France Business Report 2018

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Discovery Reports

France reveals the best of Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport and Le French May in Hong Kong

Paris airport’s Espace Musées exhibits reveal the best of Gallic fashion, art and lifestyle, while Hong Kong awaits Le French May and three French restaurants at Chek Lap Kok

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 10:59am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2018, 10:59am

The status of Paris as an international centre of style and culture goes without question. It has the galleries, museums, history, haute couture, cuisine – and so much more – to ensure a permanent place among the world’s great tourist destinations.

Importantly, though, the city also has a tremendous sense of vibrancy and renewal. It is looking to move with the times, create new attractions and invest where necessary. Those involved are well aware that the tourist industry, in all its aspects and manifestations, is now a highly competitive business. So, it only makes sense to upgrade and innovate, while also paying closer attention to the particular needs and expectations of visitors from different parts of the world.

A good example is the blueprint for change in and around Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, (Paris-CDG). The plans call for a number of avant-garde developments which will take shape over the next few months, along with an imaginative calendar of special events. The first priority, of course, is to make sure the facilities will be able to handle an increasing volume of flight movements and passenger traffic. At the same time, though, the airport is looking to enhance its reputation and that of the immediate region as “an international lifestyle hub of excellence”.

It aims to be a showcase of all the best things Paris can offer travellers, from gastronomy and fashion to the French lifestyle and fabulous artworks. And, in doing so, certain facets of the project are being specially tailored to appeal to “jet-setting style-makers” from Hong Kong and mainland China.

This is seen as the next logical step for an initiative that began around five years ago. The initial concept was to find a new way of promoting French heritage and introducing the country’s creative arts to a wider international audience. With millions of people passing through Paris-CDG every year, the airport terminal was an obvious venue for rotating exhibitions, and things have kept developing ever since. Now, there is a dedicated space at Espace Musées, which houses original works from some of the leading museums in Paris. And there are some much visited and highly commended permanent exhibitions, including “Carte Blanche, the Parisianer” at Terminal 2E and “Paris, Peinture & Photo” at Terminal 1, well worth a short detour for anyone arriving, departing or waiting for a connection.

What’s more, to kick-off a global promotional campaign for Paris-CDG, the airport authority (Paris Aeroport) is teaming up with “Le French May” in Hong Kong. The always popular festival, which celebrates Gallic art and culture through a diverse range of events, presents a great chance to collaborate and spread the word.

This year, one result of the partnership is an exhibition featuring the iconic art of French sculptor Nathalie Decoster. It will take place at the Atrium of Pacific Place from May 10-27. Decoster has exhibited around the world and is best known for her expressive style and sculptures with huge and small human figures. These should be seen as “messengers” and are often placed in unstable positions, such as inside large hoops, cubes, or other geometric shapes.

A new work, The Consciousness, which some are already hailing as a unique masterpiece, will be unveiled at the exhibition in Hong Kong. It was specially commissioned by Paris Aéroport and, from September, will return to France to be put on permanent show at Espace Musées.

Exemplifying another side of Parisian culture, three new restaurants overseen by Michelin-star chefs are opening at the airport in the first half of 2018. As from late this month, visitors should keep an eye out for “The French Taste”, run by Guy Martin, which will offer seasonal fare and traditional dishes, along with a selection of international favourites. By rounding off their trip with a stop here, travellers can enjoy another great culinary experience and take away one more souvenir of their stay.

As an alternative, they can try soon-to-open Teppan, where Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx will offer modern takes on well-known French recipes, coming up with delights such as blue lobster tempura and toasted brioche with tatin apples.

And the third upscale newcomer, Café Eiffel, which opens this summer, has been planned as a place that pays tribute to France’s inventors and creative minds.

Taken together, these enhancements are not just a method of adding something distinctive to the typical airport experience.

Rather, they are part of an ongoing effort that shows the importance of maximising every opportunity to “sell” your city in innovative ways and accepting a responsibility to do so.