According to the World Trade Organization, France is the European Union's second largest economy and fifth largest in the world, and the second largest exporter in the EU. Paris is France’s business hub and Europe’s largest urban economy. It combines a variety of competitive advantages, such as being the starting point for the high-speed train network that covers Europe, hosting Europe's busiest airport for cargo transportation (Paris Charles de Gaulle), and easy access to a great diversity of local talent. Paris boasts 4 business schools ranked among the TOP 15 in Europe, 70 elite schools and universities, and close to 650,000 students (100,000 of which are foreigners).
It is ranked the first city in Europe for Fortune 500 headquarters hosting, and 3rd worldwide, with companies such as Air France-KLM Group, Bouygues, Christian Dior and Orange having their headquarters in Paris.
With 100 incubators and 10,000 startups, the Paris region has a thriving ecosystem which significantly supports international entrepreneurship and cutting-edge innovation. Paris has been named 2017's European Capital of Innovation.
The city’s startup scene has boomed in the last few years and covers a wide range of sectors such as Food Tech, Sports, E-health, Tourism, IT, Green Tech, Fintech, amongst others. The biggest European Innovation Hub dedicated to Cultural & Creative Industries and Digital Content, Le Cargo, has recently been launched. Paris is also home to Station F, the world’s largest startup campus.
The city also has a so-called innovation arc, a network of projects spanning Paris, including small workshops known as FabLabs and an urban farm where people can grow vegetables and learn to reduce food waste.
The work culture in France is guided by principles of hierarchy, traditions and attention to detail. Logical reasoning, high levels of analysis and deliberation play an important part in decision-making processes.
The French have an inherent sense of privacy and there is a definite distinction between business and personal life. Respecting this privacy is particularly important when working in France. In accordance with the local business culture, relationships must be formed first before business can begin.
Gender does not play a major role in French organizations and businesswomen are as well respected as their male counterparts.
Working hours are generally Monday to Friday from 8am or 9am to 6pm. Lunch breaks are a great way to connect with colleagues and business partners, with conversation covering subjects as diverse as business projects, current events, or the latest movie release.
An estimated 2.25 million people are currently living in Paris, which maintains the highest population density in Europe.
Paris boasts one of the world's safest and most efficient public transport systems, with a dense subway network (303 stations), numerous bus lines and commuter express trains (RER). Biking has become trendy thanks to the new Vélib’ system.
The French healthcare system is largely financed by the governmental national health insurance and was rated as “close to the best overall healthcare” in the world by the World Health Organization in its 2000 assessment.
Although Paris is not renowned for its great outdoor facilities, there are over 400 public parks and gardens in the city, and it is surrounded by two woodland areas, the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, where Parisians like to jog.
The French capital is overflowing with bars, cafés, restaurants and cultural venues. An all-time favorite activity is to wander through the city, exploring the cobbled passages, small streets and tree-lined avenues.
In spring, Paris's pavement cafés come to life – a ritual that begins with a strong black coffee in the morning and ends with a ballon de blanc for the evening apéro. Parisians love to go for picnics during summer days. They'll squeeze into every bit of green space in the Luxembourg or Tuileries garden sipping rosé wine while eating fresh baguettes with cheese and other delicacies. Other favorite summer activities include Paris Plage in August and the open air cinema in La Villette.
Paris is also the fashion capital. Authentic Parisians shop on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the trendy Marais district or venture into vintage boutiques in the bohemian 11th arrondissement, filled with students and hipsters.
Victor Hugo once said “all that can be found anywhere can be found in Paris”. This truly captures the richness and diversity of its population, architecture and culture.
Beyond the iconic Eiffel tower initially built as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair by architect Gustave Eiffel, Paris also offers a plethora of architectural, cultural and art treasures. Some of its unmissable art museums include the Louvre, The Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay.
The city is famous for its opera houses and theaters. Lovers of classical music and dance can choose between the Opéra Garnier, the Opéra Bastille, the Opéra Comique, and many other less well-established stages and companies, while theater lovers will have a wide range of choice between national stages such as the Odéon-theatre of Europe or the Théâtre National de Chaillot.