La Défense is the business district on the western edge of Paris. It does not belong to any of the city’s 20 arrondissements. It is the largest office development in Europe, launched in 1957 to create a new home for leading French and foreign companies. The concept of a new modern business district was inspired by Le Corbusier’s dream to keep high-rises out of the historic heart of Paris.
La Défense is today lined with high rises and office towers and dotted with modern art public sculptures. The main attraction at La Défense, besides the various glass-and-steel skyscrapers in their different shapes, forms, and constructions, is the Grande Arche de la Défense which crowns the main plaza. La Grande Arche is an enormous hollow cube of a building standing 360 feet high, spacious enough to contain the Notre-Dame cathedral. It was designed by Danish architect Otto von Spreckelsen in the late 1980s. The arch houses an exhibition gallery for unknown artists and offers superb views over the city, one that encompasses the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, and Place de la Concorde to its east.
La Grande Arche de la Défense