Paris (in English; in French) is the capital of France and the country's largest city. It is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region (also known as the "Paris Region"; Région parisienne). The city of Paris within its administrative limits (largely unchanged since 1860) has an estimated population of 2,167,994 (January 2006). The Paris unité urbaine (or urban area) extends well beyond the administrative city limits and has an estimated population of 9.93 million (in 2005). The Paris aire urbaine (or metropolitan area) has a population of nearly 12 million, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe.
An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world's leading business and cultural centres, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. According to 2005 estimates by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm, the Paris urban area is Europe's biggest city economy, and is fifth in the world's list of cities by GDP.
The Paris Region, with €500.8 billion (US$628.9 billion), produced more than a quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP) of France in 2006. The Paris Region hosts 37 of the Fortune Global 500 companies in several business districts, notably La Défense, the largest purpose-built business district in Europe. Paris also hosts many international organizations such as UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the informal Paris Club.
Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with over 30 million foreign visitors per year. There are numerous iconic landmarks among its many attractions, along with world-famous institutions and popular parks.
Other authors consider that the name of the Parisii tribe comes from the Celtic Gallic word parisio meaning "the working people" or "the craftsmen." Since the early 20th century, Paris has been known as Paname ([panam]) in French slang (i.e. "I'm from Paname"), a slang name that has been regaining favor with young people in recent years.
Paris has many nicknames, but its most famous is "La Ville-Lumiere" (literally, "The Light City"; although most often translated as "The City of Lights" or as "The City of Light"), a name it owes both to its fame as a centre of education and ideas and its early adoption of street lighting.
Paris' inhabitants are known in English as "Parisians" ([pʰəˈɹɪzɪənz] or [pʰəˈɹiːʒn̩z]) and in French as Parisiens (). Parisians are often pejoratively called Parigots by those living outside the Paris region, but the term may be considered endearing by Parisians themselves.
Cholera epidemics in 1832 and 1849 affected the population of Paris—the 1832 epidemic alone claimed 20,000 of the then population of 650,000. Paris also suffered greatly from the siege which ended the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871): in the chaos caused by the fall of Napoleon III's government, the Commune of Paris (1871) sent many of Paris' administrative centres (and city archives) up in flames while 20,000 Parisians were killed by fighting between Commune and Government forces in what became known as the semaine sanglante (Bloody Week).
Paris recovered rapidly from these events to host the famous Universal Expositions of the late nineteenth century. The Eiffel Tower was built for the French Revolution centennial 1889 Universal Exposition, as a "temporary" display of architectural engineering prowess but remained the world's tallest building until 1930, and is the city's best-known landmark, while the 1900 Universal Exposition saw the opening of the first Paris Métro line. Paris' World's Fairs also consolidated its position in the tourist industry and as an attractive setting for international technology and trade shows.
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 Marne in 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 painters Picasso and Dalí to American writer Hemingway.
In June 1940, five weeks after the start of the Battle of France, Paris fell to German occupation forces who remained there until the city was liberated in August 1944, two 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), and also because of its cultural significance. 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.
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 circling around the city.
Since the 1970s, many inner suburbs of Paris (especially the north and eastern ones) have experienced deindustrialization, and the once-thriving cités have gradually become ghettos for immigrants and oases of unemployment. At the same time, the city of Paris (within its Périphérique ring) 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 largely concentrated in the northeastern suburbs.
In parallel, President Sarkozy also launched in 2008 an international urban and architectural competition for the future development of metropolitan Paris. Ten teams gathering architects, urban planners, geographers, landscape architects will offer their vision for building a Paris metropolis of the 21st century in the post-Kyoto era and make a prospective diagnosis for Paris and its suburbs that will define future developments in Greater Paris for the next 40 years. The goal is not only to build an environmentally sustainable metropolis but also to integrate the inner suburbs with the central City of Paris through large scale urban planning operations and iconic architectural projects.
Meanwhile, in an effort to boost the image of metropolitan Paris in the global competition, several supertall skyscrapers (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. The City of Paris authorities also made public 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 Montparnasse in 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 elevation is above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at .
Paris, excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, covers an oval measuring in area. The city's last major annexation of outlying territories in 1860 not only gave it its modern form, but created the twenty clockwise-spiralling arrondissements (municipal boroughs). From the 1860 area of , the city limits were expanded marginally to 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 .
