La Défense (French: [la de.fɑ̃s]) is a major business district located 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the city limits of Paris. It is part of the Paris metropolitan area in the Île-de-France region, located in the department of Hauts-de-Seine in the communes of Courbevoie, La Garenne-Colombes, Nanterre, and Puteaux.

La Défense
La Défense seen from the Eiffel Tower
La Défense seen from the Eiffel Tower
 • Total5.6 km2 (2.2 sq mi)
 • Total25,000
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)

La Défense is Europe's largest purpose-built business district, covering 560 hectares (1,400 acres), for 180,000 daily workers,[1] with 72 glass and steel buildings (of which 19 are completed skyscrapers), and 3,500,000 square metres (38,000,000 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. Les Quatre Temps, a large shopping mall in La Défense, has 220 stores, 48 restaurants and a 24-screen movie theatre.[2]

The district is located at the westernmost extremity of the 10-kilometre-long (6.2 mi) Axe historique ("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 department communes of Courbevoie, La Garenne-Colombes, Nanterre and Puteaux. La Défense is primarily a business district and hosts a population of 25,000 permanent residents and 45,000 students.[1][3] La Défense is also visited by 8,000,000 tourists each year[1] and houses an open-air museum.[4]


La Grande Arche de la Défense and the Yaacov Agam Fountain (1977). The bronze sculpture on the left, seen from the rear, is La Défense de Paris by Louis-Ernest Barrias, after which La Défense is named.
Paris, with the skyscrapers of La Défense in the background and the Eiffel Tower in the foreground taken in 2014
The Grande Arche is the central and defining building of La Défense. It is, with the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the third arch on the Historical Axis of Paris.

La Défense is named after the statue La Défense de Paris by Louis-Ernest Barrias, which was erected in 1883 to commemorate the soldiers who had defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.

In September 1958, the Public Establishment for Installation of La Défense [fr] (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 Centre 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.[5] 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 shopping 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.[citation needed]

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 Jean Michel Jarre, German DJ Sash! and the singer La Trec have set at La Défense the video clip for their song Stay in 1997.

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, TotalEnergies, 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).

On 9 September 2008, La Défense celebrated its 50th anniversary with a huge fireworks display.[6]

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 2016".

The district at night


Paris La Défense brings together the cluster of Leonardo da Vinci University Center and 5 business schools: EDC Paris Business School, ESSEC Business School, ICN Graduate Business School, IESEG School of Management and SKEMA Business School.[7] It is also home to the European School of Paris-La Défense, an international primary and secondary school that was accredited as a European School in 2020.

Area specificationsEdit

  • Divided into 4 major sectors
  • 1,400 acres (5.7 km2)
  • 3,500,000 square metres (38,000,000 sq ft) of offices
  • 1,500 businesses
  • 180,000 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

Open-air museumEdit

Besides the representative architecture, the area also houses an open-air museum with 70 statues and pieces of modern art,[4] including the following works:

