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Getting There
Getting Around
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Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
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Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Paris, France, Europe

Founded: 53 b.c.
Location: North-central France, Western Europe
Motto: Fluctuat nec mergitur ("Battered, but never sinks")
Flag: Shield with white sailing ship and three yellow fleur de lys centered on a field with blue (left) and red (right) halves.
Time Zone: 11 am = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); 6 am = noon Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Climate : Moderate. Winters are damp, but not severe. Snowfall is light; sunshine is rare in winter; gray, foggy days are frequent. Summer temperatures are rarely oppressive, but rain can be heavy.
Annual Mean Temperature: 12°C (54°F)
Average Annual Precipitation (total rainfall and melted snow): 68 cm (27 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: The franc, with one hundred centimes to a franc
Postal Codes: Five-digits beginning with 75.

1. Introduction

Paris is synonymous with all that is French. Known throughout the world as the "City of Light," Paris is celebrated for its beautiful city plan, its architecture, museums, bridges, cathedrals, parks, shopping, flea markets, sidewalk cafés, wide and luxurious boulevards, elegant cuisine, and numerous monuments. Once confined to an island in the middle of the Seine River, the Ile de la Cité, Paris, founded more than 2,000 years ago, quickly spread to both banks of the riverthe rive droit (right bank) and the rive gauche (left bank). The right bank is known for being the commercial heart of the city while the left bank is home to the University of Paris and all that is intellectual and artsy. Paris has always been known to have the aura of romance and mystery and has been the setting for many novels and movies. A character in a play by Oscar Wilde said, "When good Americans die, they go to Paris."

2. Getting There

Paris is easily accessible by plane, railroad, and automobile.


Driving to Paris from anywhere in France, road markers can be found indicating routes to Paris. There is a stone marker in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from which all French roads begin.

Railroad Service

The letters S.N.C.F. indicate the French railway system, which is quite extensive. Paris is the center of the TGV (high speed train). One must make reservations in advance to ride this train. Train stations that connect Paris to the rest of Europe are the Gare de Lyon (for trains arriving from Switzerland, Italy, and Greece); the Gare d'Austerlitz (for trains arriving from Spain and Portugal); the Gare Montparnasse (for trains arriving from western France); the Gare Saint-Lazare (for connection with boats arriving in Normandy from the United States and Great Britain); the Gare du Nord (for trains arriving from Great Britain, Belguim, Holland, and Scandinavia); the Gare de l'Est (for trains arriving from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria). The information web site is


Two main airports, Roissey-Charles de Gaulle and Orly, serve the metropolis of Paris and neighboring areas. From these airports travelers can easily take public transportation (subway) or taxis to the heart of Paris in less than an hour. For more specific information, visitors can visit the Office du Tourisme booth in either airport.

3. Getting Around

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Paris has many buses and local trains (called the RER), but the main mode of travel around Paris is the Metro or subway. No place in Paris is less than 500 meters (1500 feet) away from a metro stop. The cheapest way to travel is to buy a booklet (carnet ) of ten tickets for use on the metro and city buses. There are 368 metro stations in Paris serving more than six million people every day. To see more sights and have more time, the city buses are a more picturesque way to travel. Maps inside the metro indicate the shortest way to a given destination, as well as where to change trains if necessary. The metro is indicated by the letters R.A.T.P. The web site offering practical information, routes, and maps is

Paris Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 2,200,000
Area: 100 sq km (40 sq mi)
Nicknames: The City of Light

Metropolitan Area

Population: 9,638,000
Description: The 20 total arrondissements
World population rank 1: 22
Percentage of national population 2: 16.3%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.2%

  1. The Paris metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of France's total population living in the Paris metropolitan area.


The best tours of Paris are by boat. One can get a one-hour cruise on the Seine in a sightseeing boat or bateaumouche, which points out the main monuments, bridges, and cathedrals (the best view ever of Notre Dame) and gives a history of the city. Bus tours are provided by various companies: Cityrama, Vision, and Parisbus are a few of the large companies.

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Paris Cairo Rome Beijing
(France) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 9,638,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 53 BC AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $146 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $79 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $20 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $245 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 33 13 20 11
Largest newspaper Le Parisien Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 451,159 1,159,339 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1944 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

4. People

Paris is the most populated city in France. The last estimate (1997) claimed 2,152,000 inhabitants lived in Paris. However, there are about ten million more people in the metropolitan area. Until World War II (193945), the population of France was largely monolithic in character. Most French people are descended from ancient Teutonic and Celtic tribes dating from at least 200 B. C. The language of the Parisians is French, which is required in all state-supported schools. After World War II, many people from former French colonies in Africa and Indonesia immigrated to France and particularly to Paris where they could find employment. Consequently, the population of Paris, although largely of original French stock, now includes people of African and Indochinese descent. Although these people speak a variety of languages, French is the only official language of France.

A full 90 percent of Parisians claim to be of the Roman Catholic faith. However, as in any large metropolis, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Protestant Christian faiths are represented. There are many Protestant churches as well as Jewish synogogues, the most renowned being the Rothschild Synogogue. The imposing structure of Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cité speaks for the majority Catholic influence on the city.

The French are wildly enamored with their pet dogs. Dogs can be seen everywhereeven in fancy restaurants.

5. Neighborhoods

Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (wards). They are referred to as arrondissements in English as well as in French. Each arrondissement has its own character. Central Paris is comprised of the first eight arrondissements; it is in these eight that most of the major historical and cultural sites of the city can be found. The remaining 12 make up the surrounding area.

1st Arrondissement

At one end of the Champs Elysées is the Louvre, arguably the greatest art museum in the world. Formerly the palace of the kings of France, the Louvre looks out on the Champs Elysées to the Place de la Concorde with its Egyptian oblelisk, and on to the Arc de Triomphe, built by the Emperor Napoleon I (17691821) to commemorate his military victories.

2nd Arrondissement

There are the banks, the stock exchange (La Bourse), and some wholesale fashion stores.

3rd Arrondissement

This district is called the Marais. An ethnic mélange, the Marais was once home to the majority of the Jewish population of Paris. It has undergone some urban renovation at many times in the history of Paris.

4th Arrondissement

The Ile de la Cité, the island in the middle of the River Seine, comprises this arrondissement. This was the original site of Paris at its beginnings, and it boasts the gorgeous cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Bridges cross the Ile, so sightseers can visit Notre Dame Cathedral on walking tours, as well as by way of the Metro or bus.

5th Arrondissement

On the Left Bank, the Quartier Latin, home of the University of Paris (Sorbonne college of arts and sciences), is the main living quarters for students and artists. There are many good places to eat and fine entertainment, such as the Comédie Française.

6th Arrondissement

Charming cafés attract many intellectuals and college students in this district.

7th Arrondissement

Also on the Left Bank is the famous Eiffel Tower (La Tour Eiffel). Visible from all points in Paris, the main entrance to this monument is on the Champ de Mars. One can also visit the Musée D'Orsay, dedicated to French Impressionist paintings.

