2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: European Geography

Coordinates: 48°52′0″N, 2°19′59″E

Ville de Paris
Paris' Eiffel tower as seen from the esplanade du Trocadéro.
Flag of Paris
Coat of arms of Paris
City flag City coat of arms
Motto: Fluctuat nec mergitur
(Latin: "Tossed by the waves, she does not sink")
Map highlighting the commune of Paris
Coordinates 48°52′0″N, 2°19′59″E
Time Zone CET (GMT +1)
Country France
Région Île-de-France
Département Paris (75)
Subdivisions 20 arrondissements
Mayor Bertrand Delanoë  ( PS)
(since 2001)
City Statistics
Land area¹ 86.9 km²
Population² 1st in France
 - 2004 estimate 2,144,700
 - Density 24,672/km² (2004)
Urban Spread
Urban Area 2 723 km² (1999)
 - Population 9 644 507 (1999)
Metro Area 14,518.3 km² (1999)
 - Population 11,174,743 (1999)
¹ French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq. mi. or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
² Population sans doubles comptes: single count of residents of multiple communes (e.g. students and military personnel).

Paris is the capital city of France and a French département ( 75). Situated on the banks of the river Seine in north-central France, it is also the capital of the Île-de-France région (also known as "Paris Region"), which encompasses Paris and its suburbs. Paris had an estimated mid-2004 population of 2,144,700. The Paris urban area, extending well beyond the city boundaries, has today an estimated population of 9.93 million. The Paris metropolitan area (including satellite towns) stood at 11.5 million in 1999 and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe.

The Paris region is France's most dynamic centre of economic activity. It produces more than a quarter of France's wealth, with a GDP of €478.7 billion (US$595.3 billion) in 2005. With La Défense, the largest purpose-built business district in Europe, the Paris urban area ( unité urbaine) also hosts the head offices of almost half of the major French companies, as well as the offices of major international firms. Paris is a leading cultural, business and political centre and has an influence in fashion, gastronomy and the arts. It is regarded as one of the major global cities, with the headquarters of international organisations such as UNESCO, the OECD, the ICC, or the informal Paris Club.

The city, which is renowned for its defining neo-classical architecture, hosts many museums and galleries and has an active nightlife. The most recognisable symbol of Paris is the 324 metre (1,063  ft) Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine. Dubbed "the City of Light" (la Ville Lumière) since the 19th century, Paris is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world.. It is also the most visited city in the world with more than 30 million foreign visitors per year.


Origin of the name

Paris is pronounced as [ˈpʰæɹɪs] in English and as [paʀi] in French. The city derives its name from the Gallic Parisii tribe. The city, known as Lutetia (/lutetja/) during the Roman Empire, began to adopt its present-day name towards the end of the Roman era. Since the early 20th century, Paris has been known in French slang as Paname ([panam]; Moi j'suis d'Paname , i.e. "I'm from Paname"), a slang name that has been regaining favour with young people in recent years. Another sobriquet for Paris is 'The City of Light' (La Ville-lumière), owing to its early adoption of street-lighting.

The inhabitants of Paris are known as Parisians [pʰəˈɹɪzɪənz] or [pʰəˈɹiːʒn̩z] in English and as Parisiens ( [paʀizjɛ̃] ) in French. Parisians are sometimes called Parigots ( [paʀigo] ) in French slang, a term often used pejoratively by people outside the Paris Region, but sometimes considered endearing by Parisians themselves.

Early beginnings

The earliest signs of permanent habitation in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. Celtic migrants began to settle the area from 250 BC, and the Parisii tribe of these, known as boatmen and traders, established a settlement near the river Seine from around then.

Westward Roman conquest and the ensuing Gallic War overtook the Paris basin from 52 BC, and by the end of the century Paris' Île de la Cité island and Left Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill had become the Roman town of Lutetia. Gallo-Roman Lutèce would expand over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with palaces, a forum, baths, temples, theatres and an amphitheatre.

As other Roman cities, early Lutetia was structured as a regular grid (300 feet squares), with the cardo maximus (main North-South axis) being the current Rue Saint-Jacques, and the decumani (East-West axis) were parallel to current Bd Saint-Germain and Rue des Ecoles. The "point zero", or groma of this grid was probably located at the southwest corner of the forum, which corresponds to nos. 172 and 174 of Rue Saint-Jacques: the highest point on the Saint-Geneviève hill.

