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Grande Arche de la Défense

View of the Grande Arche de la Défense

Grande Arche de la Défense

Paris’s Monumental, Modern Arch

1 Parvis de la Défense, 92800 Puteaux

This review may contain sponsored or affiliate links.

To the west of Paris, the Grande Arche of the modern business center of La Défense stands in line with the Arc de Triomphe and the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, in front of the Louvre.

The brainchild of former President François Mitterand, this huge glass, concrete, and steel archway was inaugurated on July 14, 1989, the year of the bicentenary of the French Revolution.

Few visitors find their way here as this modern landmark is all the way at the end of Metro Line 1, but perhaps more will make the trip as word gets out about the incredible views and great exhibitions in this unique space. Once you’ve ridden up 34 floors in one of four glass Tic-Tac-shaped elevators, you’ll definitely agree that it’s worth the quick metro ride!

View of the Grande Arche de la Défense

While you’re at the start of the line, take the chance to discover all of our must-see spots along Paris Metro Line 1!

Offices and conference spaces fill the inside of the great arch, and a cultural space also awaits way up at the top, just under the panoramic “promenade.” I was lucky enough to catch the current exhibition of photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, on from June 28 – Dec 1, 2019. His stunning pictures of our world, of its people, and its animals are so good that I nearly forgot to head out onto the roof!

But once outside, the views are fabulous: a straight shot all the way down to the Arc de Triomphe, and you even get a glimpse the smaller one in the background. The Eiffel Tower and the Tour Montparnasse vie for your attention and the Fondation Louis Vuitton shimmers next to the sprawling Bois de Bologne. The modern surroundings offer a different perspective on Paris, letting you watch office workers and shoppers mill about like ants on the vast plaza between the enormous CNIT and Quatre Temps shopping centers.

View from atop the Grande Arche of La Défense near Paris.

In summer, the rooftop restaurant La City stays open late for drinks along with the excellent view, and in winter, the rooftop is transformed into an ice-skating rink, giving locals and tourists alike another fabulous place to ice skate in Paris.

Oh, and one more thing! Down below, in the belly of the arch (just head down from the ticket office on the escalator), you can find a very hidden art installation. The 50-pillar crossroads by Daniel Buren, of Palais-Royal fame. The pillars are black-and white on the side, and blue, red, or pink on the others. See if you can get all three color schemes into one photograph…

Le Carrefour de 50 piliers by Daniel Buren
Le Carrefour de 50 piliers by Daniel Buren, Photo Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

Tickets for accessing the rooftop terrace, called the Promenade, are 15€ for adults, 7€ for children 3-18, outside of special events and activities.

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Métro Ⓜ
  • 1 Parvis de la Défense
  • 92800 Puteaux
Opening Hours

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