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Local Matters / Architecture & Landmarks

Importing Paris: China and India attempt to replicate the French capital’s charm

Tianducheng Hangzhou China India replica Paris district

Emerging superpowers China and India prove how far Paris’ global appeal stretches, with developers in both countries building mini-versions of the French capital on their soil. While Indian investors have flocked to buy property in the Paris-like residential development in Mumbai, the Chinese equivalent in Hangzhou has been far less successful at attracting buyers.

Cities in China and India will soon both play host to mock Parisian arrondissements and model Eiffel Towers.

About 200 kilometers from Shanghai, in the suburbs of former imperial city Hangzhou, stands a 108-meter high Eiffel Tower and a Paris-inspired boulevard flanked by tall Haussmannian-style buildings. The Guangsha Group, China’s first private developer, has built an entire Parisian neighborhood on a tranquil piece of land in the hills of Zhejiang province.

Begun in 2007 and now complete, the Parisian-like apartments available at the fraction of the French capital’s prices. Here you can own 500m2 in a Haussmannian building for the equivalent of just 230,000 euros. In Paris, property of a similar size in a chic area would cost upwards of 5 million euros.

The idea originated from Guangsha CEO Lou Zhongu, a Francophile who has often visited the City of Light. In contrast, Wang Xufei, the director of the “Little Paris” project — named Tianducheng — has never been to the French capital, or even to the country.

From a certain angle, nothing but the air conditioning boxes hanging under windows remind onlookers they aren’t standing on the Champs Elysées or looking out at the Eiffel Tower from some other famed Parisian avenue.

The neighborhood also has a reproduction of the sculpture from the Apollo basin in the Versailles gardens, and there are plans to introduce a winery. “We will import French vines and call upon French companies to develop the residence’s own wine,” explains Wang.

Despite the initial enthusiasm surrounding the project, buyers did not follow. Most of the area is now a ghost town, merely visited by curious onlookers and couples come to take their wedding photos.

A similar project has had far more success in India. Indian real estate developer Kanakia has recently unveiled a Paris-themed luxury residential complex in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla commercial hub. Kanakia Paris, as the project is known, has famous former French footballer Zinedine Zidane — now the manager of the Real Madrid FC — as its ambassador.

The Eiffel Tower replica is far smaller, at just 9 meters high, but it will be accompanied by a small version of the Louvre pyramid, which will house a miniature art gallery once the project is completed. The residence’s architect, Olivier Vecchierini, is Parisian, to ensure the complex’s authentic French flair. The planned delivery is in two to four years.

Much like Tianducheng, the main walkway will be designed to look like the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. In addition, there are plans for a café called Maxim’s, gardens replicating the Tuileries and even barricades and signage designed in Parisian style.

Unlike its Chinese counterpart, Kanakia Paris has proved a lot more attractive to local buyers, with 55% of the two- and three-bedroom flats already pre-sold in the future luxury residential complex.

Photo credit: Citylab

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