The France Page - Regions
Paris is the capital city of France. It is situated on the River Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region ("Région parisienne"). Paris has an estimated population of 2,153,600 within city limit (2005 est.). The Paris urban area has a population of 9.93 million and a commuter belt around the same completes the Paris "aire urbaine" (roughly: "metropolitan area") that, with its population of 12 million, is one of the most populated areas of its kind in Europe.
Paris' location at a crossroads between land and river trade routes in lands of abundant agriculture had made it one of France's principal cities by the 10th century, rich with royal palaces, wealthy abbeys and a cathedral; by the 12th century Paris had become one of Europe's foremost centres of learning and the arts. Today, Paris is a major influence in politics, fashion, business, arts and science. The city serves as an important hub of intercontinental transportation and is home to universities, sport events, opera companies and museums of international renown, making it an attraction for over 30 million foreign visitors per year.
The earliest signs of permanent habitation in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. Known boatsmen and traders, a sub-tribe of the celtic Senones, the Parisii, settled the area near the river Seine from around 250 BC.
The Roman westward campaigns had conquered the Paris basin in 52 BC. A permanent Roman settlement began towards the end of the same century on Paris' Left Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill and Île de la Cité island, in a town first called Lutetia, but later becoming Gallicised Lutèce. The Gallo-Roman town expanded greatly over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with palaces, a forum, baths, temples, theatres and an amphitheatre.
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.
Around AD 500, Paris was the capital of the Frankish king Clovis I, who commissioned the first cathedral and its first abbey dedicated to his contemporary, later patron saint of the city, Sainte Geneviève. 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 (Siege of Paris (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.
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 can still be seen: 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.
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 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.
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 gathering place of artists from around the world, from exiled Russian composer Stravinsky and Spanish painters Picasso and Dal í 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 in August of 1944. After the Normandy invasion Paris waited for liberation. 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.
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.
Paris is located on a north-bending arc of the river Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité which forms the oldest part of the city. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130 metres (426 ft) above sea level.
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 (municipal boroughs). From its 1860 78 km² (30.1 mi²), these limits expanded marginally to 86.9 km² in the 1920s, 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 metropolitan area extends far 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. Further, beyond the central suburbs, population density drops sharply in the surrounding land; a mix of forest and agriculture dotted with a network of relatively evenly dispersed satellite towns, this 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 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 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.
"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 that Paris is mainly a "flat" city.
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.
Districts and historical centres
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-Élysées, 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 is 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 center around an important metro connection station (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 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.
* 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, ParisTech and the Jussieu university campus make it a major educational center 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. 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 of 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.
Monuments and landmarks
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-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 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 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 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.
Parks and gardens
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 Parisians 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 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.
Paris' cemeteries were on its outskirts upon their 1804 creation. Many of Paris' churches had their own cemeteries, but, by the late 18th century, they were making living conditions unpleasant for nearby housing. Abolished from 1786, all parish cemeteries contents were 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 cemeteries, these have become much-appreciated oases of quiet in a thriving city. Many of Paris's 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.
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.
Paris' 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 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 Parisian 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 'indie' 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.
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 multiplexes with more than 10 or 20 screens in the same building.
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' 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' 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 on the north side of the place de la Concorde from 1909.
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 prised 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.
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 prised tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn.
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.
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 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, held every year on the red clay of the Roland Garros National Tennis Center 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 this years' 2007 Rugby World Cup final at Stade de France on 20 October 2007.
With a 2005 GDP of €478.7 billion (US$595.3 billion), the Paris Area has one of the the highest GDPs in Europe, making it 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 economic 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.).
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 Opéra 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 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 electronics. Over recent decades, the local economy has moved towards high value-added activities, in particular business services.
Demographics within the Paris Region
(according to the INSEE 2005 estimates)
City of Paris
(département 75) 2,153,600
(Depts. 92, 93, 94) 4,254,600
(Depts. 77, 78, 91, 95) 4,991,100
(Paris agglomeration) 9,644,507
(Paris aire urbaine) 11,174,743
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 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, in the name of the French Republic principle of equality among its citizens.
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 région of the District of Paris, renamed the Île-de-France 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.
Emperor Charlemagne from the early 9th century mandated all churches to give lessons in reading, writing and basic arithmetic to their parishes, and cathedrals a higher education in the finer arts of language, physics, music and theology. It was from then that Paris, already one of France's major cathedral towns, began its rise to fame as a scholastic centre. By the early 13th century the île de la Cité Notre-Dame cathedral school had many famous teachers, and the controversial teachings of some of these was behind the creation of a separate Left-Bank Sainte-Genevieve University that would be the centre of Paris' scholastic Latin quarter best represented by the Sorbonne university.
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.
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
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.
Paris Notre-Dame Cathedral was the first center 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 University of Paris 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 Collège de Sorbonne. 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; and the The American Business School of Paris.
The Paris region hosts France's highest concentration of grandes écoles, or prestigious centres of higher specialised education outside the public university structure. Note that the prestigious public universities are usually considered grands établissements. 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 Paris Institute of Technology (ParisTech) which is composed of several colleges such as the famous École Polytechnique, École des Mines, Télécom Paris, and École des Ponts et Chaussées, 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.
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 center of an autoroute system, high-speed train network and, through its two major airports, a hub of international air travel.
The public transit 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 inaugurating 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, in the city proper, T-3, between Pont du Garigliano and Porte d'Ivry, along the southern inner orbital road opened for use on December 15, 2006.
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.
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.
Water and sanitation
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 Baron 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.
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