Paris is the capital city of France. It is situated in the north-central part of the country. People were living on the site of the present-day city, located along the Seine River some 233 miles (375 km) upstream from the river’s mouth on the English Channel (La Manche), by about 7600 BCE. The modern city has spread from the island (the Île de la Cité) and far beyond both banks of the Seine. It is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Paris is one of the most desirable and popular travel destinations in the world thanks to its stunning architecture, its wealth of art and culture and its exquisite gastronomy. Paris is famous for its cafe culture, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Moulin Rouge, pastries, and fashion. Paris is often seen as having beauty, elegance, and as being a boldly romantic city.
Data and facts
- According to recent estimates, the population of the city of Paris is 2,206,488, representing a small decline in population numbers from 2014.However, the population of the surrounding suburbs is estimated to be around 10.5 million, which makes it the most populous urban area in the European Union.
- Paris was originally a Roman City called “Lutetia.”
- The French army was the first to use camouflage, which comes from the French verb “to make up for the stage.” The army began wearing camouflage in 1915 during World War I.
- There are at least three replicas of the Statue of Liberty in Paris. The most famous of them exists on an island in the middle of the Seine and looks towards her sister statue in New York.
- The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be a temporary installation, intended to stand for 20 years after being built for the 1889 World Fair.
- Visitors to the Eiffel Tower have to climb 1,665 steps to reach the top – unless they take the elevator! There are a mere 270 steps to reach the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.
- The first public screening of a movie was by French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière in December 1895. They used their invention “the cinématographe” to show 10 films of about 50 seconds each.
- There are 6,100 rues – or streets – in Paris; the shortest one, Rue des Degrés, is just 5.75 meters long and can be found in the 2nd arrondissement.
As the capital of France, Paris is the seat of France's national government. 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 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 arrondissement. The President of the Senate, the second-highest public official in France after the President of the Republic, resides in the Petit Luxembourg, a small annex to the Palais du Luxembourg. France's highest courts are located in Paris. The Court of Cassation which is the highest court in the judicial order reviews criminal and civil cases.
France’s economic freedom score is 66.0, making its economy the 64th freest in the 2020 Index. Its overall score has increased by 2.2 points, primarily because of an increase in the score for government integrity. France is ranked 34th among 45 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is below the regional average and well above the world average. The French economy has languished in the moderately free category since 2004. GDP growth over the past five years has likewise been tepid. The government continues to push its package of legislative reforms aimed at lowering the stubbornly high rate of unemployment, especially among young people; improving foreign investors’ negative views of the economic environment; increasing competitiveness; and improving public finances.
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.
Construction sites in the City of Light are bustling with activity open day and night. Mechanical moles bore tunnels underneath its foundations as entire neighborhoods are transformed by urban planning projects. There are two goals driving the activity: the city is preparing to host the Olympic Games in 2024, and it is looking ahead to 2050, when it aims to reduce its toxic emissions to zero and become carbon neutral.
President Emmanuel Macron has mapped out the strategic guidelines, but the operative planning is in the hands of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is a huge supporter of infrastructure projects to re-launch the city. The city’s transformation is an opportunity for France as a whole, given that the country has one million engineers (second in Europe only to Germany). The nation looks to Paris as a magnet for the creation of large infrastructure works that are in turn an engine for economic growth.
Paris is living through a new phase of grandeur, flaunting its capacity to finance construction of what will be the world’s largest subway network and at the same time investing in the urban renewal of its hinterland and of the satellite cities that together make up what the French refer to as “Grand Paris” or Greater Paris.
As Paris evolved, certain advancements in technology were made that changed the fabric of cultural life in the city. Specifically, changes occurred in three major areas: the use of glass in architecture, steam railways, and street renovations. Until recently, the global technology boom seemed faint in Paris. French society is more risk averse and less open to startup opportunities than the US and UK, according to a 2016 entrepreneurship survey. Europe, in general, has fewer serial entrepreneurs than in America, where a well-established venture capital industry traces its roots, by some accounts, to the 19th century. Still, the tech scene in Paris is much smaller than in London, and it’s dwarfed by hubs in the US and Israel. Although Macron has said he wants France to become a country of licornes (unicorns), for now it only has one private startup valued at more than $1 billion: long-distance ride-sharing company BlaBlaCar, according to CrunchBase data. The UK has 10, and the US more than 100.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
The French education system consists of three stages: primary education, secondary education, and higher education. Most French elementary and secondary schools, as well as a large number of universities, are public institutions that have highly centralized administrations. The curricula at primary and secondary schools are standardized across all schools for a given grade.
The French health care system is generally recognized as offering one of the best, services of public health care in the world. Above all, it is a system that works, provides universal cover, and is a system that is strongly defended by virtually everyone in France. The health care system in France is made up of a fully-integrated network of public hospitals, private hospitals, doctors and other medical service providers. It is a universal service providing health care for every citizen, irrespective of wealth, age or social status. The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance.
Tourism in Paris is a major income source. In 2018, 17.95 million international, overnight tourists visited the city, mainly for sightseeing and shopping (and estimated to be well over double if including domestic overnight visitors). Top sights include Notre Dame (12 million visitors in 2017), Disneyland Paris, Sacre Cœur, the Versailles Palace, the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, Centre Pompidou, and the Musée d'Orsay. The largest numbers of foreign tourists who come to the Paris region are British, American, German, Italian, Chinese, and Canadian.