Paris gets greater

A hugely ambitious project, involving 68 new Metro stations, seeks to expand our idea of Paris beyond the old city and into the suburbs. Eliza Williams talks to Rémi Babinet, of advertising agency BETC, about what the changes might mean for the city

A new Paris is being born. For most of us, the Paris that we know lies within the borders of the Peripherique, the ring-road around the centre of the city that acts as an informal border between desirable, ‘old’ Paris and the suburbs, that until recently were seen as banal at best, dangerous at worst.

But changes are happening, wrought by a huge transportation project that will bring 68 new stations and 200km of new Metro lines to connect the suburbs to the city. As in New York and London before it, Paris needs more space, and increasingly the trendy, upcoming areas of the city are no longer within its traditional 20 arrondissements, but further out of town.

The Greater Paris project is one that is close to Rémi Babinet’s heart. Babinet is founder of BETC, an advertising network that works with brands from Air France to Lacoste, but also has deep cultural links within Paris. He is also President of the Grand Paris Express corporate endowment fund, which is sourcing funding for and curating the cultural aspects of the stations on the new network. In addition to this, BETC Paris is also creating marketing to help introduce the benefits of an expanded city to the public.