Many first-time visitors to Paris never venture just outside the city walls, but opportunities for shopping and entertainment in the near-suburbs are better than most would imagine. The "Les Quatre Temps" Shopping Center is a large complex located just west of Paris in the ultracontemporary La Defense business district and is worth a stop if you're looking for a good place to shop, see a film, and grab a bite.
Featuring dozens of stores, shops, restaurants, a UGC multiplex cinema with regular screenings in English, and other services, the shopping complex is open on Sundays (a majority of boutiques and shops inside remain open) and provides a good launching point for a visit of the Esplanade de la Defense and its imposing Grande Arche de la Defense, skyscrapers, and modern sculpture.
- Address: 15 Parvis de la Defense, La Defense (around 20 minutes west of central Paris by train)
- Metro: Grande Arche de la Defense (Line 1)
- RER: Grande Arche de la Defense (Line A)
- Buses: Lines 73, 141, 144, 159, 161, 174, 178, 258, 262, 272, 275, 278, 360, 378.
Shops and Highlights
The shopping center here features ready-to-wear fashion for men and women, home design, gifts, books, and many other specialist boutiques. You'll find most global fashion chains here in addition to smaller boutiques. Among these include some of the following well-known brands:
- FNAC (books, music, and electronics)
- American Apparel
- Muji (Japanese fashion and home design)
- Virgin Megastore
Eating Out, Snacking, and Dining
There are dozens of restaurants, bars and snack bars at Les Quatre Temps. In addition to a traditional indoor food court, there's a pleasant outdoor terrace area called "Le Dome" featuring a Flo brasserie (traditional French fare), affording nice views of the business district and the enormous plaza.
On summer nights, it can be surprisingly pleasant.
There are plenty of other restaurants on the premises serving fresh, light fare, and more conventional fast food chains (McDonald's, Starbucks, etc). If it's nice out, make sure to try to secure a table outside so you can admire the strangely futuristic architecture of the "Great Arch" of La Defense: a curiosity most tourists in Paris never see.
What to Do in the Area
The bustling business center in which the Quatre Temps is located is certainly worlds away from the old-world style of central Paris; walking around the skyscraper-packed district offers, surprisingly, some points of fascination for fans of contemporary art and architecture. Many of the innovative skyscrapers have won architectural innovation awards, and the whole plaza is dotted with contemporary sculptures-- some of which are genuinely weird and interesting.
From here, it's just a few stops away to the grand Avenue des Champs-Elysées and its crown jewel, the Arc de Triomphe. Notice that the Grande Arche at La Defense and the Arc de Triomphe form a line on the horizon, known as the "Triumphal Way".
Also known as the "Axe historique"(historic axis), the Triumphal Way stretches through to the grand avenue, to the Place de la Concorde and its imposing Egyptian obelisk, and finally ends at the Tuileries Gardens/Louvre with a third, smaller arch known as the "Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel".
From any of these points, you can see all three arches and the obelisk in the distance.