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City of love to woo bankers from London


Nobody ever bragged about taking their lover to Frankfurt for the weekend.

France hopes the romanticism of the Parisian lifestyle can help it lure financial services jobs away from London as the UK pushes for its divorce from the European Union to be finalised by March 2019.

London is the international banking hub OF Europe but financial institutions are worried after Brexit they will lose their "passporting rights", which allow them to sell their services across the bloc.

The financial services sector accounts for roughly 12 per cent of Britain's economic output and pays a lion share of tax.

Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Milan and to a lesser extent Dublin are competing with Paris for the post-Brexit spoils.

But Paris believes it has a competitive edge.

"Tired of the fog, try the frogs," is its advertising campaign slogan.

Already there are signs of early gains.

This week, Paris claimed the European Banking Authority from London.

Meanwhile HSBC has announced up to 1000 bank employees will move to Paris, while Goldman Sachs will also have Paris and Frankfurt hubs post Brexit.

Ross McInnes, a Franco-Australian who heads up French engine maker Safran, is leading a special task group helping to woo UK companies to Paris.

He doesn't believe it will be winner takes all.

"No one is thinking of closing down Canary Wharf, London will remain a concentration... which will be very important - this is not about the end of the City of London," he told AAP.

"It's about rebalancing and loopholes - our authorities have made it very clear that loopholes won't be tolerated."

But he insists people won't be able to resist France's quality of life.

"When was the last time you booked a weekend with your partner in Frankfurt?"

Former French ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier, is now chief executive of BusinessFrance which promotes two-way international investment in France.

He notes French President Emmanuel Macron and his reform agenda to shake up labour laws and the tax system has renewed the country's optimism.

In the 1990s parts of French society had been "paralysed" with pessimism about globalisation but now the country is shaking it off, he said.

"For the very first time there's a turning point," he told reporters in Paris.

Paris is also taking steps to ensure it's match fit to take on the London-Brexit exodus as well as host the Olympic Games in 2024.

Greater Paris Investment Agency Alexander Missoffe is overseeing a project to revitalise outer suburbs of the city with a transport and housing construction boom that also links clusters of innovative start-up businesses.

The 200 kilometres of metro network is set to double in size with 68 new stations in the next decade.There's a 30 million Euro kitty towards the project.

France also has plans to build three international schools in Paris in the next five years to accommodate the influx of bankers' children.

* Lisa Martin travelled to France on a study tour as a guest of the French Embassy in Canberra.