8th Arrondissement

At the end of the Champs Elysées is the Arc de Triomphe built by the French Emperor Napoleon to commemorate his military victories. The Arc is located over a traffic circle called the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly la Place de l'Etoile). This point is the beginning of 12 large boulevards going out into various points of Paris and beyond.

Ile Saint-Louis

A neighbor to Ile de la Cité, Ile Saint-Louis is renowned for a beautiful, small church called the Sainte-Chapelle.

La Défense

The newest development in Paris is the business and residential center to the west of Paris called La Défense. This area, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, has a new arch called the Grande Arche to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution. It is set in a straight line with the Champs Elysées. There are many modern high-rise buildings that do not have to conform to the old building codes of Paris.


High on a hill overlooking the city is the area of Montmartre. The basilica of Sacré Coeur and many of the famous cabarets, including the Folies Bergères at le Moulin Rougehome of the cancan danceare located here.

Le Marais

Once known as the old Jewish quarter, Le Marais (once a swamp) is home to small hotels, restaurants, and bars. It is bordered by the Rue Beaubourg and the Boulevard Beaumarchais.


Once an embarrassing slum, the district of Beaubourg has been renovated and showcases the Centre Georges Pompidou. Pompidou was once the president of France. The center has a museum of modern art and a performing arts theater.

Neuilly, Auteuil, and Passy

The rich and super-rich inhabit these beautiful suburbs of the chic sixteenth and seventeenth arrondissements west of the city.

6. History

The history of Paris goes back more than 2,000 years when some 60 Celtic tribes called the Gauls inhabited the region, most notably in the Paris Basin on the Ile de la Cité. One of their tribes, the Parisii, eventually gave their name to the present-day city. The Gauls were composed of warrior tribes who hunted, fished, and lived in huts with thatched roofs. Their religion, called druidism, celebrated nature. Many present day religious festivals include remnants of druidic worship. The main festival, la fête du gui (mistletoe), welcomed in the new year. They also burned the Yule log to celebrate the return to light after a long dark season of winter. Their chief warrior, Vercingétorix, was defeated by the Roman army under Julius Caesar (c. 10044 B. C. ) in about 50 B. C. The Romans renamed the Gaulish capital Lutetia, which it remained until it was reconquered by a Germanic tribe called the Frankshence the name for present day France (land of the Franks). Their king, Clovis (465511) converted to Christianity and took the old name of Paris for its capital. By brute force, Clovis established the Merovingian dynasty of kings and established a code of laws known as the Salic Law. In 800, Charlemagne (747814) moved his capital from Aix-la-Chapelle to Paris, thus solidifying Paris as the permanent capital city of what would become modern day France. Between 900 and 1000, another tribe of invaders called Vikings (actually Norsemen) repeatedly invaded and pillaged Paris until they eventually became a civilized part of the community.

By the middle of the twelfth century, King Philippe Auguste (11651223) turned Paris into a true medieval city with a protective wall around it. He built his castle, which was little more than a fortress on the site of the modern-day Louvre. No one knows what the word Louvre means, except that it is thought to come from the Latin word for wolves. Philippe housed his wolf-hunting dogs in the fortress. The Middle Ages saw the beginning of the construction of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (1163), one of the most famous examples of Gothic architecture, and the founding of one of the greatest universities in the world, the University of Paris. The city of Paris, surrounded by walls, still was contained on the Ile de la Cité in the middle of the River Seine.

Gradually the city of Paris became so heavily populated that the walls were erected further and further out to accommodate the growing community. The last of these protective walls was razed in 1919 by the government of the Third Republic. The kings of France slowly enlarged and modernized the Louvre to become the palace of kings. The French Revolution (178993) was a turning point for the modernization of Paris. During that turbulent period, there were riots in the streets, and the people barricaded the narrow, winding streets to thwart the power of the government. The reign of Emperor Napoleon I (17691821) saw the building of monuments and the creation of a modern sewer system, which beautified and cleansed the city. The brief restoration of the monarchy (18481870) saw the rebuilding of Paris from a medieval town to a city of breathtaking beauty and grandeur. Under the leadership of Baron Haussmann (18091891), the boulevards were widened so that they could no longer be easily barricaded. Parks and monuments were created; the Louvre was completed; the Opera house was built; and an extensive system of sewers was constructed. The city was at that time organized into its present-day 20 arrondissements. Building codes were enforced to keep the neo-classical look and to maintain a low building height.

In 1889, the World's Fair came to Paris, which unveiled the newest crowning glory, the Eiffel Tower. At the time of its construction, it was thought to be a monstrosity, and the French people wanted it torn down immediately. The tower outlasted the controversy to become the symbol of Paris. In 1900, Paris joined London in the construction of the subway (the Métropolitain). The metro stations at the turn of the century were beautiful examples of Art Deco, with intricately designed ironwork gates. Some of these still exist today.

During World War II, the city of Paris was almost destroyed by German bombs. Miraculously, Paris survived the war intact. All of the treasures in the Louvre art museum were hidden by the French people during the war, so they would not be taken by the invading German army. The government of General Charles de Gaulle brought the French government to the present Fifth Republic.

Modern-day Paris is truly a feast for all of the senses. The classical beauty of the city is breathtaking at night when many of the monuments are lighted. A new opera house has been added at the former location of La Bastille (a political prison during the French Revolution), and some high-rise buildings have been constructed outside the central area. Basically, Paris remains true to the architectural plans of Baron Haussmann. The wide, main boulevards are crowded with people 24 hours a day. One can relax in a sidewalk café or visit any number of the many museums Paris has to offer. The cuisine is delicious, whether from a café or an elegant five-star restaurant. Shoppers can find the very latest in fashion or browse the flea markets for a bargain. New urban renewal during the 1990s saw the renovation of the Beaubourg area with the destruction of Les Halles (a central market place) and the creation of the Centre Pompidou (arts) in its place. New business centers in La Défense have been added to the International Communication Center. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Paris has retained all the allure, mystery, and romance of its fabled past. That is why Paris is the number one destination for travelers around the world.

7. Government

The city of Paris is headed by an elected mayor. The mayor is in charge of the police force, which is headed by the préfet, and works with the town halls of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. The coat of arms of the city was created in 1210 featuring a boat from the watermen's guild. The motto Fluctuat nec Mergitur is the Latin for "buffeted by waves but does not sink" and was added in the sixteenth century. The Regional Council and the Economic and Social Committees govern any local problems. The most influential political parties are the Communist Party and the Socialist Party. The national government is a coalition government comprised of the various political parties.

8. Public Safety

All tourists visiting Paris, as well as France, must register with the police department. Usually the hotels will check passports and make a list of all registered guests. Paris has laws that prohibit the carrying of guns and is generally a safe city. However, there are always professional pickpockets and, as of late, gangs of small children organized by gangsters to be pickpockets reminiscent of those in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens .

