La Defense: Paris’ premier business district

Paris currently employs around 145,000 people in financial services. That number is expected to grow following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016. Already a major financial centre in itself, Paris is one of the frontrunners to take over London as Europe’s financial capital. Recently, Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s CEO, announced 1,000 jobs would be moved to London- with many other corporations within financial services expected to do the same. With stylish serviced apartments located across the city, thesqua.re offers accommodation tailored to the requirements of corporate travellers seeking accommodation in proximity to Paris’ business districts.

Just west of the city limits, La Defense, is located in the Île-de-France region of Paris. Set at the westernmost extremity of the iconic Axe historique, which comprises of the Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, and Louvre, La Defense’s name commemorates the Parisian resistance during the Franco-Prussian war.

Spanning over 1400 acres, featuring 72 buildings forged of glass and steel, La Defense is Europe’s largest purpose built business district- additionally, the area contains some of Paris’ tallest skyscrapers. On a daily basis, 180,000 people descend on La Defense to take their seat in the 3.5 million square metres of office space.

Due to strong economic growth between the end of the Second World War and the 1970s- a period referred to as the “Glorious Thirty” by the French, rapidly growing companies required larger office spaces that were not available in the historic centre of Paris. Inspired by the growth of New York, the French government began plans on modernising Paris whilst rectifying damage caused during the Second World War.

Work on La Defense began in 1958 as Paris slowly began to replace the city’s abandoned factories, farms and shanties. The first generation of skyscrapers were very similar in appearance and demeanor and were limited to a height of 330ft. Following the first generation of skyscapers, French architects were given carte blanche. In the 1970s, the second generation of skyscrapers began to appear, with the third generation coming in the 80s.

In 1992, Line 1 of the Paris Métro was extended to La Defense, which made the area widely accessible from all of the city. After a brief period of stagnation in the mid 1990s, La Defense is once again experiencing rapid developments.La Defense features several other points of interest: La Place de la Defense, La Defense Musee and Bassin de Takis offer activities for employees whilst not at work.

No other urban development in the Paris metropolitan area has provided as divisive as La Defense. Whilst some marvel at the architectural splendour of the area, others deride the area’s mono-functional office buildings. Regardless of your perception of the area, it is difficult to be indifferent to one of Paris’ most famous districts.

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