Paris ( in English; in French) is the capital city of France. It is situated on the Seine river, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France (region) region (also known as the "Paris Region"; Fr.: Région parisienne). The city of Paris within its administrative limits (largely unchanged since 1860) has an estimated population of 2,167,994 (January 2006). The Paris Unité urbaine (or Urban area) extends well beyond the administrative city limits and has an estimated population of 9.93 million (in 2005). The Paris aire urbaine (or Metropolitan area) has a population of nearly 12 million, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe.

An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world's leading Business and Cultural centres, and its influence in Politics, Education, Entertainment, media, Fashion, Science and the Arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. The Paris Region (Île-de-France (region)) is France's foremost centre of economic activity. With €500.8 billion (US$628.9 billion), it produced more than a quarter of the Gross domestic product (GDP) of France in 2006. The Paris Region hosts 36 of the Fortune Global 500 companies in several business districts, notably La Défense, the largest purpose-built business district in Europe. Paris also hosts many international organizations such as UNESCO, the OECD, the ICC and the informal Paris Club.

Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with over 30 million foreign visitors per year. There are numerous iconic landmarks among its many attractions, along with world famous institutions and popular parks.


The name Paris, in English and in French, derives from that of its pre-Roman-era inhabitants, the Gaulish tribe known as the Parisii (France). The city was called Lutetia () (more fully, Lutetia Parisiorum, "Lutetia of the Parisii"), during the first- to sixth-century Roman occupation, but, during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361–363), the city was renamed as Paris.

Paris has many nicknames, but its most famous is "The City of Light" (La Ville-lumière), a name it owes both to its fame as a centre of education and ideas and its early adoption of Street lighting. Paris since the early 20th century has also been known in Parisian Slang as Paname (; , i.e. "I'm from Paname").

Paris' inhabitants are known in English as "Parisians" ( or ) and as Parisiens () in French. Parisians are often pejoratively called Parigots () by those living outside the Paris region, but the term may be considered endearing by Parisians themselves.

See Wiktionary for the name of Paris in various languages other than English and French.


Early beginningsRectify

The earliest archaeological signs of permanent habitation in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. The Parisii (France), a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, known as boatsmen and traders, inhabited the area near the river Seine from around 250 BC. The Romans conquered the Paris basin in 52 BC, The collapse of the Roman empire and the third-century Germanic invasions sent the city into a period of decline. By 400 AD Lutèce, by then largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into the hastily fortified central island.

Cholera epidemics in 1832 and 1849 affected the population of Paris—the 1832 epidemic alone claimed 20,000 of the then population of 650,000. Paris also suffered greatly from the Siege of Paris which ended the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871): in the chaos caused by the fall of Napoleon III's government, the Commune of Paris (1871) sent many of Paris's administrative centres (and city archives) up in flames while 20,000 Parisians were killed by fighting between Commune and Government forces in what became known as the semaine sanglante (Bloody Week).

Paris recovered rapidly from these events to host the famous Expo (exhibition)s of the late nineteenth century. The Eiffel Tower was built for the French Revolution centennial Exposition Universelle (1889), as a "temporary" display of architectural engineering prowess but remained the world's tallest building until 1930, and is the city's best-known landmark, while the Exposition Universelle (1900) saw the opening of the first Paris Métro line. Paris's World's Fairs also consolidated its position in the tourist industry and as an attractive setting for international technology and trade shows. In June 1940, five weeks after the start of the Battle of France, Paris fell to German occupation forces who remained there until the city was liberated in August 1944, two months after the Normandy invasion.

Central Paris endured World War I practically unscathed, as there were no strategic targets for Allied bombers (train stations in central Paris are Terminal stations; major factories were located in the suburbs), and also because of its cultural significance. German General von Choltitz did not destroy all Parisian monuments before any German retreat, as ordered by Adolf Hitler, who had visited the city in 1940.

In the post-war era, Paris experienced its largest development since the end of the Belle Époque in 1914. The suburbs began to expand considerably, with the construction of large social estates known as cités and the beginning of the business district La Défense. A comprehensive express subway network, the RER, was built to complement the Métro and serve the distant suburbs, while a network of freeways was developed in the suburbs, centred on the Périphérique (Paris) expressway circling around the city.

Since the 1970s, many inner suburbs of Paris (especially the eastern ones) have experienced Deindustrialization, and the once-thriving cités have gradually become ghettos for immigrants and oases of unemployment. At the same time, the city of Paris (within its Périphérique ring) and the western and southern suburbs have successfully shifted their economic base from traditional manufacturing to high value-added services and high-tech manufacturing, generating great wealth for their residents whose per capita income is among the highest in Europe. The resulting widening social gap between these two areas has led to periodic unrest since the mid-1980s, such as the 2005 riots which largely concentrated in the northeastern suburbs.


Aftnn The Seine from the Eiffel Tower

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

GD-FR-Paris-Grand Palais

View of the Grand Palais

Paris is located in the north-bending arc of the Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which form the oldest part of the city. Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest elevation is 35 metres (114 ft) above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130 m (426 ft).

Paris, excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, covers an oval measuring 86.928 square kilometres (33.56 square miles) in area. The city's last major annexation of outlying territories in 1860 not only gave it its modern form, but created the twenty clockwise-spiralling arrondissements (municipal boroughs). From the 1860 area of 78 km² (30.1 sq mi), the city limits were expanded marginally to in the 1920s. In 1929 the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes forest parks were officially annexed to the city, bringing its area to its present 105.397 km² (40.69 sq mi).

