Designed by the Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen, who died before its completion, La Grande Arche is a pure and graceful example of design wedded to innovative engineering, on a par with the Eiffel Tower and in marked contrast to other recent Parisian monuments. The arch houses a government ministry, international businesses, an information centre on the European Union ("Sources d'Europe"; MonFri 10am6pm) and, in the roof section, the Fondation Internationale des Droits de l'Homme, which stages exhibitions and conferences on issues related to human rights.
Transparent lift shafts make for a thrilling ride to the rooftop, from where, as well as having access to the exhibitions, you can admire Jean-Pierre Raynaud's "Map of the Heavens" marble patios. The lift (daily 10am8pm; closes an hour earlier in winter; €7), however, is pricey, and the views no more impressive than from the series of steps that lead up to the base of the arch, itself a popular meeting and viewing point on a clear day, you can scan from the marble path on the parvis below you to the Arc de Triomphe, and beyond to the Louvre.
The closest stations to La Défense are Mº/RER Grande-Arche-de-la-Défense, though for the most dramatic approach to the Grande Arche and to see the sculptures it's worth getting off a stop early, at M° Esplanade-de-la-Défense.
Pages in section ‘La Défense’: Around La Grande Arche.
|© Rough Guides 2008||Printed from http://france-for-visitors.com/paris/la-defense.html||About this website|