9. Economy

The French currency is called the franc, with 100 centimes to the franc. The economy of Paris is comprised of high finance, banking, and luxury tourist goods. The Champs Elysées and neighboring streets house many high-fashion couturiers (designers), parfumiers (perfume shops), and other luxury items. Universities, museums, and cafés cater to tourists and residents alike. Government employees are numerous as France is a bureaucratic country. France is also a member of the European Economic Community.

10. Environment

Paris is divided by the Seine River, which drains west to the Atlantic Ocean. It is used for transportation and tourism. Many tour boats, called "bateaux mouches," give tours of the city by circling the Ile de la Cité. Paris also has the feel of open spaces created by wide boulevards and parklands. The Champs Elysées is a 12-lane divided highway with wide sidewalks to encourage walking, window shopping, and people-watching at cafés. The Jardin du Luxembourg, the Bois de Boulogne, the Tuilerie Gardens, and the Place des Vosges (to name a few) give the tourists and residents beautiful garden spaces to relax and enjoy the magnificent views. There are many fountains and small squares in which to sit. Paris is very much a walking city. The sidewalks are always filled with strollers, as well as businessmen and tourists. The beautiful monuments give the city the air of an outdoor museum. The French government is concerned with cleanliness, and large fines are imposed for littering and graffiti. Every morning, workers armed with buckets and brooms can be seen sweeping the streets, getting the city ready for another day.

11. Shopping

Paris is a shopper's dream city. Two large department stores, Au Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette, can fill the most discerning shopper's wish list. The Au Bon Marché has gourmet delicacies galore. There are also boutiques that cater to the high-end market. Designers such as Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier are also located on or near the Champs Elysées. The Boulevard Montaigne, off the Champs Elysées, also houses many expensive boutiques. Also the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré has many clothing stores. For budget-minded shoppers, the Monoprix or Prisunic (dime stores), supply some moderately priced souvenirs. Fine leather goods, jewelry, perfumes, clothing, wines, gourmet foods, and fine art are plentiful. Bargain hunters can cruise the flea market (marché aux puces). Sidewalk vendors (some very fine artists) are always displaying their wares. Along the banks of the Seine are also many artists and booksellers. On Sunday mornings near Notre Dame Cathedral, one can visit the bird market. Live caged canaries, finches, and other exotic birds are for sale. One of the most unique stores, almost a must for tourists, is Le Drugstore. This is a Parisian's idea of an American drugstore. It has many high-priced goods for sale, as well as toiletries; however, the toiletries are too expensive there for the average tourist!

12. Education

The University of Paris, on the left bank of the Seine, is arguably the most famous school in the world. Outsiders often refer to it as the Sorbonne, but that is only the school of arts and sciences. Everyone in France is entitled to a free education, including that of a university. The catch is that one must pass a rigorous exam, called the baccalaureat, to gain entrance. Many students do not take this exam or fail it. School attendance is compulsory until age 16. One can decide on a college preparatory course or a technical course. All are free. The levels are in reversethat is, kindergarten is level 13 while the senior level is called one or "classes terminales." The educational system is run by the central government, which determines the curriculum. All students everywhere in France are studying the same lessons at pretty much the same time. If a student moves, he or she will fit right in to the new school curriculum because it will be exactly the same as the school he left. Students must study French at every grade level. The French are purists when it comes to language, and the courses are very difficult. Attention to grammar and spelling are important. People are constantly judged on their accent and grammar. Every educated person strives to attain a Parisian accent. Having other accents, such as that of southern France, is considered inferior. Discipline in French high schools (lycées) is strictly enforced. The famous cooking school Le Cordon Bleu offers courses in French, English, and Japanese.

13. Health Care

The government of France is largely socialistic. Every French citizen is afforded health care provided by the state. Taxes are very highin some cases almost 60 percent of total incomebut the government provides most social services. Life expectancy for men is 74 years, and for women it is 82 years. There is one doctor for every 361 people, and infant mortality is five per 100 live births. Many French people smoke, and the government has only recently tried to discourage people from smoking.

14. Media

French television is controlled by the government (outside of satellite television). There are five stations: TF1, Antenne 2, FR 3, M 6, and Arte. The Parisians do not have their newspapers delivered to their homes because there are too many French publications. Each Parisian usually picks up his favorite newspaper at a local kiosk or a café. Usually these papers reflect different political thought or are business papers. Some of the more well-known newspapers include France-Soir, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Le Canard Enchainé. Radio stations are also government controlled. France Inter (87.8MHz) is the main radio station. Recently, the government made it mandatory to play 60 percent of all music in French. This angered French teenagers who love to listen to British and American rock and roll. All advertising must be in French, except for foreign companies.

15. Sports

One of the main sports in France is soccer. There is a French national team, as well as many university teams. Formula-One car racing, famous throughout Europe, is also very popular. The French Tennis Open is in June, just before Wimbledon in London. The most well-known sport, however, is cycling. The Tour de France, which takes place for about two weeks at the end of June and into July, is the most widely publicized sport. The race begins and ends in Paris with the winner cycling under the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysées. Another competitive sport is lawn bowling. This is played by average citizens, as well as championship teams. Information about sporting events can be found in the newspaper Le Figaro.

16. Parks and Recreation

Paris is surrounded by greenery. The most famous park in Paris is the Bois de Boulogne. Comprising more than 809 hectares (2,000 acres), the Bois boasts walking trails, lakes for boating, two courses for horseracing (Longchamp and Auteuil), a children's amusement park, an area for puppet shows, a miniature golf course, cafés and restaurants, a giant doll's house, and a small zoo. Another famous garden is the Tuileries, located in front of the Louvre museum. At the Place des Vosges in the Marais district is a small park featuring the famous author Victor Hugo's house. The Place de la Concorde has a beautiful fountain and small gardens. In the Seine River is an enclosed public swimming pool. On the left bank are the Luxembourg Gardens. Impressive fountains and beautiful statues representing Greek and Roman gods decorate this park. There is also the palace of Marie de'Medici (15731652), wife of King Henri IV.

Another huge parkland is the Bois de Vincennes. It is comparable to the Bois de Boulogne with a racecourse and a zoo. However, the zoo is larger in that the animals seem to roam free in unrestricted habitats.

Off the Périférique (ring road) is the Parc de la Villette with an interactive science museum and IMAX theater.

Just outside of Paris is the city of Versailles with the chateau of King Louis XIV (175493) with its magnificent grounds and gardens. A one-day visit may not be long enough to see everything. By RER (local train) it is about a 40-minute ride from Paris to Versailles.

Also just outside Paris is EuroDisneyland. As it is the same as the American Disney parks, American visitors may want to spend their time on other sites.

Giverny, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) outside Paris, is the home and famous gardens of Impressionist painter Claude Monet (18401926). It was here that he painted the famous Waterlilies.