The collapse of the Roman empire and third-century Germanic invasions sent the city into a period of decline: by 400 AD Lutèce, largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into its hastily fortified central island. The city would reclaim its original "Paris" appellation towards the end of the Roman occupation.

Middle ages

Around AD 500, Paris was the capital of the Frankish king Clovis I, who commissioned the first cathedral and abbey. On the death of Clovis, the Frankish kingdom was divided, and Paris became the capital of a much smaller sovereign state. By the time of the Carolingian dynasty (9th century), Paris was little more than a feudal county stronghold. The Counts of Paris gradually rose to prominence and eventually wielded greater power than the Kings of Francia occidentalis. Odo, Count of Paris was elected king in place of the incumbent Charles the Fat, namely for the fame he gained in his defence of Paris during the Viking siege of 885-886. Although the Cité island had survived the Viking attacks, most of the unprotected Left Bank city was destroyed; rather than rebuild there, after drying marshlands to the north of the island, Paris began to expand onto the Right Bank. In 987 AD, Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, was elected King of France, founding the Capetian dynasty which would raise Paris to become France's capital.

Storming of the Bastille by a Parisian mob on July 14, 1789
Storming of the Bastille by a Parisian mob on July 14, 1789

From 1190, King Philip Augustus enclosed Paris on both banks with a wall that had the Louvre as its western fortress and in 1200 chartered the University of Paris which brought visitors from across Europe. It was during this period that the city developed a spatial distribution of activities that exists even today: the central island housed government and ecclesiastical institutions, the left bank became a scholastic centre with the University and colleges, while the right bank developed as the centre of commerce and trade around the central Les Halles marketplace.

Paris lost its position as seat of the French realm while occupied by the English-ally Burgundians during the Hundred Years' War, but regained its title when Charles VII reclaimed the city in 1437; although Paris was capital once again, the Crown preferred to remain in its Loire Valley castles. During the French Wars of Religion, Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party, culminating in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre ( 1572). King Henry IV re-established the royal court in Paris in 1594 after he captured the city from the Catholic party. During the Fronde, Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city ( 1648). King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles in 1682. A century later, Paris was the centre stage for the French Revolution, with the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the overthrow of the monarchy in 1792.

Nineteenth century

The Trocadéro Palace built for the Exposition Universelle of 1878, demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot for the Exposition Internationale of 1937
The Trocadéro Palace built for the Exposition Universelle of 1878, demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot for the Exposition Internationale of 1937

The Industrial Revolution, the French Second Empire, and the Belle Époque brought Paris the greatest development in its history. From the 1840s, rail transport allowed an unprecedented flow of migrants into Paris attracted by employment in the new industries in the suburbs. The city underwent a massive renovation under Napoleon III and his préfet Haussmann, who leveled entire districts of narrow-winding medieval streets to create the network of wide avenues and neo-classical façades of modern Paris.

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 ending the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), and the ensuing civil war Commune of Paris (1871) killed thousands and sent many of Paris's administrative centres (and city archives) up in flames.

Paris recovered rapidly from these events to host the famous Universal Expositions of the late nineteenth century. The Eiffel Tower was built for the French Revolution centennial 1889 Universal Exposition, as a "temporary" display of architectural engineering prowess but remained the world's tallest building until 1930, and today is the city's best-known landmark. The first line of the Paris Métro opened for the 1900 Universal Exposition and was an attraction in itself for visitors from the world over. Paris's World's Fair years also consolidated its position in the tourist industry and as an attractive setting for international technology and trade shows.

Twentieth century and Today

Nighttime view of Rue de Rivoli
Nighttime view of Rue de Rivoli

During World War I, Paris was at the forefront of the war effort, having been spared a German invasion by the French and British victory at the First Battle of the Marne in 1914. In 1918-1919, it was the scene of Allied victory parades and peace negotiations. In the inter-war period Paris was famed for its cultural and artistic communities and its nightlife. The city became a melting pot of artists from around the world, from exiled Russian composer Stravinsky and Spanish painters Picasso and Dalí to American writer Hemingway. In June 1940, five weeks after the start of the German attack on France, a partially evacuated Paris fell to German occupation forces who remained until the city was liberated by the 2nd Armored Division of General Leclerc in late August 1944. Central Paris endured WW II practically unscathed, as there were no strategic targets for bombers (train stations in central Paris are terminal stations; major factories were located in the suburbs), and also because German General von Choltitz refused to carry out Hitler's order that all Parisian monuments be destroyed before any German retreat.

