Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Paris is the capital city of France, as well as the capital of the Île-de-France région, whose territory encompasses Paris and its suburbs. The city of Paris proper is also a département, called Paris département (French: département de Paris).
Paris, together with its suburbs and satellite cities, forms the Greater Paris metropolitan area, with a population estimated at 11.5 million as of January 2004. It is the second largest metropolitan area in Europe (after Moscow, and along with London), and approximately the 20th largest in the world.
Greater Paris metropolitan area, with a total GDP higher than Australia, is the largest financial and business center of Europe (alongside London), harboring more than 30% of France's white-collar population, as well as more than 40% of the headquarters of French companies, with the largest business district of Europe (La Défense), and the 2nd largest stock exchange in Europe (Euronext).
Known worldwide as the City of Light (la Ville Lumière), Paris has been a major tourist destination for centuries. The city is renowned for the beauty of its architecture, its urban perspectives and avenues, as well as the wealth of its museums. Built on an arc of the River Seine, it is divided into two parts: the Right Bank to the north and the smaller Left Bank to the south.
Formerly the capital of a colonial empire stretching over five continents, Paris is still regarded as the heart of the French-speaking world and has retained a strong international position, hosting the headquarters of the OECD and the UNESCO among others. This, combined with its financial, business, political, and tourism activities, have turned Paris into one of the major transportation hubs in the world. Alongside New York, London, and Tokyo, Paris is among the four most important global cities.
Name of Paris and its inhabitants
The original Latin name of Paris was Lutetia (/lutetja/), or Lutetia Parisiorum, known in French as Lutèce (/lytɛs/). Lutetia was later dropped in favor of only Paris, based on the name of the Gallic Parisi tribe, whose name perhaps comes from the Celtic Gallic word parios, meaning "caldron", but this is not certain.
Locally, inhabitants of the Paris suburbs are known as banlieusards (/bɑ̃ljøzaʀ/). Inhabitants of the whole Paris metropolitan area are known as Franciliens (/fʀɑ̃siljɛ̃/), i.e. from Île-de-France.
The city (commune) of Paris has an area of 105.398 km² (40.69 sq. miles, or 26,044 acres). Excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, the actual area of the city is only 86.928 km² (33.56 sq. miles, or 21,480 acres).
This is not a very large area, and in fact the commune of Paris is only the 113th largest commune of France (out of 36,782 communes). For comparison, Greater London has an area of 1,572 km² (607 sq. mi), and New York City has an area of 786 km² (303 sq. miles). This peculiar fact is due to the conservatism of administrative limits in France. Unlike other western metropolises such as London, New York, or Berlin whose limits were extended in the 20th century to include suburbs previously independent, in the case of Paris no such enlargement happened. In fact, the last time Paris was enlarged was in 1860 when Napoleon III and the prefect Haussmann annexed the then suburban communes surrounding Paris, such as Montmartre or Auteuil, extending the area of the city from 34.50 km² (13.3 sq. miles) to 78 km² (30.1 sq. miles), and creating the 20 arrondissements of Paris. Since 1860, the limits of Paris have only marginally changed, reaching the 86.9km² figure indicated above. In 1929, the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes were officially incorporated into the city of Paris.
Thus, the Brooklyn, Greenwich, or Charlottenburg of Paris are still lying outside of the city of Paris proper, and the city of Paris can be more rightly compared to the borough of Manhattan (59.5 km²/23 sq. miles) or to Inner London (319 km²/123 sq. miles). Even the largest business and financial district of Paris, known as La Défense, lies outside of the city limits.
The urban area of Paris (unité urbaine de Paris), however, is much more extended than the administrative city of Paris. It had an area of 2,723 km² (1,051.4 sq. miles) in 1999, about 26 times larger than the city of Paris. As for the metropolitan area of Paris (aire urbaine de Paris), its area in 1999 was 14,518 km² (5,605.5 sq. miles), about 138 times larger than the city of Paris.
The city of Paris proper, excluding the outlying Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, has an almost regular oval shape, with a circumference of 35.5 km.(22 miles). This oval extends 9.5 km.(6 miles) from north to south, and 11 km.(7 miles) from east to west.
At the 1999 French census the population density in the city of Paris was 20,164 inh. per km² (52,225 inh. per sq. mile). Excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, the density in the city was actually 24,448 inh. per km² (63,321 inh. per sq. mile). As a matter of comparison, the density in Manhattan at the 2000 US census was 25,846 inh. per km² (66,940 inh. per sq. mile), and the density in Inner London at the 2001 UK census was 8,663 inh. per km² (22,438 inh. per sq. mile).
