Officially named as La Grande Arche de la Defense or La Grande Arche de la Fraternite, the monument is located in La Defense business district in the west Paris, France. Compared to other Parisian attractions and monuments, La Grande Arche is considered new, built only three decades ago by the President of France at that time Francois Mitterand. The design is futuristic with beautiful water fountain and light arrangements which make the arch looks even more beautiful when you enjoy it at night.
The History of La Grande Arche
In 1982, Francois Mitterand, the President of France, initiated a national design competition to create a new Arc de Triomphe. The difference was, this time, the monument was built not to celebrate a military victory, but rather to celebrate about humanity and humanitarian ideals. From all of the entries, the design of Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and Erik Reitzel, both were Danish, was chosen as the winner.
The construction of this “new Arc de Triomphe” began in 1985. Unfortunately, the original designer of the arch, Spreckelson, could not finish the awaited monument and resigned in July 1986 before the monument was finish. His work was then continued by Paul Andreu, a French architect, who was still supported by Reitzel until the completion of the monument in 1989.
The company that handled the construction project was a French civil engineering company called Bouygues. The monument itself is meant to be a giant shape of cube or tesseract (its dimension is 108m x 110m x 112m) which is projected onto three-dimensional world. Its design is firm yet decorated with elegance of the glass and marble frames from Italy.
La Grande Arche Today
The monument was inaugurated on July 14, 1989 at a celebration that marked the bicentennial of French revolution. It completed the monuments that scattered throughout Paris. Below the monument, there are a metro station, an RER station, and a motorway which contribute to the monument’s turned angle.
The location where La Grande Arche is situated is a busy business district. Therefore, it just goes by nature if the arch itself is functioned to house government offices. Meanwhile, the arch’s roof section once housed an exhibition centre and Musee de l’informatique. From the roof also, visitors of the arch can enjoy the view of Paris although it may not seem as good as the one from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
In April 2010, an accident involving one of the elevators in the monument occurred. There was no one injured during the accident. However, the Deparment of Ecology which was in charge of the roof decided to shut down the roof for public to prevent future accidents.
Visiting La Grande Arche
La Grande Arche is located in 1 place du parvis de La Défense, Puteaux. Take line 1 of Metro to get to the district. The monument itself opens daily at 10am to 8pm during April to September and at 10am to 7pm during October to March. The normal ticket price is €10 and the reduced price is €8.50.