17. Performing Arts

The National French Theater, La Comédie Française, was established in 1680 under the direction of the cardinal Richelieu. Modern-day productions include mainly the works of classical French writers of the seventeenth centuryMoliere, Racine, and Corneille. There are two opera housesthe Opéra Garnier, an eighteenth-century classical building, and the newer opera house at the Place de la Bastille. The Opéra Comique does light opera and works of French lyric composers. In the newer district of La Défense, the indoor arena of Bercy stages musical performances of popular performers. The famous cancan dancers can be found at the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre. Paris also has many smaller theaters and many movie houses. The Chaillot National Theater (next to the Eiffel Tower) also serves as a multicultural center. In the area of Beaubourg, the Centre Pompidou always has some interesting displays and performances.

18. Libraries and Museums

The Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library) was founded in the Middle Ages. In 1537, a copyright law was passed that requires every published work to be in the National Library. The library has many annexes and houses old manuscripts, engravings and photographs, maps, music, and printed books. Paris has a plethora of famous museums, but the following are some a first-time tourist should not miss.

The Louvre is one of the most famous art museums in the world. Once the palace of the kings of France, the Louvre was updated in 1989 by the architect I.M. Pei (b. 1917) who designed a new glass pyramid entrance to the museum. The Louvre contains paintings, sculptures, and other objects of antiquity famous around the world. The Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo, the paintings of David and Leonardo, Egyptian treasures and classical sculptures are all too numerous to mention. A two-hour tape tour is recommended for the casual visitor. The building itself is a work of art representing the history of France as many kings added to the original structure begun by Philippe Auguste in the twelfth century. The basement contains the oldest known foundations of the Louvre and the torture chambers of Philippe Auguste.

The Musée d'Orsay, housed in a renovated railway station, now contains most of the important Impressionist paintings. Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Jean Renoir, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent Van Gogh are all well represented, as well as post-Impressionist artists.

The National Museum of Modern Art is housed on the fourth floor of the Pompidou Center in Beaubourg. The Musée Rodin is dedicated to the works of the famous sculptor, Auguste Rodin (18401917).

Notre Dame Cathedral is located on the island Ile de la Cité. One of the most perfect examples of Gothic architecture, Notre Dame has thousands of sculptures and stained glass windows. Tours are also given. On a neighboring island in the Seine, the Ile Saint-Louis, is the smaller church, the Sainte-Chapelle. The stained glass windows are among the finest in the world.

Historical museums abound. Les Invalides houses the tomb of Napoleon and a military museum, while the Arc de Triomphe has a museum dedicated to Napoleon's victories. The Eiffel Tower has a display of the construction of the Tower for the 1889 World's Fair. Gobelins' Tapestry Factory recounts the history of the famous tapestry maker from its beginnings in the thirteenth century. There are guided tours of the workshops, which still produce tapestries. The Hôtel de Cluny Museum is the remains of the old Roman baths and the medieval monastery. Wonderful artifacts, tapestries, and medieval art are on display. The Grévin Museum is a wax museum portraying scenes from history and interesting historical figures.

Père Lachaise Cemetery may seem a bit morbid, but millions of visitors come to see the graves of Bizet, Molière, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Chopin, and perhaps the most visited, the American Jim Morrison. So many people come to visit and decorate Morrison's grave that there is usually security around it.

19. Tourism

The year 1999 saw France as the top destination for travelers around the world, with the overwhelming majority including Paris in their visit to France. Over 70 million tourists visited the City of Light last year, spending nearly $30 million (American dollars) in France. The best tours of Paris are by boat. One can get a one-hour cruise on the Seine in a sightseeing boat called a bateaumouche, which features the main monuments, bridges, and cathedrals (the best view ever of Notre Dame) and gives a history of the city. Bus tours are provided by various companies: Cityrama, Vision, and Parisbus are a few of the large companies.

The official tourist information center is at the Hôtel de Ville (town hall). However, there are tourist information centers at all train stations and airports.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Fashion shows begin

Easter Monday
Foire de Paris (Fair)

May Day Celebration (1st)
VE Day (8th)
Ascension Day

Air Show
French Open
Tour de France

Bastille Day (14th) National Holiday

Many museums, restaurants, and other facilities are closed for the traditional Parisian vacation month.
Assumption (15th)

All Souls' Day (1st)
Armistice Day (11th)
Beaujolais Nouveau (18th) Wine Festival

21. Famous Citizens

Robert de Sorbon (120174), philosopher and theologian, founded the Sorbonne, which became the University of Paris.

Nostradamus (b. Michel de Notredame, 150366), philosopher and astrologer.

René Descartes (15961650), father of modern mathematics.

Louis XIV, the "Sun King" (16381715), built the palace of Versailles.

Molière (b. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 16221673), playwright.

Napoleon Bonaparte (b. Napoleone Buonaparte, 17691821), Emperor of France from 1805 to 1809 and from 1810 to 1814.

Jean-François Champollion (17901832), discovered the Rosetta Stone.

Pierre Auguste Renoir (18411919), Claude Monet (18401926), Edouard Manet (183283)all French painters of the Impressionist style.

Victor Hugo (180285), one of the greatest and most prolific of all French writers, wrote Notre-Dame de Paris (Hunchback).

Alfred Dreyfus (18591935), involved in exposing the French government's policy of anti-Semitism, accused of treason, and exonerated in a famous court-martial.

Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann (180991), created wide boulevards which mark modern Paris and improved sewer system.

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (18321923), engineer and one of the founders of aerodynamics, built the Eiffel Tower for the World's Fair of 1889 and designed the locks for the Panama Canal.

Georges Bizet (183875), composer of the operas Carmen and The Pearl Fishers.

General Charles de Gaulle (18901970), famous World War II general who helped Eisenhower with the World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy to defeat Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Maurice Chevalier (18881972), French singer and movie star (Gigi ).

Edith Piaf (191563), songstress nicknamed the "sparrow".

François Truffaut (193284), cinematographer who invented the nouvelle vague of the film industry.

Jean-Paul Sartre (190580), father of the philosophical movement of existentialism.

Simone de Beauvoir (190886), author of The Second Sex.

Albert Camus (191360), philosopher and writer.

Antoine de St. Exupéry (190044), World War II pilot, best known for his short novel The Little Prince.

Brigitte Bardot (b. Camille Javal, 1934), most famous French female movie star.

Gérard Dépardieu (b. 1948), French and American movie star.

22. For Further Study


Air France airline. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

La Conciergerie. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Paris Pages. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Paris Tourist Office. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

RATP. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Smartweb. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

SNCF. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Government Offices

American Embassy in Paris
2 Rue St. Florentin
Paris, 75001

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

France and Paris Tourism
444 Madison Ave.
N.Y., N.Y. 10020
(212) 838-7800

676 N. Michigan Ave. #3360
Chicago, IL 60611

9494 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212


Guide Michelin, Paris. John Murray Publishers, 1999.

Insight Guide Paris. Maspeth, NY: Langenscheit Publishers, 1999.

