Port and capital of France, on the River Seine; département (Ville de Paris) in the Île-de-France region; area of the agglomération parisienne (comprising the Ville de Paris, which is divided into 20 arrondissements and surrounding suburbs) 105 sq km/40.5 sq mi; population Ville de Paris (2002 est) 2,113,000; agglomération parisienne (2002 est) 11,293,200. The city is the core of a highly centralized national administration, a focus of
European transport networks, and France's leading centre for education, research, finance, and industry. Manufactured products include metal, electrical and luxury goods, chemicals, glass, and tobacco. As one of the world's principal historic and cultural centres, Paris attracts enormous numbers of tourists throughout the year.
The Île de la Cité, the largest of the Seine islands and the nucleus of modern Paris, was the capital of the Parisii, a Celtic people. It was occupied by Julius Caesar in 53 BC, and became known as Lutetia Parisiorum. In AD 451 Attila attempted to enter the city but is said to have been halted by the prayer of St Geneviève, who became the city's patron saint. The Merovingian king Clovis made Paris the capital in about AD 508, and the city became important under the Capetian kings 987-1328. Paris was occupied by the English 1420-36, and was besieged by Henry IV of France 1590-94.
The Bourbon kings did much to beautify the city. Louis XIV built many magnificent buildings but lost the loyalty of the populace by moving the court to Versailles. The French Revolution began in Paris in 1789 with the storming and destruction of the Bastille. Napoleon I, as emperor from 1804, undertook to modernize the city and added new boulevards, bridges, and triumphal arches, as did Napoleon III (emperor 1852-70). Paris was the centre of the revolutions of 1789-94, 1830, and 1848. The medieval heart of the city was redesigned by the French administrator Baron Haussmann 1853-70 and the modern layout of boulevards, avenues, and parks established. It was besieged by Prussia 1870-71, and by government troops during the Commune period (a local socialist government) March-May 1871.
During World War I Paris suffered from air raids and bombardment, and in World War II it was occupied by German troops from June 1940 until August 1944. The German commandant, General Cholitz, ignored Hitler's order to defend Paris at all costs to avoid causing large-scale damage to the city. Aerial bombardment mainly affected suburban railway installations and some factory sites. In 1968, Paris was the scene of serious disorders, which began with a student strike; the demonstrations nearly toppled Charles De Gaulle's Fifth Republic. Large-scale architectural projects of note were again undertaken during the presidency of François Mitterrand (1981-95).
The River Seine is spanned by 32 bridges, the oldest of which is the Pont Neuf (1578). Churches include Notre Dame cathedral built 1163-1250; the Hôtel des Invalides, housing the tomb of Napoleon; the Gothic Sainte-Chapelle; and the late 19th-century basilica of Sacré-Cœur, 125 m/410 ft high, consecrated in 1919. Notable buildings include the Palais de Justice, the Hôtel de Ville, and the Palais du Luxembourg and its gardens. The former palace of the Louvre (with its glass pyramid entrance by I M Pei 1989) is one of the world's major art galleries; the Musée d'Orsay (opened in 1986) has Impressionist and other paintings from the period 1848-1914; the Pompidou Centre (the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, 1977) in the Beaubourg quartier exhibits modern art.
Other landmarks are the Tuileries (the gardens in front of the Louvre), the Place de la Concorde, the Eiffel Tower, and the Champs-Élysées avenue leading to the Arc de Triomphe. To the west is the Bois de Boulogne and, beyond the river, La Défense business centre with the Grande Arche (1989) by Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen; Montmartre is in the north of the city; to the northeast is the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, and in the northern suburbs the abbey of St-Denis containing the royal tombs. The Sorbonne, founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, was an important centre of theological learning and was one of the schools opened on the Left Bank that were eventually organized into the University of Paris. Work began in 1990 on the New Bibliothèque Nationale (opened in 1997), designed by French architect Dominique Perrault. Euro Disney, renamed Disneyland Paris in 1995, opened 32 km/20 mi to the east of the city centre in 1992.
