La Défense was developed back in the 1960s by then President Charles de Gaulle, in an effort to minimize the detrimental effect of office blocks taking over downtown Paris. Restricting building heights across the city center, the business district was pushed to the western end of the city’s 10km-long Historical Axis, which stretches between the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.
A towering district of glass and steel structures and the largest dedicated business district in Europe, La Défense boasts a number of striking buildings, including the GAN Tower -- Paris' tallest skyscraper at 179 meters -- and one of Europe’s largest shopping malls, Les Quatre Temps. The area’s most famous landmark is the iconic Grande Arche, or Tête Défense, a distinctive modernist building in the shape of a giant, hollow cube - an unmissable marker on the Paris skyline. Designed by Danish architect Otto von Spreckelsen as a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe, the white marble Grande Arche stretches 110 meters into the air and features spectacular panoramic views from its terrace observation platform.