When it comes to its iconic skyline, Paris is proudly conservative. The only true high-rise in the historic center is the 59-story Montparnasse Tower – the most despised building in France.

One of the notable things about Paris, France, is the absence of skyscrapers in the downtown area. Strict height regulations are observed within city limits, and super-tall buildings are quarantined to the fringes of Paris proper. That’s not to say that Paris rejects avant-garde architecture – quite the contrary.

“Look at the Louvre Museum and the glass pyramid serving as its main entrance. You see landmarks such as these all over Paris that blend perfectly with cutting-edge accents,” says Paris-born Pierre Liautaud, KONE Executive Vice President for KONE South Europe, Middle East and Africa.


Liautaud sees Paris as a city that has aged gracefully, with the exception of La Défense, the high-rise business district built in the 70s and 80s.

“Paris’ old skyscrapers haven’t evolved with the times. Many are currently being modernized by KONE, including the 231-meter Tour First, the tallest building in France.”

The most obvious benefits of upgrading old elevators are the improvements to safety and accessibility. Energy consumption is generally also reduced and the full replacement of an elevator can increase interior car space by 50%.

La Défense is home to one of KONE’s largest elevator modernization projects, Tour Areva, where 23 elevators are being overhauled and fitted with eco-efficient technology and destination control systems.

Smartening up old buildings with high-tech technology is also where KONE stands out in Paris. “Modernization is our bread-and-butter business. More than half of Paris’ elevators are more than 30 years old, so a large number of buildings are due for overhaul.”

With world capitals competing to boost their tourist appeal, hotel conversions represent another major business opportunity for KONE in Paris. Many luxury hotels are upgrading, the Royal Monceau being among those recently retrofitted by KONE.


Liautaud and his family are getting ready for a move into an apartment neighboring a protected hospital dating from 1634 in the heart of Paris. The hospital will become the headquarters of a luxury goods powerhouse, and the surrounding auxiliary buildings have been replaced by high-end residential units.

“This project is a beautiful example of what makes Paris such an enchanting city – its ability to combine heritage and modernity,” says Liautaud.

Three years ago, Paris relaxed its laws to allow building heights up to 180 meters, but Liautaud has little fear that high-rises will intrude upon the historic skyline. The 324-meter Eiffel Tower will remain unchallenged as France’s globally recognized cultural icon.

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