This is a view of the La Défense business district outside Paris, seen from the Arc de Triomphe.
La Défense is the large group of high-rise buildings you see in the background, about three kilometres away from the camera in this telephoto shot. In the foreground is the avenue de la Grande Armée, which happens to be the widest street in Paris, by a very slender margin. It leads west-northwest towards La Défense from the Arc, and is aligned with the avenue des Champs-Élysées (behind the camera in this photo), the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Gardens, and so on, in one continuous line. About half way up on the photo, you can see an area of greenery; that is the Porte Maillot, and the Paris city limit in this direction. On the right of that area is the inverted-pyramid shape of the Palais des Congrès convention center; and on the far left, the triangle of greenery is the northern end of the Bois de Boulogne, the largest park in Paris (comparable in size to the city itself, actually). The street beyond that is the avenue Charles de Gaulle in the chic suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Still beyond that (and barely visible here) is a bridge, the aptly named pont de Neuilly, which crosses the Seine River. Beyond that is La Défense itself.
Yes, I know that the Seine River flows through Paris in an inverted U shape, so it does seem odd that you'd cross it here, in the northwest. But the river winds back and forth a great deal to the northwest of Paris, and in fact under the pont de Neuilly it is flowing northeast (if this is confusing, check out a map and you'll see).
The squarish open building directly in the center at the top of the photo is the Grande Arche; it is not exactly aligned with the rest of this long series of avenues, which is why it looks turned slightly to the left as it faces you; the black line inside the arch is an open elevator shaft for visiting the rooftop observation platform. In the original photo, it is possible to see the people standing on the platform.
Click directly on the photo to see a smaller version (half this size). Photographed in the spring of 2002.
Last modified on Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 3:37:41 UTC