Paris is a powerful globalised city, with world leading innovative business, technology and cultural integration- contributing to its rank as the 3rd most influential global city of 2018 (Kearney 2018). Boasting European cities highest GDP, including Europes largest congregation of Fortune 500 corporations, its not surprising Paris is known to be Europes No.1 business region (PREDA, 2018). With its abundance of culture and arts, the city is known to tourists, on an international scale, as the city of lights and romance. However, this may only be a small representation of Paris as a whole with tourists perspectives of the city differing from person to person depending on their own personal experiences as well as the particular locations they find themselves in (Allen et al.
2005). This essay explores the intimate understanding and involvements of key authors of post- industrial Paris together with my own personal experiences of Paris. It will also critically assess the four academic methods used in the field and discuss how they enabled me to analyse and imagine the Parisian lifestyle.
Paris as a post-industrial city, is reverberated worldwide as a centre of innovative modernity, in terms of its urban design (Harvey, 2003). Urban redevelopments have been a key aspect of modernization in post-industrial Paris, by creating new attractive spaces which have contributed to the expansion of elite professionals, leading to an increased spatialisation of wealth within the centre of the city (Derudder et al, 2006). Smith and Williams (1986) argue that inner cities are subject to an evolving polarisation of elite enclaves through gentrification and urban regeneration- pushing the poorer minorities out of the centre due to rising prices. This marginalization has been seen in Paris as the upper-middle class were being replaced by the working-class in the centre of the city- creating an embourgeoisement (or enrichment) (Pr?teceille, 2007). Embourgeoisement’ categorises areas as either part of the dominant capitalist class or aspiring to be part of it (Pr?teceille, 2007: 12). This phenomenon is nothing new in Paris with urban redevelopment occurring during the 19th century as Haussmann dramatically re-worked the city. However, in recent times the French government has actually driven new gentrification schemes in the East in an attempt to make affordable housing more readily available for all classes (Bacqu? et al, 2011). Paris has arguably entered a fresh era of gentrification where inner city spaces are being rejuvenated through culture and art, bringing about a new attractive breed of areas, with more affordable housing. With an integration of urban policies and cultural variation there are now a new representation of developments in French urban strategies (Vivant 2009).
Transportation infrastructures, such as the Grand Paris, have revolutionized post-industrial Paris, empowering the way Paris is experienced, lived and represented (Ovenden, 2009). The Grand Paris has enabled an efficient and effective transport system for the whole city, carrying 2 million passengers everyday (PREDA,2018). Savini (2012) explained how this has enabled poorer, neglected areas, such as the ?le-de-France, to have better access to the city centre, actively unifying fragmentation within the Paris region. However, the Grand Paris is synchronously allowing the wealthy to benefit through large scale gentrification in suburban areas, which are now easily commutable to central business districts. For example, Auteuil is now an expensive area, due to a number of gentrified development projects which have consisted of smaller houses of four or five rooms, for purchase or rent, creating higher living costs which far exceeded the budget of Parisian workers
(Shapiro, A 1982). The Grand Paris project has attempted to stop uneven development, however in reality, it could be channelling a new modern era of fragmentation and economic disparity (Smith, 2008).
During the guided tour, lead by Michael Hoyler, it was clear polycentricity of business is high in post-industrial Paris, as there often appeared to be more than one business centre. An example of this is the La D?fense district, a leading international business hub, located three kilometres West of the centre of Paris, which is continually being developed with high rise buildings and is often described as vertical as central Paris is flat (Glaeser 2011:11). The growth of this area is surprising as Paris is thought to be quintessentially a primate city, where polycentricity is usually expected to be low (Derudder et al, 2012). However, surprisingly this is not the case, the economic success of central Paris is spilling over into new areas like La D?fense and the Bercy regions, leading to new attractive and wealthy business areas outside the centre of Paris, which are generating new business and capital for the city. This enables the wealth of the city to spread, creating rich suburbs, with expensive apartments and shops, often on the edge of the city of Paris.
