Defending Business in Paris
Posted: 29th October 2014 09:13Paris isn’t all palaces and galleries – it’s got a cutting edge business district to rival all of its peers, as Caxton FX reveals in looking at La Défense...
When we’re asked to picture the world’s big business and financial centres we tend to think of bold, brassy skyscrapers. Many major American and Asian population centres are coastal and tend to develop imposing skylines on the waterfront – New York and Shanghai are prime examples of this. Then there are cities where almost everything seems high rise (think Dubai), and in Europe glass towers tend to mingle with centuries old landmarks. Frankfurt’s a good example, London – with the Gherkin looking like St Paul’s next door neighbour – is an even better one.
We know that France is a major economic force in the world, but many tourists can spend a whole day wondering around its sprawling capital and see nothing but the old world – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre with its admittedly futuristic but still nothing to do with business pyramid extension...
It all comes down to city planning though and that’s something the Parisians take very seriously. Of course the French wanted to compete on the world business stage, but not at the expense of their extensive “jardins” and classical buildings.
Rather than upset symmetry or overshadow the Eiffel Tower with generic skyscrapers, the La Défense business district has been developed at the westernmost extremity of the Historical Axis of Paris (whose points include the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe) since 1958. So distracting are the traditional sights of Paris that the district is practically hidden in plain sight, but once you see it you realise a skyline that can more than give Canary Wharf and Lower Manhattan a run for their money.
There is plenty for both business travellers and tourists to marvel at when visiting La Défense. Besides the business there’s a well equipped shopping and leisure complex and an open air museum of modern art. The standout landmark of the development is La Grande Arche de La Défense – a 110m high monument that stands on the aforementioned Historic Axis looking towards its older cousin, the Arc de Triomphe.
Title of tallest structure at La Défense goes to the 231m, AXA-owned Tour First – also the tallest inhabited building in the Paris area.
In short La Défense looks stunning, but this is certainly not just a case of style over substance. No fewer than 1,500 businesses have corporate headquarters in the district – among those 15 of the top companies in the world. With 38,000,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 employees La Défense means business.
If you’re doing business in Paris don’t forget to travel prepared. A prepaid currency card is an essential business companion when doing business, commuting and entertaining.