Paris has warm summers with average high temperatures of and lows of . Winters are chilly, but rarely below freezing point with temperatures around - . Spring and fall have mild days and cool evenings. Rainfall could occur at any time of the year, and although not a very rainy city, Paris is known for its sudden showers. The yearly annual precipation is with light rainfall fairly distributed throughout the year. Snowfall is a rare occurrence, but the city could see light snow or flurries without accumulation in some winters. The highest record temperature ever in Paris was on 28 July 1948, and the lowest was a on 10 December 1879.
"Modern" Paris is the result of a vast mid-19th century urban remodelling. For centuries the city had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and half-timber houses, but beginning in 1852, the Baron Haussmann's vast urbanisation levelled entire quarters to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of bourgeoise standing; most of this 'new' Paris is the Paris we see today. These Second Empire plans are in many cases still applied today, as the city of Paris is still imposing the then-defined "alignement" law (building facades placed according to a pre-defined street width) on many new constructions. A building's height was also defined according to the width of the street it lines, and Paris' building code has seen few changes since the mid-19th century to allow for higher constructions. It is for this reason that Paris is mainly a "flat" city.
Paris' unchanging borders, strict building codes and lack of developable land have together contributed in creating a phenomenon called muséification (or "museumification") as, at the same time as they strive to preserve Paris' historical past, existing laws make it difficult to build within the city limits the larger buildings and utilities needed for a growing population. Many of Paris' institutions and economic infrastructure are already located in, or are planning on moving to, the suburbs. The financial (La Défense) business district, the main food wholesale market (Rungis), major renowned schools (École Polytechnique, HEC, ESSEC, INSEAD, etc.), world famous research laboratories (in Saclay or Évry), the largest sport stadium (Stade de France), and some ministries (namely the Ministry of Transportation) are located outside of the city of Paris. The National Archives of France are due to relocate to the northern suburbs before 2010. The need for a larger Paris is largely acknowledged by the French government. As of November 2007, discussions for such a larger Paris have begun, though which suburbs should be included in this larger Paris is unresolved. In any case, such an extension will not occur before the French city-hall elections, scheduled in the spring of 2008.
Three of the most famous Parisian landmarks are the twelfth century cathedral Notre Dame de Paris on the Île de la Cité, the nineteenth century Eiffel Tower, and the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower was a "temporary" construction by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exposition but the tower was never dismantled and is now an enduring symbol of Paris. The Historical axis is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that run in a roughly straight line from the city centre westwards: the line of monuments begins with the Louvre and continues through the Tuileries Gardens, the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe centred in the Place de l'Étoile circus. From the 1960s the line was prolonged even further west to the La Défense business district dominated by square-shaped triumphal Grande Arche of its own; this district hosts most of the tallest skyscrapers in the Paris urban area. The Invalides museum is the burial place for many great French soldiers, including Napoleon, and the Panthéon church is where many of France's illustrious men and women are buried. The former Conciergerie prison held some prominent Ancien Régime members before their deaths during the French Revolution. Another symbol of the Revolution are the two Statues of Liberty located on the Île des Cygnes on the Seine and in the Luxembourg Garden. A larger version of the statues was sent as a gift from France to America in 1886 and now stands in New York City's harbour.The Palais Garnier built in the later Second Empire period, houses the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet, while the former palace of the Louvre now houses one of the most famous museums in the world. The Sorbonne is the most famous part of the University of Paris and is based in the centre of the Latin Quarter. Apart from Notre Dame de Paris, there are several other ecclesiastical masterpieces including the Gothic thirteenth century Sainte-Chapelle palace chapel and the Église de la Madeleine.
Two of Paris' oldest and famous gardens are the Tuileries Garden, created from the 16th century for a palace on the banks of the Seine near the Louvre, and the Left bank Luxembourg Garden, another formerly private garden belonging to a château built for the Marie de' Medici in 1612. The Jardin des Plantes, created by Louis XIII's doctor Guy de La Brosse for the cultivation of medicinal plants, was Paris' first public garden.
A few of Paris' other large gardens are Second Empire creations: the formerly suburban parks of Montsouris, Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Monceau (formerly known as the "folie de Chartres"), were creations of Napoleon III's engineer Jean-Charles Alphand and the landscape and are enjoyed by all ages. Another project executed under the orders of Baron Haussmann was the re-sculpting of Paris' western Bois de Boulogne forest-parklands; the Bois de Vincennes, on the city's opposite eastern end, received a similar treatment in years following.