Paris' real demographic size, or Unité urbaine, extends well beyond the city limits, forming an irregular oval with arms of urban growth extending along the Seine and Marne rivers from the city's south-east and east, and along the Seine and Oise rivers to the city's north-west and north. Beyond the main suburbs, population density drops sharply: a mix of forest and agriculture dotted with a network of relatively evenly dispersed éparpillement of satellite towns, this Couronne périurbaine Commuter belt, when combined with the Paris agglomeration, completes the Paris Aire urbaine (or Paris urban area, a sort of Metropolitan area) that covers an oval 14,518 km² (5,605.5 sq mi) in area, or about 138 times that of Paris itself.


Paris has an Oceanic climate and is affected by the North Atlantic Current, so the city has a temperate climate that rarely sees extremely high or low temperatures. The average yearly high temperature is about 15 °C (59 °F), and yearly lows tend to remain around an average of 7 °C (45 °F). The highest temperature ever, recorded on 28 July 1948, was 40.4 °C (104.7 °F), and the lowest was a −23.9 °C (−11.0 °F) temperature reached on 10 December 1879. The Paris region has recently seen temperatures reaching both extremes, with the heat wave of 2003 and the cold wave of 2006.

Rainfall can occur at any time of the year, and Paris is known for its sudden showers. The city sees an average yearly precipitation of 641.6 mm (25.2 inches). Snowfall is a rare occurrence, usually appearing in the coldest months of January or February (but has been recorded as late as April), and almost never accumulates enough to make a covering that will last more than a day.


Paris Night

Panoramic view over Paris, at dusk, from the top of the Tour Montparnasse.


Arc De Triumph Flag

Arc de Triomphe

"Modern" Paris is the result of a vast levelled entire districts. For centuries the city had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and Half-timber houses, but beginning in 1852, the Haussmann's vast urbanisation levelled entire quarters to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of bourgeoise standing; most of this 'new' Paris is the Paris we see today. These French Second Empire plans are in many cases still applied today, as the city of Paris is still imposing the then-defined "alignement" law (building facades placed according to a pre-defined street width) on many new constructions. A building's height was also defined according to the width of the street it lines, and Paris's building code has seen few changes since the mid-19th century to allow for higher constructions. It is for this reason that Paris is mainly a "flat" city.

Paris's unchanging borders, strict building codes and lack of developable land have together contributed in creating a phenomenon called muséification (or "museumification") as, at the same time as they strive to preserve Paris's historical past, existing laws make it difficult to build within the city limits the larger buildings and utilities needed for a growing population. Many of Paris's institutions and economic infrastructure are already located in, or are planning on moving to, the suburbs. The financial (La Défense) business district, the main food wholesale market (Marché d'Intérêt National de Rungis), major renowned schools (École Polytechnique, HEC, ESSEC, INSEAD, etc.), world famous research laboratories (in Saclay or Évry), the largest sport stadium (Stade de France), and some ministries (namely the Ministry of Transportation) are located outside of the city of Paris. The National Archives of France are due to relocate to the northern suburbs before 2010. The need for a larger Paris is largely acknowledged by the French government. As of November 2007, discussions for such a larger Paris have begun, though which suburbs should be included in this larger Paris is unresolved. In any case, such an extension will not occur before the French city-hall elections, scheduled in the spring of 2008.

Districts and historical centresRectify


Place de la Concorde

Paris metro3 - Bourse - entrance

Paris Bourse in the financial district

City of ParisRectify

  • Place de la Bastille (4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements, right bank) being one of the most historic districts, being a location of an essential event of not only Paris, but the whole country of France. Because of its historical value the square is often used for political demonstrations, including the massive the cold wave of 2006.
  • Champs-Élysées (8th arrondissement, right bank) is a seventeenth century garden-promenade turned avenue connecting the Concorde and Arc de Triomphe. It is one of the many tourist attractions and a major shopping street of Paris. This avenue has been called la plus belle avenue du monde ("the most beautiful avenue in the world").
  • Place de la Concorde (8th arrondissement, right bank) is at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, built as the "Place Louis XV", site of the infamous Guillotine. The Egyptian obelisk is Paris' "oldest monument". On this place, on the two side of the Rue Royale live two identical stone buildings: the eastern houses the French Naval Ministry, the western the luxurious Hôtel de Crillon. Nearby Place Vendôme is famous for its fashionable and deluxe hotels (Hotel Ritz and Hôtel de Vendôme) and its jewellers. Many famous fashion designers have had their salons in the square.
  • Les Halles (1st arrondissement, right bank) was formerly Paris' central meat and produce market, since the late 1970s a major shopping centre around an important metro connection station (Châtelet-Les Halles, the biggest in Europe). The past Les Halles was destroyed in 1971 and replaced by the Forum des Halles. The central market of Paris, the biggest wholesale food market in the world, was transferred to Marché d'Intérêt National de Rungis, in the southern suburbs.
  • Le Marais (3rd and 4th arrondissements) is a trendy Right Bank district. With large Gay and Jewish populations it is a very culturally open place.
  • Avenue Montaigne (8th arrondissement), next to the Champs-Élysées, is home to luxury brand labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton (LVMH), Dior and Givenchy.
  • Montmartre (18th arrondissement, right bank) is a historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Montmartre has always had a history with artists and has many studios and cafés of many great artists in that area.
  • Montparnasse (14th arrondissement) is a historic Left Bank area famous for artists studios, music halls, and café life. The large Montparnasse Paris Métro station and the lone Tour Montparnasse Skyscraper are located there.
  • Avenue de l'Opéra (9th arrondissement, right bank) is the area around the Opéra Garnier is a home to the capital's densest concentration of both department stores and offices. A few examples are the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette grands magasins (department stores), and the Paris headquarters of financial giants such as Crédit Lyonnais and American Express.
  • Quartier Latin (5th and 6th arrondissements, left bank) is a twelfth century scholastic centre formerly stretching between the Left Bank's Place Maubert and the University of Paris campus. It is known for its lively atmosphere and many Bistros. With various higher education establishments, such as the École Normale Supérieure, ParisTech and the Jussieu university campus make it a major educational centre in Paris, which also contributes to its atmosphere.
  • Faubourg Saint-Honoré (8th arrondissement, right bank) is one of Paris' high-fashion districts, home to labels such as Hermès and Christian Lacroix.