Jones, Colin. The Cambridge Illustrated History of France. London: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Paris. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1999.

Safran, William. The French Polity. New York and London: Longman, 1985.


The Louvre (narrated by Charles Boyer). Monterey Home Video., n.d.

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Paris (city, France)

Paris (pâr´Ĭs, Fr. pärē´), city (1999 pop. 2,115,757; metropolitan area est. pop. 11,000,000), N central France, capital of the country, on the Seine River. It is the commercial and industrial focus of France and a cultural and intellectual center of international renown. The city possesses an indefinable unity of atmosphere that has fascinated writers, poets, and painters for centuries. Paris is sometimes called the City of Light in tribute to its intellectual preeminence as well as to its beautiful appearance.

Paris is the center of many major newspapers and periodicals, as well as all the major French radio and television stations. Elegant stores and hotels, lavish nightclubs, theaters, and gourmet restaurants help make tourism the biggest industry in Paris. Other leading industries manufacture luxury articles, high-fashion clothing, perfume, and jewelry. Heavy industry, notably automobile manufacture, is located in the suburbs. About one quarter of the French labor force is concentrated in the Paris area.

Transportation Facilities

Situated in the center of the Paris basin (see Île-de-France), and only 90 mi (145 km) from the English Channel, the city handles a great volume of shipping. Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports (the latter opened in 1974) and many major railroad stations make Paris one of the great transportation centers of western Europe. The Paris metro (subway), built in 1900, was modernized and extended during the 1970s. There are now 16 principal metro lines and a high-speed express subway system servicing the suburbs. The system's hub, Chatelet Les-Halles, is perhaps the largest, busiest underground station in the world. Paris is also the hub of the national rail system, with high-speed trains connecting it to most major European cities.

Points of Interest

Paris is divided into roughly equal sections by the Seine. On the right (northern) bank are the Bois de Boulogne and the adjoining Stade Roland Garros (site of tennis's French Open), Arc de Triomphe, the old Bibliothèque nationale, Élysée Palace, Grand Palais, Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture (see Beaubourg), Place de la Concorde, Opéra, Comédie Française, Louvre, Palais de Chaillot, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Grande Arche de la Défense, Champs Élysées, and other great streets, sites, and boulevards. In the eastern part of the right bank is the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism, the Place de la Bastille and the Bastille Opera; to the north is Montmartre, the highest area in Paris, topped by the Church of Sacré-Cœur. Much of the right bank, which has many of the most fashionable streets and shops, has a stately air. At night many monuments and boulevards are floodlit. In the city's northeastern outskirts is the Parc de la Villette, home of the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (1986), the Cité de la Musique (1995), the Philharmonie de Paris (2015), and other performance and exhibition spaces.

The left bank, with the Sorbonne, the French Academy, the Panthéon (see under pantheon), the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, the Jardin des Plantes (site of the National Natural History Museum), the Chamber of Deputies, the Quai d'Orsay, and the Hotel des Invalides, is the governmental and to a large extent the intellectual section. The Latin Quarter, for nearly a thousand years the preserve of university students and faculty; the Faubourg Saint-Germain section, at once aristocratic and a haven for students and artists (the celebrated Café des Deux Magots and Café de Flore are there); and Montparnasse are the most celebrated left-bank districts. The Eiffel Tower stands by the Seine on the Champ-de-Mars. In SE Paris, also on the left bank, is Paris Rive Gauche, a former industrial area redeveloped with a variety of newer buildings and renovations, many by prominent architects; the new Bibliothèque nationale (opened 1998) is there.

The historical nucleus of Paris is the Île de la Cité, a small boat-shaped island largely occupied by the huge Palais de Justice and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. It is connected with the smaller Île Saint-Louis, occupied by elegant houses of the 17th and 18th cent. Characteristic of Paris are the tree-lined quays along the Seine (famed, on the left bank, for their open-air bookstalls), the historic bridges that span the Seine, and the vast tree-lined boulevards that replaced the city walls. Skyscrapers, apartment complexes, and highways have been added to the Paris scene in recent years.

Government and People

Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (districts or boroughs), each of which has a local council and a mayor, but most of the power is held by the mayor of the City of Paris who is chosen by the city's council. Paris and its suburbs together make up the eight departments of the Île-de-France administrative region, which is governed by an elected assembly, chairman (or president), and supervisor and overseen by a prefect appointed by the state.

Immigrants to France now constitute nearly 20% of Paris's population. The majority of these are Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian. Large groups of Indochinese have also immigrated to Paris. About 75% of all Parisians live in the suburbs due to high costs and a high population density in the city. New towns have been built, consolidating suburban areas, and a great deal of manufacturing and other industry takes place in the suburbs.


Early History

Julius Caesar conquered Paris in 52 BC It was then a fishing village, called Lutetia Parisiorum (the Parisii were a Gallic tribe), on the Île de la Cité. Under the Romans the town spread to the left bank and acquired considerable importance under the later emperors. The vast catacombs under Montparnasse and the baths (now in the Cluny Mus.) remain from the Roman period. Legend says that St. Denis, first bishop of Paris, was martyred on Montmartre (hence the name) and that in the 5th cent. St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, preserved the city from destruction by the Huns. On several occasions in its early history Paris was threatened by barbarian and Norman invasions, which at times drove the inhabitants back to the Île de la Cité.

Clovis I and several other Merovingian kings made Paris their capital; under Charlemagne it became a center of learning. In 987, Hugh Capet, count of Paris, became king of France. The Capetians firmly established Paris as the French capital. The city grew as the power of the French kings increased. In the 11th cent. the city spread to the right bank. During the next two centuries—the reign of Philip Augustus (1180–1223) is especially notable for the growth of Paris—streets were paved and the city walls enlarged; the first Louvre (a fortress) and several churches, including Notre-Dame, were constructed or begun; and the schools on the left bank were organized into the Univ. of Paris. One of them, the Sorbonne, became a fountainhead of theological learning with Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas among its scholars. The university community constituted an autonomous borough; another was formed on the right bank by merchants ruled by their own provost. In 1358, under the leadership of the merchant provost Étienne Marcel, Paris first assumed the role of an independent commune and rebelled against the dauphin (later Charles V). During the period of the Hundred Years War the city suffered civil strife (see Armagnacs and Burgundians), occupation by the English (1419–36), famine, and the Black Death.

During the Renaissance

The Renaissance reached Paris in the 16th cent. during the reign of Francis I (1515–47). At this time the Louvre was transformed from a fortress to a Renaissance palace. In the Wars of Religion (1562–98), Parisian Catholics, who were in the great majority, took part in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day (1572), forced Henry III to leave the city on the Day of Barricades (1588), and accepted Henry IV only after his conversion (1593) to Catholicism. Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII's minister, established the French Academy and built the Palais Royal and the Luxembourg Palace. During the Fronde, Paris once again defied the royal authority. Louis XIV, distrustful of the Parisians, transferred (1682) his court to Versailles. Parisian industries profited from the lavishness of Versailles; the specialization in luxury goods dates from that time. J. H. Mansart under Louis XIV and François Mansart, J. G. Soufflot, and J. A. Gabriel under Louis XV created some of the most majestic prospects of modern Paris.

