In 1958 it was just a roundabout and a few buildings. 50 years later it has become the biggest European business centre, packed full of towering office blocks and dominated by the magnificent Grande Arche, almost perfectly aligned with the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. As a symbol of France's force, vision and tireless stubbornness, you couldn't get much better.
If you're going to La Défense, chances are it's for business, and the simplest way to get there is by métro (line 1 is direct and much more comfortable than the RER line A which also stops there).
Other travel options include tramway line 2 or the train from Saint Lazare. La Défense is also a hub for local buses (details below).
Once your meeting or trade fair is over, you may like to peruse shopping centre Les Quatre Temps, the 2nd biggest in France - 230 shops, a 16-screen cinema, 6,500 parking spaces and a huge hypermarket are just a few of the things on offer.
Cross over the main forecourt and you'll find a large FNAC store in the CNIT building - good for multimedia purchases - and there's even the possibility of a nice stroll, as a walkway has recently been opened stretching beyond the Grande Arche into the town of Nanterre. The perfect antidote to the stress that a big city (or a big meeting) can bring.
photo : wallyg (www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/) used under cc licence
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