Feature Reports

Greater Paris: History and Vision of the Future

Summary Greater Paris: History and Vision of the Future

An aerial photograph of Paris with the La Défense business district in the distance.
A general view of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the center and the La Défense business district in the distance. ©SHUTTERSTOCK

Paris, the capital of a country with a long tradition of centralization, has expanded over time in a series of concentric circles. The compact center, which houses all the picture-perfect monuments and neighborhoods within a radius of less than five kilometers, is an unmatched destination for tourists. However, this radial-layout vision of development is not necessarily compatible with modern urban living and economic growth. Out of the French capital’s ambition to become a global metropolis and leading financial and economic center, the Grand Paris project was born.

Carte Paris

Paris was built around an historic core comprised of Île de la Cité, the Louvre and the Latin Quarter. Over time, to meet the needs of economic development, the capital expanded beyond the successive rings of fortifications that were built to defend the city. Later, due to the impact of the different industrial revolutions and the 1946-1975 post-war boom (Les Trente Glorieuses), the city burst through its walls. The Grand Paris project that is currently underway is the latest step in this ongoing expansion.

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The Grand Paris project, which is expected to span two decades, is designed to create a unified conurbation that is seven times bigger than the current city of Paris, with a population 3.5 times larger. The challenge will be to transform a region hitherto characterized by hub-and-spoke development, with rail lines and roads radiating out from the center, into a homogenous territory.

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