Tallest buildingsEdit

Completed highrise buildings above 50 m (164 ft) (1967–2021)Edit

Name Built Use Height Levels Municipality
metres feet
Tour First (formerly tour AXA) 1974/2011 office 231 758 50 Courbevoie
Tour Majunga 2014 office 194 636 47 Puteaux
Tour Total (Coupole) 1985 office 187 614 48 Courbevoie
Tour Engie (T1) 2008 office 185 607 37 Courbevoie
Tour Granite (Société Générale) 2008 office 184 600 37 Nanterre
Tour CB21 (formerly tour Gan) 1974 office 179 587 42 Courbevoie
Tour Areva 1974 office 178 584 44 Courbevoie
Tour Saint-Gobain 2020 office 178 584 39 Courbevoie
Tour D2 2014 office 171 561 37 Courbevoie
Tour Alicante (Société Générale) 1995 office 167 548 37 Nanterre
Tour Chassagne (Société Générale) 1995 office 167 548 37 Nanterre
Tour EDF 2001 office 165 541 41 Puteaux
Tour Carpe Diem 2013 office 162 531 38 Courbevoie
Cœur Défense 2001 office 161 528 40 Courbevoie
Tour Alto 2020 office 160 525 38 Courbevoie
Tour Adria (Technip) 2002 office 155 509 40 Courbevoie
Tour Égée (Ernst&Young) 1999 office 155 509 40 Courbevoie
Tour Ariane 1975 office 152 499 36 Puteaux
Tour Trinity 2020 office 151 495 32 Courbevoie
Tour Dexia (CBX) 2005 office 142 466 36 Courbevoie
Tour Europlaza 1995 office 135 443 31 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 France 1973 residential 126 413 40 Puteaux
Tour Franklin 1972 office 120 394 33 Puteaux
Tour Sequoia (Bull, Cegetel, SFR) 1990 office 119 390 33 Puteaux
Tour Winterthur 1973 office 119 390 33 Puteaux
Tour CGI (CB16) 2003 office 117 384 32 Courbevoie
Tour Neptune 1972 office 113 371 28 Courbevoie
Préfecture des Hauts-de-Seine 1974 office 113 371 25 Nanterre
Grande Arche 1989 monument, office 110 361 37 Puteaux
Tour Manhattan 1975 office 110 361 32 Courbevoie
Tour Aurore 1970 office 110 361 29 Courbevoie
Tour Eve 1975 mixed 109 358 30 Puteaux
Tour Initiale 1967 office 109 358 30 Puteaux
L'archipel 2021 office 106 353 24 Nanterre
Tour Nuage 1, Tours Aillaud 1976 residential 105 344 39 Nanterre
Tour Nuage 2, Tours Aillaud 1976 residential 105 344 39 Nanterre
Tour Gambetta 1975 residential 104 341 37 Courbevoie
Tour Cèdre 1998 office 103 338 26 Courbevoie
Tour Opus 12 1973 office 100 328 27 Puteaux
Tour Athéna 1984 office 100 328 25 Puteaux
Tour Europe 1969 office 99 325 28 Courbevoie
Tour AIG 1967 office 99 325 27 Courbevoie
Tour Prisma (Tour Kvaerner) 1998 office 97 318 25 Courbevoie
Tour Atlantique 1970 office 95 312 27 Puteaux
Tour Pascal 1983 office 95 312 27 Puteaux
Tour Pacific 1992 office 90 295 25 Puteaux
Skylight 2017 residential 76 249 19 Puteaux
Rose de Cherbourg residence 2018 housing 75 246 20 Puteaux
Tour Eria 2021 mix 59.35 195 13 Puteaux

Upcoming highrise buildings (2015–2027)Edit

Name Use Height Levels Municipality Status Estimated Year of Completion
metres feet
The Link office 244 801 52 Puteaux Under construction 2025
Tour Sister 1 office 229 718 55 Courbevoie Construction start in 2021 2023
Tour Hekla office 220 722 51 Puteaux Under construction 2022
Tour des Jardins de l'Arche office & hotel 210 656 54 Nanterre approved 2023
Tour C/ (Odyssey) office 187 613 42 Courbevoie Construction start in 2022 2026
Tour O/ (Odyssey) mix 174 570 33 Courbevoie Construction start in 2022 2026
Tours Sister 2 office 131 396 26 Courbevoie Construction start in 2021 2022
Tour D/ (Odyssey) mix 101 331 ? Courbevoie Construction start in 2022 2026

Canceled projectsEdit

  1. Tour Sans Fins (1989): 425 m (1,394 ft)
  2. Hermitage Plaza (2022): 323 m (1,060 ft)
  3. Tour Generali (2011): 319 m (1,047 ft)
  4. Tour Signal (2009): 301 m (988 ft)
  5. Tour Phare (2018): 296 m (971 ft)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "La Défense, Tout sur ce quartier d'exception". Ville de Courbevoie. Retrieved 19 October 2021. 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
  2. ^ "La Défense near Paris. Shopping. Map". Paris Digest. 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  3. ^ Fallon, Steve; Annabel Hart (2006). Paris. Footscray, Victoria: Lonely Planet. p. 155. ISBN 1-74059-849-0.
  4. ^ a b La Défense > Artworks: Guide 2013. Leaflet published by Defacto, Établissement public de gestion du quartier d'affaires de la Défense.
  5. ^ "Portrait of the RER A – RATP". Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  6. ^ La Défense : 50 ans d’histoire 9 November 2008, Danielle Birck (in French)
  7. ^ ÉTUDIER
  8. ^ "La Défonce | Defacto – Quartier d'affaires de la Defense". Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Une oeuvre géante de Guillaume Bottazzi à La Défense | Defacto – Quartier d'affaires de la Defense". 30 September 2014. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2016.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 48°53′30.27″N 2°14′27.00″E / 48.8917417°N 2.2408333°E / 48.8917417; 2.2408333