View over Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View over Paris from the Eiffel Tower

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, centered on the Périphérique 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.



View from the top of the Eiffel tower toward North
View from the top of the Eiffel tower toward North

Paris is located on a north-bending arc of the river Seine and includes two inhabited islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité which is the heart and origin of the city. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130 metres (426½ ft) above sea level.

The City of Paris, excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, covers an oval measuring 86.928 square kilometres (33.56 mi²) 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 it still has today. From its 1860 78 km² (30.1 mi²), these limits changed marginally to 86.9 km² in the 1920's, and 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 square kilometres (40.69 mi²).

The Paris agglomeration ( urban area) extends from the city limits to an area much greater than Paris itself (app. 26 times larger) in an irregular oval with tentacles of urban growth extending along the Seine and Marne river from the city's south-east and east, and along the Seine and Oise rivers to the city's north-west and north. Urban density drops sharply in the land surrounding; a mix of forest and agriculture dotted with a network of relatively evenly dispersed satellite towns, this couronne péri-urbaine (commuter belt), when combined with the Paris agglomeration, completes a Paris aire urbaine ( metropolitan area) that covers an oval 14,518 km² (5,605.5 mi²) in area, or an area about 138 times that of Paris itself.


Paris has an Oceanic climate and is affected by the North Atlantic Drift, so the city enjoys 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 around 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.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °C (°F) 6 (43) 7 (45) 10 (51) 14 (57) 18 (64) 21 (70) 24 (75) 24 (75) 20 (69) 15 (59) 9 (49) 7 (45) 15 (59)
Avg low temperature °C (°F) -2 (28) -1 (30) 3 (38) 5 (42) 9 (49) 12 (54) 14 (58) 14 (57) 11 (52) 8 (46) 4 (39) 2 (36) 7 (45)
Source: Weatherbase


Urbanism and architecture

Avenue de l'Opéra and its buildings typical of Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Avenue de l'Opéra and its buildings typical of Haussmann's renovation of Paris
The Grande Arche in La Defense
The Grande Arche in La Defense

"Modern" Paris is the result of a vast mid-19th-century urban remodelling. For centuries it had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and half-timber houses, but beginning in 1852, the Baron 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 Second Empire plans are in many cases still actual, as the city of Paris imposes the then-defined "alignement" law (imposed position defining a predetermined street width) on many new constructions. A building's height was also defined according to the width of the street it lines, and Paris' building code has seen few changes since the mid-19th century to allow for higher constructions. It is for this reason, save for a few 'pointed' examples, that Paris seems an essentially flat city when compared to some of the world's other metropoles.

Paris' 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' historical past, existing laws make it difficult to create within city limits the larger buildings and utilities needed for a growing population. Many of Paris' 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 ( 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.

Paris has over 2,400 km of underground passageways dedicated to the evacuation of Paris' liquid wastes. Most of these even today 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.

Districts and historical centres

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 Défense are on the horizon.
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 Défense are on the horizon.
The Eiffel Tower and the River Seine.
The Eiffel Tower and the River Seine.

These are a few of Paris' major districts.

