KLM Travel Guide

The Grande Arche: window on Paris

The Grande Arche de la Défense, the modern version of the Arc de Triomphe, is a striking cube-like structure of white marble and glass. The Arche is located among the impressive high-rises of the La Défense business district.

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La Grande Arche de la Défense

La Grande Arche de la Défense

Huge contemporary cube

The Grande Arche resembles a four-dimensional hypercube. The construction is 110 metres high, 108 metres wide and 112 metres deep. The space under the arcade is so large that Notre-Dame Cathedral would easily fit underneath. The cube is left open for a reason: Von Spreckelsen wanted it to represent a ‘window to the world’. And he certainly succeeded in offering a wonderful glimpse into Paris.

The Axe historique ending with the Grande Arche

The Axe historique ending with the Grande Arche

A straight line

Until 2010, panoramic glass lifts brought visitors to the roof of the Grande Arche, but that is unfortunately no longer possible. A visit to La Défense is certainly worthwhile, however, as it’s the best place to admire the Axe historique which runs east to the city centre. A virtual line connects this huge Arche with the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and the Louvre pyramid. If you look closely, you’ll see that the Grand Arche is positioned at a small angle to the axis. A laser beam links it with the top of the Louvre pyramid.

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