In the Paris areaRectify

La Defense dsc07138

La Défense

Val de Seine

Val de Seine

  • La Défense (straddling the capital city of Courbevoie, Puteaux, and Nanterre, 2.5 km/1.5 miles west of the city proper) is a key suburb of Paris and is one of the largest business centres in the world. Built at the western end of a westward extension of Paris' historical axis from the Champs-Élysées, La Défense consists mainly of business Highrises. Initiated by the French government in 1958, the district hosts 3.5 million m² of offices, making it the largest district in Europe specifically developed for business. The Grande Arche (Great Arch) of la Défense, which houses a part of the French Transports Minister's headquarters, ends the central Esplanade around which the district is organised.
  • Plaine Saint-Denis (straddling the capital city of Saint-Denis, Aube, and Saint-Ouen, immediately north of the 18th arrondissement, across the Périphérique (Paris) ring road) is a formerly derelict manufacturing area which has undergone massive regeneration in the last 10 years. It now hosts the Stade de France around which is being built the new business district of LandyFrance, with two RER stations (on RER line RER and RER) and possibly some skyscrapers. In the Plaine Saint-Denis are also located most of France's Television studios as well as some major Movie studios.
  • Val de Seine (straddling the 15th arrondissement and the capital city of Issy-les-Moulineaux and Boulogne-Billancourt to the south-west of central Paris) is the new media hub of Paris and France, hosting the headquarters of most of France's TV networks (TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France in the 15th arrondissement, Canal+ and the international channels France and Eurosport in Issy-les-Moulineaux), as well as several telecommunication and IT companies such as Neuf Cegetel in Boulogne-Billancourt or Microsoft's Europe, Africa & Middle East regional headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Monuments and landmarksRectify

Église de la Madeleine

Église de la Madeleine


Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Jardin du Luxembourg


Three of the most famous Parisian Landmarks are the twelfth century Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris on the Île de la Cité, the nineteenth century Eiffel Tower, and the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower was a "temporary" construction by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Expo (exhibition) but the tower was never dismantled and is now an enduring symbol of Paris. It is visible from many parts of the city as are the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur on the Montmartre hill.

The Historical axis is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that run in a roughly straight line from the city centre westwards: the line of monuments begins with the Louvre and continues through the Tuileries Gardens, the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe centred in the Place de l'Étoile circus. From the 1960s the line was prolonged even further west to the La Défense business district dominated by square-shaped triumphal Grande Arche of its own; this district hosts most of the tallest skyscrapers in the Paris Urban area. The Invalides museum is the burial place for many great French soldiers, including Napoleonic, and the Panthéon (Paris) church is where many of France's illustrious men and women are buried. The former Conciergerie prison held some prominent Ancien Régime members before their deaths during the French Revolution. Another symbol of the Revolution are the two Statues of Liberty located on the Île des Cygnes on the Seine and in the Luxembourg Garden. A larger version of the statues was sent as a gift from France to America in 1886 and now stands in New York City's harbour.

The Palais Garnier built in the later Second Empire period, houses the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet, while the former palace of the Louvre now houses one of the most famous museums in the world. The Sorbonne is the most famous part of the University of Paris and is based in the centre of the Quartier Latin. Apart from Notre Dame de Paris, there are several other ecclesiastical masterpieces including the Gothic thirteenth century Sainte-Chapelle palace chapel and the Église de la Madeleine.

Parks and gardensRectify

Two of Paris's oldest and famous Gards are the Tuileries Garden, created from the 16th century for a palace on the banks of the Seine near the Louvre, and the Left Bank Luxembourg, another formerly private garden belonging to a château built for the Marie de' Medici in 1612. The Jardin des Plantes, created by Louis XIII's doctor Guy de La Brosse for the cultivation of medicinal plants, was Paris' first public garden.

A few of Paris's other large gardens are Second Empire creations: the formerly suburban parks of Montsouris, Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Monceau (formerly known as the "folie de Chartres"), were creations of Napoleon III's engineer Jean-Charles Alphand and the landscape and are enjoyed by all ages. Another project executed under the orders of Haussmann was the re-sculpting of Paris's western Bois de Boulogne forest-parklands; the Bois de Vincennes, on the city's opposite eastern end, received a similar treatment in years following.

Newer additions to Paris's park landscape are the Parc de la Villette, built by the architect Bernard Tschumi on the location of Paris's former Slaughterhouses, the Parc André Citroën and gardens being lain to the periphery along the traces of its former circular "Petite Ceinture" railway line : Promenade Plantée.


Pere Lachaise looking down the hill

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Paris's cemeteries were located to its outskirts in Roman times, but this changed with the rise of Catholicism and the construction of churches and their adjoining burial grounds within the city centre. City growth soon filled these cemeteries to overflowing, creating sometimes very unsanitary conditions; condemned from 1786, the contents of all Paris' parish cemeteries were transferred to a renovated section of Paris' then suburban stone mines outside the "Porte d'Enfer" city gate (today 14e arrondissement's place Denfert Rochereau (Paris RER)). As a more definitive solution than a first creation of several smaller suburban cemeteries, Napoleonic decreed the creation of three massive Parisian cemeteries to the outside of the city walls; Open from 1804, these were the cemeteries of Père Lachaise Cemetery, Montmartre, Montparnasse, and later Passy.