  • 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").
  • Avenue Montaigne (8th arrondissement), next to the Champs-Elysées, is home to luxury brand labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton ( LVMH), Dior and Givenchy.
  • 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 it holds today can be considered Paris's "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 Vendome 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.
  • Faubourg Saint-Honoré (8th arrondissement, right bank) is one of Paris' high-fashion districts, home to labels such as Hermès and Christian Lacroix.
  • 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.
  • Montmartre (18th arrondissement, right bank) is a historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur. Montmartre has always had a history with artists and has many studios and cafés of many great artists in that area.
  • 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 (the biggest in Europe). The past Les Halles was destroyed in 1971 and replaced by the current day Forum des Halles.
  • 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.
  • 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 anti-CPE demonstration of March 28, 2006.
  • 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 Sorbonne campus. It is known for its lively atmosphere and many bistros. With various higher education establishments, such as the École Normale Supérieure, the École des Mines and the Jussieu university campus make it a major educational centre in Paris, which also contributes to its atmosphere.
  • Montparnasse (14th arrondissement) is a historic Left Bank area famous for artists studios, music halls, and café life. The large Montparnasse - Bienvenüe métro station and the lone Tour Montparnasse skyscraper are located there.
  • La Défense (straddling the communes of Courbevoie, Puteaux, and Nanterre, 2.5 km/1.5 miles west of the City of Paris) is a key suburb of Paris and is one of the largest business centres in the world, and is a major destination for business tourism. 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 currently 3.5 million m² of offices, making of it the largest district in Europe specifically developed for business. The Grande Arche (Great Arch) of la Defense, which houses a part of the French Transports Minister's headquarters, ends the central Esplanade around which the district is organized.
  • Plaine Saint-Denis (straddling the communes of Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers, and Saint-Ouen, immediately across the Périphérique ring road (which encircles Paris proper) north of the 18th arrondissement) 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 B and D) 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.

Parks and gardens

Jardins du Palais Royal
Jardins du Palais Royal

Two of Paris's oldest and famous gardens 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 Garden, 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' other large gardens are Second Empire creations: the formerly suburban parks of Montsouris, 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 . You will often see Pariseans having picnics at the parks, soaking up the warm sunshine, or simply enjoying the nature. They are peaceful escapes from the city and are enjoyed by all ages. Another project executed under the orders of Baron Haussmann

Parc Monceau
Parc Monceau

architect Barillet-Deschamps was the re-sculpting of Paris' western Bois de Boulogne forest-parklands; the Bois de Vincennes, to Paris' opposite eastern end, received a similar treatment in years following.

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


Cemetery of Père Lachaise
Cemetery of Père Lachaise

Paris' existing inner-city cemeteries were to its outskirts upon their 1804 creation. Many of Paris' churches had their own parish cemeteries, but these by the late 18th century contributed to making living conditions quite unsanitary in an ever-growing Capital. Abolished from 1786, all parish cemeteries were excavated their contents taken to abandoned limestone mines outside the southern gates of then Paris, today the 14e arrondissement's place Denfert-Rochereau. The latter are known today as the Paris Catacombes.

Although Paris today has once again grown to surround all its former extra-muros cemeteries, these have become all-too-rare and much-appreciated oases of quiet, greenery and sculpture in a thriving city. Many of Paris's illustrious historical figures have found rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery. Other notable cemeteries include Cimetière de Montmartre, Cimetière du Montparnasse, Cimetière de Passy and the Catacombs of Paris.

Paris created new suburban cemeteries for its dead from the early 20th century: the largest of these are the Cimitière Parisien de Saint-Ouen, the Cimitière Parisien de Bobigny- Pantin, the Cimitière Parisien d' Ivry and the Cimitière Parisien de Bagneux.

Water and sanitation

Canal Saint-Martin
Canal Saint-Martin

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 Haussmann, 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 even today 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 is 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.


Demographics within the Paris Region
(according to the official INSEE 1999 census)
Areas Population Area
City of Paris
( département 75)
2,125,246 105 20,240 -1.26%
Suburban Départements
Inner ring
(Petite Couronne)
(Depts. 92, 93, 94)
4,038,992 657 6,148 +1.27%
Outer ring
(Grande Couronne)
(Depts. 77, 78, 91, 95)
4,787,773 11,249 426 +5.93%
(entire région)
10,952,011 12,011 912 +2.73%
Statistical Growth
Urban area
(Paris agglomeration)
9,644,507 2,723 3,542 +1.85%
Metro area
( agglomeration,
commuter belt)
11,174,743 14,518 770 +2.90%

The population of the City of Paris was 2,125,246 at the 1999 census, lower than the historical peak of 2.9 million in 1921. This decline was because of the relocation of people to the suburbs caused by de-industrialisation, high rent, the gentrification of many inner quarters and the transformation of living space into offices, although not on the scale seen in some Western cities. These tendencies are generally seen as negative for the city; the current city administration is trying to reverse them with some success, as the population estimate of July 2004 shows a population increase for the first time since 1954 reaching a total of 2,144,700 inhabitants.