Newer additions to Paris' park landscape are the Parc de la Villette, built by the architect Bernard Tschumi on the location of Paris' former slaughterhouses, the Parc André Citroën and gardens being lain to the periphery along the traces of its former circular "Petite Ceinture" railway line: Promenade Plantée.
Paris' main cemetery was located to its outskirts on its Left Bank from the beginning of its history, but this changed with the rise of Catholicism and the construction of churches towards the city centre, many of them having adjoining burial grounds for use by their parishes. Generations of a growing city population soon filled these cemeteries to overflowing, creating sometimes very unsanitary conditions: condemned from 1786, the contents of all Paris' parish cemeteries were transferred to a renovated section of Paris' then suburban stone mines outside the Left Bank "Porte d'Enfer" city gate (today 14th arrondissement's place Denfert-Rochereau). After a tentative creation of several smaller suburban cemeteries, Napoleon Bonaparte provided a more definitive solution in the creation of three massive Parisian cemeteries to the outside of the Fermiers-Généraux city tax walls; Open from 1804, these were the cemeteries of Père Lachaise, Montmartre, Montparnasse, and later Passy.
When Paris annexed all communes to the inside of its much larger ring of suburban fortifications in 1860, its cemeteries were once again within its city walls. New suburban cemeteries were created in the early 20th century: the largest of these are the Cimetière Parisien de Saint-Ouen, the Cimetière Parisien de Bobigny-Pantin, the Cimetière Parisien d'Ivry and the Cimetière Parisien de Bagneux.
Paris' largest opera houses are the 19th century Opéra Garnier (historical Paris Opéra) and modern Opéra Bastille; the former tends towards the more classic ballets and operas, and the latter provides a mixed repertoire of classic and modern. In middle of 19th century there were active two other competing opera houses: Opéra-Comique (which still exists to this day) and Theatre Lyrique (which in modern times changed its profile and name to Théâtre de la Ville).
Theatre traditionally has occupied a large place in Parisian culture. This still holds true today, although, perhaps strangely, many of its most popular actors today are also stars of French television. Some of Paris' major theatres include Bobino, Théâtre Mogador and the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse. Some Parisian theatres have also doubled as concert halls. Many of France's greatest musical legends, such as Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Georges Brassens and Charles Aznavour, found their fame in Parisian concert halls: legendary yet still-showing examples of these are Le Lido, Bobino, l'Olympia, la Cigale and le Splendid.
The Élysées-Montmartre, much reduced from its original size, is a concert hall today. The New Morning is one of few Parisian clubs still holding jazz concerts, but the same also specialises in 'indie' music. More recently, the Le Zénith hall in Paris' La Villette quarter and a "parc-omnisports" stadium in Bercy serve as large-scale rock concert halls.
Paris' culinary reputation has its base in the many origins of its inhabitants. With the early-19th century railways and ensuing industrial revolution came a flood of migration that brought with it all the gastronomical diversity of France's many different regions, and maintained through 'local speciality' restaurants catering to the tastes of people from all.
Hotels were another result of widespread travel and tourism, especially Paris' late-19th century Expositions Universelles (World's Fairs). Of the most luxurious of these, the Hôtel Ritz appeared in the Place Vendôme from 1898, and the Hôtel de Crillon opened its doors on the north side of the place de la Concorde from 1909.
Parisians tend to share the same movie-going trends as many of the world's global cities, that is to say with a dominance of Hollywood-generated film entertainment. French cinema comes a close second, with major directors (réalisateurs) such as Claude Lelouch, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Luc Besson, and the more slapstick/popular genre with director Claude Zidi as an example. European and Asian films are also widely shown and appreciated. A specialty of Paris is its very large network of small movie theatres: on a given week the movie fan has the choice between around 300 old or new movies from all over the world.
Many of Paris' concert/dance halls were transformed into movie theatres when the media became popular from the 1930s. Later most of the largest cinemas were divided into multiple, smaller rooms: Paris' largest cinema today is by far le Grand Rex theatre with 2,800 seats, while other cinemas all have fewer than 1,000 seats. There is now a trend toward modern multiplexes that contain more than 10 or 20 screens.
Paris has always been a destination for traders, students and those on religious pilgrimages, but its 'tourist industry' began on a large scale only with the appearance of rail travel, namely from state organisation of France's rail network from 1848. Among Paris' first mass attractions drawing international interest were, from 1855, the above-mentioned Expositions Universelles that would bring Paris many new monuments, namely the Eiffel Tower from 1889. These, in addition to the capital's Second Empire embellishments, did much to make the city itself the attraction it is today.
