet long footbridge stretches across the rooftop, following the Axe Historique running through Paris. It offers a beautiful view of the Arc de Triomphe, the Luxor Obelisk, the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre all aligned, with the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse Tower and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in the background.

There is also a hanging garden on the rooftop, as well as a cultural centre hosting four expositions every year.

Full price: €15
Children’s price (from 3 to 18): €7

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 7pm*
*last admission at 6:30pm

Address: 1 parvis de la Défense, 92044, Paris La Défense Cedex

Access: Rer line A and Métro line 1, “La Défense (Grande Arche)”

 

Visit La Défense Art Collection

Le Pouce by César
© Rog01

It is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about La Défense district but it is an amazing open-air museum. No less than 69 art pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries are freely accessible – when you know where to look.

You can discover the Pouce (the thumb) by César, the characters of Joan Miro, the Fontaine Monumentale by Yaacov Agam, a piece of the Berlin wall, as well as many more wall paintings, statues and different kinds of installations.

Three artistic tours (freely available) have been created for you to discover the different pieces.

For more informations and to download the artworks map, visit:
https://parisladefense.com/en/discover/artworks/

 

Take a walk in the André Malraux park

André Malraux park
© Guilhem Vellut

At a short walking distance from the Grande Arche is the André Malraux park*, constructed between 1970 and 1978 mostly on the cuttings from La Défense construction site.
The 60 acres of the park were designed by Jacques Sgard to fit seamlessly into the urban landscape thanks to curves and swirls.

It is composed of large lawns – perfect for family picnics – and more covert areas which are ideal to rest a bit. You can contemplate the birds nesting in the reeds of the pond or read a book in the shadow of the maples.

The park has no fences and is open at all times.

Access: from the Métro “Gare de Nanterre Préfecture” stop, follow the esplanade Charles de Gaulle all the way to the park.

 

Contemplate the view from the Japan Bridge

Japan Bridge
© Dany13

Hanging about 16 feet above the D914 road, between the Pacifique tower and the Kupka building, the Japan Bridge* offers an amazing view of La Défense district.

It was built in 1994 by the architect Kisho Kurokawa and inspired by traditional Japanese bridges. It is a thousand feet long tunnel made of glass and steel, hanging from two arches meeting in its centre.

The view of La Défense’s different architectural constructions is breathtaking.

The bridge connects to the two buildings through enormous cuts. It is freely accessible.

Access: when exiting Les Quatre Temps mall, follow the direction of the Kupka tower.

 

What to do in La Défense district?

Wander in the Les Quatre Temps shopping centre

Les 4 Temps
© Jakub Szypulka

The shopping centre Les Quatre Temps opened in march 1981. It was the largest shopping mall at the time, thanks to its 150,000 square yards of space. Even though its surface area has been greatly exceeded by others since its opening, it remains the most visited shopping centre in France.

At first Les Quatre Temps was supposed to house several luxury boutiques but it was decided that an Auchan and other mass-consumer oriented brands would be better suited.

You can wander in its 219 fashion, interior decorations and electronics stores – and many more.

There are well-known brands such as Camaïeu, Body’ Minutes, Desigual, Kiko, etc. but also less well-known ones such as Xiaomi, the Chinese giant of cell phone market, which only counts five stores in France.

On rainy days you can see a film at the UGC or enjoy a meal in one of the 46 restaurants of the shopping centre.

Address: Parvis de la Défense, 92092, Paris La Défense

Access: Rer A and Métro line 1, “La Défense (Grande Arche)”

 

Be a part of the Urban Week Paris La Défense

Underground Effect in la Défense
© Mamasuco

The Urban Week takes place every year during the month of September. It is the occasion to get immersed in the urban culture for four days.

You can attend the Underground Effect where artists creates urban artworks before the eyes of the public over two days – they are then displayed for three days at the heart of La Défense district. The line-up of the 2018 edition was only composed of women, to mirror the importance of feminism in urban culture.

An Urban Market is installed for the duration of the festivities. You can meet major players of the street culture: tattoo artists, nail artists, independent designers, barbers and many others.

Free tours of urban areas are organised during the week. You can discover the different construction sites of the district and have access to buildings which are usually closed to the public (such as Paris la Défense Arena, the Monstre in the basement, etc.)

Many other activities linked to street music, food and art are also organised during the week.

