An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris had become, by the 12th century, one of Europe's foremost centres of learning and the arts and the largest city in the Western world until the 18th century. Paris is today one of the world's leading business and cultural centres and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities.
Paris and the Paris Region, with €572.4 billion in 2010, produce more than a quarter of the gross domestic product of France and has one of the largest city GDPs in the world. Considered as green and highly liveable, the city and its region are the world's leading tourism destination. They house fourUNESCO World Heritage Sites and many international organizations.
The name Paris derives from that of its earliest inhabitants, the Gaulish tribe known as the Parisii. The city was called Lutetia (more fully, Lutetia Parisiorum, "Lutetia of the Parisii"), during the Roman era of the 1st to the 6th century, but during the reign of Julian the Apostate (360–363), the city was renamed Paris.
It is believed that the name of the Parisii tribe comes from the Celtic Gallic word parisio meaning "the working people" or "the craftsmen."
Paris has many nicknames, but its most famous is "La Ville-Lumière" ("The City of Light"), a name it owes first to its fame as a centre of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment, and later to its early adoption of street lighting. Since the mid-19th century, Paris has been known as Paname([panam]) in the Parisian slang called argot ( Moi j'suis d'Paname, i.e. "I'm from Paname"). The singer Renaud repopularized the term amongst the young generation with his 1976 album Amoureux de Paname ("In love with Paname").
Paris' inhabitants are known in English as "Parisians" and in French as Parisiens ([paʁizjɛ̃] ( listen)) and Parisiennes. Parisians are often pejoratively calledParigots ([paʁiɡo] ( listen)) and Parigotes, a term first used in 1900 by those living outside the Paris region.
The earliest archaeological signs of permanent settlements in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. TheParisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the area near the river Seine from around 250 BC. TheRomans conquered the Paris basin in 52 BC, with a permanent settlement by the end of the same century on theLeft Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill and the Île de la Cité. The Gallo-Roman town was originally called Lutetia, or Lutetia Parisorum but later Gallicised to Lutèce. It expanded greatly over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with a forum, palaces, baths, temples, theatres, and an amphitheatre.
The collapse of the Roman empire and the 5th-century Germanic invasions sent the city into a period of decline. By AD 400, Lutèce, largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into a hastily fortified central island. The city reclaimed its original appellation of "Paris" towards the end of the Roman occupation.
- See Wiktionary for the name of Paris in various languages other than English and French.
- ===Merovingian and Feudal Eras===
The Paris region was under full control of the Germanic Franks by the late 5th century. The Frankish king Clovis the Frank, the first king of the Merovingiandynasty, made the city his capital from 508. The late 8th century Carolingian dynasty displaced the Frankish capital to Aachen; this period coincided with the beginning of Viking invasions that had spread as far as Paris by the early 9th century.
Repeated invasions forced Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité. One of the most remarkable Viking raids was on 28 March 845, when Paris was sacked and held ransom, probably by Ragnar Lodbrok, who left only after receiving a large bounty paid by the crown. The weakness of the late Carolingiankings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris, was elected king of France by feudal lords, and the end of the Carolingian empire came in 987 when Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France. Paris, under the Capetian kings, became a capital once more.
Middle Ages to 19th centuryEdit
During the French Wars of Religion, Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party. In August 1572, under the reign of Charles IX, while many noble Protestants were in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Henry of Navarre – the future Henry IV – to Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre occurred; begun on 24 August, it lasted several days and spread throughout the country.Paris's population was around 200,000 when the Black Death arrived in 1348, killing as many as 800 people a day; and 40,000 died from the plague in 1466. During the 16th and 17th centuries, plague visited the city for almost one year out of three. Paris lost its position as seat of the French realm during the occupation by the English-allied Burgundians during the Hundred Years' War, but regained its title when Charles VII of France reclaimed the city from English rule in 1436. Paris from then on became France's capital once again in title, but France's real centre of power would remain in the Loire Valley untilKing Francis I returned France's crown residences to Paris in 1528.
