Paris is the capital of France and of the Île-de-France region. The city is located in the northern part of France by the Seine just below the mouth of the Marne.
Paris is the only municipality in France that also constitutes a separate ministry. The city municipality has 2,187,526 residents (2017), while the city of Paris (Unité urbaine de Paris) has 10,706,072 residents (2015). The metropolitan area (Aire urbaine de Paris) has 12,532,901 residents (2015), and is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe.
The administrative city, Ville de Paris, is divided into 20 districts with its own local committees and constitutes a municipality and a ministry governed by a city council. Mayor of 2014 is Anne Hidalgo, who represents the Socialist Party.
Transport and Communications
Paris is the center of France’s communications network. The railway network in the country is largely linked to Paris. The city has seven major railway stations, and there is a train connection to all the major cities in France from Paris, in addition to a number of major cities abroad. The motorway network in the country is also largely based on Paris, and motorways radiate out of the city in all directions.
The city has a ring road (Le boulevard périphérique de Paris) which was completed in 1973 and runs around the city municipality. A new motorway around the city (L’autoroute A86) was completed in 2011, while an outer motorway (La Francilienne) was completed north, east and south of the city.
Local traffic in and around the city is provided by the railway, metro and buses. The first metro line was opened in 1900. Several tram lines have been constructed in recent years, primarily on the outskirts of the city. Paris has two international airports, Orly in the south and Charles-de-Gaulle in the northeast. A third airport (Le Bourget) is mainly used by private business aircraft.
Paris is France’s most important inland port. Along the Seine through the city there are almost continuous quays over a stretch of several miles; There are also significant port areas at the largest bee rivers and canals. The power supply is covered by hydropower from distant areas such as the Massif Central and the Alps, and from heat and nuclear power plants near the city. Oil pipelines from Le Havre, gas pipelines from Les Landes in the southwest and the coast in the northeast. The drinking water is mostly taken from large reservoirs in Seine and Marne. The first sewerage system was developed around 1850. Today, a significant part of the sewerage system leads to a treatment plant west of the city, the largest of its kind in Europe.
Paris’ oldest settlement dates from the Middle Ages and is located on two islands in the Seine, Île de la Cité and Saintle Saint-Louis. This is today the city center, but the medieval street network has been replaced by wide, straight streets. Around these islands the city is grown in concentric circles; The city walls marking the city limits from the 1300s to the 1600s can still be traced in the streets and boulevards that surround old Paris. Also the ramparts from the 18th century further out have widened the space for bulldozers; between these and the medieval town are the ancient suburbs, the “Faubourgs”. Finally, an outer boulevard runs along the now defunct fortification site from the 1840s.
In the Middle Ages, the city was divided into La Ville on the right bank of the Seine (tear droite), which was mainly dominated by trade and crafts. The Île de la Cité was the seat of church and administration. Left Seinebredd (tear gauche) was called L’Université and was the center for teaching and research. This differentiation can be clearly traced in today’s cityscape.
Modern Paris was essentially designed in the mid-1800s under Georges-Eugène Haussmann. A network of wide avenues and large, star-shaped squares was built at this time, as were the two innermost of the concentric boulevards. After 1960, Paris has again been the subject of extensive regulation and urban renewal. Larger business, administration and cultural centers have been erected in central areas of the city, including Montparnasse, Grenelle and the area of the old halls. Other areas are restored, such as the 17th-century Marais quarter on the right Seinebedd.
The many beautiful churches, palaces and other buildings are largely located in the seven central districts, which correspond to the city at the time of Louis 14. Notre-Dame Cathedral is located on Ile de la Cité. The Palace of Justice, which was expanded and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries and encloses parts of the old royal castle, provides room for the courts and includes the former royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle and the prison of La Conciergerie. Also on the Ile de la Cité are the police station and Hôtel-Dieu, Paris’ oldest and largest hospital. Île Saint-Louis is a quiet, distinguished area with many residences from the 17th and 18th centuries. Several bridges link the islands to the mainland; most famous is Pont-Neuf, completed in 1606. Further east on the north bank lies the important traffic junction Place de la Bastille, where the Bastille once lay. At Place de la Bastille is the city’s second major opera building (Opéra Bastille), which was inaugurated in 1989.
From Place de la Bastille, Rue Saint-Antoine and the continuation Rue de Rivoli lead west, parallel to Seine, to Place de la Concorde. North of Rue de Rivoli lies the Musée Carnavalet (City Museum) and Archives Nationales (State Archives), between this and the Seine Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and the Archbishop’s Palace Hôtel de Sens (1474-1510). Further west lies the Louvre Art Museum, north of this Palais-Royal with the National Theater, Théâtre Français (Comédie-Française), in an 18th-century wing, and even further north Bibliothèque Nationale, The Banque de France, the La Bourse (stock exchange) and the banking palace of Crédit Lyonnais. The halls erected under the Second Empire at the site of the first halls in the 1100s were moved to Rungi’s eight km further south in the 1960s. Near the Halls is the National Center for Culture and Culture Georges-Pompidou, inaugurated in 1977.