The City of Paris is the most densely populated area in the Western World after the island of Manhattan in New York City. Excluding the outlying woodland parks of Boulogne and Vincennes, its density was 24,448 inh. per km² (63,321 inh. per sq. mile) in 1999 official census. Paris has maintained a relatively balanced distribution of apartment residences, office spaces and commercial activities catering to both, although some districts have lost much of their apartment housing to office renovations, partly contributing to the population decline seen since the 1920's.

Paris' most sparsely populated quarters are its western and central office and administration-charged arrondissements. The city is at its densest in its north and east arrondissements; its 11th arrondissement had a density of 40,672/km² (105,339/sq. mile) in 1999, and some of the same arrondissement's eastern quarters showed densities close to 100,000/km² (260,000/sq. mile) the same year.

The Paris agglomeration

The City of Paris is much smaller than its urban growth. At present, the city's urban area (agglomeration) fills a ring of Paris' three neighbouring départements - also known as petite couronne ("small ring") - and extends into an "outer ring" of four grande couronne départements beyond. These eight départements together complete the Île-de-France région.

The Paris agglomeration or urban area ( unité urbaine) covers 2,723 km² (1,051.4 mi²) , or about 26 times larger than the city of Paris. Beyond this, the couronne peri-urbaine commuter belt region reaches well beyond the limits of the Île-de-France région, and combined with the Paris agglomeration, completes a metropolitan area ( aire urbaine) covering 14,518 km² (5,605.5 mi²) , or an area about 138 times that of Paris itself.

View over the center of Paris with chinatown high buildings on the right
View over the centre of Paris with chinatown high buildings on the right

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 II. Suburban development has accelerated in recent years, as with an estimated total of 11.4 million inhabitants for 2005, the Île-de-France région shows a rate of growth double that of the 1990s .


View over Ferrières, one of the multiple suburbs surrounding Paris
View over Ferrières, one of the multiple suburbs surrounding Paris

French censuses, by law, ask no questions regarding ethnicity or religion, but do gather information concerning country of birth. From this it is still possible to determine that the Paris 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 metropolitan area'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 1950's to the 1970's; 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, in the name of the French Republic principle of equality among its citizens.


With a 2005 GDP of €478.7 billion (US$595.3 billion), the Paris Region is an engine of the global economy: if it were a country, it would rank as the sixteenth largest economy in the world. The Paris Region is thus France's premier centre of economical activity: while its population accounted for 18.7% of the total population of metropolitan France in 2005, its GDP was about 28.5% that of metropolitan France. Activity in the Paris metropolitan area, though diverse, has not found a specialization such as Los Angeles with entertainment industries or London and New York with financial industries. In recent decades, however, the Paris economy has been shifting towards high value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc.).


View over La Défense
View over La Défense

The Paris Region's most intense economical activity through the central Hauts-de-Seine département and suburban La Défense business district places Paris' economical centre to the west of the city, in a triangle between the Opéra Garnier, La Défense and the Val de Seine. Paris' administrative borders have little consequences on the limits of its economical 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 metropolitan area (including commuter belt) 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 high-technologies. 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 metropolitan 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 defense, 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. The tourism industry and tourist related services employ 3.6% of the total workforce of the Paris Region (in 1999), and 6.2% of the total workforce of the city of Paris.


Paris, Capital of France

Paris is the capital of France, and as such 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. President of the Republic resides at the Elysée 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, 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, the highest court in the judicial order, which tries most criminal and civil cases, is located in the Palais de Justice on the Ile 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 government

The arrondissements of Paris
The arrondissements of Paris

Paris has been a commune (municipality) since 1834 (and also briefly between 1790 and 1795). At the 1790 division of France into communes in the beginning of the French Revolution, 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 municipal arrondissements the city still has today. These municipal subdivisions describe a clockwise spiral outward from its most central Ier arrondissement.

