On the terrace of a café, at the reception of a hotel, in the streets, it only takes a few minutes for a conversation to strike up almost immediately with someone. The inhabitants of Aarhus have this reputation for cultivating, perhaps more than elsewhere, “Hygge”, a Danish term that evokes well-being, comfort and intimacy all at the same time. A joy of living that makes this city so attractive to travelers, including those coming for business.
” We have been named the happiest city in the world after Helsinki. And indeed, the relaxed side of Aarhus is an asset. Visitors generally feel at home with us“, says Pia Lange Christensen, Managing Director of Visit Aarhus, the tourism promotion agency.
His office along Aarhus Harbor is the epitome of ‘Hygge’. Bright green paint of what looks like a temporary structure, made of shipping containers. And which contrasts with the comfort of offices and living spaces in the characteristic Scandinavian style.
Denmark’s youngest and most dynamic city
Aarhus is on the rise. The city appears today as the best alternative to Copenhagen to many entrepreneurs. One could wonder about this reason in France, Aarhus remaining relatively unknown. But the facts speak for themselves for this city of nearly 340,000 inhabitants and more than a million in its metropolitan area.
There is a very favorable geographical situation. Aarhus is located along the northeast coast of Jutland, Denmark’s most central province. The city is in fact equidistant from Hamburg and Copenhagen. The port of Aarhus is thus the leading port in Denmark with a market share of 56% for container traffic.
Aarhus is considered the youngest city in the country with nearly 35% of its population falling in the 18-34 age bracket. Population growth is also one of the fastest in the country with some 15,000 new inhabitants gained in a decade. This dynamism is stimulated by the presence of the University of Aarhus, considered by many Danes to be the best in the country. It welcomes nearly 40,000 students with beneficial effects on all sectors of the new economy.
Aarhus, capital of the sectors of the future
Research and development, design, renewable energies, high technology, fashion or architecture. On average, some 1,500 companies are created each year. A dynamic that translates into more than 20,000 jobs generated over a decade.
” We are indeed an attractive city for the creative and research industries. But also, we are the center of Danish agriculture. Most of the big names in agribusiness such as Arla or Lurpark are thus based in the region.“, describes Pia Lange Christensen.
To support this breeding ground for talent, the city has also created five centers of excellence scattered across the city. These “Innovation Districts” relate to health, agriculture, high-tech, creative industries and renewable energies. In this area, Aarhus also has the ambition to be totally neutral in CO2 emissions by 2030.
Make Aarhus better known in France
Perhaps the only weak point of this city so attractive to live in is still its lack of notoriety among travellers, especially French-speaking people. ” Our main international markets are Germany, Norway and Sweden due to their proximity. We also have a large number of Dutch visitors. With the recovery of post-pandemic tourism, our promotional efforts are turning to these four markets. As well as France and Italy, with significant potential“, explains Pia Lange Christensen.
From France, Aarhus is, in fact, more accessible than ever. It is just over an hour’s drive from Billund International Airport, directly connected to Paris or Brussels. And then there is this small metropolis with undeniable charm. And whose cost of living remains much lower than that of Copenhagen.
The center is compact, easy to explore on foot and concentrates everything you want for a stay in a European city. The historic town nestles behind the cathedral along Rosensgade, Klostergade and Volden streets. It is called the Latin Quarter (Latinerkvarteret) with its maze of small cobbled streets, passages, Renaissance houses in pastel, white or even anthracite colours. All occupied by small cafés, vegetarian or exotic restaurants, designer or vintage boutiques. A cosmopolitan and diverse crowd rubs shoulders there… Magasin (an elegant department store) and Europe Square, line the restaurants and bars along the Aarhus River.
In terms of culture, Aarhus benefited from its title of European Capital of Culture in 2017. It thus has some exceptional museums. ARoS, the museum of fine arts of the metropolis has one of the finest collections of modern art in Northern Europe. The museum is famous for its sculpture route called “the rainbow”. But also the Moesgard Museum dedicated to anthropology and whose contemporary architecture confronts the surrounding forests. Finally, the very surprising Den Gamle By museum (Old Town Museum) recreates an ancient city with authentic historic houses. We even discover a district of the 70s with its stores. An excellent place for incentive activities.
Or quite simply, you have to watch Aarhus live, from a rooftop terrace or in its ancient streets. And chat with neighbors. Hygge obliges…
There are several direct flights fromAir France and Vueling from Paris CDG and Orly to Billund. Air France flies to Billund airport up to twice a day, Vueling three times a week. Ryanair also operates flights to Brussels-Charleroi. Possibility of landing directly at Aarhus airport via Copenhagen or London-Stansted.
Scandinavian luxury and comfort are embodied in Comwell Aarhus Dolce by Wyndham. All rooms have a superb view of the city… (Værkmestergade 2, 8000 Aarhus C- Tel. +45 70 274 274 – https://comwell.com/en/hoteller/comwell-hotel-aarhus). Boutique spirit, design and sustainability for theOasia hotela three-star hotel in the heart of town (Kriegersvej 27 – Tel. +45 87 32 37 15 – www.hoteloasia.com). For tighter budgets, the youth hostel BOOK1 Design Hostel. In fact, the former municipal library from the 1950s transformed into an establishment with a very Scandinavian look is perfect for business travelers because there are individual rooms there. Bar, lounge, meeting rooms and hearty breakfast are part of the experience (Møllegade 3A, Mølleparken – Tel. +45 88 30 15 00 – www.brochner-hotels.com/book1-designhostel).
Restaurant Klokken Aarhus near the port offers inventive Scandinavian cuisine at reasonable prices for Denmark, especially on lunch menus (https://restaurantklokken.dk/klokken-aarhus/). The quintessence of new Danish cuisine, Nordisk Spisehus is recommended by Michelin. You can have lunch there from 12 euros for a dish at lunchtime and from 65 euros for a four-course menu in the evening. Reasonable for excellent quality (https://www.nordiskspisehus.dk/en/). To eat at a reasonable price, coffee shops – not to be confused with cafés which are restaurants – offer sandwiches and pastries in a relaxed atmosphere. To try in the Latin Quarter or in the Frederiksbjerg district…
Photos: Book1 bar (LC), Den Gamle By museum (LC), Latin Quarter (LC), Salling rooftop (Phototop-Visit Aarhus), cathedral (LC) and Moengaard Museum (Moengaard).
Discover three must-sees in Aarhus
- Have a drink or a snack on the amazing Salling department store rooftop. This huge roof terrace with a bird’s eye view of the city center takes place on several levels and includes a winter garden with a bar and a café as well as several lounge areas. where you can enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing cocktail. Musicians and DJs are active every Friday during the event “Fredag på Toppen” from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Always a rooftop this time offering a 360° panorama of the city through the prism of the rainbow. On the roof ofARoS, the fine arts museum, the work of art by Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is presented as a large circular glass walkway 52 meters and 150 meters long. You can wander around or sit on the lower floor to watch the visitors while sipping a coffee… A little tip, the museum is open until 9:00 p.m. and generally empty after 7:00 p.m.
- The remarkable aarhus cathedral (Aarhus Domkirke) offers superb Gothic architecture and splendid medieval frescoes bringing a touch of color to the dazzling white walls.
The website of the Aarhus tourist office gives a wealth of advice for discovering the city in an interactive way (https://www.visitaarhus.com/aarhus-region/plan-your-trip).
Consulate of France: see the Embassy of France to Denmark in Copenhagen- https://dk.ambafrance.org/Contacter-les-services-de-l-Ambassade
Business information about Aarhus under https://businessaarhus.dk/eng/about-aarhus/