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

During the late 17th and the 18th cent. Paris acquired further glory as the scene of many of France's greatest cultural achievements: the plays of Molière, Racine, and Corneille; the music of Lully, Rameau, and Gluck; the paintings of Watteau, Fragonard, and Boucher; and the salons where many of the philosophes of the Enlightenment gathered. At the same time, growing industries had resulted in the creation of new classes—the bourgeoisie and proletariat—concentrated in such suburbs (faubourgs) as Saint-Antoine and Saint-Denis; in the opening events of the French Revolution, city mobs stormed the Bastille (July, 1789) and hauled the royal family from Versailles to Paris (Oct., 1789). Throughout the turbulent period of the Revolution the city played a central role.

Napoleon to the Commune

Napoleon (emperor, 1804–15) began a large construction program (including the building of the Arc de Triomphe, the Vendôme Column, and the arcaded Rue de Rivoli) and enriched the city's museums with artworks removed from conquered cities. In the course of his downfall Paris was occupied twice by enemy armies (1814, 1815). In the first half of the 19th cent. Paris grew rapidly. In 1801 it had 547,000 people; in 1817, 714,000; in 1841, 935,000; and in 1861, 1,696,000. The revolutions of July, 1830, and Feb., 1848, both essentially Parisian events, had repercussions throughout Europe. Culturally, the city was at various times the home or host of most of the great European figures of the age. Balzac, Hugo, Chopin, Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, Delacroix, Ingres, and Daumier were a few of the outstanding personalities. The grand outline of modern Paris was the work of Baron Georges Haussmann, who was appointed prefect by Napoleon III. The great avenues, boulevards, and parks are his work. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Paris was besieged for four months by the Germans and then surrendered. After the Germans withdrew, Parisian workers rebelled against the French government and established the Commune of Paris, which was bloodily suppressed.

Under the Third Republic

With the establishment of the Third French Republic and relative stability, Paris became the great industrial and transportation center it is today. Two epochal events in modern cultural history that took place in Paris were the first exhibition of impressionist painting (1874) and the premiere of Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps (1913). In World War I the Germans failed to reach Paris. After 1919 the outermost city fortifications were replaced by housing developments, including the Cité Universitaire, which houses thousands of students. During the 1920s, Paris was home to many disillusioned artists and writers from the United States and elsewhere. German troops occupied Paris during World War II from June 14, 1940, to Aug. 25, 1944. The city was not seriously damaged by the war.

Contemporary Paris

Paris was the headquarters of NATO from 1950 to 1967; it is the headquarters of UNESCO and the European Space Agency. A program of cleaning the city's major buildings and monuments was completed in the 1960s. The city was the scene in May, 1968, of serious disorders, beginning with a student strike, that nearly toppled the Fifth Republic. In 1971, Les Halles, Paris's famous central market, called by Zola the "belly" of Paris, was dismantled. Construction began immediately on Chatelet Les-Halles, Paris's new metro hub, which was completed in 1977. The Forum des Halles, a partially underground, multistory commercial and shopping center, opened in 1979. Other developments include the Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture, built in 1977, which includes the National Museum of Modern Art. The Louvre underwent extensive renovation, and EuroDisney, a multibillion dollar theme and amusement park, opened in the Parisian suburbs in 1992. A number of major projects in the city were initiated by President François Mitterrand (1981–95); they include the new Bibliothèque Nationale, the glass pyramid at the Louvre, Grande Arche de la Défense, Arab Institute, Bastille Opera, and Cité de la Musique.


See J. Flanner, Paris Journal (2 vol., 1965–71; repr. 1977) and Paris Was Yesterday, 1925–39 (1988); M. Kessel, The History of Paris, from Caesar to Saint Louis (tr. 1969); L. Bernard, The Emerging City: Paris in the Age of Louis XIV (1970); M. Guerrini, Napoleon and Paris: Thirty Years of History (tr. and abr. 1971); D. Thomson, Renaissance Paris (1984); D. Roche, The People of Paris (1987); J. Seigel, Bohemian Paris (1987); J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, Paris: City of Art (2003); S. Roux, Paris in the Middle Ages (2009); J. W. Baldwin, Paris 1200 (2010); E. Hazan, The Invention of Paris (2010); G. Robb, An Adventure History of Paris (2010); C. Rearick, Paris Dreams, Paris Memories (2011); S. Kirkland, Paris Reborn (2013); J. DeJean, How Paris Became Paris (2014); M. McAuliffe, Twilight of the Belle Epoque (2014).

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PARIS. In the early modern period Paris became the city it has been for most of its modern history: the true capital of France, one of the great cities in the world, and a cosmopolitan center of European cultural and intellectual life. Before the sixteenth century, its profile was less grand. Besides its status as a legal and ecclesiastical center, dense with courts and churches, its main claim to renown was the Sorbonne, perhaps the leading university in all of Europe, which attracted students and scholars from far and wide. Though the political capital of the realm, it was not the primary residence of French kings, who mostly remained itinerant, preferring Fontainebleau or the royal castles of the Loire valley to Paris. This would change in the course of the sixteenth century. After 1528, Francis I (ruled 15151547) made Paris his principal place of residence. When Henry IV (ruled 15891610) triumphantly entered Paris in 1598 he proclaimed: "Only now am I king of France." His reign would initiate a series of changes that set Paris on its modern course.


Unlike other French cities, Paris was never granted a charter of liberties that guaranteed a measure of independence from the crown. Its very geography was dominated by seigneurial powers: primarily the king, the archbishop of Paris, and the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, each of which had the right to exercise fiscal and legal control over parts of the city. Paris did have its own governing institutions, but even here there was division, competition, and overlapping jurisdictions. The main site of municipal government was the Hôtel de Ville, where the prévôt des marchands, along with four échevins (aldermen), sixteen quarteniers (district officers), and twenty-four city councillors exercised their power. The Hôtel de Ville regulated river traffic, collected rents from market stalls, and received various fees and duties from commercial transactions. It was rivaled by the Châtelet, which had jurisdiction over the city's courts and prisons. Although the Parlement of Paris had authority over a wide expanse of northern and central France, it paid particular attention to the city's affairs, frequently challenging the power of both the Hôtel de Ville and the Châtelet. Finally, a royal appointee, the prévôt of Paris, rendered justice in the king's name.