Location and geography
Situated in a basin of the Île-de-France, a fertile alluvial plain formed in recent geological times, the city occupies both banks of a loop of the Seine, about 175 km/110 mi from its mouth at Le Havre on the English Channel. It is strategically positioned on the river networks of France, lying near the confluence of the Oise, Marne, and Yonne with the Seine, and the junction of the Rhône-Seine waterway, which links the Mediterranean and the Channel with land routes from southwest France and Spain.
The greater part of the city lies on the Right Bank, enclosed by a sweep of low hills known as the Collines de Paris. On the Left Bank, the land rises gently to the Butte aux Cailles, Montsouris, Montrouge, and Montagne Ste-Geneviève. Elevation above sea level varies from 26 to 125 m/85 to 410 ft, the highest point being the Butte de Montmartre in the Collines. The draining of the Marais, an area of reclaimed marshland in the inner city, took place mainly in the early Middle Ages. Of the numerous islets originally located in the Seine, only three remain: the Île de la Cité; the Île St-Louis (formerly the Île aux Vaches); and the Île des Cygnes, bridging point for the Auteuil viaduct.
The climate is temperate, with an even distribution of annual precipitation. Temperatures in July average 25°C/77°F, and in January 7°C/45°F.
Paris is the leading industrial centre in France, with about a quarter of the country's manufacturing capacity based in its region. Factories are sited along major railway lines, canals, and the banks of the Seine, although planned decentralization of industry has encouraged relocation from the inner areas to the surrounding départements, new satellite cities, and elsewhere. Despite the reduced role of manufacturing in the city's economy, the range of products remains enormous, from books, furniture, fashionwear, and luxury items to chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cars, aircraft, electrical, and metalware. The haute couture fashion trade is centred on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and traditional handicraft activities are located in the eastern quarters of Paris; jewellery and leather is fashioned in the Marais, and furniture crafted in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.
The port of Paris (port autonome de Paris) consists of port sites along the Seine in the Ville de Paris and, increasingly, sites to the west of the city in the Île-de-France. An average of 25,000,000 tons of goods (mainly building materials, cereals, coal and oil products) was handled per year in the 1990s. Paris remains the third-busiest river port in France after Strasbourg and Rouen, although some of the trans-shipment originally conducted through the port of Paris has now transferred to road and rail transport. However, taking all the quays together, the Paris region forms the largest centre for river cargo in the country. The principal wholesale market is at Rungis, near Orly Airport.
Employment in the service industries is constantly expanding, not only in the central business district of Paris but also in suburban growth points such as the La Défense business centre to the west, and the office complex of Le Grand Ponant (1989), constructed on part of the site of a former Citroën factory (closed as part of the rationalization of the car industry in Franc), with the remainder of the site being converted into a garden. About 75% of all Parisians live in the suburbs, and it is in these areas that a high-tech industry and research centres were built up between 1957 and 1989. In 2002, nearly 700 corporations had offices here, including ten of France's leading 20 businesses. The retail sector has also expanded, with suburban and out-of-town shopping centres (as at La Défense and Créteil). Business management, banking, finance, and tourism are prominent growth areas. Recent government policy has emphasized decentralization, with companies seeking out greenfield sites. Paris is also the country's media centre, with national and local radio and television stations, and newspaper and publishing industries.
Urban structure and population
For administrative purposes, the city is divided into 20 arrondissements, each of which is subdivided into four quartiers. Other areas also known as quartiers, along with faubourgs (‘suburbs’), represent old communities which have been absorbed within the city's boundaries. Traditional quartiers do not always coincide with an administrative counterpart, and may be named after a settlement (Montmartre), buildings (Les Halles), or other feature; the university area of the Latin Quarter was named after the language used by the scholarship students until 1789. Faubourgs take their name from former associated villages, such as Faubourg Saint-Germain. The city is a commune as well, and its mayor is also prefect of the département and thus has a politically powerful role. Outside the city of Paris, the suburbs are known as the banlieue. Dormitory settlements and satellite cities spread out into bordering départements in the Île-de-France region, which in 1990 had a population of over 10.5 million.
