Fondation Louis Vuitton. Reading more about the district in a guide book, I found out that this area also included a landscaped pedestrian promenade with fountains, parkettes and over 70 sculptures and modern art pieces, forming an "open-air museum". This sounded like a perfect place to explore for our last day in Paris.
Office buildings line both sides of a wide pedestrian concourse running through the stretch of the La Défense, spanning the Esplanade du Général de Gaulle and Esplanade de la Défense. The 1.2km promenade includes paved flagstone sidewalks, expansive green lawns, and tree-lined parkettes, offering benches, lounge chairs, and picnic tables, as well as cafés and bistros with outdoor patios. What a lovely environment for the office workers to come out into for a leisurely lunch. All along the promenade can be found sculptures, monuments and art installations that range from historic to contemporary. This includes two major water features which are works of art in their own right, including one which just blew me away with its size and beauty.
The Fontaine Monumentale (Monumental Fountain) by Yaacov Agam spans 26x72 metres and flows down a 7 metre waterfall at the far end. The fountain is comprised of 86 shades of mosaic glass enamel imported from Venice, producing a spectacular rainbow effect that stretches far into the distance. Although they were not active when we passed by, the fountain has jets that can shoot water into the air and musical "water ballet" shows are performed like the ones they have in Las Vegas.
Lim Dong Lak's Point Growth features a stainless steel globe with a plant stemming from it. The shiny globe reflects the beautiful buildings that surround it, similar to the large globe in Parc de la Vilette. Slovak sculptor Joseph Jankovic's "Dans les Traces de Nos Peres" (In the Footsteps of our Fathers) symbolically depicts two children trying to climb out of giant feet (of their fathers' legacies or expectations?). Several works are modeled like giant smokestacks or chimneys. Rachel Guy's ceramic "Les Trois Arbres" is a 28.5 metres tall mosaic decorated with tree roots, while Raymond Moretti's 32 metre "Fibre de Verre" chimney is made of 672 fiberglass tubes painted in 19 colours.
Leonardo da Vinci center of higher education and other office towers, shops and residential buildings are located. The giant thumb is located in this quarter as are Mitoraj's pair of torso sculptures. Arch Sud is highlighted by "Les Quatres Temps" shopping centre which contains four floors of shops and 22 eateries, with Joan Miro's colourful RYB sculpture looming in front of it. The Grand Arch sits between these two quarter. Esplanade Nord and Sud seem to contain a high density of office towers mixed in with residential buildings with Takis' Bassin sitting between the eastern end of these two quarters. The La Défense de Paris sculpture and Agam's Fontaine Monumentale sits at the intersection of all four quarters.
online map from a La Défense promotional website, we were able to get a general idea of where the sculptures and art works were to be found. We did not find out until after we returned home that there was a little museum in an information centre in the square where we could have picked up a more detailed map with photos. It is also found online in PDF format. Many of the pieces were along the central promenades so we concentrated our time walking down one side and back up the other.
This turned out to be the perfect way to end our "Off the Beaten Path" tour of Paris. We succeeded in finding all new things to do and see that we had not done before on previous visits, and we still have a long list of ideas ready for our next visit. Paris really is one of those cities that you can visit infinitely.