The Eiffel Tower has become the symbol of Paris throughout the world.
Paris is the capital and largest city of France. The city is built on an arc of the River Seine, and is thus divided into two parts: the Right Bank to the north and the smaller Left Bank to the south. The river is well known for its tree-lined quais (walks along the river banks), open-air bookstalls and historic bridges that connect the Right and Left banks. Paris is also famous for its tree-lined boulevards such as the Champs-Élysées, and for its many architectural gems. It is considered a world-class city.
The city has about two million residents (1999 census: 2,147,857). The Greater Paris metropolitan area (in French: aire urbaine de Paris) has about 11 million residents (1999 census: 11,174,743).
Paris is pronounced /'phæɹɪs/ in English, and /paʁi/ in French.
Flag of Paris
Coat of Arms of Paris
Outside of the touristic areas and expensive historical neighbourhoods, modern buildings provide housing to Parisians. Here, a neighbourhood of high rise apartment buildings with a large Eastern Asian population.
Main article: History of Paris
The name of the city comes from the name of a Gallic tribe (parisis) inhabiting the region at the time of the Roman conquest. The historical nucleus of Paris is the Île de la Cité, a small island largely occupied by the huge Palais de Justice and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. It is connected with the smaller Ile Saint-Louis (another island) occupied by elegant houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Paris was occupied by a Gallic tribe until the Romans arrived in 52 BC. The invaders referred to the previous occupants as the Parisii, but called their new city Lutetia, meaning "marshy place". About fifty years later the city had spread to the left bank of the Seine, now known as the Latin Quarter, and had been renamed "Paris".
Roman rule had ceased by 508, when Clovis the Frank made the city the capital of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks. Viking invasions during the 800s forced the Parisians to build a fortress on the Ile de la Cité. On March 28, 845 Paris was sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris was elected king of France by feudal lords while Charles III was also claiming the throne. Finally, in 987 Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France by the great feudal lords after the last Carolingian died. During the 11th century the city spread to the Right Bank. In the 12th and 13th centuries, which included the reign of Philip II Augustus (1180-1223), the city grew strongly. Main thoroughfares were paved, the first Louvre was built as a fortress, and several churches, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, were constructed or begun. Several schools on the Left Bank were organized into the Sorbonne, which counts Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas among its early scholars. In the Middle Ages Paris prospered as a trading and intellectual centre, interrupted temporarily when the Black Death struck in the 14th century. Under the reign of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, from 1643 to 1715, the royal residence was moved from Paris to nearby Versailles.
The French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Many of the conflicts in the next few years were between Paris and the outlying rural areas.
The Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées
In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War ended in a siege of Paris and the Paris Commune, which surrendered in 1871 after a winter of famine and bloodshed. The Eiffel Tower, the best-known landmark in Paris, was built in 1889 in a period of prosperity known as La Belle Époque (The Beautiful period).
In late August 1944 after the battle of Normandy, Paris was liberated when the German general Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered after skirmishes to the French 2nd Armored Division commanded by Philippe de Hauteclocque backed by the Allies.
Metropolitan area of Paris:
(it should be noted that the limits of the metropolitan area vary year after year, furthermore only the last two data are official as provided by the French national statistics office INSEE, the other data are just estimates compiled from several sources)
59 b.c.: 25,000 inhabitants
a.d.150: 80,000 (peak of Roman era)
510: 30,000 (losses after invasions of 3rd and 4th centuries)
1000: 20,000 (lowest point after Viking invasions)
1200: 110,000 (recovery of the Middle Ages)
1328: 250,000 (blossoming of the 13th century, golden age of King Saint Louis)
1500: 200,000 (losses of the Black Plague and Hundred Years' War)
1550: 275,000 (Renaissance recovery)
1594: 210,000 (losses of religious and civil wars)
1634: 420,000 (spectacular recovery under King Henry IV and Richelieu)
1789: 630,000 (peak of prosperous 18th century)
1801: 548,000 (losses of French Revolution and wars)
1860: 2,000,000 (fastest historical growth under Emperor Napoleon III and Haussmann)
1921: 4,850,000 (stagnation due to losses of First World War)
1946: 5,850,000 (losses of Second World War)
1968: 8,368,500 (end of postwar baby boom, end of immigration surplus for Paris,
1982: 9,400,000 henceforth migration flows become negative, population growth is significantly slower)
City of Paris:
1801: 547,800 inhabitants
The city of Paris is itself a département of France (Paris, 75), part of the Ile-de-France région. Paris is divided into twenty numerically organised districts, the arrondissements. These districts are numbered in a spiral pattern with the 1er arrondissement at the center of the city.
