The Paris Region: Polycentric Spatial Planning in a Monocentric Metropolitan Region
Paris is the only French global city (Hall, 1966; Sassen, 1994). This unique position results from a concentration of political, cultural and economic functions, first under the monarchy and later under successive republics.1 The French capital benefited not only from the location of numerous political bodies but also from changes in the productive system such as the 19th century Industrial Revolution and more recent economic globalization. Nowadays, the Paris metropolitan area is a textbook case study of a First City in a ‘macrocephalic’ national urban system. With over 11 million inhabitants, the Paris urban area is eight times the size of its nearest contender, Lyon. In terms of employment, the Île-de-France – the administrative region of Paris – concentrates 21 per cent of the national workforce (against 18 per cent of the total French population) and as much as 40 per cent of the highly qualified workers. Most national and international headquarters (HQ) and related services are located in the Paris region which offers them an office capacity of over 360 million ft2 (40 million m2): the second in Europe, closely following that of London. Multi-national enterprises find the most productive workforce in the Paris area: gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant and per employee are respectively one-third and one-half higher than in the rest of the national territory. This high
productivity benefits the national economy both directly, and more indirectly via massive tax transfers (Davezies, 1999).