Francis I's decision to reside in Paris symbolized the monarchy's renewed commitment to the capital, manifested by a new royal chateau in the Bois de Boulogne and the refurbishing of the Louvre. But it was not until after the Wars of Religion that the imprint of the royal hand began to be seen throughout in the city. Henry IV extended the Louvre, constructed the Place Royale (now Place des Vosges), and completed the Pont-Neuf, the major bridge across the Seine. His widow, Marie de Médicis, erected her own palace, the Luxembourg. She was emulated by Cardinal Richelieu, whose Palais Cardinal became the center of a new area of urban development. The reign of Louis XIV (16431715) witnessed a veritable boom in public squares. Pioneered under the first Bourbon, they became emblematic of the monarchy's hold on the city, with their royal statues standing in the squares' center. Louis's personal dislike of Paris is legendary, but his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert had visions of the capital as a second Rome. He demolished the old walls, graced the periphery with tree-lined boulevards, and installed new public fountains and street lanterns throughout the city.

Colbert's attempts at urban improvement were matched by royal intrusion into the city's governance. In 1666 he created the conseil de police and the following year the office of lieutenant de police, which exercised a broad range of policing activities. Thus not only crime in its myriad forms, but also much of the city's daily life came under royal super-vision and control, largely through the forty commissaires de police and a corps of inspectors who were responsible for patrolling Paris's neighborhoods. The prévôt des marchands, once elected from the mercantile elite, now tended to be chosen by the king from among his officials. The city's neighborhood officials were stripped of their former functions. In short, even though Louis XIV rarely set foot in his capital, monarchical authority prevailed over its municipal institutions as never before.


But other aspects of the city were in fact escaping royal control. Paris was growing and expanding, in part because of the enlarged royal administration, which fostered a steady increase in the number of officials, lawyers, judges, and aristocrats living in the city. Its population went from 250,000 in the mid-sixteenth century to nearly 700,000 on the eve of the Revolution. Much of that growth was in the burgeoning population of artisans and tradesmen who served the wealthy residents, catering to the varied tastes and expanding needs of urban consumers. In the early part of the seventeenth century, as part of the so-called Catholic Renaissance, the number of convents increased dramatically. The whole seventeenth century witnessed a building boom of aristocratic townhouses, with once marginal areas of the city, such as the Marais, transformed into choice neighborhoods for the elite. The poor too increased in number, attracted to the city by its charitable institutions. Urban growth began to run up against the obstacles of the city's traditional limits, something that the crown was intent on preserving. In 1638, an attempt was made to fix the city's boundaries by placing thirty-eight markers designating the limits of urban expansion, but to no avail. In 1670 Paris's city walls were finally torn down, a concession that its suburbs, especially those of Saint-Antoine, Saint-Denis, and Saint-Martin, were already part of the urban landscape.

In the eighteenth century Paris was second only to London in size among European cities. It had a reputation as a well-policed city, with its commissaires and police spies prowling its neighborhoods, backed up by the royal guard. It was also a city known for its amenities and improvements. In the late seventeenth century gas lanterns were installed throughout the city. Some of the clutter and crowding, so characteristic of early modern cities, was steadily eliminated in the course of the eighteenth century. In 1756 shops and stalls were removed from the Pont-Neuf. After Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot's reforms in the 1770s, the dead were no longer interred within the city limits; the Cimetière des Innocents, a gathering spot for all sorts of disreputable people, was closed in 1780, as was the Cour des Miracles, a notorious beggars' haunt. The Place Louis XV, soon to be known as the Place de la Revolution (now the Place de la Concorde), was constructed, offering Parisians a large expanse of open cityscape for strolling and congregating. The rue Royale, an extended boulevard, cut across a large swath of the city, connecting the newly constructed church of the Madeleine with the Place Louis XV. Although Baron Georges Eugène Haussman's great urban thoroughfares would only appear in the late nineteenth century, eighteenth-century Paris was already graced with several boulevards. The crown was still concerned with unauthorized urban growth, however. A series of edicts in the eighteenth century attempted to restrain the growth of Paris within fixed limits. And in 1780, the Farmers-General had a ten-foot wall constructed around the city to ensure the proper collection of taxes.


The royal court was at Versailles, but the city was the true center of the realm's cultural and intellectual life, especially after Louis XIV's death in 1715. It was the capital of print, with over 100,000 titles produced by its printing presses in the course of the century. The city's populace was relatively literate: in the latter part of the century, 90 per cent of the men and 80 per cent of the women signed their wills. Paris was Europe's prime theater venue, combining such establishment institutions as the Comédie Française and the Opéra with comic opera and a vibrant boulevard theater. It was a center of Freemasonry, with over one hundred lodges. A salon culture flourished among the city's cultivated elite in which ladies of fashion hosted gatherings that fostered the new sensibility of the Enlightenment. Art galleries, libraries, coffeehouses, and other meeting places abounded, many novel to the eighteenth century, which together served to create a kind of Parisian public. At the top of the cultural hierarchy were the royal academies: the Académie Française, the Académie des Sciences, and the Société Royale de Médecine, which by the second half of the century had largely been conquered by philosophes of the Enlightenment. Indeed, enlightened men of letters such as Voltaire, Denis Diderot, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were commanding figures on the Parisian public stage, rivaling royalty in renown and importance. Eighteenth-century Paris was rich in by-ways for the cultivation and circulation of new intellectual and cultural trends, making it not only the capital of the Enlightenment, but the creative center of European culture for the next century.

See also Academies, Learned ; Cities and Urban Life ; Colbert, Jean-Baptiste ; France ; Francis I (France) ; Henry IV (France) ; Louis XIV (France) ; Salons ; Universities ; Versailles .


Primary Sources

L'Estoile, Pierre. The Paris of Henry de Navarre, as seen by Pierre de l'Estoile. Translated and edited by Nancy Lyman Roelker. Cambridge, Mass., 1958. Translation of Mémoires-journaux. (15741611).

Mercier, Louis-Sébastien. Panorama of Paris: Selections from Tableau de Paris. Based on the translation by Helen Simpson. Edited by Jeremy D. Popkin. University Park, Pa., 1999. Translation of Tableau de Paris (17821788).

Secondary Sources

Diefendorf, Barbara B. Paris City Councillors in the Sixteenth Century: The Politics of Patrimony. Princeton, 1983.

Duby, Georges, ed. Histoire de la France urbaine. Vol. 3, La ville classique de la renaissance aux révolutions, edited by Roger Chartier. Paris, 19801985.

Isherwood, Robert M. Farce and Fantasy: Popular Entertainment in Eighteenth-Century Paris. Oxford and New York, 1986.

Kaplow, Jeffry. The Names of Kings: The Parisian Laboring Poor in the Eighteenth Century. New York, 1972.

Ranum, Orest. Paris in the Age of Absolutism. Rev. ed. University Park, Pa., 2002.

Roche, Daniel. France in the Enlightenment. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, Mass., 1998. See Chapter 20.

. The People of Paris: An Essay in Popular Culture in the Eighteenth Century. Translated by Marie Evans and Gwynne Lewis. Berkeley, 1987. Translation of Peuple de Paris (1981).

