Tech City Spotlight: Paris
Tech City News reported last month that Silicon Valley is undergoing a chill while tech in Europe continues to grow. Silicon Valley has been hot since 2008, whereas Europe has really only gained significant traction over the past three years. When we talk about tech and Europe, London and Berlin are the cities that come to mind first, but in fact, it’s France that is leading Europe in investments so far this year and there are plenty of reasons why.
The French government have been putting in the work to get the country to where it is now. La French Tech is an initiative to promote French startups around the world by enabling these entrepreneurs and giving them the tools needed to flourish. In Paris alone, there are over 22,600 startups which employ around 140,000 people. These startups have attracted €2.35 billion in funding since 2005. The city is also home to some of the best engineering schools in the world, a well developed venture capital industry, 250 coworking spaces, as well as accelerator hubs like Numa, so the conditions for startup growth are extremely good.
As a city, Paris is also very forward thinking. The “42” School opened in 2013 and is training 1,000 programmers every year, completely for free. The school is open 24/7, has no teachers, books or tuition fees. Students are assigned projects and teach each other, with some input from staff. The school was started by Xavier Niel, France’s greatest entrepreneurial success in tech who is also turning a former Paris railway building into the world’s largest startup incubator. Two more projects that are sure to secure Paris on the international technology map.
If the tech culture of the French capital is enticing you, here are a few things to know:
Where to live:
The city of Paris is divided into twenty neighborhoods, or arrondissements. In general, it is pretty expensive to live inside Paris, but there are some exceptions. In the 20th, 13th (Chinatown), 18th and 19th arrondissements, rent tends to be more affordable than in other areas and you’ll get more space for your money. The 11th arrondissement is more expensive but has that hipster vibe (without any of the snobbiness) and is very central. Republique, Bastille and Oberkampf are all close by and there are plenty of tempting restaurants, bars, cafes and galleries as well as local markets selling delicious and fresh street food.
Where to eat:
For a good selection of restaurants and bars wander along the Canal Saint-Martin – a 4.5km long canal that runs between Bastille and Republique. Les Nicois is particularly good. Alternatively, just buy a bottle of wine and sit by the canal and take in the live music and laidback atmosphere. Heading North, Mama Shelter is a hip hotel hangout with incredible pizza and a good rooftop bar. For traditional French dining try Café du Commerce on Rue du Commerce. Amazing food, lots of greenery and an open roof in summer. If you are a brunch person, then head to Buddha Bar in the 8th – Paris’ best brunch spot. It is pricey but it’s also all you can eat – so you can get your money’s worth! For something more relaxed, Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris’ oldest covered market and here you’ll find a maze of food stalls selling ready-to-eat dishes from all around the globe.
Where to drink:
Perchoir is a speakeasy in Menilmontant which has an incredible rooftop with a 360 degree view of the city. La Rhumerie, based in the cool area of Saint Germain, specialises in all things rum – expect the best mojitos, zombies, coladas and mai tais. Le Fantome offers arcade games, a Pacman table and table football along with inventive cocktails and pizzas from just €5. La Petite Chaufferie is all about techno and organic drinks. In summertime Concrete is a club not to be missed. Parties take place on a Saturday and last all night and all day Sunday.
What to do:
One of the best places to meander is around the fashionable area of Le Marais in the 3rd and 4th. Here, there are many side streets, historic buildings and it’s one of the only areas where shops are open on Sundays. When the weather is good, Butte Chaumont park is a must. The famous Sacre Coeur church is located here and is without doubt offers one of the best viewpoints to see the whole city – even at night. Drop into Café Marly, a beautiful cafe looking over the Louvre. Expensive but worth doing every now and then as a real treat!