The population density in the city of Paris is very high compared to most western cities, which are rarely as crowded as Paris (except for Manhattan). The density in Paris is comparable to the densities met with in Asian cities. In many western cities, people have left the city center in the 20th century to relocate to the distant suburbs, leaving the city center as a business district dead at night. Although the city of Paris has also experienced a decline in population since the 1920s, it has nonetheless seen fewer inhabitants relocating to the suburbs than has occurred in other western cities.
More precisely, people relocating to the suburbs were for the most part replaced by new people attracted to an urban lifestyle, and buildings were not converted into offices as systematically as has happened elsewhere, such as in London where the inhabitants have left the city center since the Second World War, and the density of Inner London is now much lower than that of Paris. This is most striking in the medieval heart of both metropolises: the City of London and the four first arrondissements of Paris were the medieval heart of each metropolis, with densities reaching 75,000 to 100,000 inh. per km² before the Industrial Revolution. Today, the City of London is almost empty, with a population density of only 2,478 inh. per km² (6,417 inh. per sq. mile) in 2001, whereas the four first arrondissements of Paris still have a density of 18,139 inh. per km² (46,979 inh. per sq. mile) in 1999, seven times more dense than in the City of London.
Today, the most crowded arrondissement in the city of Paris is the 11th arrondissement, with a density reaching 40,672 inh. per km² (105,339 inh. per sq. mile) in 1999. Some neighborhoods in the east of this arrondissement are known to have densities of almost 100,000 inh. per km² (260,000 inh. per sq. mile).
The altitude of Paris varies, with several prominent hills :
- Montmartre - 130 metres (425 feet) above sea level
- Belleville - 115 metres (375 feet) above sea level
- Montagne Ste-Genevieve
- Montparnasse (the hill there was leveled in the 18th century)
The highest elevation in the urban area of Paris is in the Forest of Montmorency (Val-d'Oise département), 19.5 km. (12 miles) north-northwest of the center of Paris as the crow flies, at 195 meters (640 ft) above sea-level.
The hottest temperature was recorded on July 28, 1947 when the temperature reached 40.4° C (104.7° F). During the deadly heat wave of 2003, the temperature "only" reached 38.1° C (100.6° F) during the day, but the lowest temperature at night on August 11 and August 12, 2003 was 25.5° C (77.9° F), which is the hottest minimum temperature at night ever registered in Paris, causing the death of many old people whose body temperature could not cool down.
Main article: History of Paris
The name of the city comes from the name of a Gallic tribe (parisis) inhabiting the region at the time of the Roman conquest. The historical heart of Paris is the Île de la Cité, a small island largely occupied by the huge Palais de Justice and the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. It is connected with the smaller Ile Saint-Louis (another island) occupied by elegant houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Paris was occupied by a Gallic tribe until the Romans arrived in 52 BC. The invaders referred to the previous occupants as the Parisii, but called their new city Lutetia, meaning "marshy place". About fifty years later the city had spread to the left bank of the Seine, now known as the Latin Quarter, and had been renamed "Paris".
Roman rule had ceased by 508, when Clovis the Frank made the city the capital of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks. Viking invasions during the 800s forced the Parisians to build a fortress on the Ile de la Cité. On March 28, 845 Paris was sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris was elected king of France by feudal lords while Charles III was also claiming the throne. Finally, in 987 Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France by the great feudal lords after the last Carolingian king died.
During the 11th century the city spread to the Right Bank. In the 12th and 13th centuries, which included the reign of Philip II Augustus (1180-1223), the city grew strongly. Main thoroughfares were paved, the first Louvre was built as a fortress, and several churches, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, were constructed or begun. Several schools on the Left Bank were grouped together into the Sorbonne, which counts Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas among its early scholars. In the Middle Ages Paris prospered as a trading and intellectual nucleus, interrupted temporarily when the Black Death struck in the 14th century. Under the reign of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, from 1643 to 1715, the royal residence was moved from Paris to nearby Versailles.
In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War ended in a siege of Paris and the Paris Commune, which surrendered in 1871 after a winter of famine and bloodshed. The Eiffel Tower, the best-known landmark in Paris, was built in 1889 in a period of prosperity known as La Belle Époque (The Beautiful period).
In 1900 Paris hosted the 1900 Summer Olympics. In late August 1944 after the battle of Normandy, Paris was liberated when the German general Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered after skirmishes to the French 2nd Armoured Division commanded by Philippe de Hauteclocque backed by the Allies.
Population of Paris
- See main article: Population of Paris
At the 1999 census, the population of the city of Paris (excluding suburbs) was 2,125,246. The population of the metropolitan area of Paris was 11,174,743.
