'Axe Majeur' ('Major Axis') – Cergy, France - Atlas Obscura

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'Axe Majeur' ('Major Axis')

Cergy, France

This massive sculptural work outside of Paris was four decades in the making—and it's still not quite complete. 


This piece of public art stretching over three kilometers long stands just outside of Paris. Construction began on the immense work of art in 1980 and was not finished until the early 2000s—some pieces are still considered works in progress.

Axe Majeur (Major Axis) was created by Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan. Working with Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, Karavan designed a piece of art that combined large-scale sculpture and urban planning. The piece is divided into 12 stations, which include the 36-meter tall Belvedere Tower, an orchard, a garden, an amphitheater. In the Esplanade de Paris, 12 columns to mirror the 12 segments of the whole piece. One of the most striking features is the long footbridge, painted bright red. The bridge leads to the perfectly round “Astronomical Island.”

Karavan was known for creating these large sculptural works, many of which merge into their surrounding environments. He passed away on May 29, 2021, at the age of 90 years old.

The monumental piece of urbanism and landscape art offers a very satisfying view. You can stroll along the 3.2-kilometer line (wear comfy shoes, there’s a lot of stairs) and cross some satisfying panoramas made of perspective and geometrical giant sculptural shapes carved into the French countryside. If you go there at night you will discover a totally different place shaped with lights and a huge red laser pointing straight to Paris at the end of the line.

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