Paris' museums and monuments are among its highest-esteemed attractions; tourism has motivated both the city and national governments to create new ones. The city's most prized museum, the Louvre, welcomes over 8 million visitors a year, being by far the world's most visited art museum. The city's cathedrals are another main attraction: its Notre Dame de Paris and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur receive 12 million and eight million visitors respectively. The Eiffel Tower, by far Paris' most famous monument, averages over six million visitors per year and more than 200 millions since its construction. Disneyland Resort Paris is a major tourist attraction not only for visitors to Paris, but to Europe as well, with 14.5 million visitors in 2007.
The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous museums, housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue. Works by Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin are found in Musée Picasso and Musée Rodin respectively, while the artistic community of Montparnasse is chronicled at the Musée du Montparnasse. Starkly apparent with its service-pipe exterior, the Centre Georges Pompidou, also known as Beaubourg, houses the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Art and artifacts from the Middle Ages and Impressionist eras are kept in Musée Cluny and Musée d'Orsay respectively, the former with the prized tapestry cycle The Lady and the Unicorn. Paris' newest (and third largest) museum, the Musée du quai Branly, opened its doors in June 2006 and houses art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Many of Paris' once-popular local establishments have come to cater to the tastes and expectations of tourists, rather than local patrons. Le Lido, The Moulin Rouge cabaret-dancehall, for example, are a staged dinner theatre spectacle, a dance display that was once but one aspect of the cabaret's former atmosphere. All of the establishment's former social or cultural elements, such as its ballrooms and gardens, are gone today. Much of Paris' hotel, restaurant and night entertainment trades have become heavily dependent on tourism, with results not always positive for Parisian culture.
Paris' most popular sport clubs are the football club Paris Saint-Germain FC, the basketball team Paris Basket Racing, and the rugby union club Stade Français. The 80,000-seat Stade de France was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and is used for football and rugby union, and is used annually for French rugby team's home matches of the Six Nations Championship and sometimes for big matches for the Stade Français rugby team.
In addition to Paris Saint-Germain FC, the city has a number of other amateur football clubs: Paris FC, Red Star, RCF Paris and Stade Français Paris. The last is the football section of the omnisport club of the same name, most notable for its rugby team.
The city's major rugby side is Stade Français. Racing Métro 92 Paris (who now play in Rugby Pro D2) is another rugby team, which actually contested the first ever final against Stade Français in 1892. Paris also hosted the 1900 and 1924 Olympic Games and was venue for the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups.
Although the starting point and the route of the famous Tour de France varies each year, the final stage always finishes in Paris and since 1975, the race has finished on the Champs-Elysées. Tennis is another popular sport in Paris and throughout France. The French Open, held every year on the red clay of the Roland Garros National Tennis Centre near the Bois de Boulogne, is one of the four Grand Slam events of the world professional tennis tour. The 2006 UEFA Champions League Final between Arsenal and FC Barcelona was played in the Stade de France. Paris hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup final at Stade de France on 20 October 2007.
With a 2005 GDP of €478.7 billion (US$595.3 billion), the Paris region has one of the highest GDPs in Europe, making it an engine of the global economy: were it a country, it would rank as the fourteenth largest economy in the world. The Paris Region is France's premier centre of economic activity: while its population accounted for 18.7% of the total population of metropolitan France in 2005, its GDP was about 28.5% of the same. Activity in the Paris urban area, though diverse, doesn't have a leading specialised industry (such as Los Angeles with entertainment industries or London and New York with financial industries in addition to their other activities). Recently the Paris economy has been shifting towards high value-added service industries (finance, IT services, etc.) and high-tech manufacturing (electronics, optics, aerospace, etc).
The Paris region's most intense economic activity through the central Hauts-de-Seine département and suburban La Défense business district places Paris' economic centre to the west of the city, in a triangle between the Opéra Garnier, La Défense and the Val de Seine. Paris' administrative borders have little consequences on the limits of its economic activity: although most workers commute from the suburbs to work in the city, many commute from the city to work in the suburbs.
Although the Paris economy is largely dominated by services, it remains an important manufacturing powerhouse of Europe, especially in industrial sectors such as automobiles, aeronautics, and electronics. Over recent decades, the local economy has moved towards high value-added activities, in particular business services.
