Jan '05 - Jan '07
Visiting La defense on a holiday (St Mary, everything was closed) had a bit of a surreal touch. Few tourists and a big empty space. The only sound came from a carrousel (you can see it in one of the pictures) and that was actually a hurdy-gurdy - weird in a landscape of steel, concrete and glass.
After I climbed the stairs to the monumental 'Grande Arche' I had the ”˜surprise' of looking at a cemetery (?!). hmmmmmmmm. The building itself looks a lot better in pictures.
Ok, let's see the neighbourhood.
The area is very crowded (I wonder how it's like to live there, it doesn't seem very healthy, but rather steril), and it ”˜feels' artificial. A mess with old buildings that look repressed by the new towers, elder constructions that look older then they are, lots of construction sites, new apartment buildings in what I've been told is the ”˜reinvented haussman' style (aka kitsch). From time to time you might find a restaurant but no chance of getting cosy. The whole place is as un-cosy as possible. They told me it's a playground for architects but it seems like a kindergarten playground.
I expected it to have a ”˜new' look, something dynamic but it took me by surprise how ... tired and old everything seemed, like time has been especially cruel with this area.
It felt like a movie set. Unnatural. Experimental. A foolish ambition. The only good thing is it is further away of Paris as it seems. And it's best view is probably from the Etoile.
This quote says it all ”˜If you can say that Paris is worth saving pretty much as it is - it is handy to have La Défense so close, to see what Paris is being saved from.'