City data: Key facts
Geographical area: 12,012 sq. km
Total population: 11,797,021
Total national population living in the city: 18.8 %
Education level – with degree level or higher: 35.8 %
GDP per capita in 2008 (PPP): US$ 56,900
Creative industries employment: 8.8%
Paris has a special place in people’s imaginations. One of the first global cities, its allure has attracted the world’s brightest for centuries, from émigrés and artists to writers and entrepreneurs. Fashion and gastronomy still make up its signature, but as the real city spilled out beyond its historic core, adapting and diversifying, the Paris of the imagination became fixed. Reconnecting the two cities will be an essential part of realising the potential for Paris to thrive in future.
“Paris could become a world hub of the future.” (Majid El Jarroudi, Founder and General Delegate, Agency for Entrepreneurial Diversity)
The potential is vast. The city boasts a good quality of life and is a brilliant example of how planning can make a city beautiful. New and considerable investment in the transport system will make for a city better connected within itself and with the rest of the country. Should the city be successful in winning the 2025 Olympic and/or the World Expo 2025, it will have a remarkable platform to show itself and its creativity to a new global audience.
That creativity lives in both the contemporary Paris of the suburbs and in its centre. The greatest opportunity lies in widening the city’s horizon, to include the energy beyond the “geographical and psychological boundaries of the Peripherique” (Rémi Babinet). Paris is hugely diverse, a genuinely global city, with hundreds of different nationalities. The opportunity for new ideas and connections, not just inside the city but beyond national borders, is massive. Its citizens of foreign ancestry can connect Paris to the world, but many of them are entrepreneurs too, ready to create social and economic value. But at present, many believe this resource is being overlooked, through fear or indifference.
“Population growth by 2030 creates new needs that should be anticipated: housing, services, mobility to access urban amenities, improving quality of life and limiting social and territorial fragmentation.” (Valérie Mancret-Taylor, Director, Ile-de-France Institute of Urban Planning)
Population growth means new housing, services, and transport will be needed to avoid worsening quality of life and social division. Gentrification of the city centre has priced all but the wealthiest out of the heart of Paris. Outer districts are cut off, physically and culturally. As part of the metropolitan project of Greater Paris, nearly 35 billion euros will be invested in linking the suburbs up with the existing transport network. This will enhance accessibility to education, employment and cultural activities.
“The private sector is first and foremost interested in the attractiveness of a place, its ability to bring in young graduates and creatives.” (Jean-Pierre Gonguet, Redacteur en chef, La Tribune du Grand Paris)
The arts and culture are what made the image of Paris the world knows, and it is through culture that many in the city see a route to future success. Some have suggested the “cultural policy of the French capital is aimed at encouraging young people from around the world to come and settle in Paris.”The classic attraction of museums and galleries, even the modern and contemporary, is extraordinarily strong in Paris. But in releasing the creativity and innovation of its suburbs, the city could become irresistible to visitors and investment, and not only in the creative industries. Wanting to work and live in a city increasingly depends on its quality of life and, in cities like Paris, quality of life is bound up closely with the cultural environment, and with open and innovative places.
“Paris is still too shy, its cultural environment too touristy, too highbrow, not sufficiently vibrant.” (Jean-Pierre Gonguet)
Culture is undoubtedly one of the city’s strengths. There have been policies to support the development of cultural and creative industries for a long time and public officials have been specifically charged with promoting culture at a national and local level for as long as anyone can remember. Major new venues have also sprung in the past two years, most notably the Frank Gehry designed Fondation Louis Vuitton and the publically funded Philharmonie de Paris in a new building by Jean Nouvel.
Central Paris remains one of the densest sites of cultural activity in the world. But when you put such a rich and attractive cultural scene in a tourist area, there is a risk it is no longer accessible to everyone. Some working in the cultural sector highlight the fact that most policy and investment leaves little room for new ideas. There is energy in popular music, fashion design and literature, but they are on the edges of the city’s cultural life. To most of the world, the romantic image of Paris is stuck in the past.
“If Paris finds itself in a frozen culture, it will miss the boat.” (Stéphane Simon, General Manager, Lieu du Design)
A sustainable cultural scene reinvents itself and moves forward. Paris has this in abundance, but much of the energy of the city’s artistic life exists beyond the centre. Some of the most exciting work is taking place at venues little known to most Parisians, let alone visitors: in Theatre Amandiers in Nanterre, at the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne in Vitry, or Le Cube, a centre for digital creativity in Issy-the-Moulineaux. But culture causes curiosity. It encourages the Parisians to cross boundaries and to explore new quarters of their city, becoming acquainted with their neighbours and their talent and inventiveness.
Perspectives on the city taken from World Cities Culture Report 2015
Interviewees: Jean-Pierre Gonguet, Redacteur en chef chez La Tribune du Grand Paris (journalist); Majid El Jarroudi, Founder and General Delegate, Agency for Entrepreneurial Diversity; Rémi Babinet, Rémi Babinet, President and Creative Director, BETC Advertising Agency; Valérie Mancret-Taylor,Valérie Mancret-Taylor, Director, Ile-de-France Institute of Urban Planning; Stéphane Simon, General Manager, Lieu du Design (design agency for Paris region)