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Grand Paris: up close

Following our top French cities for hotel markets, Hospitality On's editorial team invites you to a detailed look at each city on the list. Each focus will provide an opportunity to draw a portrait of the destination: analysis of figures, major projects in progress... These texts will also be invitations to reflect on the challenges facing each destination. In second place: Grand Paris.

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#1 Paris

Ane now....Le Grand Paris !

Note on Methodology and problems:

The Grand Paris metropolitan area makes its debut in 2018 in the geographical frameworks set out by the MKG Consulting / OK_destination Observatory for their analyses: this explains the absence of figures for previous years. Moreover, this problem of delimitation chosen for the analysis is transversal to all considerations about this large urban area: Paris and all the surrounding municipalities? Metropolis of Greater Paris, i.e. intermunicipality? Ile-de-France region? Or, think of a rural/urban opposition, taking into account the entire continuous urban fabric that forms the centre of the Île-d- France?

In short: It is not easy to know "what we are talking about" when referring to Grand Paris. It was therefore necessary to make choices: the figures and their analyses speak of Grand Paris as the metropolis of Grand Paris. That is to say, the 131 municipalities that have come together under the Grand Paris Metropolitan Inter-municipality. However, the more detailed analysis, after the figures, will take place in a broader context including almost the entire Île de France. Especially in reference to some key places or some major projects in progress: Europa City in the Gonesse triangle, Disneyland, etc. So be aware: tables and analysis do not have exactly the same geographical referent.

And this gap is, in itself, revealing. It is akin to doing an article on Paris, and another on a larger area. Because while Paris is increasingly thought of, especially at the level of public power, as Le Grand Paris, reality offers much more diverse representations: moving beyond the ring road remains complicated, Grand Paris is precisely so large that it is made up of disparate realities, populations with very different living levels... And then the Grand Paris Metropolis does not take into consideration new cities: Evry, Marne la Vallée. Yet a resident of Viry Chatillon is probably more likely to look to Evry for excursions than to Paris, while Viry is in the metropolis and Evry is not. Similarly Orly is within the administrative delimitation but Roissy is not, etc.

From the tourist's point of view: all this agglomeration, when it exists in his imagination, is Paris! But for how long? Because be careful: projects are multiplying. And this is a new point which the analyst is confronted with: on a very statistical entry, an overnight stay is an overnight stay, whether it is made by a tourist from the province, from abroad, or... from Paris. And this is where, from a business point of view, the analysis becomes more complicated: for example, who will be the typical customer of Europa City? Who will visit the works at the Basilica of Saint-Denis? Should we talk about "suburban" tourism: randomly visit the large complexes that were used as scenery for the Hunger Games films? Or rather tourism "in" the suburbs: the Château de Versailles for example? Because yes stricto sensus, Versailles is already a suburb, outside the ring road! Moreover, the city is not part of Greater Paris.

The figures:

Key hospitality figures (source: Observatoire MKG Consulting/ OK_destination)

key figures hoteliers

Key tourism figure: (sources: INSEE/ OTCP / Inside Airbnb / ADP)

key tourism figures

Note: The number of hotels is provided by INSEE for 2017 and includes only "classified tourist hotels". INSEE's figure for 2018 is not yet known. In 2018, the Institute published the number of hotels for the previous year only in mid-year. MKG figures will be provided in due time.

Key macroeconomic figures: (Source : INSEE, Se Loger)

key macroeconomic figures

Note on the population: the figure representing the population in the Grand Paris Metropolis is not very certain. The  Paris City Hall's website  indicates 7,019,971 inhabitants (see image below), the GeoClip' / local statistics website of INSEE indicates that the figure for 2016 is 7,026,765 inhabitants. A difference of, all the same, 6,794 inhabitants! However, the increase in the number of individuals has been continuous since the 1960s. Problem: this figure is only a total and while the increase is continuous, growth is increasingly weak. For example, in detail, it is likely that the next censuses will show stagnation or even a decrease in the Parisian population. And if, in the Ile de France region, population growth has been continuous for years, it has slowed down nonetheless: between 2013 and 2014 the region's population grew by 0.9%, and between 2015 and 2016 the uptick was only 0.28%.

Les communes du Grand Paris

Analysis of the figures

What do all these figures say about the Grand Paris Metropolis? For the accommodations industry: everything is green. The RevPar is at 90 euros, the average daily rate is 112 euros, or almost, and the occupancy rate is almost 80%... In short, everything is fine. While Paris is becoming more expensive and upscale, and Airbnb presents political problems, it is possible that a certain number of tourists, undoubtedly less affluent, will choose nearby towns to visit the city.