Historically, the population of the city of Paris peaked in 1921, when it reached 2.9 million. However, there has been since then a movement toward living in suburbs, as well as the gentrification of many areas of inner Paris, and the use of available space for offices rather than dwellings, although this phenomenon was not as massive as happened in London or in American cities. These tendencies are controversial, and the current city administration is trying to reverse them.
As a matter of fact, as of February 2004 estimates the population of the city reached 2,142,800 inhabitants, increasing for the first time since 1954.
At the 1999 census, 19.4% of the total population of the metropolitan area were born outside of France; 4.2% of the total population of the metropolitan area were recent migrants (i.e. people who were not living in France in 1990).
The city of Paris is itself a département of France (Paris, 75), part of the Île-de-France région. Paris is divided into twenty numerically arranged districts, the arrondissements. These districts are numbered in a spiral pattern with the 1er arrondissement at the center of the city.
Prior to 1968, département 75 was the Seine département, which contained the city of Paris and its immediate suburbs. The splitting up of the Seine département resulted in the creation of four new départements: Paris proper (75), and three départements (Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne) forming a ring around Paris, often called la petite couronne (i.e. the "small ring", as opposed to the "large ring" of the more distant suburbs of Paris).
As an exception to the normal rules for French cities, some powers normally vested in the mayor of the city are instead vested in a representative of the national government, the Prefecture of Police which also controls the Paris Fire Brigade. As an example, Paris has no municipal police force, though it has some traffic wardens. This is a legacy of the situation that up to 1977, Paris had no mayor and was essentially run by the prefectoral administration.
Citizens of Paris elect in each arrondissement some municipal council members. Each arrondissement has its own council, which elects the mayor of the arrondissement. Some members of the arrondissement councils form the Council of Paris, which elects the mayor of Paris, and has the double functions of a municipal council and the general council of the département.
Unlike other French cities, Paris do not have an intercomunality to govern the whole metropolitan area (ie Paris and its suburbs) and is not supposed to have one any time soon.
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. A third and much smaller airport, at the town of Beauvais, 70km (45 miles) to the north of the city, is used by charter and low-cost airlines. Le Bourget airport nowadays only hosts business jets, air trade shows and the aerospace museum.
Paris is densely covered by a metro system, the Métro, as well as by a large number of bus lines. This interconnects with a high-speed regional network, the RER, and also the train network: commuter lines, national train lines, and the TGV (or derivatives like Thalys or Eurostar for specific destinations). There are two tangential tramway lines in the suburbs: Line T1 runs from Saint-Denis to Noisy-le-Sec , line T2 runs from La Défense to Issy. A third line along the southern orbital road is currently under construction.
Administratively speaking, the public transportation networks of the Paris region are coordinated by the Syndicat des transports d'Île-de-France (STIF), formerly Syndicat des transports parisiens (STP). official site Members of the syndicate include the RATP, which operates the Parisian and some suburban busses, the Métro, and sections of the RER; the SNCF, which operates the rest of the RER and the suburban train lines; and other operators.
The city is the hub of France's motorway network, and is surrounded by an orbital road, the Périphérique. On/off ramps of the Peripherique are called 'Portes', as they correspond to the city gates. Most of these 'Portes' have parking areas and a metro station, where non-residents are advised to leave cars. Traffic in Paris is notoriously heavy, slow and tiresome.
Paris tourist attractions
The river Seine is well known for its tree-lined quais (walks along the river banks), open-air bookstalls and historic bridges that connect the Right and Left banks. Paris is also famous for its tree-lined boulevards such as the Champs-Élysées, and for its many architectural gems.
Places in Paris one may like to visit:
Monuments and buildings
- The Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triomphe - monument at the center of the Place de l'Étoile, commemorating the victories of France and honoring those who died in battle.
- Les Invalides - museum and burial place of many great French soldiers, including Napoleon.
- The Conciergerie - medieval building; former prison where some prominent members of the ancien régime stayed before their death during the French Revolution
- Palais Garnier - home of the Paris Opera, considered by Hitler to be the most beautiful building in the world.
- Cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité
- The Samaritaine Building - department store built at the start of the 20th century
- The Sorbonne - the University of Paris, founded in medieval times
- Statue of Liberty - a smaller version of the New York City harbor statue which France gave to the United States in 1886.
- The Panthéon - beautiful church and tomb of a number of selected great men and women
- Sainte-Chapelle - 13th century Gothic palace chapel.
- Église de la Madeleine
- Place des Vosges - square in the Marais district laid out by Henry IV
- Roue De Paris - temporary ferris wheel, installed 1999 to 2003
- Flame of Liberty public co-opted temporary memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales
- Louvre - a huge museum housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue.
- Musée d'Orsay - an art museum housed in a converted 19th century railway station, contain mainly Impressionist works.