Robert A. Schneider

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Paris Capital of France, on the River Seine. When the Romans took Paris in 52 bc, it was a small village on the Ile de la Cité on the Seine. Under their rule it became an important administrative centre. Paris was the capital of the Merovingian Franks in the 5th century, but subsequently declined. In the 10th century, it was re-established as the French capital by the Capetian kings. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the city expanded rapidly. During the 14th century, Paris rebelled against the Crown and declared itself an independent commune. It suffered further civil disorder during the Hundred Years' War. In the 16th century, it underwent fresh expansion, its architecture strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance. In the reign of Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu established Paris as the cultural and political centre of Europe. The French Revolution began in Paris when the Bastille was stormed by crowds in 1789. Under Emperor Napoleon I the city began to assume its present-day form. The work of modernization was continued during the reign of Napoleon III, when Baron Haussmann was commissioned to plan the boulevards, bridges, and parks. Although occupied during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and again in World War II, Paris was not badly damaged. The city proper consists of the Paris department, Ville de Paris. Its suburbs lie in the departments of the Ile-de-France region. It has many famous buildings and landmarks popular with tourists. Sights include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the Pompidou Centre. Paris remains the hub of France despite attempts at decentralization, and retains its importance as a European cultural, commercial and communications centre. Paris is noted for its fashion industry and for the manufacture of luxury articles. Industries: motor vehicles, chemicals, textiles, clothing. Pop. (1999) 2,125,851; 9,643,880 (metropolitan).

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Paris, University of

University of Paris, at Paris, France; founded 12th cent., confirmed 1215 by papal bull. The most famous of its colleges was the Sorbonne, which opened in 1253 and gained academic and theological distinction during the late Middle Ages and early modern times; the name Sorbonne was often used to designate the university itself. The university was suppressed during the French Revolution and replaced in 1808 by an academy of the centralized Imperial Univ. of France (later the Univ. of France). In 1890 it was reestablished as a university.

The student riots of 1968, which paralyzed Paris for weeks, centered around the university and led to radical changes. In 1970 the university was divided into 13 universities located in Paris and its suburbs, and further reforms followed under the Higher Education Act of 1983. The new universities are state institutions enjoying academic and financial autonomy, operated under the jurisdiction of the minister of education and financed by the state. Each institution has a different focus and scale, appropriate to its status as an autonomous "unit of teaching and research." Paris IX, or Paris Dauphine Univ., for example, which focuses on business, finance, and computer sciences, has some 10,000 students, while Paris I, or Pantheon-Sorbonne Univ., with a more general curriculum, enrolls some 40,000.

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In Greek mythology, Paris was a handsome young prince who eloped with the most beautiful woman in the world and caused the Trojan War*. The son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy*, Paris seemed destined for disaster from birth. Shortly before he was born, his mother dreamed that she gave birth to a flaming torch that destroyed Troy. Priam consulted a seer, who warned the king that the dream foretold disaster for the city. He advised Priam to have the baby killed.

seer one who can predict the future

nymph minor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful

When Paris was born, Priam ordered a shepherd named Agelaus to take the infant and abandon him on Mount Ida. Agelaus followed the instructions, but when he returned to the mountain after several days, he found the infant still alive. Moved by pity, the shepherd took the baby home and raised him as his own son. Paris grew into a very handsome young man. In time he married Oenone, a mountain nymph, and lived with her in the mountains, where he tended cattle.

One day Priam sent servants to the mountains to fetch a bull as a prize for a festival. When the men chose Paris's favorite bull, Paris decided to go to Troy, enter the festival contests, and win the animal back. The young man won all the events, defeating Priam's other sons. Agelaus revealed Paris's true identity to Priam and, forgetting the prophecy , Priam welcomed Paris and restored him to his rightful place in the royal household.

Some time later, Zeus* chose Paris to decide which of three goddesses was the most beautiful. Eris, the goddess of strife or discord, had tossed a golden apple inscribed with the phrase "For the Fairest" into the midst of the guests at a wedding. Hera*, Aphrodite*, and Athena* all claimed the prize. Each goddess promised Paris a special gift if he decided in her favor. Hera promised to make him a powerful ruler. Athena promised him wisdom and victory in battle. Aphrodite offered Paris the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite. His decision, known as "the judgment of Paris," enraged Hera and Athena, who began to plan their revenge.

Paris abandoned his wife, Oenone, and went to Sparta. King Menelaus welcomed Paris and introduced him to Helen, his wife. Aided by Aphrodite, Paris won the beautiful queen's heart. While Menelaus was away, Paris sailed off with Helen, taking part of Sparta's treasure with him. According to some stories, Hera sent a storm that nearly destroyed their ship, but Aphrodite protected them until they reached Troy

In the war that followed, Paris played only a minor role. As a warrior, Paris was greatly inferior to his brother Hector*, and his cowardly nature won little respect. At one point, Hector forced Paris to fight a single-handed combat with Menelaus after the Trojans and Greeks agreed that this would end the war. When Menelaus came close to winning, Aphrodite stepped in and rescued Paris, and the war continued.

prophecy foretelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted

Paris later killed the Greek hero Achilles* by shooting an arrow into his heel, the only spot where Achilles could be wounded. Then Paris himself was struck by a poisoned arrow. He was carried off the battlefield and taken to his wife, Oenone, who had the gift of healing. Angry that Paris had abandoned her, Oenone refused to help him. When she relented shortly afterward, it was too late. Paris was dead.

See also Achilles; Aphrodite; Hector; Hecuba; Helen Of Troy; Iliad, The; Menelaus; Priam; Trojan War; Zeus.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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Paris (city, United States)

Paris (pâr´Ĭs), city (1990 pop. 24,699), seat of Lamar co., E Tex., in the Red River valley; settled 1824. It is a processing center for the rich farms of the blackland region, which produces cotton, grain, and livestock. There are various light manufactures. The city developed after the arrival of the railroad in 1876, and it was rebuilt after its destruction by fire in 1916.

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Paris In Greek legend, the son of Priam and Hecuba. Paris chose Aphrodite as the victor in a competition among goddesses. Aphrodite helped Paris to abduct Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. This kidnapping sparked the Trojan War, in which Paris slew Achilles.

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Parisarris, Clarice, Harries, Harris, Paris •mattress • actress • benefactress •Polaris • enchantress •derris, Nerys, terrace •Emrys • empress •directress, Electress •temptress • sempstress •Apollinaris, heiress •waitress • seamstress • ex libris •headmistress, mistress •housemistress • toastmistress •schoolmistress • ancestress •dentifrice •iris, Osiristigress, Tigris •cypress •Boris, doch-an-dorris, Doris, Horace, Maurice, Norris, orris •cantoris, Dolores, loris •laundress • fortress • jointress •hubris • buttress •conductress, instructress, seductress •huntress • peeress • Beatrice •arbitress • berberis • anchoress •ephemeris • ambassadress •adventuress • clitoris • authoress •avarice

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