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File:Tour eiffel at sunrise from the trocadero.jpg
The Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of Paris throughout the world.


Paris is the capital and largest city of France. Located on the river Seine in the country's north, it is a major cultural and political centre of Europe and the world's most visited city.

Its nickname, "the City of Light" (la Ville Lumière), dates from 1828 when it became the first city in Europe to light its main boulevards with gas street lamps along its Champs-Élysées. The city of Paris is also widely referred to as the "most romantic city in the world."

As a cultural and political centre for Europe since the early Middle Ages, Paris preserves many vestiges of its past. While hosting numerous art galleries, museums and theatres, it has grown into a significant centre of international trade with ever-growing modern business districts, including La Défense, the de facto city centre built for the purpose. In addition to the head offices of nearly half of all France's companies and the offices of many major international firms, Paris hosts the headquarters of many international trade and social organisations, including the OECD and UNESCO.

The city of Paris proper has 2.1 million inhabitants [1], but its centre of influence extends to cover a "Greater Paris" metropolitan area that has a population of 11.1 million [2], over one sixth of the French population. Paris is the third largest metropolitan area in Europe (after Moscow and London), and approximately the 22nd most populous metropolitan area in the world.

The Île-de-France région, of which Paris is the capital, produces over a quarter of France's wealth, with a GDP of nearly €450 billion [3].

Because of its financial, business, political, and tourism activities, Paris today is one of the world's major transport destinations. Along with New York, London and Tokyo, it is often listed as one of the four major global cities.

Template:Clearright Template:Paris infobox



Paris is pronounced Template:IPA (RP) or Template:IPA in English, and File:Ltspkr.png[[Media:Paris1.ogg|Template:IPA]] in French.

The original Latin name of Paris was Lutetia (Template:IPA), or Lutetia Parisiorum, known in French as Lutèce (Template:IPA). 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.

Traditionally, Paris was known as Paname (Template:IPA) in French slang, but this vulgar appellation is gradually losing currency. (Template:Audio.)


The inhabitants of Paris are known as Parisians in English, as Parisiens (File:Ltspkr.png[[Media:Parisien2.ogg|Template:IPA]]) in French. The pejorative term Parigot (File:Ltspkr.png[[Media:Parigot.ogg|Template:IPA]]) is sometimes used in French slang.

Locally, inhabitants of the Paris suburbs are known as banlieusards (File:Ltspkr.png[[Media:Banlieusard0.ogg|Template:IPA]]). Inhabitants of the whole Paris metropolitan area are known as Franciliens (File:Ltspkr.png[[Media:Francilien.ogg|Template:IPA]]), i.e. from Île-de-France.



Paris is located at Template:Coor dms (48.866667, 2.333056). The city straddles a north-bending arc of the river Seine. This waterway features two islands within the city, the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis, of which the latter is the larger and the Capital's heart and origin.


The city (commune) of Paris proper has an area of 105.398 km² (40.69 mi², 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 mi², or 21,480 acres), being in the form of an almost regular oval, 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.

Limits of the metropolitan area (aire urbaine) of Paris in 1999, with the city of Paris in red at the center. Population figures are for 2005.

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). By comparison, Greater London has an area of 1,572 km² (607 mi²), and New York City has an area of 786 km² (303 mi²). This peculiar fact arises because, unlike other large western cities such as New York, London, or Berlin, whose territories were enlarged in the 20th century, the borders of Paris have not been changed since 1860 when Napoleon III and the prefect Haussmann annexed the then suburban communes surrounding Paris, such as Montmartre and Auteuil, more than doubling the the city's area to 78 km² (30.1 mi²), and creating the 20 arrondissements of Paris. Since 1860, the limits of Paris have only marginally changed, reaching the 86.9 km² 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 outside the city of Paris proper, and it can be more accurately compared to the borough of Manhattan (59.5 km²/23 mi²) or to Inner London (319 km²/123 mi²). Even the largest business and financial district of Paris, known as La Défense, is outside the city boundary.

