It’s day 18 of my Paris photography adventure, and I thought I’d try something a little different.
Have you ever heard of La Défense? It’s not even mentioned in many of the tour books, and I suspect it’s not even on the radar screen of most Paris tourists. I’ve been to Paris 4 times, and I’d barely heard of it.
In case you thought most Paris business is conducted in those elegant 18th century Napoleonic era Parisian buildings, you would be wrong. La Défense is where the real action is.
This is La Défense, Europe’s largest purpose-built business district with 72 glass and steel buildings and skyscrapers, 180,000 daily workers, and 38 million sq ft of office space. La Défense is home to more than 1,500 corporate head offices, including those of 15 of the top 50 companies in the world!
So why are these skyscrapers so far away? It turns out that after the Montparnasse Tower was built, Parisians found it to be such a sore thumb that they banned any further construction over 9 stories tall. Hence La Défense. Who would have thought that Paris big business wasn’t even conducted in Paris?
Visiting La Défense was an afterthought for me, and I couldn’t be happier that I visited. As I disembarked my train, I felt like I had entered something akin to Grand Central Station in New York City. It was massive and overwhelming, like being on a totally different planet from historic Paris.
As I emerged to the surface, the first thing I saw was the Grande Arche, the main tourist attraction at La Défense. I had seen pictures of it prior to my shoot, but they didn’t prepare me for the scale of it. It’s over twice as big as the Arc de Triomphe. Then I noticed the innumerable modern skyscrapers, steel and glass gleaming in the sun.
Right off the bat, I want to try something new which I thought would suit this cityscape perfectly – a fisheye panorama processed to look like a little planet.
Picture opportunities abound in La Défense, and I feel like I just scratched the surface. I made more lens changes during this shoot than any other, frantically switching between fisheye, standard zoom, and telephoto.
The weather was great, and I captured some beautiful reflections off of some buildings.
Apparently, even this many skyscrapers won’t suffice.
There’s tons of great geometry here – all kinds of curves, lines, angles, and perspectives.
I really liked the stairs on the esplanade, with it’s white background, converging angles, and community life.
Since it’s almost exclusively a business district, it quieted down significantly after dark. I’d been wanting to find out why all the hamburgers at sit-down restaurants cost $20, so I decided to get one at a bistro there while I waited for the blue hour. The burger was good, but not that good. Now I’ll stop complaining about the $12 burgers in San Francisco.
After dinner, I wandered around some more and found this guy.
The final image on my shot list was the Japan Bridge, and I had a really hard time finding it. If you type in “Japan Bridge” on Apple maps, it will take you to Tokyo. I somehow figured out it was at 10 Rue Hoche. You won’t want to miss this picture opportunity.
No Paris Photography adventure could be considered complete without a visit to Versailles, so I will make the pilgrimage tomorrow.