Designed as the architectural centerpiece of the sprawling satellite suburb of La Défense, outside the 16th arrondissement, this massive steel-and-masonry arch rises 35 stories. It was built with the blessing of the late François Mitterrand and extends the magnificently engineered straight line linking the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, avenue de la Grande Armée, and place du Porte Maillot. The arch is ringed with a circular avenue patterned after the one around the Arc de Triomphe. The monument is tall enough to shelter Notre-Dame beneath its heavily trussed canopy. An elevator carries you up to an observation platform, where you get a view of the carefully planned geometry of the surrounding streets.
You'll notice nets rigged along the Grande Arche. When pieces of Mitterrand's grand projet started falling to the ground, they were erected to catch the falling fragments. If only such protection existed for all politicians' follies!
- © Frommer's 2013
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