The urban area (unité urbaine) of Paris, i.e. the contiguous built-up area, extends past the administrative city limits to cover 2,723 km² (1,051.4 mi²) (INSEE 1999), or an area about 26 times larger than the city itself. The metropolitan area (aire urbaine) of Paris, i.e. the built-up area plus the commuter belt, reaches in part beyond the surrounding Île-de-France administative région to cover 14,518 km² (5,605.5 mi²) (INSEE 1999), or an area 138 times larger than the city of Paris.


Main article: Topography of Paris

The altitude of Paris varies, with several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130m above sea level. 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 metres (640 ft) above sea-level.


The lowest temperature ever recorded in Paris (since meteorological records began in 1873) was on December 10, 1879: –23.9 °C (–11.0 °F) in central Paris and –25.6 °C (–14.1 °F) in the southeastern suburb of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés .

The highest temperature was recorded on July 28, 1947 when the temperature in central Paris (Parc Montsouris) reached 40.4 °C (104.7 °F). During the European heat wave of 2003, which caused the death of many elderly people in France, the temperature in central Paris reached "only" 38.1 °C (100.6 °F) (Parc Montsouris) and 40.2 °C (104.4 °F) at Le Bourget Airport in the northern suburbs. However, a record high night-time minimum of 25.5 °C (77.9 °F) in Parc Montsouris was set on August 11 and August 12, 2003, the highest minimum temperature at night ever registered in Paris.


Main article: History of Paris


The area of Paris was settled by the Celtic Parisii from around 250 BC. These people, known as boatmen and traders, established their settlement at the Île de la Cité, a convenient river crossing and platform to control commerce all along the river, although there are now doubts among historians as to the exact location of their settlement.

Roman armies conquered the region in 52 BC and chose the lands away from the floods of the river atop the Left Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill for their city of Lutetia. The city spread and even prospered during the ensuing period of peaceful Gallo-Roman cohabitation, but third-century Germanic invasions sent it into a period of decline, and by 400 AD Lutetia was but a garrison town entrenched into its hastily fortified central island. It was in the last years of Roman occupation that the city reclaimed its original name of Paris.

The conquering Germanic king of the Franks, Clovis, established Paris as his capital in 512, and commissioned the city’s first Saint-Etienne cathedral and Sainte-Geneviève Abbey. With the division of the Frankish kingdom following Clovis' death, Paris became capital of a kingdom one quarter its former size, and by the Carolingian dynasty (9th century), it had become little more than a feudal county stronghold.

Middle Ages

During the Carolingian dynasty, the counts of Paris rose to prominence in the kingdom to finally wield more power than the kings of France. Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, was elected King of France in 987, founding a new Capetian dynasty whose rulers would raise Paris over rival cities to become France's capital from the early 12th century. It was because of their role in defending France against 9th century Viking attacks that the counts of Paris had risen to such fame, but unfortunately for the city itself the invaders had levelled the Left Bank old Roman city to a state of irreparable stone ruin. After drying marshlands that had previously made the land uninhabitable, Paris began to grow on its Right Bank.

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 whose teachings would bring the city fame and immigration from all of Europe. It is during this period that the city's modern spatial distribution of activities appeared: the central island housed government and ecclesiastical institutions, the Left Bank became a scholastic centre with the University of Paris and colleges, while the Right Bank developed as the centre of commerce and trade around its central Les Halles marketplace.

During the Hundred Year's War, Paris was occupied by the Burgundians, allies of the English, and Joan of Arc failed to reconquer the city in 1429. After French reconquest in 1437, Paris was abandoned by the kings of France who preferred to reside in the Loire Valley. During the French Wars of Religion, Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party, culminating in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (1572). It was King Henry IV who reestablished the royal court in Paris in 1594 after he had captured the city from the Catholic party. During the Fronde, Paris rose in insurrection and the royal family had to flee the city (1648). King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles in 1682.

During the French Revolution, Paris was the centre stage of French history, with notably the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the overthrow of monarchy in 1792.

