La Defense, Paris - I explore architecture, art and people in one world's largest business districts
Updated: Jul 11, 2021
La Defense is a purpose built business district on the outskirts of Paris. It is the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Every day almost 200,000 worker bees scurry from their trains, bikes and cars to work. Scurrying along to one of the many steel and glass buildings that populate this area. It is also a place that (and it must be true because the internet tells me) almost 8,000,000 tourists visit each year.
I have spent a lot of time walking around and exploring La Defense and I wanted to take you on a short tour of one of my favourite places in Paris to shoot and get inspired. There isn't many places in the world where in a short walk you can shoot Architecture, street photography, abstract and it is even a good place for a photo shoot if you are keen.
So to start our tour I recommend that you take the M1 metro all the way until the end (La Defense Station). When you exit you will come up right in the shadow of the Grande Arche. First Opened in the 1980's this amazing building has become the symbol of La Defense. Climb up the stairs and look down along the esplanade. If it is a clear day you will see how it lines up with the Arc de Triumph and even all the way down to the Arc de Triumph Carousel next to the Louvre Museum.
Here you can use the massive structure and stairs to create some amazing shots that really show off the scale of the building. There is also a little hidden secret close by. If you are looking at the arch walk to your right and you will see some stairs leading down. Here you can see some columns by the artist "Daniel Buren" who is more famously known for the "Colonnes de Buren" in the heart of Paris.
From the Arche go to your left up the stairs towards the Cinema of the Westfield Shopping Center. If you don't go inside but walk through towards Nanterre you will find another cool photo spot which is the "Japan Bridge". This is great to shoot any time of the day or night, definitely come back after some rain to catch some reflections.
Head back down to the Esplanade now and walk away from the Grande Arche towards the Arc de Triomphe. There are some incredible buildings to shoot along the way such as The EDF Building with its massive round metal awning or the Coeur Defense building with it's curves and large glass windows. My favourite is a little further along on the left side.
I am talking about "Vision 80" a large and contrasting concrete building in the Brutalist style. I love the way it contrasts with almost everything this area represents and it is a great place to explore angles and shadows as well as a little street photography.
Keep walking down and you will come to one of my favourite spots to shoot. "Le Moretti" is a colourful and vibrant art installation created fittingly by the artist Raymond Moretti. Large columns of colourful pipe reach for the sky and provide the perfect backdrop for a photoshoot, street photography or even some cool architecture shots. I definitely recommend spending some time exploring as many angles as you can here.
Finally I suggest continuing down and making your way to the Point de Nueuilly metro station just across the bridge. Just before you cross the bridge though take a small detour to the left to explore another little Brutalist gem. The "Damiers de Dauphine" buildings look like concrete lego blocks all put together and a large section of them currently await demolition. For now though I recommend having a look if you like interesting architecture and want to see small slice of history before it's gone.
Once you reach the Point de Neuilly station it it's getting dark you can hang around and grab a great shot of the La Defense Skyline from just above the metro line. A great way to top off a photography tour of one of Paris's most interesting areas.
If you do end up having a walk around La Defense and take some pics of some of the areas I've listed above make sure you tag me on instagram @courtrichardsphotography so I can see the results. Stay safe out there and have fun creating your own shots.