Paris Rive Gauche

© Paul Lecroart, IAU îdF


The site of Paris Rive Gauche is located on the south east side of Paris. It covers a 2.7 km long area along the river Seine from the "Jardin des Plantes" to the "ring road". It represents an area of 130 hectares (325 acres). Paris Rive Gauche is a part of the 13th district, one of the biggest district in Paris with a population of 170,000 inhabitants. Paris represents an area of 100 sq km with 2.3 millions inhabitants.


The project, the most important in Paris since the Hausmanian transformation during the 19th century, is clearly an initiative of the local authority represented by the Mayor of Paris.
When they approved the project, the elected people of the City Council defined 5 objectives:

  1. To follow a policy of a new balance for Paris developing the east side of the capital and creating employment (60,000 new jobs will be created) in Paris Rive Gauche.
  2. To link the 13th district to the river Seine.
  3. To answer the need of housing, modern offices and new public facilities for the capital city at a time where all the European capital are in competition to attract investors developers (London is now 3 h from Paris, Frankfort 4 h, Brussels 2 h)
  4. To realise in Paris Rive Gauche new districts with mixed land use by creating in each district: office buildings, housing, schools, day nursery, etc.
  5. To realise an urban development respectful of the environment, using the principles of the sustainable development and paying attention to the architectural context with regard to the interesting industrial buildings which have to be preserved and renovated.

To reach these goals it was planned to reorganize by reducing the 60 ha (150 acres) area tracks to a 30 ha (75 acres) area. A deck would cover the 30 ha of new railroad tracks. A 40 m wide avenue the "Avenue of France" would be built on the deck, "the backbone" of the project.
Transversals streets would be built to link the existing levels around the site to the level of the deck 9m above the railroads. These streets are built on embankment slopes or on structure that will be hidden, so they look like traditional streets with cars, pedestrians, trees, shops, entrances of the building, etc.


  • Housing: 430,000 sq m 5,000 units
  • Office space: 700,000 sq m 45,000 employees
  • Shops – publics and privates facilities, etc.: 405,000 sq m
  • Public facilities: 660 000 sq m
    • including BnF: 250 000 sq m
    • University: 210 000 sq m
  • Parks and gardens: 10 hectares (25 acres)

Today (2007):

  • 1,250,000 sq m have been built or are under construction
  • €1.7 billion has been spent ($2.35 billion)
  • €1.6 billion has been taken ($2.25 billion)

We expect to finish the project in the next 10 years.


The financial forecast of the project is approximately €3.2 billion ($4.5 billion).


The main orientations of the urban project Paris Rive Gauche are taken by the
local authority, but the administration is not in charge of realizing and completing the project itself. That responsibility and the means were given by contract to SEMAPA in 1991.
The role of SEMAPA is :

  • To purchase the land from SNCF or other private owners
  • To define more precisely the urban and architectural project with the partnership of the city council services and the coordinating architects
  • To undertake the works of infrastructure like streets, networks, sewer system, the deck over the railroads, etc.
  • To sell the building land to the developers, either private or public, even the state to build for instance the new French library or the university complex. The developers are appointed by the city council for public housing or public facilities. There are competitions for private developments as office buildings, private housing, shopping center, private facilities…