Nineteenth century

The Industrial Revolution, the French Second Empire, and the Belle Époque brought Paris the greatest development in its history. From the 1840s, rail transport and train stations spilled an unprecedented flow of immigration into Paris. A majority of migrants found employment in the new industries appearing in the suburbs. The city itself underwent a massive renovation under Napoleon III and his préfet Haussmann, who, in levelling entire districts of narrow-winding medieval streets, created the network of wide avenues and neo-classical facades that make much of modern Paris.

"Haussmann"-style avenue and architecture

Paris suffered greatly from the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and the Siege of Paris by Prussian troops, which brought famine and destruction to the city. The ensuing Commune of Paris events (1871) brought scenes of civil war and devastation into the very heart of the city.

Despite grim predictions on the future of the city, Paris recovered rapidly from these events to host the famous Universal Expositions of the late 19th century. Built for the French Revolution centennial 1889 Universal Exposition as a "temporary" display of architectural engineering prowess, the Eiffel Tower 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 consecrated its position in the tourist industry and as an attractive setting for international technology and trade shows.

World Wars' Years

During World War I, Paris was at the forefront of the war effort, having been spared a German invasion by the French and English 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, as well as its nightlife. From Russian exiled artists (such as composer Igor Stravinsky), to Spanish painters (such as Picasso or Dalí), to US writers (such as Hemingway), Paris became a melting pot of artists from all around the world.

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 there until Free French troops of General Leclerc liberated the city in late August 1944. It was one of few European cities fortunate enough to suffer almost no war damage at all, thanks in part to the refusal of the German military commander, General von Choltitz, to carry out Hitler's direct order to destroy all monuments before evacuating the city.

Modern Era

In the post-WWII era, Paris experienced its largest development since the end of the Belle Époque in 1914. The suburbs around the city of Paris proper 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, the expressway circling around the city of Paris proper.

Many inner suburbs of Paris (especially the eastern ones) have been in a period of de-industrialisation since the 1970s, and the once-thriving cités have gradually become ghettos for immigrants and oases of unemployment. The widening social gap between these disadvantaged suburbs on the one hand and the wealthier suburbs (especially the western ones) and the rich city of Paris on the other hand have led to periodic unrest since the mid-1980s, sometimes degenerating into riots such as during the 2005 riots.

The future: muséification?

A so-called "muséification" (museumification) of the city of Paris is feared by some in France. Only 18.5% of "Parisians" actually live in the city of Paris proper, as is explained in the demographics section below. All airports, the largest financial and business district (La Défense), 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 even some ministries (Ministry of Transportation) are located outside of the city of Paris. Emblematically, even the National Archives of France are due to relocate to the northern suburbs before 2010.

It is feared that the city of Paris is being slowly "embalmed" for tourists and Amélie nostalgists, with the real economic activity and 21st century development taking place elsewhere in the metropolitan area. With some of the most stringent protection laws in the world, and after the ill-renowned urbanistic experiences of the 1960s, it is difficult to build architecturally innovative buildings on a large scale inside the city. Recent proposals by Paris' new mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, to gather the most renowned architects in the world to build skyscrapers on the outskirts of the city center (but inside the city proper), have been met with strong opposition on all sides. Delanoë wished to soften the traditional building height limit and build upwards to compensate for the lack of space on the ground, as was done in Manhattan. The project also aimed to revitalise Paris in the 21st century, rivaling world cities like Shanghai, or even London where city planners have started building aesthetically acclaimed skyscrapers inside the City. The expected failure of the project is interpreted in France as yet another sign of the muséification of the city.


File:Paris iss.jpg
Paris from space, April 2002. The River Seine winds its way through the center of the image. The gray regions are the urban areas. The surrounding patchwork of green, brown and tan is farmland.
Main article: Demographics of Paris


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 those of most western cities, which are rarely as crowded as Paris (except for Manhattan). The density in Paris is comparable to the densities met within 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).

Population Growth

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. As for the metropolitan area, it reached approximately 11.5 million inhabitants in 2004, growing twice as fast in the 2000s as it did in the 1990s. The metropolitan area of Paris has been in continuous expansion since the end of the French Wars of Religion at the end of the 16th century (with only brief setbacks during the French Revolution and World War II).