Here again, the figures clash with the reality of the territory: the prices and occupancy rates in Stains are not the same as those of the hotels at Disneyland or Roissy. However, from a global point of view, there is probably still room for new offers: according to INSEE, out of 2,000 hotels in the metropolitan area, 1594 are in Paris, so 80% of the offer is intra-peripheral. With Airbnb, 70% of the supply is within the ring road. Speaking of new supply, some openings are emblematic of the development of the hotel industry: MOB Hôtel in Saint Ouen, the new Village Nature opened in the summer of 2018... particularly since some customers live mainly outside Paris: Chinese customers, business customers....

And the same observation may be made: demand is growing. After a bad year in 2016, in 2018 Chinese clientele regained their 2015 level. Brexit, which favors Paris over London, will stimulate growth in business tourism and the equipment are very good: Villepinte, Bourget. The agglomeration overall is one of the best equipped for business tourism and exhibitions: 700,000 sq.m available at the exhibition spaces, of which 249,000 are at Villepinte alone. Finally, the number of passengers handled at Paris airports is up, at 25, Disney has had some excellent years, and attendance at Versailles is back on an uptrend. In short: Grand Paris is looking big.

Contextual details: the problems, the risks, the deceptions

Note: Many of the projects mentioned herein will undoubtably be realized. Concerns are concentrated above delivery dates and final realities: complete projects with respect to original projects, etc.

One of the biggest deceptions, of course, is the cancellation in 2018 of France's candidacy to host World Expo at Saclay. The most optimistic figures, provided by the municipalities concerned, of course, suggested between 35 and 40 million visitors. It should have been selected by the organizing committee, but with the cancellation many local elected officials felt that they had had the rug pulled out from under their feet and lost without being able to fight. This cancellation is, in addition, unfortunate for the Paris Saclay research and innovation cluster project. This cluster was expected to benefit and support the candidacy to the exhibition. The Operation of National Interest certainly did not need this unfortunate announcement as what was to be a global research cluster has accumulated pitfalls. As a result, no more exposure, but also postponement of the arrival of line 18 of the Grand Paris Express for another 3 years back, refusal to merge the Polytechnical Institute with the new Grande Université Paris-Saclay...

In fact, the entire Greater Paris Express has seen its timetable modified, and in many cases there have also been cancellations of infrastructure or their replacement by less ambitious projects. For example: the viaduct section of line 18 will probably be on the ground, and the Champigny station may be cancelled, although work has already begun... In 2018, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe reviewed the timetable for the project to end in 2030, particularly under pressure from the Court of Auditors. Today, even this calendar is being challenged by local elected officials: Pierre Bédier, the president of the Yvelines departmental council, says he no longer believes at all in deliveries in 2030. Moreover, the 7 presidents of the departments concerned signed a letter with the evocative title "we do not want a reduced Grand Paris Express". However, while these delays and costs continue to slip, the population and the number of tourists continue to rise.

Also in the world of transport, what about CDG Express? The high-speed link between Roissy Airport and the Gare de l'Est still seems to be on the agenda: voted by Parliament in 2016, it was confirmed by Transport Minister Elizabeth Born in early 2019. The goal has long been to provide a train for travelers, as may be observed in other major airports, with a high standard of service. But grumbling is increasing and undoubtedly there will be many appeals. Moreover, an unexpected axis is emerging (rather a competition), between A. Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and V. Pécresse, President of the region: both asked to pause the work in order to study its impact on the RER B. Cost is another factor that crystallizes tension: it would be 20 euros for a trip via the CDG express, compared to 9 euros with the RER, which would then become a complete omnibus. Some people are already talking about a rich man's train and a poor man's train. The subject remains explosive.

In the explosive genre, another major project stands out: Europa City in the Gonesse triangle. What was supposed to be the largest private investment in Ile de France since Disneyland Paris, is facing many appeals. In March 2018, the decree for the creation of the ZAC was annulled by the Cergy court, on appeal by associations of residents and inhabitants. In April, a collective was created: "Euro-Pas du tout". ZAD in training? The project continues to be supported by the government. Another problem is that line 17 of the Grand Paris Express, which was supposed to allow customers to arrive in the park, has seen its delivery times postponed: enough to upset the groups Immochan and Wanda, which are behind the project.

Finally, before moving on to more positive points, it is important to highlight once again the intrinsic characteristics of the territory: very disparate, with living standards that create a great gap between Neuilly-sur-Seine and Sevran for example, with costly urban renovation projects ( which are not easily implemented by the Agence Nationale pour la Rénovation urbaine), very diverse political situations and a thousands of players and structures..... The territory is quite simply very complex. And all its challenges are not linked to just the urban world: the Île-de-France region is also complex from an environmental point of view. 50% of the land is dedicated to agriculture. And indeed the environmental protection associations are at the forefront of the fight against Europa City, refusing to see agricultural land being artificialized. Just look at the landscape: Fontainebleau forest, PNR (regional nature reserve) of the Chevreuse Valley, PNR of the Vexin Français. The Ile de France is also a watershed, a series of water tables provide part of the drinking water to the population, and these tables are fragile: in 2007 there were nitrate alerts for the Champigny water table.