In 1590 Henry IV unsuccessfully laid siege to the city in the Siege of Paris. During the Fronde, Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city (1648). King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles, a lavish estate on the outskirts of Paris, in 1682. A century later, Paris was the centre stage for the French Revolution, with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and the overthrow of the monarchy in September 1792.
Throughout these events, cholera epidemics in 1832 and 1849 ravaged the population of Paris; the 1832 epidemic alone claimed 20,000 of the population of 650,000.Paris was occupied by Russian and Allied armies upon Napoleon's defeat on the 31 March 1814; this was the first time in 400 years that the city had been conquered by a foreign power. The ensuing Restoration period, or the return of the monarchy under Louis XVIII (1814–1824) and Charles X, ended with the July Revolution Parisian uprising of 1830. The new 'constitutional monarchy' under Louis-Philippe ended with the 1848 "February Revolution" that led to the creation of the Second Republic.
The greatest development in Paris's history began with the Industrial Revolution creation of a network of railways that brought an unprecedented flow of migrants to the capital from the 1840s. The city's largest transformation came with the 1852 Second Empire under Napoleon III; his préfet, Baron Haussmann, levelled entire districts of Paris' narrow, winding medieval streets to create the network of wide avenues and neo-classical façades that still make up much of modern Paris; the reason for this transformation was twofold, as not only did the creation of wide boulevards beautify and sanitize the capital, it also facilitated the effectiveness of troops and artillery against any further uprisings and barricades for which Paris was so famous.
France's late 19th-century Universal Expositions made Paris an increasingly important centre of technology, trade, and tourism. Its most famous were the 1889Exposition universelle to which Paris owes its "temporary" display of architectural engineering progress, the Eiffel Tower, which remained the world's tallest structure until 1930; the 1900 Universal Exposition saw the opening of the first Paris Métro line.The Second Empire ended in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), and a besieged Paris under heavy bombardment surrendered on 28 January 1871. The discontent of Paris' populace with the new armistice-signing government seated in Versailles resulted in the creation of the Paris Commune government, supported by an army created in large part of members of the city's former National Guard who would both continue resistance against the Prussians and oppose the army of the "Versaillais" government. The Paris Commune ended with the Semaine Sanglante ("Bloody Week"), during which roughly 20,000 "Communards" were executed before the fighting ended on 28 May 1871. The ease with which the Versaillais army overtook Paris owed much to Baron Haussmann's renovations.
During World War I, Paris was at the forefront of the war effort, having been spared a German invasion by the French and British victory at the First Battle of the Marnein 1914. In 1918–1919, it was the scene of Allied victory parades and peace negotiations. In the inter-war period, Paris was famed for its cultural and artistic communities and its nightlife. The city became a gathering place of artists from around the world, from exiled Russian composer Stravinsky and Spanish paintersPicasso and Dalí to American writer Hemingway.
In the post-war era, Paris experienced its largest development since the end of the Belle Époque in 1914. The suburbs began to expand considerably, with the construction of large social estates known as cités and the beginning of the business district La Défense. A comprehensive express subway network, the RER, was built to complement the Métro and serve the distant suburbs, while a network of freeways was developed in the suburbs, centred on the Périphérique expressway encircling the city.On 14 June 1940, five weeks after the start of the Battle of France, an undefended Paris fell to German occupation forces. The Germans marched past the Arc de Triomphe on the 140th anniversary of Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Marengo. German forces remained in Paris until the city was liberated in August 1944 after a resistance uprising, two and a half months after the Normandy invasion. Central Paris endured World War II practically unscathed, as there were no strategic targets for Allied bombers (train stations in central Paris are terminal stations; major factories were located in the suburbs). Also, German General von Choltitz did not destroy all Parisian monuments before any German retreat, as ordered by Adolf Hitler, who had visited the city in 1940.