When Paris annexed its formerly suburban communes in 1860, it once again included cemeteries within its city walls. New suburban cemeteries were created in the early 20th century: the largest of these are the Cimetière Parisien de Saint-Ouen, the Cimetière Parisien de Bobigny-Pantin, the Cimetière Parisien d'Ivry and the Cimetière Parisien de Bagneux.




Palais Garnier bordercropped

The Opéra Garnier

Paris's largest opera houses are the 19th century Opéra Garnier and modern Opéra Bastille; the former tends towards the more classic ballets and operas, and the latter provides a mixed repertoire of classic and modern.

Theatre/Concert halls
Theatre traditionally has occupied a large place in Parisian culture. This still holds true today, although, perhaps strangely, many of its most popular actors today are also stars of French television. Some of Paris's major theatres include Bobino, Théâtre Mogador and the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse. Some Parisian theatres have also doubled as concert halls.

Many of France's greatest musical legends, such as Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Georges Brassens and Charles Aznavour, found their fame in Parisian concert halls: legendary yet still-showing examples of these are Le Lido, Bobino, L'Olympia, La Cigale and Le Splendid.

The Élysées-Montmartre, much reduced from its original size, is a concert hall today. The New Morning is one of few Parisian clubs still holding jazz concerts, but the same also specialises in 'indie' music. More recently, the Le Zénith hall in Paris's La Villette quarter and a "parc-omnisports" stadium in Bercy serve as large-scale rock concert halls.

Guinguettes and Bals-concerts were the backbone of Parisian entertainment before the mid-20th century. Early to mid-19th century examples were the Moulin de la Galette guinguette and the Élysées-Montmartre and Chateau-Rouge dancehalls-gardens. Popular orchestral fare gave way to the Parisian accordionists of lore whose music moved the Apollo and le Java faubourg du Temple and Belleville dance-hall crowds. Out of the clubs remaining from this era grew the modern discothèque: Le Palace, although closed today, is Paris's most legendary example. Today, much of the clubbing in Paris happens in clubs like Le Queen, L'Etoile, Le Cab which are highly selective. Electronic music oriented clubs such as Le Rex, Le Batofar (a boat converted into a club) or The Pulp are quite popular and some of the world's best DJs play there.

Cafés, restaurants and hotels

Hôtel de Crillon 25 08 2007

Hôtel de Crillon

Hotel Ritz Paris

Hotel Ritz


Les Deux Magots

Cafés quickly became an integral part of French culture from their appearance, namely from the opening of the Left Bank Café Procope in 1689 and the café Régence at the Palais Royal one year earlier. The cafés in the gardens of the latter locale became quite popular through the 18th century, and can be considered Paris' first "terrace cafés"; these would not become widespread until sidewalks and boulevards began to appear from the mid-19th century. Cafés are an almost obligatory stop on the way to or from work for many Parisians, and especially during lunchtime.

Paris's culinary reputation has its base in the many origins of its inhabitants. With the early-19th century railways and ensuing industrial revolution came a flood of migration that brought with it all the gastronomical diversity of France's many different regions, and maintained through 'local speciality' restaurants catering to the tastes of people from all. "Chez Jenny" is a typical example of a restaurant specialising in the cuisine of the Alsace region, and "Aux Lyonnais" is another with traditional fare originating from its city name's region. Of course migration from even more distant climes meant an even greater culinary diversity, and today, in addition to a great number of North African and Asian establishments, in Paris one can find top-quality cuisine from virtually the world over.

Hotels were another result of widespread travel and Tourism, especially Paris's late-19th century Expo (exhibition) (World's Fairs). Of the most luxurious of these, the Hotel Ritz appeared in the Place Vendôme from 1898, and the Hôtel de Crillon opened its doors on the north side of the Place de la Concorde from 1909.


Parisians tend to share the same movie-going trends as many of the world's global cities, that is to say with a dominance of Hollywood-generated film entertainment. French cinema comes a close second, with major directors (réalisateurs) such as Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Luc Besson, and the more slapstick/popular genre with director Claude Zidi as an example. European and Asian films are also widely shown and appreciated. A specialty of Paris is its very large network of small movie theatres: on a given week the movie fan has the choice between around 300 old or new movies from all over the world.

Many of Paris's concert/dance halls were transformed into movie theatres when the media became popular from the 1930s. Later most of the largest cinemas were divided into multiple, smaller rooms: Paris's largest cinema today is by far Le Grand Rex theatre with 2,800 seats, while other cinemas all have fewer than 1,000 seats. There is now a trend toward modern multiplexes that contain more than 10 or 20 screens.


DSC00733 Notre Dame Paris from east

Notre Dame de Paris

Louvre Aile Richelieu

Musée du Louvre

Paris has always been a destination for traders, students and those on religious pilgrimages, but its 'tourist industry' began on a large scale only with the appearance of rail travel, namely from state organisation of France's rail network from 1848. Among Paris's first mass attractions drawing international interest were, from 1855, the above-mentioned Expo (exhibition) that would bring Paris many new monuments, namely the Eiffel Tower from 1889. These, in addition to the capital's French Second Empire embellishments, did much to make the city itself the attraction it is today.

Paris's museums and monuments are among its highest-esteemed attractions; tourism has motivated both the city and national governments to create new ones. The city's most prized museum, the Louvre, welcomes over 8 million visitors a year, being by far the world's most visited art museum. The city's cathedrals are another main attraction: its Notre Dame de Paris and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur receive 12 million and eight million visitors respectively. The Eiffel Tower, by far Paris's most famous monument, averages over six million visitors per year and more than 200 millions since its construction. Disneyland Resort Paris is a major tourist attraction not only for visitors to Paris, but to Europe as well, with 12.4 million visitors in 2004.