The city of Paris also comprises two forests: the Bois de Boulogne on the west and the Bois de Vincennes on the east.
The Paris City hall behind the river Seine
Prior to 1964, département 75 was "Seine", which contained the city and the surrounding suburbs. The change in boundaries resulted in the creation of 3 new départements forming a ring around Paris, often called la petite couronne (the little crown): Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne.
As an exception to the normal rules for French cities, some powers normally vested in the mayor of the city are instead vested in a representative of the national government, the Prefect of Police. As an example, Paris has no municipal police force, though it has some traffic wardens. This is a legacy of the situation that up to 1977, Paris had no mayor and was essentially run by the prefectoral administration.
Citizens of Paris elect in each arrondissement some municipal council members. Each arrondissement has its own council, which elects the mayor of the arrondissement. Some members of the arrondissement councils form the Council of Paris, which elects the mayor of Paris, and has the double functions of a municipal council and the general council of the département.
Bertrand Delanoë has been the Mayor of Paris since March 18, 2001.
Former mayors Jacques Chirac and Jean Tiberi were cited in corruption scandals in the Paris region.
Paris from space. The River Seine winds its way through the center of the image. The gray and purple pixels are the urban areas. The patchwork of green, brown, tan and yellow surrounding the city is farmland.
The city of Paris itself is only approximately 105 square kilometres (41 square miles) in size. Paris is located at 48°52' North, 2°19'59" East (48.866667, 2.333056). The altitude of Paris varies, with several prominent hills :
- Montmartre - 130 metres (425 feet) above sea level
- Belleville - 115 metres (375 feet) above sea level
- Montagne Ste-Genevieve
- Montparnasse (the hill there was levelled in the 18th century)
Walkway tunnel in Parisian metro
Paris is served by two principal airports: Orly Airport, which is south of Paris, and the international airport Charles De Gaulle International Airport in nearby Roissy-en-France. A third and much smaller airport, at the town of Beauvais, 45 miles to the north of the city, is used by charter and low-cost airlines. Le Bourget airport nowadays only hosts business jets, air trade shows and the aerospace museum.
Paris is densely covered by a metro system, the Métro, as well as by a large number of bus lines. This interconnects with a high-speed regional network, the RER, and also the train network: commuter lines, national train lines, and the TGV (or derivatives like Thalys or Eurostar for specific destinations). There are two tangential tramway lines in the suburbs: Line T1 runs from Saint-Denis to Noisy-le-Sec, line T2 runs from La Défense to Issy. A third line along the southern orbital road is currently under construction.
The city is the hub of France's motorway network, and is surrounded by an orbital road, the Peripherique. On/off ramps of the Peripherique are called 'Portes', as they correspond to the city gates. Most of these 'Portes' have parking areas and a metro station, where non-residents are advised to leave cars. Traffic in Paris is notoriously heavy, slow and tiresome.
Paris tourist attractions
View from the Montparnasse Tower (Tour Montparnasse) towards the Eiffel Tower. On the right Napoleon's tomb lies under the golden dome at Les Invalides. The towers of the office and entertainment centre La Defense line the horizon.