The magnificent opera (1862-1874) is connected to Rue de Rivoli by the wide Avenue de l’Opéra, a mouth- watering shopping street, and Rue de la Paix, which crosses the magnificent Place Vendôme with the 45-meter-high Vendôme pillar with the Napoleon statue on top. Northwest of the opera is the Gare Saint-Lazare train station. From Place de la Concorde, the famous avenue Avenue des Champs-Elysées leads to Place Charles-de-Gaulle (formerly Place de l’Étoile). In this area, the leading fashion houses are located. North of the Champs-Élysées lies the President’s residence Palais de l’Élysée (1718). Place Charles-de-Gaulle stands the 50-meter high and 45-meter-wide Triumphal Arch (1806-1836) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Twelve avenues lead out from the square. Avenue Kléber leads southwest to the Palais de Chaillot, which houses several museums, including the Musée de l’Homme. Further north, Montmartre (129 masl) dominates the Roman-Byzantine-style Sacré-Coeur pilgrimage church (consecrated 1919). The district is the center of the entertainment life, including Place Pigalle and Place Blanche. North and east of Montmartre are densely populated working areas. To the west on the right Seinebredd are the exclusive residential areas of Auteuil and Passy, near Bois de Boulogne.
The second oldest part of Paris, Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter), is on the left Seine bank, south of the dele de la Cité. Here are now the university (La Sorbonne), the Collège de France, the Institut de France with the Académie française, École Polytechnique and other higher education institutions and institutes. Here are also publishers and bookstores. The Musée Cluny has ruins of Roman bathrooms. Panthéon is a secularized church, which is also a tomb of honor. In the Luxembourg Gardens (Luxembourg Garden) lies the Luxembourg Palace. To the south of this is the Montparnasse district, which has followedMontmartre as an artist district. Here are numerous entertainment venues, cafes and nightclubs. Even further south is the Cité Universitaire, founded in 1921, with student accommodation. Further east, at the Seine and Gare d’Austerlitz train station, lies the Jardin des Plantes Botanical Garden and the vineyards. There is also the Institut du Monde Arabe, Institut Musulman and a large mosque. Southeast of Gare d’Ansterlitz lies the new Bibliothèque Nationale de France. West of Quartier Latin is the city’s oldest church Saint-Germain-des-Près.
Boulevard Saint-Germain leads west and northwest to Quai d’Orsay, where the Foreign Office has offices. Close by is the Palais Bourbon (begun 1722), the meeting point of the National Assembly. To the south of the Quai d’Orsay you will find the huge square of the Esplanade des Invalides with the Invalide Cathedral, where Napoleon is buried. Further southwest is the École Militaire, and along the axis between this and the Palais de Chaillot on the right bank the former Excercise Parc du Champ-de-Mars (Mars Field) with the Eiffel Tower. Just off the Eiffel Tower is the Musée de Quai Branly (inaugurated in 2006) which contains the collections of the Musée de l’homme and the Musée des arts d’Afrique, d’Asie et Oceania.
Ville de Paris is bounded by the Bois de Boulogne in the west and Bois de Vincennes in the east, both of which are popular places of departure. In the former lies the famous racecourse of Auteuil and Longchamp, in the latter is a large zoo. Outside the city municipality are older suburban areas such as Nanterre and Argenteuil in the northwest, Saint-Denis in the north, Montreuil in the east, Boulogne-Billancourt and Versailles in the southwest. The new development in the suburban areas has helped to give Paris a new feel with its feature of modern high-rise buildings, such as in La Défense . Also in neighborhoods with predominantly residential development, new buildings break with the old traditions.
Other cities in the Paris region that have received significant new construction include Rungis in the south, Roissy-en-France with Charles-de-Gaulle airport and the actual “new towns”, Cergy-Pontoise at Oise in the northwest, Saint-Quentin -en-Yvelines southwest of Versailles, Marne-la-Vallée by Marne in the east, Evry by Seine in the south and Melun-Sénart in the southeast. All of these are located more than 30-35 km from the center of Paris.
The Paris region is the most important labor market area in France. The industry is versatile with a major emphasis on the electrotechnical, chemical and graphic industries, the food industry and the machinery and transport industry (aircraft and car factories). These are largely located in the suburbs of the city; the engineering industry to a significant extent in the west (including the large car factories), the chemical industry in the northwest, largely along the Seine.
The city is also known for its clothing industry and the production of luxury goods such as perfume, jewelry, cosmetics and haute couture. These types of industries are mainly located in the downtown areas.
The service industries include the central administration and many institutions within the trade, banking and insurance business. The city has about half of the country’s banking and commerce. The large tourist traffic forms the basis for a significant employment in the hotel and restaurant industry. In addition, the city has many practitioners of so-called liberal professions, such as artists, writers and actors.