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Capturing the Abstract Lines of La Defense

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When I ask visitors to Paris if they know or have been to La Défense, very few know of it or can place it on a map. Even fewer know that it provides photographers with a wealth of subject matter.

On the west side of the city, and technically outside of the city boundaries, La Défense is the largest European business center, with the highest concentration of high-rises in Paris. It stands at the extremity of the 10 km long historical axis that starts at Le Louvre, continues to the Place de la Concorde, moves on along the Champs Elysées, passes the Arc de Triomphe and ends at the Grande Arche.

La Defense 1

Yes, La Défense is light years away from the gothic architecture of Notre Dame, the classic Hausmannian boulevards, or the cobble stoned streets of Montmartre. However, as a pedestrian area it offers quiet corners away from the loud traffic, interesting pocket gardens, and lots of modern art. The whole place is in fact an outdoor museum with over 60 modern sculptures by renowed artists like Juan Miro, Alexander Calder, César and many others, making it the perfect place to see art for free with no one to tell you off for touching or taking pictures!

The modern architecture with the sleek glass high-rises offer endless creative possibilities to the photographer. Look for abstract and graphic images using reflections in glass buildings; find strong lines and patterns to create visual designs and interest; play with the juxtaposition of blue hues for harmonious compositions or walk on the wild side with an explosion of strong colours.

Some of my favourite photo spots in la Défense include:

  • The back of the Grande Arche gives interesting views of the building itself and the Takis sculptures;
  • The Cour Valmy, with the Chassagne and Alicante towers, offers a wide variety of angles and reflexions in the sleek glass buildings;
  • Steps away from the Cour Valmy, the Place Ronde has a particularly interesting design making it look like a cob web is hanging from the top;
  • The pedestrian 'Japan Bridge' has a very interesting design made of a succession of arches and various patterns;
  • The Morretti column looks like colourful spaghettis assembled together and it is always a fun place to play with abstract images.

La Defense 2

La Defense 3

La Defense 4

The sky is the limit and spending just a few hours taking photos in La Défense will offer a wide variety of images that will stand out from the other sites of Paris.

Getting there: La Défense can be reached by Métro line 1, stations 'Esplanade de la Défense' or 'La Défense'.

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About the Author

Sophie Pasquet

Sophie Pasquet

Sophie has been a photographer, educator and traveller for most of her adult life. She founded Better Paris Photos in 2008 (which became Better Travel Photos in 2014) to deliver exceptional photography experiences to travellers.