“The Marne-la-Vallée project was one of the five new towns created by General De Gaulle in the early 60s. Today there are only two of these new towns remaining in the Paris region and Marne-la-Vallée is the biggest. It is an area one and a half times the size of Paris, with about 300,000 inhabitants and 130,000 jobs.
“In terms of accessibility, Marne-la-Vallée is located 20 minutes from the center of Paris by metro. In fact it is the biggest high-speed train hub in France, so it is also very well connected to most European capitals; and Charles de Gaulle international airport is only eight minutes away. At the same time it is a very attractive business location, with almost 2,000 new jobs created and 2,000 new housing units built every year. Over the past four decades, 20,000 businesses have been established here, so it is a growing and dynamic business area.
“Over the past three decades we have created about 1.5 million m² of office space and 150,000 residential units in Marne la Vallée and we are still moving at the same pace. In the short term we have about 300,000 m² of land for office space or housing available and in the medium term we will have about 1.5 million m².
“Office space currently costs about €250 per m², which compared to Paris is very attractive, bearing in mind that we are very well connected to the center of the city.
An important tourist attraction
“This new town has characteristics that are unique in France and probably even in Europe. Firstly the fact that Euro Disney is located here, which is the most important tourist destination in France, attracting more than 15 million visitors each year. Just south of Euro Disney we are developing a new eco-resort, which is called Villages Nature and will be developed jointly by Euro Disney and major French investors called Pierre & Vacances.
“Villages Nature is going to be a carbon neutral, green location for families, which will extend over an area four times the size of one ‘Center Parcs’ family resort. Combined with a potential third Euro Disney park, the Marne la Vallée tourism hub will almost double in the long run in terms of tourist attraction and urban development.
The Descartes Cluster
“Another reason why Marne La Vallée is unique is that over the past two decades the ‘Descartes Cluster’ has been created and developed here. The Descartes Cluster can be described as the largest concentration in France of research centers, higher education organizations and businesses all involved in green technologies and city sustainability. It already includes 3,000 of the best researchers in 50 research centers, 15,000 students in about 20 higher education organizations and many innovative small and medium-size businesses.
“With the new Institute ‘Efficacity’ focused on energy efficiency at city level, all the major French companies will now join the Descartes Cluster, for example EdF, GdF-Suez, Veolia, Bouygues, Vinci, RATP, etc.
“Why is this unique? Firstly because this is the first time that energy efficiency is being tackled not just at the building level but also at the neighborhood and city levels, something that has never been done before. The other reason why it is unique is because the Greater Paris is being developed simultaneously so there will be many opportunities for the Descartes Cluster to experiment city sustainability on concrete projects such as the new Grand Paris Express metro and the many urban developments that will take place around the new metro.”