If there’s a place I visit so often within France, that would be Paris. This French capital with a population of over 2 million is the largest city in the country and many think that it is one of the most popular cities in Europe. According to one source, Paris was nicknamed the “City of Light” (not City of Lights) originally because it was a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment. In 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lamps. It was the first city in Europe to do so, and so earned the nickname “La Ville-Lumière” or The City of Light.
The City of Light is known for its many magnificent attractions – from world iconic landmarks to beautiful parks and gardens to fascinating museums and this vibrant city has so much to offer all year round. And of course, when we are talking about Paris, we are also talking about fashion, food, culture and romance. Since I am privileged to travel to Paris every month, it’s the second city I know so well (next to London). Last weekend, I came here for another business trip and I chose to stay somewhere different from the architectural beauty of the city centre – at La Defense, which I also call as the ‘other side of Paris’. This modern high-rise business district of Paris is located beyond the arrondissements and beyond the last Parisian loop of the river Seine.
La Défense is a purpose-built business district; in the 1960s, Charles de Gaulle led an effort to level the area and concentrate skyscrapers in a single business district, rather than altering the character of downtown Paris with large commercial buildings (1).
With its 560 hectares area, its 72 glass and steel buildings and skyscrapers, its 180,000 daily workers and 3.5 million squar metres of office space, La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district (2).
‘Twas a gloomy weekend as you can see from the photos. Anyway, around its Grande Arche and esplanade (“le Parvis”), La Défense contains many of the Paris urban area‘s tallest high-rises, and is home to no fewer than 1,500 corporate head offices, including those of 15 of the top 50 companies in the world.
There are few things I love about this area: it is easy to get to the city-centre via Metro (Line 1) or RER; Les Quatre Temps and CNIT offer wide variety of shopping and dining choices and there’s no need to squeeze into the busy-touristic-crowd of Champs Elysee; there are good hotels around such as Hilton, Pullman Hotel, Novotel and Hotel Ibis (if you’re on a budget); and lastly, the skyscrapers with the people in corporate suits or stylish trench coat kinda give me that Manhattan or Canary Wharf feel. I also can’t get away without putting on my rainproof Burberry jacket as seen on the first photo taken last Saturday as it was drizzling from time to time; but I decided to wear a bright coloured blazer from Zara hoping to brighten the cold and gloomy Monday morning.
So next time you’re around or it might be your first visit, you may want to give this place a thought. Whilst I’m thinking for a title for this post, I came across this music video by Demi Lovato -
Honestly, I was a bit stressed last week due to some work situations – one of the reasons behind this business trip. But like the song said, “I’ll be rising from the ground…like a skyscraper” so I chose to rise above the circumstances, settle what has to be settled, hang out with fun people and really, I thank God for that reviving service at Hillsong. So I declare, this week’s gonna be amazing :-)
Thanks for reading guys. May you have an amazing week too xxx