Since the 1970s, many inner suburbs of Paris (especially the northern and eastern ones) have experienced deindustrialization, and the once-thriving cités have gradually become ghettos for immigrants and experienced significant unemployment. At the same time, the city of Paris (within its Périphérique expressway) and the western and southern suburbs have successfully shifted their economic base from traditional manufacturing to high-value-added services and high-tech manufacturing, generating great wealth for their residents whose per capita income is among the highest in Europe. The resulting widening social gap between these two areas has led to periodic unrest since the mid-1980s, such as the 2005 riots which were concentrated for the most part in the northeastern suburbs.
Nevertheless, the Paris metropolitan area is still divided into numerous territorial collectivities and their fusion into a more integrated metropolis government, although sometimes discussed is not on the agenda. An ad-hoc structure, Paris Métropole, has however been established in June 2009 to coordinate the action of 184 "Parisian" territorial collectivities.A massive urban renewal project, the Grand Paris (Greater Paris), has been launched in 2007 by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It consists of various economic, cultural, housing, transport and environmental projects to reach a better integration of the territories and revitalise the metropolitan economy. The most emblematic project is the construction by 2025 of a new automatic metro which will consist of 150 km rapid-transit lines connecting the Grand Paris regions to one another and to the centre of Paris.
In an effort to boost the global economic image of metropolitan Paris, several skyscrapers (300 m (984 ft) and higher) have been approved since 2006 in the business district of La Défense, to the west of the city proper, and are scheduled to be completed by the early 2010s. Paris authorities also stated publicly that they are planning to authorise the construction of skyscrapers within the city proper by relaxing the cap on building height for the first time since the construction of the Tour Montparnassein the early 1970s.
Paris is located in the north-bending arc of the river Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which form the oldest part of the city. Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest point is 35 m (115 ft) above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130 m (427 ft). Paris as seen from the Spot Satellite.Excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, Paris covers an oval measuring 86.928 km2 (34 sq mi) in area. The city's last major annexation of outlying territories in 1860 not only gave it its modern form but also created the twenty clockwise-spiralling arrondissements (municipal boroughs). From the 1860 area of 78 km2 (30 sq mi), the city limits were expanded marginally to 86.9 km2 (34 sq mi) in the 1920s. In 1929, the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes forest parks were officially annexed to the city, bringing its area to the present 105.39 km2 (41 sq mi).
Summer days are usually warm and pleasant with average temperatures hovering between 15 and 25 °C, and a fair amount of sunshine. Each year, however, there are a few days where the temperature rises above 32 °C (90 °F). Some years have even witnessed some long periods of harsh summer weather, such as the heat wave of 2003 where temperatures exceeded 30 °C (86 °F) for weeks, surged up to 40 °C (104 °F) on some days and seldom cooled down at night. More recently, the average temperature for July 2011 was +17.6 °C, with an average minimum temperature of 12.9 °C and an average maximum temperature of 23.7 °C.
Spring and autumn have, on average, mild days and fresh nights, but are changing and unstable. Surprisingly warm or cool weather occurs frequently in both seasons.
In winter, sunshine is scarce; days are cold but generally above freezing with temperatures around 7 °C (45 °F). Light night frosts are however quite common, but the temperature will dip below −5 °C (23 °F) for only a few days a year. Snowfall is rare, but the city sometimes sees light snow or flurries with or without accumulation. Recently, notably in 2009, 2010 and 2011, intense cold waves brought repeated heavy snowfalls (15 cm (5.91 in) during one of December 2010's fourteen snowstorms) and temperatures plummeting to −10 °C (14 °F) and −20 °C (−4 °F) in the Paris suburbs.
Rain falls throughout the year, and although Paris is not a very rainy city, it is known for intense sudden showers. Average annual precipitation is 652 mm (25.7 in) with light rainfall fairly distributed throughout the year. The highest recorded temperature is 40.4 °C (105 °F) on 28 July 1948, and the lowest is a −23.9 °C (−11 °F) on 10 December 1879.