The 1999 census indicated that of the 5,089,170 persons employed in the Paris urban area, 16.5% worked in business services, 13.0% in commerce (retail and wholesale trade), 12.3% in manufacturing, 10.0% in public administrations and defence, 8.7% in health services, 8.2% in transportation and communications, 6.6% in education, and the remaining 24.7% in many other economic sectors. Among the manufacturing sector, the largest employers were the electronic and electrical industry (17.9% of the total manufacturing workforce in 1999) and the publishing and printing industry (14.0% of the total manufacturing workforce), with the remaining 68.1% of the manufacturing workforce distributed among many other industries. Tourism and tourist related services employ 6.2% of Paris' workforce, and 3.6% of all workers within the Paris Region.
The population of the city of Paris was 2,125,246 at the 1999 census, lower than its historical peak of 2.9 million in 1921. The city's population loss mirrors the experience of most other core cities in the developed world that have not expanded their boundaries. The principal factors in the process were a significant decline in household size, and a dramatic migration of residents to the suburbs between 1962 and 1975. Factors in the migration included de-industrialisation, high rent, the gentrification of many inner quarters, the transformation of living space into offices and improved affluence among working families. The city's population loss was one of the most severe among international municipalities and the largest for any that had achieved more than 2,000,000 residents. These losses are generally seen as negative for the city; the city administration is trying to reverse them with some success, as the population estimate of July 2004 showed a population increase for the first time since 1954, reaching a total of 2,144,700 inhabitants.
The Paris agglomeration has shown a steady rate of growth since the end of the late 16th century French Wars of Religion, save brief setbacks during the French Revolution and World War II. Suburban development has accelerated in recent years: with an estimated total of 11.4 million inhabitants for 2005, the Île-de-France région shows a rate of growth double that of the 1990s.
The first wave of international migration to Paris started as early as in 1820 with the arrivals of German peasants fleeing the agricultural crisis in Germany. Several waves of immigration followed continuously until today: Italians and central European Jews during the 19th century; Russians after the revolution of 1917 and Armenians escaping from the genocide; colonial citizens during World War I and later; Poles between the two world wars; Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese and North Africans from the 1950s to the 1970s; North African Jews after the independence of those countries; Africans and Asians since then.
For the executive, the two chief officers each have their own official residences, which also serve as their offices. The President of France resides at the Élysée Palace in the 8th arrondissement, while the Prime Minister's seat is at the Hôtel Matignon in the 7th arrondissement. Government ministries are located in various parts of the city – many are located in the 7th arrondissement, near the Matignon.
The two houses of the French Parliament are also located on the Left Bank. The upper house, the Senate, meets in the Palais du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement, while the more important lower house, the Assemblée Nationale, meets in the Palais Bourbon in the 7th. The President of the Senate, the second highest public official in France after the President of the Republic, resides in the "Petit Luxembourg", a smaller palace annex to the Palais du Luxembourg.
France's highest courts are located in Paris. The Court of Cassation, the highest court in the judicial order, which tries most criminal and civil cases, is located in the Palais de Justice on the Île de la Cité, while the Conseil d'État, which provides legal advice to the executive and acts as the highest court in the administrative order, judging litigation against public bodies, is located in the Palais Royal in the 1st arrondissement.
Paris has been a commune (municipality) since 1834 (and also briefly between 1790 and 1795). At the 1790 division (during the French Revolution) of France into communes, and again in 1834, Paris was a city only half its modern size, but in 1860 it annexed bordering communes, some entirely, to create the new administrative map of twenty municipal arrondissements the city still has today. These municipal subdivisions describe a clockwise spiral outward from its most central, the 1st arrondissement.
In 1790, Paris became the préfecture (seat) of the Seine département, which covered much of the Paris region. In 1968, it was split into four smaller ones: the city of Paris became a distinct département of its own, retaining the Seine's departmental number of 75 (originating from the Seine département's position in France's alphabetical list), while three new départements of Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne were created and given the numbers 92, 93 and 94 respectively. The result of this division is that today Paris' limits as a département are exactly those of its limits as a commune, a situation unique in France.
Each of Paris' 20 arrondissements has a directly elected council (conseil d'arrondissement), which in turn elects an arrondissement mayor. A selection of members from each arrondissement council form the Council of Paris (conseil de Paris), which in turn elects the mayor of Paris.