As can be seen from the figures, only 18.5% of the inhabitants of the metropolitan area of Paris live inside the city of Paris. Visitors to Paris, who mostly stay within the city, are rarely aware that 81.5% of "Parisians" actually live outside of the city itself, in its sprawling suburbs. A majority of Parisians also work outside of the city proper: at the 1999 census, there were 5,089,179 jobs in the metropolitan area of Paris, of which 67.5% were located outside the city. These peculiar facts are due to the conservativeness of French administrative limits (see Geography section above).

See also: Historical population tables


The metropolitan area of Paris is one of the most multi-cultural in Europe, with 19.4% of the total population of the metropolitan area being born outside of metropolitan France[4]. As a comparison, 19.5% of the total population of the metropolitan area of London was born outside of the (metropolitan) United Kingdom[5], while 27.5% and 31.9% of the total populations of the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas respectively were born outside of the United States[6].

As of 1999, 4.2% of the total population of the metropolitan area of Paris were recent migrants (i.e. people who were not living in France in 1990). The most recent immigrants to Paris come essentially from mainland China and from Africa.


Main article: Economy of Paris. See main article for references concerning the figures cited here.


File:La Défense3.jpg
Paris as an engine of the global economy: La Défense (in the background), one of the the largest business districts of Europe.

The metropolitan area of Paris is one of the engines of the global economy. In 2003 the GDP of the metropolitan area of Paris as calculated by INSEE and Eurostat was €448,933 million, or US$506.7 billion (at real exchange rates, not at PPP). If it were a country, the metropolitan area of Paris would be the 15th largest economy in the world (as of 2003), above Brazil (US$492.3 billion) and Russia (US$432.9 billion).

Year in, year out, the metropolitan area of Paris accounts for about 29% of the total GDP of metropolitan France, although its population is only 18.7% of the total population of metropolitan France (as of 2004). In 2002, according to Eurostat, the GDP of the metropolitan area of Paris accounted alone for 4.5% of the total GDP of the European Union (of 25 members), although its population is only 2.45% of the total population of the EU25.

Although in terms of population the Paris metropolitan area is only approximately the 20th largest metropolitan area in the world, its GDP is the sixth largest in the world after the metropolitan areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, London and Osaka.

At the 1999 census there were 5,089,170 persons employed in the metropolitan area of Paris, 31.5% of whom worked inside the city of Paris proper and 16% in the Hauts-de-Seine (92) département, home of the new La Défense business district, to the west of the city proper, while the remaining 52.5% worked in the suburbs.

Economic sectors

The economy of Paris is extremely diverse and has not yet adopted a specialization inside the global economy (unlike Los Angeles with the entertainment industry, or London with financial services). The tourism industry, for instance, employs only 3.6% of the total workforce of the metropolitan area (as of 1999) and is by no means a major component of the economy. The Paris economy is essentially a service economy. Its manufacturing base is still important, the Paris metropolitan area remaining one of the manufacturing powerhouses of Europe, but it is declining, while there is a clear shift of the Paris economy towards high value-added services, in particular business services.

Reflecting the diversity of the Paris economy, at the 1999 census 16.5% of the 5,089,170 persons employed in the metropolitan area 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), the remaining 68.1% of the manufacturing workforce being distributed among many other industries.


File:Par Arr.jpg
The arrondissments of Paris

Paris as a commune

Administratively speaking, the city of Paris is a French commune (municipality). It is divided into twenty municipal arrondissements (see: Arrondissements of Paris), numbered in a clockwise spiral outwards from the Ier arrondissement at the center of the city. Two parks on the edge of the city proper, Bois de Boulogne on the west and Bois de Vincennes on the east, belong to the 16th and 12th arrondissements respectively.

Citizens of each arrondissement elect a local council (conseil d'arrondissement), which in turn elects the mayor of the arrondissement. A selection of members from each arrondissement council form the Council of Paris (Conseil de Paris). The Council of Paris elects the mayor of Paris, a position created in 1977.

