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French Flock to Hong Kong

From Paris with love: Hong Kong is home to 15,000 French nationals  

From Paris with love: Hong Kong is home to 15,000 French nationals


French nationals are coming to Hong Kong in record numbers, particularly in recent years. Estimated to be about 15,000, the city’s French population has swelled by 60 per cent since 2008, making it the biggest in Asia, and the second-largest worldwide outside of France, behind only Britain. According to French expatriates living here, business as well as lifestyle factors are drawing them to the city.

Audrey Pion, Consul (Political/Public Relation) at the French Consulate General, describes Hong Kong as “the ideal place” to take advantage of the Asian economic boom. The China story, in particular, is the reason why so many French companies are setting up their regional headquarters in Hong Kong, she said. “Besides large corporations, this economic boom also represents opportunities for SMEs and entrepreneurs. More and more French graduates come here to find their first job or set up businesses.”

Hong Kong offers them the longstanding structural advantages, which make it a perfect business hub, Ms Pion continued. “It is a perfect gateway to China,” she said citing the advantages provided by the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and the mainland. “Hong Kong is also an international and business-friendly city, due largely to the high level of business expertise and the legal security that you can find here.”

Entrepreneurial Opportunity


Ballet de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux, on stage 8 -9 June as part of Le French May programme

  Ballet de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux, on stage 8-9 June as part of Le French May programme  
Enterprising Frenchmen are taking advantage of new market opportunities, Ms Pion said. “Besides the traditional sectors like finance, luxury goods, public utilities or construction, French companies are increasingly present in new sectors, such as wine imports, restaurants and hospitality. They particularly appreciate the business-friendly environment.”

With cultural events such as Le French May and other lifestyle synergies, it is easy for French people to feel at home in Hong Kong, Ms Pion said.  “It is a very welcoming and diverse city. Because it is a multicultural city, one can enjoy different ways of living and have access to different cultures, such as food, cinema and the arts.

“Events like Le French May, one of the largest French festivals in Asia, which celebrates its 20th edition this year, contribute to this feeling for the French community here. Le French May has become a Franco-Hong Kong festival, a cultural institution that Hongkongers as much as French and international people enjoy and wait for year after year.”

Art Showcase

Edouard Malingue  

Edouard Malingue feels at home in Hong Kong

French entrepreneurs capitalising on these cultural synergies include Edouard Malingue, who founded his eponymous Edouard Malingue Gallery in Central after gaining experience in Paris (with his father, respected art dealer Daniel Malingue) and London. “When I felt ready to open a gallery, I decided to move to Asia to offer something new: the possibility to see Western modern masters. We opened the gallery with the first Picasso show in Hong Kong in September 2010, presenting 40 original works on canvas and paper,” Mr Malingue said.

Since opening, business has been strong, selling Asian modern art to buyers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the Chinese mainland, as well as Western contemporary art, including Picassos in Europe and the United States. This month, the gallery will participate for the first time in Art HK, the Hong Kong International Art Fair, 17-20 May, presenting Korean master Song Hyun-sook. In addition, nine major galleries based in Paris will travel to Hong Kong to attend Art HK, the region’s premier art event, showcasing contemporary art from 266 galleries, representing 39 international territories.

  Brushstrokes by Song Hyun-sook, from Edouard Malingue Gallery’s exhibition at Art HK this month

Brushstrokes by Song Hyun-sook, from Edouard Malingue Gallery’s exhibition at Art HK this month

As for lifestyle enjoyment, Mr Malingue says that, after almost three years in the city, Hong Kong “feels like home.” “From here, I am witnessing how China is becoming a super power, sipping pu-erh tea and enjoying the best dim-sum in the world.”

Brand Exposure

The famous Bordeaux winery Chateau Margaux now has a presence in Hong Kong  

The famous Bordeaux winery Chateau Margaux now has a presence in Hong Kong

Wine specialist Thibault Pontallier, from legendary Bordeaux winery Chateau Margaux, moved to Hong Kong in March 2010 as the brand’s ambassador for China. At 26, he is one of the many young Frenchmen moving to Asia “to look for adventure.”

He said Hong Kong offers businesses a “safe haven” to the huge potential on the mainland. “Hong Kong makes for an easy transition from Europe to China.”

  Thibault Pontallier

Thibault Pontallier, Chateau Margaux ambassador for China

Mr Pontallier and his father, Chateau Margaux winemaker Paul Pontallier, are thrilled with the results of the brand exposure Hong Kong offers. “When we arrived in 2010, nobody in the luxury world expected such results,” he said, citing sales that have quadrupled. “Two years ago, China (including Hong Kong and Macau) represented eight per cent of our market – today it accounts for one-third.”

Like so many of his compatriots, Mr Pontallier also enjoys the French-Hong Kong connection that his new home offers, finding similarities in the food and wine culture, as well as general lifestyle enjoyment.

Related Links
Art HK
Chateau Margaux
Edouard Malingue Gallery
Le French May

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