The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous museums, housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue. Works by Picasso and Auguste Rodin are found in Musée Picasso and Musée Rodin respectively, while the Montparnasse is chronicled at the Musée du Montparnasse. Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the Centre Georges Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg, houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Art and artifacts from the Middle Ages and Impressionist eras are kept in Musée Cluny and Musée d'Orsay respectively, the former with the prized tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn. Paris's newest (and third largest) museum, the Musée du quai Branly, opened its doors in June 2006 and houses art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Many of Paris's once-popular local establishments have come to cater to the tastes and expectations of tourists, rather than local patrons. Le Lido, The Moulin Rouge cabaret-dancehall, for example, are a staged dinner theatre spectacle, a dance display that was once but one aspect of the cabaret's former atmosphere. All of the establishment's former social or cultural elements, such as its ballrooms and gardens, are gone today. Much of Paris's hotel, restaurant and night entertainment trades have become heavily dependent on tourism, with results not always positive for Parisian culture.


Paris rugby fans

Stade de France

Paris's most popular sport clubs are the Football (soccer) club Paris Saint-Germain FC, the Basketball team Paris Basket Racing, and the Rugby union club Stade Français. The 80,000-seat Stade de France was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and is used for football and rugby union, and is used annually for France's home matches of the Six Nations Championship and sometimes for big matches for the Stade Français rugby team. Racing Métro 92 Paris (who now play in Rugby Pro D2) is another rugby team, which actually contested the first ever final against Stade Français in 1892. Paris also hosted the 1900 and 1924 Olympic Games and was venue for the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups.

Although the starting point and the route of the famous Tour de France varies each year, the final stage always finishes in Paris and since 1975, the race has finished on the Champs-Elysées. Tennis is another popular sport in Paris and throughout France. The French Open (tennis), held every year on the red clay of the Roland Garros National Tennis Centre near the Bois de Boulogne, is one of the four Grand Slam (tennis) events of the world professional tennis tour. The the cold wave of 2006 between Arsenal and FC Barcelona was played in the Stade de France. Paris hosted the 2007 final at Stade de France on 20 October, 2007.


Grande Arche de La Défense et fontaine

Grande Arche


La Défense


La Défense

With a 2005 Gross domestic product of €478.7 billion (US$595.3 billion), the Paris region has one of the highest GDPs in Europe, making it an engine of the global economy: were it a country, it would rank as the fourteenth largest economy in the world. The Paris Region is France's premier centre of economic activity: while its population accounted for 18.7% of the total population of Metropolitan France in 2005, its GDP was about 28.5% of the same. Activity in the Paris urban area, though diverse, doesn't have a leading specialised industry (such as Los Angeles with entertainment industries or London and New York with financial industries in addition to their other activities). Recently the Paris economy has been shifting towards high value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc).

The Paris region's most intense economic activity through the central Hauts-de-Seine département and suburban La Défense business district places Paris' economic centre to the west of the city, in a triangle between the Palais Garnier, La Défense and the Val de Seine. Paris' administrative borders have little consequences on the limits of its economic activity: although most workers commute from the suburbs to work in the city, many commute from the city to work in the suburbs. At the 1999 census, 47.5% of the 5,089,170 people in employment in the Paris urban area worked in the city of Paris and the Hauts-de-Seine département, while only 31.5% worked exclusively in Paris.

Although the Paris economy is largely dominated by services, it remains an important manufacturing powerhouse of Europe, especially in industrial sectors such as automobiles, aeronautics, and electronics. Over recent decades, the local economy has moved towards high value-added activities, in particular business services.

The 1999 census indicated that of the 5,089,170 persons employed in the Paris urban area, 16.5% worked in business services, 13.0% in commerce (Retail and wholesale trade), 12.3% in manufacturing, 10.0% in Public administrations and defence, 8.7% in health services, 8.2% in Transportation and Communications, 6.6% in Education, and the remaining 24.7% in many other economic sectors. Among the Manufacturing sector, the largest employers were the electronic and Electrical industry (17.9% of the total manufacturing workforce in 1999) and the Publishing and Printing industry (14.0% of the total manufacturing workforce), with the remaining 68.1% of the manufacturing workforce distributed among many other industries. Tourism and tourist related services employ 6.2% of Paris's workforce, and 3.6% of all workers within the Paris Region.


Demographics within the Paris Region
(according to the INSEE 2005 estimates)
Paris uu ua jms
Ile-de-France départements
AreasPopulation</br>2005 est. Area
1999-2005</br>pop. growth
City of Paris
(département 75)
2,153,600 +1.33%
Inner ring
(Petite Couronne)
(Depts. Hauts-de-Seine, Seine, 94)
4,254,600 +5.34%
Outer ring
(Grande Couronne)
(Depts. Seine, 78, 91, Val-d'Oise)
4,991,100 +4.25%
Île-de-France (region)
(entire région)
11,399,300 +4.08%
Statistical Growth (INSEE 1999 census)
AreasPopulation</br>1999 census Area
1990-1999</br>pop. growth
Urban area
(Paris Agglomeration)
9,644,507 +1.85%
Metropolitan area
(Paris Aire urbaine)
11,174,743 +2.90%

The population of the city of Paris was 2,125,246 at the 1999 Census, lower than its historical peak of 2.9 million in 1921. The city's population loss mirrors the experience of most other core cities in the developed world that have not expanded their boundaries. The principal factors in the loss were a significant decline in household size, and a dramatic outmigration of residents to the suburbs between 1962 and 1975. Factors in the outmigration included de-industrialisation, high rent, the Gentrification of many inner quarters, the transformation of living space into offices and improved affluence among working families. The city's population loss was one of the most severe among international municipalities and the largest for any that had achieved more than 2,000,000 residents. These losses are generally seen as negative for the city; the city administration is trying to reverse them with some success, as the population estimate of July 2004 showed a population increase for the first time since 1954, reaching a total of 2,144,700 inhabitants.