Paris is one of the most densely populated cities in the world; over a fifth of France's population is concentrated in the Paris region. In the city, numbers are declining with the reduction of housing in redevelopment areas, but the suburbs and neighbouring départements are growing steadily, mainly due to migration from the provinces and overseas territories. Workers from Eastern Europe, Italy, Spain, and Portugal; people from former colonies such as Algeria and Indo-China; and refugees, particularly from southeast Asia and South America, contribute to the expansion. Ethnic groups have congregated in certain sectors of the city, such as the predominantly North African and Black African Goutte d'Or in northeastern Paris, and the largely Cambodian and Vietnamese 13th arrondissement. In 2002, immigrants constituted almost one-fifth of the city's population. Jewish communities are long-established in the city; the most distinctive is around the Rue des Rosiers in the Marais.
Paris as an administrative centre
Both branches of the two-chambered legislature of France are located in the city; the national assembly is housed at the Palais Bourbon, and the senate at the Palais du Luxembourg. The president of the republic, head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and guardian of the constitution, resides at the Palais de l'Élysée. Other national government and legislative bodies include the Palais de Justice, the Préfecture de Police, and the Tribunal de Commerce.
Local government for inner Paris is centred on the Hôtel de Ville. The city council, headed by an elected mayor, is also responsible for the département of Paris, whose prefect heads the regional council as prefect of the Île-de-France. The titular head of the city's Roman Catholic archbishopric, normally a cardinal, is primate of the region.
Paris is also the headquarters of a number of international bodies, including UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; Interpol, a European agency for police forces; and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Buildings, boulevards, and open spaces
The old city is confined to a roughly oval shape by the lines of its former fortifications, successive circuits of defensive walls which are now marked by boulevards. The walls of the 1840s have been replaced by the boulevard périphérique. Broad stone embankments line the course of the Seine. Much of the neoclassical architecture of Paris was constructed during the refurbishments of the Napoleonic period and later, during the Second Empire, when Baron Haussmann laid out parks, bridges, and boulevards, and raised the city's skyline with six- and seven-storey buildings. In recent years, bold and imaginative examples of modern architecture have enlivened the city landscape (including the 110 m/360 ft-high Grande Arche, a hollow, white marble cube, and a mussel-shaped exhibition centre).
The original settlement of Paris occupied the Île de la Cité, site of the Romanesque and Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame (1163-1250), and the elegant Sainte-Chapelle (1248), walled almost entirely with exquisite stained glass windows. Other island features are the Palais de Justice, a royal palace until 1358, which was extended with a new wing in 1911-14; and the Conciergerie, the oldest prison in Paris, where Marie-Antoinette and other figures of the French Revolution awaited the guillotine in the Place de la Concorde.
On the Right Bank (rive droite) of the Seine, broad, tree-planted boulevards mark the old city ramparts of Louis XIII to the north and Philip Augustus (Philip II) to the south. Within this boundary lie the Louvre, originally an early 13th-century fortress guarding the city's western flank; and the Tuileries Gardens, former site of a palace of Catherine de Medici. To the west, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées runs from the Place de
la Concorde to Napoleon's monumental Arc de Triomphe on the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly d'Étoile ‘star’ after its twelve radiating avenues). One of the most fashionable residential areas in Paris extends along the Right Bank of the Seine, south of the Champs-Élysées.
North of the Tuileries and Louvre are the government buildings of the Ministry of Culture, housed in the 17th-century Palais-Royal, and the Ministry of Justice; the Vendôme Column, bearing a statue of Napoleon, and the Bourse, home of the French stock market. The neo-baroque Opéra (1875), which has the world's largest stage, is now known as the Opéra-Garnier after its architect Charles Garnier (1825-1898) to distinguish it from the Opéra-Bastille (1990), a 3,000-seat opera house. Churches beyond the inner boulevards include the neoclassical Madeleine (1814) and the hilltop basilica of Sacré-Coeur (1873), which dominates Montmartre, the old ‘artists' quarter’ on the northern edge of the city. The dance hall of the Moulin Rouge (1900) is one of the hill's two surviving windmills. In the northern suburbs, the early 12th-century abbey of St-Denis was the coronation venue and burial place of the kings of France.