Europa City, vision sur le projet


Contextual elements: positive points, the projects

One of the first positive points is the signing of the destination contract - "Paris Ville Augmentée" - in 2018. This is a very positive sign from the public authorities: thinking Paris in its region, looking for new customers, especially young people and city breakers, promoting a creative, alternative city... The actions are beginning to emerge: creation of a night council in Paris, audit to turn the underground passages of Paris and the surrounding suburbs into venues for events and ephemeral activities. The list of these new places for the arts and dance is long: Marbrerie in Montreuil, Méliès' workshop and new cinema in the same city, Cri du Singe, Hangar in Bagnolet... Festivals are also on the agenda: Live Nation with its Download in Bretigny, Lolapalooza, and also smaller organisations like Maki, Pitchwork and the WE Love Green.  It will be necessary to wait until the end of the destination contract for a first assessment, but its mere existence, such as the list of venue and festival openings, are nonetheless a set of positive signs.

Culture also has its rightful place in Greater Paris. For example, with the opening of the Seine Musicale in 2017. The site welcomed half a million visitors in 2018. There is also a new club inside, Noubia, which fits perfectly into the destination contract. Similarly, the Defense Arena is reaching cruising speed, with between "40 and 50 major events" between June 2018 and July 2019. After initial hesitations about the name of the venue, from the U Arena to the Défense Arena, the place seems to find its own voice with name that benefits from the business district's international influence. Since 2018, the arena has focused on coworking, seminar-type events and other business or assembly meetings, with boxes for rent and a restaurant to complete the offer. This is of interest to the nearest hoteliers who could benefit from the latest developments there. The ensemble - Seine Musicale, Défense Arena - forecasts a very beautiful year for this "Valley of Culture" wanted by the Hauts de Seine Departmental Council. In addition, in 2018 the contract was signed for the renovation of the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre, which should be completed in 2022 and thus revitalize the site.

North of Paris, the Saint Ouen Docks ZAC is continuing along its trajectory, with, for example, the opening of Rue Pablo Picasso in early 2019 and the arrival of regional agents in their new offices in 2018. The territory is becoming particularly attractive: the renovated docks of Saint Ouen, the Cité du Cinéma a little further away, the opening of the new Paris courthouse just to the south... With the arrival of line 14 scheduled for 2020 and the expected resurgence of Saint Denis with the Olympic Games, the place risks becoming a real focal point in the North of the capital city. The Olympic Games represent an opportunity for the territory of Plaine Commune (intermunicipality of the municipalities around Saint Denis): the Olympic swimming pool and the Olympic village will be on the Plaine Saint-Denis and the Île Saint-Denis respectively. In the same municipality, the launch of a new attraction was announced in 2018: the construction of the second tower of the Basilica of Saint-Denis. The idea is clearly inspired by Guédelon / La Sagrada Familia: a work site where the aim is to visit, to experience, rather than to actually (re)build. An eternal construction site (at least 10 years for Saint-Denis) with a village where blacksmiths and stonemasons will be able to demonstrate their skills...and attract tourists. At least this is the goal of La Basilique, which hopes to double its number of visitors per year. Is this the long-awaited moment of the Nord Parisien? After the Plaine, the Stade de France, the Docks, the cinema city, the TGI, there are even more projects to finally make Saint Denis central to the Parisian system. The post-Olympic years will be crucial in judging the outcome.

A few other subjects regarding the destination's future

ADP : This is what will undoubtedly be one of the hot issues of 2019: to privatize or not to privatize? While the government would rather support the privatization of Aéroport de Paris, the Senate has just voted against it. The group makes money, and therefore makes money for the state. It remains to be seen whether or not this question slows down the group's activity, particularly since Roissy airport plans to open a new terminal, its fourth, to increase its capacity to 150 million arrivals per year. The terminal is expected to have a capacity of 30 to 40 million passengers. 2019 is the year feasibility and technical studies will be delivered, with first refined cost estimates being served up first. Expect follow-up in the year ahead.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris: Ah Disney! Beneficiary? Deficient? For Disneyland Paris, or for the parent company? Does it matter as long as it sells the universe and the movies? After 25 good years, the park has once again decided to see things with a big perspective: in 2018 Disneyland Paris announced the arrival of three new -lands for 2025, stemming from Mickey's the three major franchises: Frozen, Star Wars and Marvel. Delivery is expected in 2025. For the occasion, the Park's Grand Hotel New York will receive a complete renovation and change of theme. In 2018, Disney opened a new facility in collaboration with Pierre&Vacances Center Parcs, a nature village just a stone's throw from the parks. Meanwhile, Parc Asterix, the main competitor, plans two hotel openings for 2019. For the park to become a real short stay destination for a weekend, a night for two days in the park.

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