Paris has yet to completely emerge from the centralized administrative system created by Napoleon in 1800: public order is still in the hands of the State appointed prefect of Police (as is the Paris Fire Brigade) and Paris has no municipal police force, although it does have its own traffic wardens.

See also: Paris mayors (comprehensive list), Arrondissements of Paris

Paris as a département

As well as being a single commune, the city of Paris is also a département (official number: 75), which is a unique status in France solely introduced for the capital city. The Council of Paris, presided by the Mayor of Paris, is the single council for both authorities, meeting either as municipal council (conseil municipal) or as departmental council (conseil général) depending on the issue to be debated.

The State appointed prefect of Paris, not to be confused with the above mentioned prefect of Police, is the representative of the French State in the Paris département, in charge of the control of legality, as is the case in other French départements. The prefect of Paris is at the same time regional prefect of Île-de-France, in charge of some economic development and urban planning issues for the whole région of Île-de-France, which encompasses Paris and all its suburbs.

File:Ile-de-France jms.jpg
The eight départements of the Île-de-France région and the statistical metropolitan area of Paris

Number 75 was once the official number of the Seine département, which encompassed the city of Paris and its nearest suburbs. In 1968, Seine was split into four new départements: the city of Paris proper (which retained the number 75) and three départements (Hauts-de-Seine (92), Seine-Saint-Denis (93) and Val-de-Marne (94)) forming a ring around Paris often called petite couronne (i.e. "small ring"), as opposed to the grande couronne (i.e. "large ring") of the more distant suburbs of Paris.

The Prefecture of Police jurisdiction, which used to be the whole Seine département, is now limited to Paris proper, but for some matters (such as fire protection or rescue operations) it still covers the three départements of the petite couronne. On the other hand, the jurisdiction of the Prefecture of Paris, previously called Prefecture of the Seine (before 1968), is now strictly limited to the city of Paris.

Paris as the prefecture of Île-de-France

Paris is also the préfecture, or capital city, of the Île-de-France région which was created in 1976, replacing a District of the Paris Region which had been created in 1961. This région encompasses the city of Paris, its suburbs, and most of the commuting belt beyond. It is made up of eight départements: the city of Paris itself (as a département), the three départements of the petite couronne already mentioned, and another concentric circle of four larger départements (Val-d'Oise (95), Yvelines (78), Essonne (91) and Seine-et-Marne (77)) which form the grande couronne.

The city of Paris, the seven départements of petite couronne and grande couronne, and the Île-de-France région all have their own separate administrations. The hundreds of suburban communes around the city of Paris also each have their separate administrations, which accounts for the extreme complexity of the administrative grid in the metropolitan area of Paris. There are currently plans to create a metropolitan structure that would cover the city of Paris and some of its suburbs in order to increase administrative efficiency. The current socialist municipality of Paris is pushing forward the idea of a loose "metropolitan conference" (conférence métropolitaine), while some in the right wing opposition propose the creation of a more integrated Grand Paris (i.e. "Greater Paris"). This issue may be a central one in the next municipal election in 2008.


File:Paris europe train map.png
Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. Click above to see journey times for the fastest train connections to the rest of Europe.

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.

File:Paris Gare de Lyon dsc03797.jpg
The Gare de Lyon, one of six train stations in Paris

Paris is a central hub of the national rail network of very fast (TGV) and normal (Corail) trains, which interconnects with a high-speed regional network, the RER. 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 underground metro system, the Métro. This latter is a network of 380 stations (more than the London Underground) connected by 221.6km of rails

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.

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 also the hub of France's motorway network, and is surrounded by an orbital road, the Périphérique, which roughly follows the path of final, 19th-century fortifications around Paris. On/off ramps of the Périphérique are called 'Portes', as they correspond to the former city gates in these fortifications. 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.

