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)
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: The franc, with one hundred centimes to a franc
Postal Codes: Five-digits beginning with 75.
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.
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 www.sncf.fr.
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.
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 www.ratp.fr.
Area: 100 sq km (40 sq mi)
Nicknames: The City of Light
Description: The 20 total arrondissements
World population rank1: 22
Percentage of national population2: 16.3%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.2%
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|
|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|
|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.|
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.
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 (1769–1821) to commemorate his military victories.
There are the banks, the stock exchange (La Bourse), and some wholesale fashion stores.
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.
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.
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.
Charming cafés attract many intellectuals and college students in this district.
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.
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.
A neighbor to Ile de la Cité, Ile Saint-Louis is renowned for a beautiful, small church called the Sainte-Chapelle.
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 Rouge—home of the cancan dance—are located here.
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.
The rich and super-rich inhabit these beautiful suburbs of the chic sixteenth and seventeenth arrondissements west of the city.
Air France airline. [Online] Available www.airfrance.fr (accessed December 20, 1999).
La Conciergerie. [Online] Available www.conciergerie.com (accessed December 20, 1999).
Paris Pages. [Online] Available www.paris.org (accessed December 20, 1999).
Paris Tourist Office. [Online] Available http://www.paris-touristoffice.com (accessed December 20, 1999).
RATP. [Online] Available www.ratp.fr (accessed December 20, 1999).
Smartweb. [Online] Available http://smartweb.fr (accessed December 20, 1999).
SNCF. [Online] Available www.sncf.fr (accessed December 20, 1999).
American Embassy in Paris
2 Rue St. Florentin
France and Paris Tourism
444 Madison Ave.
N.Y., N.Y. 10020
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.