At La Défense, near Paris, nothing will be the same

REPORT – The largest business district in Europe has lost its pre-crisis footfall.

The rain has stopped. Clusters of young people settle on the steps of the Grande Arche de la Défense, to swallow a sandwich. On the esplanade, a queue forms to order grills from the New Soul Food food truck. It is noon last Tuesday in the largest business district in Europe. “My customers are coming back. I have practically recovered the turnover before the confinement ”, rejoices Joël Laine, its owner.

After months at a standstill because of the Covid, the Defense is regaining its animation. “There has been a clear increase in attendance since the start of the school year. Before the summer, we were at about 60% of the pre-pandemic level. We are approaching 75%, specifies Pierre-Yves Guice, general manager of the public establishment Paris la Défense, which manages the business district. However, there are a lot of people missing and this return to school is not like the others. Teleworking is felt everywhere, in towers, shops, restaurants … weakening

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