 

Enjoy the Été Paris La Défense

Eté Paris La Défense
© Paris La Défense

What could be better than to change your perspective on La Défense district while enjoying summer? That has been the appeal of the Été Paris La Défense* festival for five weeks each summer for the last six years.

There are 37,000 square feet of recreational areas (32,000 square feet of which are on artificial turf) with picnic tables, DIY workshops, sport activities, table football and table-tennis tables, food corners where you can enjoy delicious smoothies and open-air concerts. That’s not all though; La Défense has much more in store for you!

The festival usually takes place in July and August.

 

Where to eat in La Défense district?

The food trucks

La Défense food trucks
© Paris La Défense

You cannot miss them; they are the heart of La Défense district. Each food truck is selected by a panel of 36 testers (workers, residents and students).

This year no less than 20 food trucks have been selected to share one of the six designated locations.

Specializing in traditional “galettes bretonnes”, vegan food, burgers, sandwiches, seafood and many more, there is a food truck for everyone.

There are also two coffee trucks in the morning (between 7:30am and 2:30pm) if you want a coffee or an orange juice to wake you up.

A weekly schedule is available to find every food truck and every location depending on the day.

 

The Skyline Lounge Bar

Hôtel Mélia
© Alexandre Prévot

The Skyline Lounge Bar is on the 19th floor of the Mélia hotel and offers a panoramic view of the city thanks to its rooftop concept.

You can choose between a wide range of cocktails (it is said that the Mezcale Mule is to die for) and tapas while enjoying the view, whether from the restaurant’s room or the rooftop terrace.

Cocktails and tapas are the restaurant’s specialities but their cooking is delicious too. Ravioli stuffed with Ceps and Truffles, wagyu beef and red mullets are on the menu.

The average price is €28 for a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The drinks are not included.

Trip Advisor: 4/5

Address: 2 esplanade du Général De Gaulle, 92400, Courbevoie

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 5pm to 1am

 

La City restaurant

view from the Grande Arche
© Guilhem Vellut

La City restaurant is on the rooftop of the Grande Arche and offers a beautiful view of Paris in a cozy atmosphere.

It has a private elevator for the exclusive use of its customers.

There is a wide range of starters, main courses and desserts on the menu. For example, you can go for a Corn velvety with ricotta cream and Cajun pop corn, a Duo of scalop’s regular and hibiscus, spelt risotto and sorrel espuma and end the meal with a Cherry Amarena tiramisu and nougatine.

The price for a starter, a main course and a dessert is 38€. The drinks are not included.

Trip Advisor: 3.5/5

Address: 1 parvis de la Défense, 92044, Puteaux

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 12am to 2:30pm.

 

Table Square (upcoming)

Upcoming Table Square
© Paris La Défense

The Table Square project started taking shape in 2013 and should be finished by the end of November 2019.

It will consist of 3 buildings and a terrace of 48,000 square feet, all entirely dedicated to food.

The brands Grillé (luxury kebabs), Kodeo* (Japanese cuisine) and Mersea* (the new seafood project by the two stars chef Olivier Bellin) have been announced and many more are to come.

You will be able to eat on site or to order takeaways.

 

Where to sleep in La Défense district?

Hilton Paris La Défense

Hilton La Défense

At the heart of the district, right next to the Grande Arche and the shopping centre Les Quatre Temps, the location of the Hilton hotel could not be better. The clients have access to a gym, a restaurant and a bar. An LCD TV, a minibar and facilities for making tea and coffee are provided in the contemporary guest rooms. Some of the rooms also offer a city view or a spa bath in the large bathroom.

Trip Advisor: 4/5

Prices: start at €143

Address: 2 place de la Défense, 92800, Puteaux

 

Ibis Paris la Défense Centre

Ibis La Défense

The Ibis Paris la Défense Centre hotel is only at a short walking distance (less than 15mn) from the Grande Arche and Les Quatre Temps shopping centre. It is ideal for smaller budgets.

The clients have access to a bar, a restaurant and two meeting rooms.

The rooms are air-conditioned, have free Wi-Fi access and a flat-screen TV. Some of them offer views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower.

Trip Advisor: 3.5/5

Prices: start at €67

Address: 4 boulevard de Neuilly, 92400, Courbevoie

 

*the website or the article is not yet available in English