East of the Louvre are the quartiers Les Halles, Beaubourg, and the Marais. Les Halles market, until 1969 the wholesale food market of Paris, is now the Forum des Halles, an underground shopping mall, with arts and crafts galleries constructed above. The principal architectural features of the Beaubourg are the Pompidou Centre, a great exhibition and library building, and the Tour St-Jacques, starting point of the medieval pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Marais is fringed by the Place de la Bastille, site of a former fortress and state prison; its bronze Colonne de Juillet, surmounted by a gilded statue of liberty, commemorates the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. Notable buildings include the Opéra-Bastille; the Renaissance-style Hôtel de Ville, restored after fire damage in 1871; and the 18th-century Palais Soubise, which houses the Archives Nationales. At Ménilmontant, about 2 km/1 mi beyond the boulevards to the northeast, is the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, opened in 1804; among the many celebrated figures buried within its grounds are Sarah Bernhardt, Molière, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, and Jim Morrison of the Doors rock band.
On the south bank or Left Bank (rive gauche) of the Seine is the quartier latin (‘Latin Quarter’). Occupying an area formerly enclosed by the ramparts of Louis Philippe, it contains numerous educational institutions, including buildings of the universities of Paris, the domed Institut de France at the Hôtel Quai Conti, and the Institut du Monde Arabe, with a light-sensitive facade which opens to mimic traditional Arab lattice ventilation. The Panthéon on the hill of Montagne Ste-Geneviève was erected to the patron saint of Paris by Louis XV, for relieving him of illness in 1744. Religious foundations include the 16th-century Hôtel de Cluny, now a museum; the 16th-century church of St-Etienne-du-Mont, containing the only Renaissance rood screen in Paris; and St-Séverin, founded in the 11th century, and rebuilt in the Flamboyant Gothic style in the 16th century. The main open spaces of the quarter are the riverside Musée de Sculpture en Plein Air (an outdoor exhibition), and the botanical gardens of the Jardin des Plantes.
On the riverfront to the west of the Latin Quarter is the Musée d'Orsay, an art gallery transformed in 1986 from a late 19th-century railway station; the building is a domed glass and steel construction originally designed in 1879 for the centennial of the 1789 Revolution, and inaugurated in 1900. Further along the Seine, the 320 m/1,050 ft-high Eiffel Tower stands in the park and exhibition grounds of the Champ de Mars. Also on the Left Bank are the Hôtel des Invalides, built as a home for wounded and elderly soldiers by Louis XIV, which contains a major military museum and Napoleon's tomb; and the Luxembourg Palace and gardens, constructed for Maria de' Medici, widow of Henry IV, in the style of the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens of her
native Florence, Italy. Beyond the Porte d'Orléans, formerly a southern entrance to Paris, lies the Cité Universitaire, a residential quarter for foreign students erected between world wars I and II; its architecture reflects the diverse cultures of the participating countries. The forest of the Bois de Boulogne extends west of the old city walls, the Bois de Vincennes to the southeast.
Paris is the dominant intellectual centre of France, and contains the country's most prestigious educational foundations. Five official académies situated in the city form the Institut de France, established in 1795. The historic Université de Paris was divided into a number of autonomous universities in 1970, with additional universities being built in the suburbs in the 1970s and 1990s. One of the oldest parts of the university is the Sorbonne, in the Latin Quarter, founded in 1253 as a theological institute. It remains the most well known and presitigious, and is now the seat of the Académie de Paris (the administrative body for the university). Elite institutions of higher education (known as grandes écoles) exist in addition to the universities, specializing in the training of teachers, scientists, engineers, administrators, and literary scholars. Other educational foundations on the Left Bank are the École Militaire (1751) and the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1816).
Museums, galleries, and the performing arts
The city's most eminent museum and art gallery is the Louvre; its royal treasures were first opened to the public in 1793, and the collection was greatly enlarged by Napoleon during the expansion of his empire. A restoration project, launched in 1981, included the construction of the Great Pyramid (1989), designed by I M Pei, and three smaller pyramids in the Cour Napoleon, and the modernization of the Richelieu wing, following the removal of the finance ministry to Bercy in eastern Paris. Permanent and temporary exhibitions of 20th-century and contemporary art are displayed at the Pompidou Centre, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Jeu de Paume (renovated 1991-92). Impressionist and post-Impressionist works are housed in the Musée d'Orsay and the Orangerie, which is arranged around Claude Monet's largest waterlily paintings. Other collections include museums dedicated to Picasso and Rodin, and the medieval tapestries of the Musée de Cluny.