Paris is the most densely populated city of more than 1,000,000 population in the Western world. Its density, excluding the outlying woodland parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, was 24,448 inhabitants per square kilometre (63,320/sq mi) in the 1999 official census. Even including the two woodland areas its population density was 20,164 inhabitants per square kilometre (52,224.5/sq mi), the fifth most densely populated commune in France following Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, Vincennes, Levallois-Perret, and Saint-Mandé, all of which border the city proper. The most sparsely populated quarters are the western and central office and administration-focussed arrondissementss. The city's population is densest in the northern and eastern arrondissements; the 11th arrondissement had a density of 40,672 inhabitants per square kilometre (105,340/sq mi) in 1999, and some of the same arrondissement's eastern quarters had densities close to 100,000/km² (260,000/sq mi) in the same year.

The Paris agglomerationRectify

The city of Paris's administrative limits cover an area much smaller than its entire urban area. At present, the real extent of the dense urbanisation of which Paris is only a core, defined by the Pôle urbain (Urban area) statistical area, covers 2,723 km² (1,051.4 sq mi),, or an area about 26 times larger than the city itself. Surrounding the Paris pôle urbain is the couronne peri-urbaine commuter belt area that completes the Paris Aire urbaine (a unit similar to a North American Metropolitan area) covering 14,518 km² (5,605.5 sq mi) , or an area about 138 times that of Paris itself.

The administration of Paris's urban growth is divided between itself and its surrounding départements: Paris' closest ring of three adjoining departments, or petite couronne ("small ring") are fully saturated with urban growth, and the ring of four departements outside of these, the grande couronne département, are only covered in their inner regions by Paris' urbanisation. These eight département form the larger administrative Île-de-France (region) région; most of this region is filled, and overextended in places, by the Paris aire urbaine.

The Paris agglomeration has shown a steady rate of growth since the end of the late 16th century French Wars of Religion, save brief setbacks during the French Revolution and World War I. Suburban development has accelerated in recent years: with an estimated total of 11.4 million inhabitants for 2005, the Île-de-France (region) région shows a rate of growth double that of the 1990s.


By law, French censuses do not ask questions regarding ethnicity or religion, but do gather information concerning country of birth. From this it is still possible to determine that the Paris and its Aire urbaine (metropolitan area) is one of the most multi-cultural in Europe: at the 1999 census, 19.4% of its total population was born outside of Metropolitan France. At the same census, 4.2% of the Paris aire urbaine's population were recent immigrants (i.e people who migrated to France between the 1990 and 1999 censuses), in their majority from Mainland China and Africa.

The first wave of international migration to Paris started as early as in 1820 with the arrivals of German peasants fleeing the agricultural crisis in Germany. Several waves of immigration followed continuously until today: Italians and central European Jews during the 19th century; Russians after the revolution of 1917; colonial citizens during World War I and later; Poles between the two world wars; Spaniards, Portuguese and North Africans from the 1950s to the 1970s; North African Jews after the independence of those countries; Africans and Asians since then. The majority of these today are naturalised French without any distinction, due to the principle of equality among French citizens.


Paris, its administrative limits unchanged since 1860, is one of few cities that has not evolved politically with its real demographical growth; this issue is at present being discussed in plans for a "Grand Paris" (Greater Paris) that will extend Paris' administrative limits to embrace much more of its urban tissue.

Capital of FranceRectify

Paris is the capital of France, and therefore is the seat of France's national government.

For the executive, the two chief officers each have their own official residences, which also serve as their offices. The President of France resides at the Élysée Palace in the VIIIe arrondissement, while the Prime Minister's seat is at the Hôtel Matignon in the VIIe arrondissement. Government ministries are located in various parts of the city – many are located in the VIIe arrondissement, near the Matignon.

The two houses of the French Parliament are also located on the Left Bank. The upper house, the Senate, meets in the Palais du Luxembourg in the VIe arrondissement, while the more important lower house, the Assemblée Nationale, meets in the Palais Bourbon in the VIIe. The President of the Senate, the second highest public official in France after the President of the Republic, resides in the "Petit Luxembourg", a smaller palace annex to the Palais du Luxembourg.

France's highest courts are located in Paris. The Court of Cassation (France), the highest court in the judicial order, which tries most criminal and civil cases, is located in the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité, while the Conseil d'État, which provides legal advice to the executive and acts as the highest court in the administrative order, judging litigation against public bodies, is located in the Palais Royal in the Ier.

The Constitutional Council, which is an advisory body which is the ultimate authority on the constitutionality of laws and government decrees, also meets in the Palais Royal.

City governmentRectify

Par Arr


Paris has been a capital city (municipality) since 1834 (and also briefly between 1790 and 1795). At the 1790 division (during the French Revolution) of France into communes, and again in 1834, Paris was a city only half its modern size, but in 1860 it annexed bordering communes, some entirely, to create the new administrative map of twenty arrondissements the city still has today. These municipal subdivisions describe a clockwise spiral outward from its most central Ier.

In 1790, Paris became the Préfecture (seat) of the Seine département, which covered much of the Paris region. In 1968, it was split into four smaller ones: the city of Paris became a distinct département of its own, retaining the Seine's departmental number of 75 (originating from the Seine département's position in France's alphabetical list), while three new départements of Hauts-de-Seine, Seine and 94 were created and given the numbers 92, 93 and 94 respectively. The result of this division is that today Paris' limits as a département are exactly those of its limits as a commune, a situation unique in France.

Municipal officesRectify

Palais Luxembourg Sunset Edit


Paris City Hall DSC00050

Paris City Hall

Each of Paris' 20 arrondissements has a directly elected council (conseil d'arrondissement), which in turn elects an arrondissement mayor. A selection of members from each arrondissement council form the Council of Paris (conseil de Paris), which in turn elects the Mayor.

