Ah, Paris… the capital of love. Paris - the noble city of culture. Paris - a hub for innovation and international business.
Yes, you read that right. The architectural gems that have put this city on the global map now sit alongside hotels and conference venues that place Paris at the forefront of meetings and events destinations.
The city, which was hit hard by the 2015 terror attacks, is firmly back in business. The French government pumped 10 million euros into tourism promotion and extra security measures – and visitor numbers are rising again. In January this year, Paris hotel check-ins reached a 10-year high of just over 1.5 million, up 6.4% from three years previously.
A recent ‘congress charter’, with signatories including 651 hotels, tourism bosses and the Paris convention bureau, means that not-for-profit conference clients organising events for more than 1,000 people can benefit from price policies and quality commitments.
So, why not choose the French capital for your next rendezvous? Whether your meeting is a ‘tête à tête’ for two or a conference for thousands of minds, Paris brings its very special ‘je ne sais quoi’ to every event.
Modern event spaces steeped in history…
The first stone for the Palais Brongniart was laid in 1808. It was all part of Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte’s plan to centralise the stock exchanges. Now, this 19th century commercial hub is an events space like no other. Reinvented as an innovative venue, its 3,000msq host up to 500 meetings and conferences every year. If only the walls could talk! (www.palaisbrongniart.com).
Check into an experience…
It’s easier to get into Les Bains Douches now it’s a hotel. As a Philippe Starck-designed nightclub, this former Turkish baths was a supermodel hangout, where Karl Lagerfeld partied with Naomi Campbell, with a notoriously strict door policy. The marble hammams in the private suites are a nod to the hotel’s steamy past and it doesn’t matter what time you finish work because the bar and restaurant are open 24/7. (www.lesbains-paris.com)
Take to the streets…
CWT project manager Bansri Patel has a suggestion for a speedy ride round town. “Try a traditional 2CV tour around the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysées.” The private drivers will also act as guides and offer routes around different areas of the city. They also offer picnic tours that feature four classic French ingredients: Paris, bread, cheese and wine. (2cvparistour.com)
Finish the day in style…
There are big and expensive restaurants in the Marais district, the oldest part of the city, but for a real taste of Paris book a table at the Bistrot de l’Oulette, on the rue des Tournelles. This is where specialities from southwest France meet Parisian bistro culture with delicious results. Wines from famous and soon-to-be-known vineyards add to the dining experience and the restaurant can be booked for private meetings or events. (www.l-oulette.com).
La Belle Hortense, on rue Vieille du Temple is the only bookshop-bar in France that stays open until 2am. Shop, drink, chat, enjoy.
“Le Crillon, on the Place de la Concorde, has such an air of mystique,” says global program director, Joanne Shaw, “And they make the best hot chocolate ever!”
“ I recommend La Seine Musicale, a music and performing arts centre on the Ile Seguin, an island on the river Seine between Boulogne-Billancourt and Sèvres, in the western suburbs of Paris,” says M&E ambassador Anamaria Lopez. This new concert venue, built on the site of a former Renault factory, opened in 2017, and has already hosted Bob Dylan.
Planes, trains and automobiles…
Paris is an easily accessible destination. The city has two international airports, Charles de Gaulles and Orly, and train connections from the UK, Belgium and Germany. The new Eurostar e320 trains (eurostar.com) offer business travellers free wifi, plug sockets and onboard entertainment including films, TV and games.