The Paris-Île-de-France area dominates France, not only because Paris is the capital and as such contains the symbols and resources of political power, but also because it contains the economic and cultural power. No other European metropolis has the same importance vis-à-vis its nation-state, as is shown in table 17.1. The Paris area is considered by many (Kantor et al., 1997) as the model of the dirigist planner regime. If once there was some truth to this description, the ongoing changes which have been taking place for the last five years indicate that the Île-de-France can no longer be presented as the model of a state-controlled territory. Today, new actors are emerging at the local level who potentially challenge the state as the deus ex machina of the French capital. After a synthetic presentation of the socio-economic and political evolution of the Paris area, this chapter will focus on the changes taking place there, using the planning sector in a broad sense as an illustration of such changes.
Table 17.1 Some data regarding the weight of the Île-de-France region versus France in 2000
Relative to France (%)
Foreign (non-French) population
Part of the national income tax
Number of students
Number of researchers
Source: IAURIF, 40 ans en Île-de-France, Etudes et Développement, 2001.