Museums of anthropology, maritime history, medieval architecture, and the development of cinematography are housed in the Palais de Chaillot, a massive cultural centre opened in 1937, which also has an aquarium and theatre within its grounds. The Musée Carnavalet chronicles the history of Paris. Science and technology are celebrated in the high-tech Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in La Villette, a cultural centre which includes La Géode, a giant hemispherical cinema. The Bibliothèque Nationale, with over 7 million volumes, and the Archives Nationales are the foremost library and documentary collections in France. Other facilities are the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, with the Rondel collection of mainly theatrical works, and the Bibliothéque Mazarine which possesses 900 incunabula (books printed before 1500).
National theatres include the Opéra-Bastille; the Opéra-Garnier, home to the Paris Ballet company; the Opéra-Comique; the Comédie-Française, producing classical French drama; and the Théâtre Populaire.
The principal cultural festivals are the Salon de Mai for the contemporary arts; the Festival du Marais, focusing on the performing arts; and the Salon d'Automne, an arts and film festival.
Entertainment and sport
Paris is renowned for its pavement cafés, street shows, café-theatre, music halls, bars, and nightclubs - jazz and cinema, both French and international, are particularly popular. Disneyland
Paris to the east of the city is a popular resort.
The French Open Tennis Championships are held at Roland Garros Stadium, and international rugby matches are played at Parc des Princes. Horse racing takes place at the courses of Auteuil and Longchamp, venue of the long-established Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. On the last Sunday of July, cyclists racing in the international Tour de France cross the finishing line on the Champs-Elysées. The new Stade de France (‘Stadium of France’), seating between 80,000 and 105,000 spectators according to layout, was opened in 1998 at St Denis, 10km/6 mi north of Notre Dame, to host the World Cup.
Paris has seven major railway termini at the focus of a radiating network feeding domestic ports and provincial cities. Six international stations serve European destinations, including the Eurostar or Le Shuttle service operating between Paris (Gare du Nord) and London through the Channel Tunnel. Transport within the city is provided by an extensive bus system and the Métropolitain (métro) underground railway operated by the Paris Transport Authority; the first lines were opened in 1900. Since 1960 the system has been extended and modernized, and it now connects with the four rapid transit RER (Réseau Express Régional) lines which link the suburbs across Paris. Two international airports serve the city; Orly to the south and Charles de Gaulle at Roissy-en-France to the north, which was opened in 1974. The airport of Le Bourget handles a small amount of the domestic traffic flow.
The residential structure of Paris is highly varied. In the inner areas, the fashionable housing of western Paris contrasts with the remaining city slums, once predominant in the eastern areas. The suburbs contain vast sectors of detached housing built in the 1920s and 1930s, and great post-war estates of apartment blocks, such as Sarcelles to the north and Massy-Antony to the south, thrown up in the 1950s and 1960s to accommodate the massive influx of people from the countryside, provincial towns, and from Algeria. Developments on the outskirts include new cities, and dormitory towns and villages. In the 1960s sweeping plans for Paris were published; the first, in 1960, envisaged a slow rate of population growth for the remainder of the 20th century, but this was replaced in 1965 with more ambitious schemes for the development of radial and ring motorways, an express métro system, large service centres in the suburbs, a wholesale market to replace Les Halles, an airport at Roissy-en-France, large urban renovation schemes in inner Paris, and five (initially eight) new satellite cities (or urban agglomerations). The five new towns house large populations (1999 est): Marne-la-Vallée (246,500), Cergy-Pontoise (178,700), St Quentin-en-Yvelines (160,500), Sénart (93,100), and Evry (80,500). Many of the projects were subsequently realized but others, such as the construction of an expressway on the Left Bank, were dropped in 1974, in favour of plans to conserve the older parts of the city and create more green spaces, these being notably fewer in Paris than in other major European cities. In 1985 extensive plans were unveiled to revitalize the east of Paris, including the restoration of old buildings and building of thousands of homes; commercial and industrial developments; and the provision of more schools, crêches, and parks. Banlieues 89, a suburban redevelopment scheme, involved improvements to the built environment of old and post-1960 suburbs.
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