Places in Paris one may like to visit:
Monuments and buildings
The Sacre Coeur, a Roman Catholic basilica.
Streets and other areas within Paris
- Montmartre - historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur and also famous for the studios and cafés of many great artists.
- Champs-Élysées - a famous street, a broad boulevard often clogged with tourists.
- Rue de Rivoli - boutiques for tourists
- Place de la Concorde - at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, formerly Place de la Revolution, site of the infamous guillotine and the obelisk.
- Place de la Bastille - where the Bastille prison stood until the Revolution.
- Montparnasse - historic area on the Left Bank, famous for the studios, music-halls, and cafés of artists.
The Statue of Liberty copy on the river Seine in Paris, France. Given to the city in 1885, it faces west, towards the original Liberty in New York City
- Père Lachaise Cemetery - a popular tourist site, it contains the graves of many famous French men and women and those from other countries who came to live in France.
- Cimetière de Montmartre
- Cimetière du Montparnasse
- Cimetière de Passy
- Catacombs of Paris
- Les Halles - shopping precinct, includes an important metro connection station.
- Le Marais - trendy district on the Right Bank with large gay and Jewish populations
- List of parks and gardens in Paris
Boutiques, department stores and hotels
- Food stores
- Department stores
- Galeries Lafayette
- Famous hotels:
- Hôtel de Crillon, Place de la Concorde
- Hôtel George V, Avenue Georges V
- Hôtel Ritz Paris, Place Vendome
- Le Lido - cabaret on the Champs-Élysées famous for its exotic shows and where, as an American GI on leave with some army friends, Elvis Presley gave an impromptu concert.
- Bal du Moulin Rouge, Le Crazy Horse Saloon, the Paris Olympia, Folies Bergères, Bobino - famous nightclubs.
- The Buddha Bar, Barfly, Hotel Costes, Georges - trendy upscale restaurant / bars to see and be seen.
In the suburbs and the greater Paris region (Île-de-France)
The new Parisian skyline of skyscrapers, La Défense in the background. Le Trocadéro is partially seen in the foreground (image apparently taken from the Eiffel Tower)
- business districts
- La Défense - major office, cinema and shopping complex, west of Paris
View over Paris from the Grand Gallery of Notre Dame
Another simulated-color satellite image of Paris taken on the Landsat 7. This image zooms closer into the heart of the city.
- 52 BC - Lutetia, later to become Paris, is built by the Gallo-Romans
- 1113 - Pierre Abélard opens his school
- 1163 - Building of Notre Dame begins
- 1257 - The Sorbonne University is founded
- 1682 - Louis XIV moves the French court from the Tuileries palace to Versailles
- July, 1789 - Storming of the Bastille
- 1814 - Paris occupied by the armies of the Sixth Coalition after the fall of Napoleon
- 1815 - Paris is again occupied, this time by the Seventh Coalition, after the end of the Hundred Days
- 1840 - Napoleon's remains are buried at Les Invalides
- 1853 - Baron Haussmann rebuilds the centre of Paris
- 1855 - Exposition Universelle (1855)
- 1856 - Congress of Paris is held
- 1867 - Exposition Universelle (1867)
- January 28th, 1871 - Paris Commune falls
- 1878 - Exposition Universelle (1878)
- 1889 - Exposition Universelle (1889) - Eiffel Tower
- 1900 - Exposition Universelle (1900)
- 1925 - Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925)
- 1931 - French Colonial Exposition (1931)
- June 13, 1940 - Nazis enter Paris
- August 24, 1944 - Allies liberate the city
- 1968 - Student riots in Paris, combined with a series of strikes by workers across the country, threaten to bring down the Gaullist government
- 1999 - Opening of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Paris hosted the Summer Olympics twice, in 1900 and 1924. The 1998 World Cup was hosted by France; several matches were held in Paris proper at Parc des Princes, and several others, including the final, were held at Stade de France in the suburb of Saint-Denis.
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