- Centre Georges Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg - houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne and a cultural center with a large public library. Famous for its external skeleton of service pipes.
- Musée Rodin - a large collection of works by France's most famous sculptor
- Musée du Montparnasse in the former residence of artist Marie Vassilieff at 21 Avenue du Maine, details the history of the great artistic community of Montparnasse.
- Musée Cluny, also known as the Musée National du Moyen-Age, houses a large collection of art and artifacts from the Middle Ages, including the tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn.
- Musée Picasso, exhibits nearly 3000 pieces of art by Pablo Picasso as well as art from his own personal collection including works by Cézanne and Matisse.
Streets and other areas within Paris
- Montmartre - historic area on the Butte, home to the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur and also famous for the studios and cafés of many great artists.
- Champs-Élysées - a famous street, a broad boulevard often clogged with tourists.
- Rue de Rivoli - boutiques for tourists
- Place de la Concorde - at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, formerly Place de la Revolution, site of the infamous guillotine and the obelisk.
- Place de la Bastille - where the Bastille prison stood until the Revolution.
- Montparnasse - historic area on the Left Bank, famous for the studios, music-halls, and cafés of artists.
- Père Lachaise Cemetery - a popular tourist site, it contains the graves of many famous French men and women and those from other countries who came to live in France.
- Cimetière de Montmartre
- Cimetière du Montparnasse
- Cimetière de Passy
- Catacombs of Paris
- Les Halles - shopping precinct, includes an important metro connection station.
- Le Marais - trendy district on the Right Bank with large gay and Jewish populations
- List of parks and gardens in Paris
- Canal Saint-Martin
Boutiques, department stores and hotels
- Food stores
- Department stores
- Galeries Lafayette
- Famous hotels:
- Le Lido - cabaret on the Champs-Élysées famous for its exotic shows and where, as an American GI on leave with some army friends, Elvis Presley gave an impromptu concert.
- Bal du Moulin Rouge, Le Crazy Horse Saloon , the Paris Olympia, Folies Bergères, Bobino - famous nightclubs.
- The Buddha Bar , Barfly, Hotel Costes , Georges - trendy upscale restaurant / bars to see and be seen.
In the suburbs and the greater Paris region (Île-de-France)
- Business districts
- La Défense - major office, cinema and shopping complex, west of Paris
- Amusement parks
- Grande Arche de la Défense
- Palace of Versailles - the former royal palace of Louis XIV and later kings, in the town of Versailles to the southeast of Paris. The largest tourist attraction in the world.
- Vaux-le-Vicomte, near Melun, a smaller palace on which Versailles was modeled.
- Saint Denis Basilica - ancient Gothic Cathedral and burial site for many French monarchs, located north of the city.
- 52 BC - Lutetia, later to become Paris, is built by the Gallo-Romans
- 1113 - Pierre Abélard opens his school
- 1163 - Building of Notre Dame begins
- 1257 - The Sorbonne University is founded
- 1682 - Louis XIV moves the French court from the Tuileries palace to Versailles
- July, 1789 - Storming of the Bastille
- Royal family forced from Versailles back to Paris
- 1814 - Paris occupied by the armies of the Sixth Coalition after the fall of Napoleon
- 1815 - Paris is again occupied, this time by the Seventh Coalition, after the end of the Hundred Days
- 1840 - Napoleon's remains are buried at Les Invalides
- 1853 - Baron Haussmann rebuilds the center of Paris
- 1855 - Exposition Universelle (1855)
- 1856 - Congress of Paris is held
- 1867 - Exposition Universelle (1867)
- January 28th, 1871 - Paris Commune falls
- 1878 - Exposition Universelle (1878)
- 1889 - Exposition Universelle (1889) - Eiffel Tower
- 1900 - Exposition Universelle (1900)
- Paris Métro is opened
- 1925 - Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925)
- 1931 - French Colonial Exposition (1931)
- June 13, 1940 - Nazis enter Paris
- August 24, 1944 - Allies liberate the city
- 1968 - Student riots in Paris, combined with a series of strikes by workers across the country, threaten to bring down the Gaullist government
- 1999 - Opening of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Paris hosted the Summer Olympics twice, in 1900 and 1924. The 1998 World Cup was hosted by France; several matches were held in Paris proper at Parc des Princes, and several others, including the final, were held at Stade de France in the suburb of Saint-Denis.
- Official Paris website
- English version of official site)
- Budget Accommodation in Paris
- Photos of Paris in rollers: http://neverland.net/rollingparis
- Wikitravel: Paris
- Paris for Beginners
- Paris Weather Forecast
- Popular Paris Travelguide
- Paris photos
- TripAdvisor.com (Paris)
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