Paris as a commune from 1790 became the préfecture (capital) of the Seine département that encompassed Paris and a number of neighbouring communes, but this département was split in 1968 into four smaller ones: the city of Paris became a département distinct from suburban communes in retaining the Seine département 's "75" number (originating from the Seine département's position in France's alphabetical list of départements), while the three new Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne départements were attributed the numbers 92, 93 and 94 respectively. The result of this division is that today Paris's limits as a département are exactly those of its limits as a commune, a situation unique in France.

Municipal offices

Each of Paris's 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 of Paris.

The Sun setting over the Seine.
The Sun setting over the Seine.

In mediaeval 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. This role was seconded from the 13th century by the provost of Paris, a direct representative of the king responsible for law and order in the city and its surrounding prévôté (county). Many functions from both offices were transferred to the office of the crown-appointed lieutenant general of police upon its creation in 1667.

Paris' last Prévôt des marchands 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 14th 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, however, it became apparent that revolutionary Paris's 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 Prefect 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 double existence as commune and département, Paris has a unique council to governing 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' modern administrative organisation still retains some traces of the former Seine département jurisdiction. The Prefecture of Police (also directing Paris' 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.

The eight départements of the Île-de-France région
The eight départements of the Île-de-France région

Paris, Capital of the Île-de-France région

As part of a 1961 nation-wide administrative effort to consolidate regional economies, Paris as a département became the capital of the new District of the Paris Region, transformed into the Île-de-France région in 1976, encompassing the Paris département and its seven closest départements. The regional council members are chosen by direct elections (since 1986). The prefect of the Paris département (known as the prefect of the Seine département before 1968) is also prefect of the Île-de-France région, although the office lost a lot of its powers with the creation of the office of mayor of Paris in 1977.


Few of the above changes have taken into account Paris's 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 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").


Thalys trains with service to Belgium and the Netherlands
Thalys trains with service to Belgium and the Netherlands

Paris's role as a centre of international trade and tourism has brought its transportation system many embellishments over the past centuries, and its development is still progressing at a rapid pace today. Only in the past few decades Paris has become the centre of an autoroute system, high-speed train network and, through its two major airports, a hub of international air travel.

Air travel

Paris is served by two principal airports: Orly Airport, which is south of Paris, and the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in nearby Roissy-en-France, one of the busiest in Europe. A third and much smaller airport, at the town of Beauvais, 70 km (45 mi) 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 a central hub of the national rail network of high-speed (TGV) and normal ( Corail) trains. Six major railway stations, Gare du Nord, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz, and Gare Saint-Lazare connect this train network to the world famous and highly efficient Métro network, with 380 stations connected by 221.6km of rails. 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, known as the RER, has been created since the 1960s to connect more distant parts of the conurbation.

One of the most recent Métro stations, Gare Saint-Lazare
One of the most recent Métro stations, Gare Saint-Lazare

Public transport

The public transport networks of the Paris region are coordinated by the Syndicat des transports d'Île-de-France (STIF), formerly Syndicat des transports parisiens (STP). Members of the syndicate include the RATP, which operates the Parisian and some suburban buses, the Métro, and sections of the RER; the SNCF, which operates the suburban rail lines and the other sections of the RER ; and other private operators managing some suburban bus lines.

The Métro is one of Paris' most important methods of transportation. The system 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 line 14 was inaugurated after a 70-year hiatus in inagurating fully new métro lines.

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 inner orbital road is currently under construction.


The city is also the hub of France's motorway network, and is surrounded by three orbital freeways : the Périphérique which follows the approximate path of 19th-century fortifications around Paris, the A86 autoroute motorway in the inner suburbs, and finally the Francilienne motorway, also known as the A104(north) and N104(south) (and N184), in the outer suburbs. Paris has an extensive road network with over 2000 kilometres of major roads and highways. By road Brussels can be reached in three hours, Frankfurt in 6 hours and Barcelona in 12 hours.


In the early 9th 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, with its many churches and cathedral, began its rise as a scholastic centre around then.

Twelve centuries later, education in Paris and the Paris region ( Île-de-France 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 education

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 Ecole Active Bilingue

Higher education

In the academic year 2004-2005, there were 359,749 students registered in the 17 public universities located throughout the Paris region. This is the largest concentration of university students in Europe, ahead of the agglomerations of London (300,000 university students), Milan (280,000 university students), Madrid (250,000 university students), and Rome (230,000 university students). Beside these 17 public universities, 240,778 more students are registered in the prestigious grandes écoles, as well as in the preparatory classes to the grandes écoles, and in scores of private and public schools independent from universities, thus giving a grand total of 600,527 students in higher education in the academic year 2004-2005.