In Medieval times Paris was governed by a merchant-elected municipality whose head was the provost of the merchants: in addition to regulating city commerce, the provost of the merchants was responsible for some civic duties such as the guarding of city walls and the cleanliness of city streets. The creation of the Provost (civil) from the 13th century diminished the merchant Provost's responsibilities and powers considerably: a direct representative of the king, in a role resembling somewhat the préfet of later years, the Provost of Paris oversaw the application and execution of law and order in the city and its surrounding prévôté (county). Many functions from both provost offices were transferred to the office of the crown-appointed lieutenant general of police upon its creation in 1667.

Paris's last Provost (civil) was assassinated the afternoon of the 14th of July 1789 uprising that was the French Revolution Storming of the Bastille. Paris became an official "commune" from the creation of the administrative division on December 14 the same year, and its provisional "Paris commune" revolutionary municipality was replaced with the city's first municipal constitution and government from October 9, 1790. Through the turmoil of the 1794 Thermidorian Reaction, it became apparent that revolutionary Paris' political independence was a threat to any governing power: the office of mayor was abolished the same year, and its municipal council one year later.

Although the municipal council was recreated in 1834, Paris spent most of the 19th and 20th centuries, along with the larger Seine département of which it was a centre, under the direct control of the State-appointed Préfet of the Seine, in charge of general affairs there; the state-appointed lieutenant general of police was in charge of police in the same jurisdiction. Paris, save for a few brief occasions, would have no mayor until 1977, and the Paris Prefecture of Police is still under state control today.

Despite its dual existence as commune and département, Paris has a single council to govern both; the Council of Paris, presided by the mayor of Paris, meets either as a municipal council (conseil municipal) or as a departmental council (conseil général) depending on the issue to be debated.

Paris's modern administrative organisation still retains some traces of the former Seine département jurisdiction. The lieutenant general of police (also directing Paris's fire brigades), for example, has still a jurisdiction extending to Paris' petite couronne of bordering three départements for some operations such as fire protection or rescue operations, and is still directed by France's national government. Paris has no municipal police force, although it does have its own brigade of traffic wardens.

Ile-de-France jms

Departments of Île-de-France (region)

Capital of the Île-de-France régionRectify

As part of a 1961 nation-wide administrative effort to consolidate regional economies, Paris as a département became the capital of the new region of the District of Paris, renamed the Île-de-France (region) région in 1976. It encompasses the Paris département and its seven closest départements. Its regional council members, since 1986, have been chosen by direct elections. The prefect of the Paris département (who served as the prefect of the Seine département before 1968) is also prefect of the Île-de-France région, although the office lost much of its power following the creation of the office of mayor of Paris in 1977.


Few of the above changes have taken into account Paris' existence as an Agglomeration. Unlike in most of France's major urban areas such as Lille and Lyon, there is no intercommunal entity in the Paris urban area, no intercommunal council treating the problems of the region's dense urban core as a whole; Paris's alienation of its suburbs is indeed a problem today, and considered by many to be the main causes of civil unrest such as the suburban riots in 2005. A direct result of these unfortunate events were propositions for a more efficient metropolitan structure to cover the city of Paris and some of the suburbs, ranging from a socialist idea of a loose "metropolitan conference" (conférence métropolitaine) to the right-wing idea of a more integrated Grand Paris ("Greater Paris").


In the early ninth century, the emperor Charlemagne mandated all churches to give lessons in reading, writing and basic arithmetic to their parishes, and cathedrals to give a higher education in the finer arts of language, physics, Music and Theology. Paris was already one of France's major cathedral towns and began its rise to fame as a scholastic centre. By the early 13th century the Île de la Cité Notre Dame de Paris cathedral school had many famous teachers, and the controversial teachings of some of these led to the creation of a separate Left-Bank Sainte-Genevieve University that would become the centre of Paris' scholastic Quartier Latin best represented by the Sorbonne university.

Twelve centuries later, education in Paris and the Paris region (Île-de-France (region) région) employs approximately 330,000 persons, 170,000 of whom are teachers and professors teaching approximately 2.9 million children and students in around 9,000 primary, secondary, and higher education schools and institutions.

Primary and secondary educationRectify

Children in a Primary Education School

Multi-ethnic children in a Primary Education School in Paris

Paris is home to several of France's most prestigious high-schools such as Lycée Louis-le-Grand and Lycée Henri-IV. Other high-schools of international renown in the Paris area include the Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye and the École Active Bilingue.

Higher educationRectify

Sorbona in snow

The University of Paris

Rue St Jacques Louis Le Grand DSC09316

Lycée Louis-le-Grand

As of the academic year 2004-2005, the Paris Region's 17 public universities, with its 359,749 registered students, is the largest concentration of university students in Europe. The Paris Region's prestigious Grandes écoles and scores of university-independent private and public schools have an additional 240,778 registered students, that together with the university population creates a grand total of 600,527 students in higher education that year. (STIF), formerly Syndicat des transports parisiens (STP). The members of this syndicate include the RATP (operating 654 Bus (RATP) lines, the Paris Métro, three tramway lines, and sections of the RER), the SNCF (operating suburban rails, a tramway line and the other sections of the RER) and the Optile consortium of private operators managing 1,070 minor bus lines.

The Paris Métro is one of Paris's most important transportation system. The system, with 380 stations connected by of rails, comprises 16 lines, identified by numbers from 1 to 14, with two minor lines, 3bis and 7bis, numbered thus because they used to be branches of their respective original lines and only later became independent. In October 1998, the new Paris Métro was inaugurated after a 70-year hiatus in inaugurating fully new métro lines. Because of the short distance between stations on the Métro network, lines were too slow to be extended further in the suburbs as is the case in most other cities. As such, an additional express network, the RER, has been created since the 1960s to connect more distant parts of the urban area. The RER consists in the integration of modern city-centre subway and pre-existing suburban rail. Nowadays, the RER network comprises 5 lines, 256 stops and of rails.

