Saturday, March 20, 2010

Walk 17: Small Buildings Need Not Apply

My last full Paris walk was definitely one of my favorites. Hanna had already done this walk, Ariel, Rebecca, and I stuck it out until the end of the day. Anyone who knows me knows that my tastes are pretty traditional – I want to live in a Colonial style house, wear Audrey Hepburn clothes, and have children named Elizabeth and William – so they might be as shocked as I was by my love for the modern architecture at La Défense.

Parisians are big fans of their uniform 18th century skyline, so they put up a big fuss any time a building over four stories tall goes up in their beloved city. This meant that when post World War II business demanded an area for skyscrapers, they were relegated to the outskirts at La Défense. The area earned its name from a sculpture by Louis-Ernest Barrias honoring those who fought against the Prussians during the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War.

Coming out of the metro, the first thing to catch our attention was the Grande Arche – it’s kind of hard to miss. Meant to be a 20th century echo of the Arche de Triomphe, this GIANT arch is actually a skyscraper filled with offices. We turned around to get a pretty incredible view of Paris, including the original arch, before heading up toward the Grande Arche.

Along the way, we saw some pretty crazy sculptures, like Bassin Takis:

Grande Mosaïque:

Cheminée d’aératioin:

Le Pouce:

and my personal favorite, which I don’t know the name of:

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