See also: Transport in France

Cultural Centres and Organisations

Top ten tourist attractions in Paris in 2004 [7]
(million of visitors)
Notre Dame de Paris cathedral 12,800,000
Disneyland Resort Paris 12,400,000
Basilica of the Sacré Cœur,
Louvre Museum 6,600,398
Eiffel Tower 6,229,993
Centre Georges Pompidou 5,368,548
Palace of Versailles 3,300,200
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie,
Parc de la Villette
Musée d'Orsay 2,590,316
Parc Astérix 1,800,000[8]

Monuments and Landmarks

Main article: Paris landmarks

The three most famous landmarks of Paris are almost certainly the Eiffel Tower, originally a "temporary" construction for the 1889 Universal Expositon, the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte and the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, a 12th-century ecclesiastical masterpiece. Other than the Eiffel Tower, the lone skyscraper Tour Montparnasse and Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on the hill Montmartre are easily visible from many locations around the city, while the window-shaped Grande Arche in La Défense marks the west.

File:Mona Lisa.jpg
The Mona Lisa, one of the Louvre's most famous treasures.
The Pompidou Centre's famous external skeleton of service pipes.


Main article: List of museums in Paris

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.

Historical Centres

  • 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 17th-century garden promenade turned Avenue connection between the Concorde and Arc de Triomphe.
  • Place de la Concorde - at the foot of the Champs-Élysées, built as the "Place Louis XV" site of the infamous guillotine. The Egyptian obleisk it holds today can be considered Paris's "oldest monument".
  • Place de la Bastille - Former eastern stronghold and gate of Paris.
  • Montparnasse - historic area on the Left Bank, famous for the its artists studios, music-halls, and café life.
  • Quartier Latin - Paris's scholastic center from the 12th century, formerly stretching between the Left Bank's place Maubert and the Sorbonne university.
The Statue of Liberty copy on the river Seine in Paris. Given to the city in 1885, it faces west, toward the original Liberty in New York 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

Parks and Gardens

Main article: List of parks and gardens in Paris.

Two of Paris's most famous gardens are the Tuileries Garden on the banks of the Seine next to the Louvre and the centrally-located Luxembourg Garden, which used to belong to a château built for the Marie de' Medici. During the Second Empire, Napoleon III created three vast gardens on the outskirts of Paris: Montsouris, Buttes Chaumont in the northeast, and Parc Monceau, formerly known as the folie de Chartres, in the northwest. On the western and eastern perimeters respectively are the two "forests", the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes.


Main article: Paris districts

Boutiques, Department Stores and Hotels

File:Channel headquarters.jpg
Chanel Headquarters, Paris.

Paris is famous for gastronomical establishments like Fauchon (delicatessen), near the Église de la Madeleine, or Berthillon (ice cream) on Île-Saint-Louis.

Its department stores, e.g. Galeries Lafayette, Samaritaine (currently closed) or Printemps, are remarkable not only for the wide range of items they sell but also for their 19th-century or Art Nouveau architecture.

Paris also hosts a number of famous hotels. The most prestigious are probably the Hôtel de Crillon on Place de la Concorde, and the nearby Hôtel Ritz Paris on Place Vendôme.

Paris is home to some of the most famous and luxurious brand names in the fashion industry like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Dior and Givenchy.



Paris's main sports clubs are the football club Paris Saint-Germain, the basketball team Paris Basket Racing and the Rugby union club Stade Français. The 80,000-seat Stade de France was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and is used for football and rugby.

Paris hosted the 1900 and 1924 Olympic Games.


  1. ^  Template:Fr icon INSEE. Recensement de la population 1999. Paris. "Population totale par sexe et âge". Retrieved December 1, 2005.
  2. ^  Template:Fr icon INSEE. Recensement de la population 1999. Île-de-France. "Population totale par sexe et âge". Retrieved December 1, 2005.
  3. ^  Template:Fr icon INSEE - Comptes régionaux - données 2003 semi-définitives en base 2 000. "Produit intérieur brut (PIB) à prix courants.". Retrieved December 1, 2005.
  4. ^  Template:Fr icon ORTIF - "Chiffres clés du tourisme 2004 en Île-de-France", page 5
  5. ^  Template:Fr icon France2 web article - "Ouverture du Parc Astérix pour sa 17e saison". Retrieved December 17, 2005.
  6. ^ France census 1999
  7. ^ U.K. census 2001
  8. ^ U.S. census 2000



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