Additionally, Paris is served by a Light rail network of 4 lines, the tramway: Line T1 runs from Saint-Denis to Noisy-le-Sec, line T2 runs from La Défense to Issy-les-Moulineaux, line T3 runs from Pont de Garigliano to Porte d'Ivry, line T4 runs from Bondy to Aulnay-sous-Bois.

Paris is a central hub of the national rail network. The six major railway stations, Gare du Nord, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz, and Gare Saint-Lazare, are connected to three networks: the TGV serving 4 High-speed rail lines, the normal speed Corail (train) trains, and the suburban rails (suburban rails).

Since mid-July Paris offers a bike sharing system called Vélib' with more than 10.000 public Bicycles distributed at 750 parking station which can be rented for short and medium distances including one way drives.

Furthermore, Paris is served by two major airports: Orly Airport (Paris), which is south of Paris, and the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, nearby Roissy-en-France, which is one of the busiest in the world. A third and much smaller airport, in the town of Beauvais, 70 km (45 mi) to the north of the city, is used by charter and low-cost airlines. The fourth airport, Le Bourget nowadays only hosts business jets, air trade shows and the aerospace museum.

The city is also the most important hub of France's Motorway network, and is surrounded by three orbital freeways: the Périphérique (Paris) which follows the approximate path of 19th century fortifications around Paris, the A86 motorway in the inner suburbs, and finally the Francilienne motorway in the outer suburbs. Paris has an extensive road network with over 2000 kilometres of highways and motorways. By road Brussels can be reached in three hours, Frankfurt in 6 hours and Barcelona in 12 hours.

Water and sanitationRectify

Canal Saint-Martin 1

Canal Saint-Martin

Paris at night


Paris in its early history had only the Seine and Bièvre rivers for water. Later forms of irrigation were: a first-century Roman aqueduct from southerly Wissous (later left to ruin); sources from the Right bank hills from the late 11th century; from the 15th century an aqueduct built roughly along the path of the first; finally, from 1809, the Canal de l'Ourcq began providing Paris with water from less polluted rivers away from the capital. Paris would only have its first constant and plentiful source of drinkable water from the late 19th century: from 1857, under Napoleon III's Préfet levelled entire districts, the civil engineer Eugène Belgrand oversaw the construction of a series of new aqueducts that would bring sources from distant locations to reservoirs built in the highest points of the Capital. The new sources became Paris' principal source of drinking water, and the remains of the old system, pumped into lower levels of the same reservoirs, were from then dedicated to the cleaning of Paris' streets. This system is still a major part of Paris' modern water supply network.

Paris has over 2,400 km of underground passageways dedicated to the evacuation of Paris' liquid wastes. Most of these date from the late 19th century, a result of the combined plans of the Préfet Haussmann and the civil engineer Eugène Belgrand to improve the then very unsanitary conditions in the Capital. Maintained by a round-the-clock service since their construction, only a small percentage of Paris' sewer réseau has needed complete renovation. The entire Paris network of sewers and collectors has been managed since the late 20th century by a computerised network system, known under the acronym "G.A.AS.PAR", that controls all of Paris' water distribution, even the flow of the river Seine through the capital.

International relationsRectify

Paris has one sister city and a number of partner cities.

Sister cityRectify

  • Rome, Italy, since 1956 (Seule Paris est digne de Rome; seule Rome est digne de Paris / Solo Parigi è degna di Roma; Solo Roma è degna di Parigi / "Only Paris is worthy of Rome; Only Rome is worthy of Paris").

Partner citiesRectify

  • Algiers, Algeria, since 2003.
  • Amman, Jordan, since 1987.
  • Athens, Greece, since 2000.
  • Beijing, People's Republic of China, since 1997.
  • Beirut, Lebanon, since 1992.
  • Berlin, Germany, since 1987.
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina, since 1999.
  • Cairo, Egypt, since 1985.
  • Casablanca, Morocco, since 2004.
  • Chicago, Illinois, since 1996.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark, since 2005.
  • Geneva, Switzerland, since 2002.
  • Jakarta, Indonesia, since 1995.
  • Kyoto, Japan, since 1958.
  • Lisbon, Portugal, since 1998.
  • London, England, since 2001.
  • Madrid, Spain, since 2000.
  • Mexico, Mexico, since 1999.
  • Montreal, Canada, since 2006.
  • Moscow, revolution of 1917, since 1992.
  • Porto, Brazil, since 2001.
  • Prague, Czech Republic, since 1997.
  • Quebec City, Canada, since 2003.
  • Rabat, Morocco, since 2004.
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, since 1997.
  • Saint Petersburg, revolution of 1917, since 1997.
  • San‘a’, Yemen, since 1987.
  • San Francisco, California, since 1996.
  • Santiago, Chile, since 1997.
  • São Paulo, Brazil, since 2004.
  • Seoul, South Korea, since 1991.
  • Sofia, Bulgaria, since 1998.
  • Sydney, Australia, since 1998.
  • Tbilisi, Georgia (country), since 1997.
  • Tokyo, Japan, since 1982.
  • Tunis, Tunis, since 2004.
  • Warsaw, Poland, since 1999.
  • Washington, District of Columbia, since 2000.
  • Yerevan, Armenia, since 1998.


  • Whitwell, England claims to be twinned with Paris.

See alsoRectify

  • levelled entire districts
  • Large Cities Climate Leadership Group
  • List of metropolitan areas by population
  • Megacity
  • Paris Exposition



External linksRectify