In medieval times Paris was governed by a merchant-elected municipality whose head was the provost of the merchants: in addition to regulating city commerce, the provost of the merchants was responsible for some civic duties such as the guarding of city walls and the cleanliness of city streets. The creation of the provost of Paris from the 13th century diminished the merchant Provost's responsibilities and powers considerably: a direct representative of the king, in a role resembling somewhat the préfet of later years, the Provost of Paris oversaw the application and execution of law and order in the city and its surrounding prévôté (county). Many functions from both provost offices were transferred to the office of the crown-appointed lieutenant general of police upon its creation in 1667.
Paris' last Prévôt des marchands was assassinated the afternoon of the 14th of July 1789 uprising that was the French Revolution Storming of the Bastille. Paris became an official "commune" from the creation of the administrative division on 14 December the same year, and its provisional "Paris commune" revolutionary municipality was replaced with the city's first municipal constitution and government from 9 October 1790. Through the turmoil of the 1794 Thermidorian Reaction, it became apparent that revolutionary Paris' political independence was a threat to any governing power: the office of mayor was abolished the same year, and its municipal council one year later.
Although the municipal council was recreated in 1834, Paris spent most of the 19th and 20th centuries, along with the larger Seine département of which it was a centre, under the direct control of the State-appointed préfet of the Seine, in charge of general affairs there; the state-appointed Prefect of Police was in charge of police in the same jurisdiction. Paris, save for a few brief occasions, would have no mayor until 1977, and the Paris Prefecture of Police is still under state control today.
Despite its dual existence as commune and département, Paris has a single council to govern both; the Council of Paris, presided by the mayor of Paris, meets either as a municipal council (conseil municipal) or as a departmental council (conseil général) depending on the issue to be debated.
Paris' modern administrative organisation still retains some traces of the former Seine département jurisdiction. The Prefecture of Police (also directing Paris' fire brigades), for example, has still a jurisdiction extending to Paris' petite couronne of bordering three départements for some operations such as fire protection or rescue operations, and is still directed by France's national government. Paris has no municipal police force, although it does have its own brigade of traffic wardens.
Twelve centuries later, education in Paris and the Paris region (Île-de-France région) employs approximately 330,000 persons, 170,000 of whom are teachers and professors teaching approximately 2.9 million children and students in around 9,000 primary, secondary, and higher education schools and institutions.
Paris is home to several of France's most prestigious high-schools such as Lycée Louis-le-Grand and Lycée Henri-IV. Other high-schools of international renown in the Paris area include the Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye and the École Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel.
As of the academic year 2004-2005, the Paris Region's 17 public universities, with its 359,749 registered students, is the largest concentration of university students in Europe. The Paris Region's prestigious grandes écoles and scores of university-independent private and public schools have an additional 240,778 registered students, that together with the university population creates a grand total of 600,527 students in higher education that year.
Following the 1968 student riots, there was an extensive reform of the University of Paris, in an effort to disperse the centralised student body. The following year, the formerly unique University of Paris was split between thirteen autonomous universities ("Paris I" to "Paris XIII") located throughout the City of Paris and its suburbs. Each of these universities inherited only some of the departments of the old University of Paris, and are not generalist universities. Paris I, II, V and X, inherited the Law School; Paris V inherited the School of Medicine as well; Paris VI and VII inherited the scientific departments; etc.
In 1991, four more universities were created in the suburbs of Paris, reaching a total of seventeen public universities for the Paris (Île-de-France) région. These new universities were given names (based on the name of the suburb in which they are located) and not numbers like the previous thirteen: University of Cergy-Pontoise, University of Évry Val d'Essonne, University of Marne-la-Vallée and University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Other institutions include the University of Westminster's Centre for International Studies, the American University of Paris, and the American Business School of Paris.
There is also a University of London Institute in Paris(ULIP) which offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in French Studies ratified by the University of London.
The grandes écoles system is supported by a number of preparatory schools which offer courses of two to three years duration called Classes Préparatoires, also known as classes prépas or simply prépas. These courses provide entry to the grandes écoles. Many of the best prépas are located in Paris, including Lycée Louis-le-Grand, Lycée Henri-IV, Lycée Saint-Louis, Lycée Janson de Sailly and Lycée Carnot. Two other top-ranking prépas (Lycée Hoche and Lycée Privé Sainte-Geneviève) are located in Versailles, near Paris. Student selection is based on school grades and teacher remarks. Prépas attract most of the best students in France and are known to be very demanding in terms of work load and psychological stress.