Historical article: University of Paris Paris Notre-Dame Cathedral was the first centre of higher education before the creation of the University of Paris. The universitas, a corporation status granting teachers (and their students) the right to rule themselves independently from crown law and taxes, was chartered by King Philip Augustus in 1200. Many classes then were held in open air. Non-Parisian students and teachers would stay in hostels, or "colleges", created for the boursiers coming from afar. Already famous by the 13th century, the Universty of Partis had students from all of Europe. Paris's Rive Gauche scholastic centre, or " Latin Quarter" as classes were taught in Latin then, would eventually regroup around the college created by Robert de Sorbon from 1257. The University of Paris in the 19th century had six faculties: law, science, medicine, pharmaceutical studies, literature and theology.

The 1968 student riots in Paris, in an effort to disperse the centralised student body, resulted in a near total reform of the University of Paris. The following year, the formerly unique University of Paris was split between thirteen autonomous universities ("Paris I" to "Paris XIII") located throughout the City of Paris and its suburbs. Each of these universities inherited only some of the departments of the old University of Paris, and are not generalist universities. Paris I, II, V and X, inherited the Law School; Paris V inherited the School of Medicine as well; Paris VI and VII inherited the scientific departments; etc.

In 1991, four more universities were created in the suburbs of Paris, reaching a total of seventeen public universities for the Paris ( Île-de-France) région. These new universities were given names (based on the name of the suburb in which they are located) and not numbers like the previous thirteen: University of Cergy-Pontoise, University of Évry-Val d'Essonne, University of Marne-la-Vallée and University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.

In Paris there is also the English-speaking Westminster Centre for International Studies, department of London's University of Westminster, as well as the The American University of Paris, a private higher-education Institution.

Grandes écoles

The Paris region hosts France's highest concentration of grandes écoles, or prestigious centres of higher specialised education outside the public university structure. Most of the grandes écoles were relocated to the suburbs of Paris in the 1960s and 1970s, in new campuses much larger than the old campuses within the crowded City of Paris, though the École Normale Supérieure has remained on rue d'Ulm in the Ve arrondissement. The Paris area has a high number of engineering schools, led by the prestigious École Polytechnique, École des Mines, École des Ponts et Chaussées, and École Centrale, forming future actors of France's engineering and industry. Business schools are also many, including world-famous HEC, ESSEC, INSEAD, and ESCP-EAP European School of Management. Although Paris' former elite administrative school ENA was relocated to Strasbourg, the famous political science school Sciences-Po is still located in Paris' Left bank VIIe arrondissement.


Monuments and landmarks

The Arc de Triomphe by day
The Arc de Triomphe by day

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 Universal Exposition 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 Basilica of the 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-Elysées 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.

Basilica of the Sacré Cœur
Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

The Invalides museum is the burial place for many great French soldiers, including Napoleon, and the Panthéon 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 the United States in 1886 and now stands in New York City 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 Latin Quarter. 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.

The Mona Lisa, one of the Louvre's most famous treasures.
The Mona Lisa, one of the Louvre's most famous treasures.


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 Pablo Picasso and Rodin are found in Musée Picasso and Musée Rodin respectively, while the artistic community of 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. Lastly, 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' largest Opera houses are the 19th-century Opéra Garnier and modern Opera 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 had 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. A few of Paris' major theatres are Bobino, Théâtre Mogador and the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse. Some Parisian theatres 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 Paris concert halls: legendary yet still-showing examples of these are Bobino, l'Olympia, la Cigale and le Splendid.

The below-mentioned 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 'Indy' music. More recently, the Zenith hall in Paris' La Villette quarter and a "parc-omnisports" stadium in Bercy serve as large-scale rock concert halls.

Opéra Garnier
Opéra Garnier

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' 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, the Batofar (a boat converted into a club) or The Pulp are quite popular and the world's best DJs play there.