The voluptuous culture that Paris offers is one of the key generators of urban tourism, contributing considerably to local economies. An innovative and powerful cultural framework provides potential for numerous entertainment for inhabitants and tourists (Judd and Fainstein 1999). Parisians have always focused greatly on their pride for multicultural inheritance, which is shown through their expansive collection of museums, galleries and churches, which has significantly contributed to the popularity of Paris from a tourism and artistic point of view (Dudley and Ungar, 2005). This is echoed by the high density of museums sitting at 140, with 3 of the worlds largest visited museums including Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, and the Mus?e dOrsay (PREDA, 2018).
Culture was clearly a crucial element in urban lifestyle, with the formation of cultural clusters becoming a key part of post-industrial cities (Mommaas, 2004), as this allows revitalisation and preservation of heritage arts and cultures. For example, on the tourist trail of Canal St. Martin, there was a clear sign of cultural clustering of artistic students, with street art visible on buildings, bridges and even road signs. Vivant (2009) states how symbolic revalorisation has occurred through culture, contributing considerably to the gentrification of inner city areas of Paris. Cultural policies have therefore, become a key tool in post-industrial cities as they attract new businesses, wealthy inhabitants as well as trans-national corporations, bringing greater wealth to the city (De Frantz and Keating 2004). However, this has arguably contributed to the polarisation of the working class as the local population struggle to keep up with rising house prices, and are often pushed out of the inner-city areas of Paris.
The first method undertook on the trip to gain a representation of Paris was a tourist trail by DK Eyewitness Travel Guides 2014, which took you along the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement. This guide reflected the majority of modern guidebooks, involving a descriptive route which included a map, places of interest with important details, as well as the particular routes you needed to take to get to these places (Gilbert, 1999). However, we initially struggled to understand the starting location, as we began walking along the Basin de la Villette due to its very safe and scenic surroundings and modern urban design (figure ..), showing how tourists can often wonder when provided with an attractive and harmonious environment (Owen, 1990). We spotted the Eglise Saint Joseph Artisan on our way back down the Canal and we were surprised by the number of tourists who were looking around- with religious sites actually being a very popular form of cultural tourism in Paris (Pearce, 1997).
Eventually, we managed to work our way to the start point, however we were shocked by the initial area as we were hackled by the local homeless population, who were gathered in the space between the Basin de la Villette and the Canal St. Martin (see figure for homeless mans belongings). This was pretty shocking as the kind of information and reassurance that the guidebook gave, made us think we could follow the trail with low perceived risk (Sheldon, 1997). However, when we actually started following the trail we got lost in our pleasant surroundings, including attractive buildings, modern street art (Grafitti covered building see figure . ) and fantastic views along the Canal. It was evident along the trail that travel guidebooks contribute crucially in the tourism industry (Mansfeld et al., 2017). With numerous tourists holding guidebooks, who would inevitably be attracted into the high number of touristy shops and restaurants along the Canal front. The canal was also a key attribute to the local tourism industry, as tourist boats were continually passing up and down with a considerable amount of people on board (see figure ). When visually observing the local population of the area, it seemed the age demographics consisted mainly of the younger generation, with the majority of people aged between 18-35. There was clearly a large number of students who lived in the area, who were clearly impacting on the artistic, edgy style. We spotted the Istec the Buisness college along the Canal which is shown in Figure . The youth seemed accepted and praised, with universities often seen as drivers for local economic growth and competiveness, providing skilled labour and technological advancements (Drucker and Goldstein, 2007). Addie (2017) claims that universities are often urban actors which have a growing relationship between their local and regional contexts. This was visible along the Canal St. Martin, with quirky, youthful and arty restaurants and bars, creating an energetic and youthful local area.
Barthes (1993) states how guidebooks usually put the main spotlight on major tourist attractions. This was predominately used in our guide, where there was little focus on the potential interesting attractions often used by locals, such as popular bakeries or relaxation sights. Instead the guide focused mainly on tourist attractions which meant the guide lacked a personal feel for the user.