The role of Paris as an international trade centre has caused its transportation system to develop considerably throughout history, and it continues its growth at a fast pace today. The public transit networks of the Paris region are coordinated by the Syndicat des transports d'Île-de-France (STIF), formerly Syndicat des transports parisiens (STP). The members of this syndicate are the Ile-de-France region and the eight departments of this region. The syndicate coordinates public transport and contracts it out to the RATP (operating 654 bus lines, the Métro, three tramway lines, and sections of the RER), the SNCF (operating suburban rails, a tramway line and the other sections of the RER) and the Optile consortium of private operators managing 1,070 minor bus lines.
The Métro is Paris' most important transportation system. The system, with 300 stations (384 stops) connected by of rails, comprises 16 lines, identified by numbers from 1 to 14, with two minor lines, 3bis and 7bis, so numbered because they used to be branches of their respective original lines, and only later became independent. In October 1998, the new line 14 was inaugurated after a 70-year hiatus in inaugurating fully new métro lines. Because of the short distance between stations on the Métro network, lines were too slow to be extended further into the suburbs as is the case in most other cities. As such, an additional express network, the RER, has been created since the 1960s to connect more distant parts of the urban area. The RER consists in the integration of modern city-centre subway and pre-existing suburban rail. Nowadays, the RER network comprises 5 lines, 257 stops and of rails.
Additionally, Paris is served by a light rail network of 4 lines, the tramway: Line T1 runs from Saint-Denis to Noisy-le-Sec, line T2 runs from La Défense to Issy, line T3 runs from Pont de Garigliano to Porte d'Ivry, line T4 runs from Bondy to Aulnay-sous-Bois.
Paris is a central hub of the national rail network. The six major railway stations, Gare du Nord, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz, and Gare Saint-Lazare, are connected to three networks: the TGV serving 4 High-speed rail lines, the normal speed Corail trains, and the suburban rails (Transilien).
Furthermore, Paris is served by two major airports: Orly Airport, which is south of Paris, and the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, nearby Roissy-en-France, which is one of the busiest in the world. A third and much smaller airport, Beauvais Tillé Airport, located in the town of Beauvais, to the north of the city, is used by charter and low-cost airlines. The fourth airport, Le Bourget nowadays only hosts business jets, air trade shows and the aerospace museum.
The city is also the most important hub of France's motorway network, and is surrounded by three orbital freeways: the Périphérique which follows the approximate path of 19th century fortifications around Paris, the A86 motorway in the inner suburbs, and finally the Francilienne motorway in the outer suburbs. Paris has an extensive road network with over of highways and motorways. By road Brussels can be reached in three hours, Frankfurt in 6 hours and Barcelona in 12 hours. By train London is now just 2h 15min away, Brussels can be reached in more or less 1h30min, and the south of France with cities like Marseilles or Bordeaux in 3 hours.
Paris in its early history had only the Seine and Bièvre rivers for water. Later forms of irrigation were: a first-century Roman aqueduct from southerly Wissous (later left to ruin); sources from the Right bank hills from the late 11th century; from the 15th century an aqueduct built roughly along the path of the abandoned Wissous aqueduct; finally, from 1809, the canal de l'Ourcq provided Paris with water from less polluted rivers to the northeast of the capital. Paris would only have its first constant and plentiful source of drinkable water from the late 19th century: from 1857, the civil engineer Eugène Belgrand, under Napoleon III's Préfet Haussmann, oversaw the construction of a series of new aqueducts that brought sources from locations all around the city to several reservoirs built atop the Capital's highest points of elevation. From then on the new reservoir system became Paris' principal source of drinking water, and the remains of the old system, pumped into lower levels of the same reservoirs, were from then used for the cleaning of Paris' streets. This system is still a major part of Paris' modern water supply network.
Paris has over 2,400 km of underground passageways dedicated to the evacuation of Paris' liquid wastes. Most of these date from the late 19th century, a result of the combined plans of the Préfet Baron Haussmann and the civil engineer Eugène Belgrand to improve the then very unsanitary conditions in the Capital. Maintained by a round-the-clock service since their construction, only a small percentage of Paris' sewer réseau has needed complete renovation. The entire Paris network of sewers and collectors has been managed since the late 20th century by a computerised network system, known under the acronym "G.A.AS.PAR", that controls all of Paris' water distribution, even the flow of the river Seine through the capital.