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 theaters: 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' 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' largest cinema today is by far le Grand Rex theatre with 2800 seats, while other cinemas all have less than 1000 seats. There is now a trend toward modern complexes with more than 10 or 20 screens in the same building.

Cafés, restaurants and hotels

A scene of a Parisian Café, painted by Henri Gervex, 1877
A scene of a Parisian Café, painted by Henri Gervex, 1877

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-Royale one year earlier. The cafés in the gardens of the latter locale became a 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' 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 a 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' late-19th century Expositions Universelles (World's Fairs). Of the most luxurious of these, the Hôtel Ritz appeared in the Place Vendôme from 1898, and the Hôtel de Crillon opened its doors to the north of the place de la Concorde from 1909.


View over the downtown of Disneyland Resort Paris
View over the downtown of Disneyland Resort Paris
Notre Dame de Paris seen from the East
Notre Dame de Paris seen from the East

Paris had always been a destination for traders, students and those on religious pilgrimages, but its 'tourism' in the proper sense of the term began on a large scale only with the appearance of rail travel, namely from state organisation of France's rail network from 1848. One of Paris' first 'mass' attractions drawing international interest were, from 1855, the above-mentioned Expositions Universelles that would bring Paris many new monuments, namely the Eiffel tower from 1889. These, in addition to the Capital's 2nd Empire embellishments, did much to make the city itself the attraction it is today.

Paris' museums and monuments are by far its highest-esteemed attractions, and tourist interest has been nothing but a benefit to these; tourism has even motivated both city and State to create new ones. The city's most prized museum, the Louvre, sees over 6 million visitors a year. Paris' cathedrals are another main attraction: its Notre-Dame cathedral and Sacré-Coeur basilica receive 12 million and 8 million visitors respectively. The Eiffel tower, by far Paris' most famous monument, averages over 6 million visitors per year. 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.

Many of Paris' once-popular local establishments have metamorphised into a parody of French culture, in a form catering to the tastes and expectations of tourist capital. The Moulin Rouge cabaret-dancehall, for example, is 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' hotel, restaurant and night entertainment trades have become heavily dependent on tourism, with results not always positive for Parisian culture.


Inside the Stade de France during a rugby union match.
Inside the Stade de France during a rugby union match.

Paris's main sport clubs are the football club Paris Saint-Germain, the basketball team Paris Basket Racing and the rugby union club Stade Français Paris. 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 French rugby team's home matches of the Six Nations Championship and sometimes for big matches for the Stade Français rugby team. Racing Metro 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, 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 events of the world professional tennis tour.

The 2006 UEFA Champions League Final between Arsenal and FC Barcelona was played in the Stade de France. Paris will host the 2007 Rugby World Cup final at Stade de France on 20 October 2007.

Sister cities

The following places are sister cities to Paris:

Twin city:

Italy Rome, Italy, 1956

Partner cities

Algeria Algiers, Algeria, 2003
Jordan Amman, Jordan, 1987
Greece Athens, Greece, 2000
People's Republic of China Beijing, China, 1997
Lebanon Beirut, Lebanon, 1992
Germany Berlin, Germany, 1987
Egypt Cairo, Egypt, 1985
United States Chicago, Illinois, United States, 1996
Switzerland Geneva, Switzerland, 2002
Indonesia Jakarta, Indonesia, 1995
Japan Kyoto, Japan, 1958
Portugal Lisbon, Portugal, 1998
England London, England, United Kingdom, 2001
Spain Madrid, Spain, 2000
Mexico Mexico City, Mexico, 1999
Russia Moscow, Russia, 1992
Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic, 1997
Canada Québec City, Québec, Canada, 1996
Saudi Arabia Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1997
Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1997
Yemen Sanaa, Yemen, 1987
Brazil São Paulo, Brazil, 2004
United States San Francisco, California, United States, 1996
Chile Santiago, Chile, 1997
South Korea Seoul, South Korea, 1991
Bulgaria Sofia, Bulgaria, 1998
Australia Sydney, Australia, 1998
Georgia (country) Tbilisi, Georgia, 1997
Japan Tokyo, Japan, 1982
Poland Warsaw, Poland, 1999
United States Washington, D.C., United States, 2000
Armenia Yerevan, Armenia, 1998


England Whitwell, Rutland, United Kingdom claims to be twinned with Paris.

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