When we lived in Paris, because we had no idea when we would be leaving or to where, our sons went to the British School. And there they followed the British education syllabus.
I remember so clearly having to rush around finding things for various pieces of coursework which didn't really exist in France, but one of the easier ones was a project involving La Grande Arche de la Défense. All I had to do was find some information about its construction. No problem.
I decided the best place to find the information was at the Arche itself. Right at the top there is a viewing area and information centre which I was quite keen to see anyway.
It was raining on the day I chose to go. Bucketing down. By the time I had run from the Métro station to the shelter of the Arche itself, I was soaked to the skin. So I was dripping round the viewing area and it was raining so hard I couldn't see a thing anyway. An expensive outing for a postcard (above) and a little book (below) neither of which were actually used in the project, and it was still raining when I left.
In the end I was glad I bought the book, it has all sorts of interesting things in it, some of which I knew but most I didn't.
- The Grande Arche was known as the Cube when the project first started.
- It is directly in line with the Arc de Triomphe and the Arc du Carrousel along the "voie triumphale" or historic axis of Paris, which has the Louvre at the eastern end and the Arche at the western end.
- The Arche is offset by six degrees which makes the depth of the cube apparent, mirroring the angle of the courtyard of the Louvre, .
- It is covered in Carrara marble.
- The two sides house government offices.
- The canopy within is intended to represent clouds.
- An open cube, a window on the world, looking to the future.
La Défense is often dismissed as just the modern business centre of Paris, but if you ever have a chance to take a guided tour, the architecture, pieces of art and sculpture all around are absolutely fascinating. Even the fountains have stories to tell.