History of Paris

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The Palais de la Cité and Sainte-Chapelle, viewed from the left bank, from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (1410)
Paris in 1763 - View of Paris from the Pont Neuf
Paris in 1897 - Boulevard Montmartre, by Camille Pissarro

The history of Paris, France, goes back over 10,000 years, during which time the city grew from a small mesolithic settlement to the largest city, and capital of, France. It further developed into a center of art, medicine, science, fashion, tourism, culture and high finance, becoming one of the world's most influential global cities.[1]


Prehistoric Paris[edit]

In 2006 French researchers digging near Rue Henri-Farman in the 15th arrondissement, not far from the left bank of the Seine, discovered the oldest traces of human settlement in Paris, an encampment of hunter-gatherers dating to between 9800 and 7500 BC.[2] Other traces of temporary settlements were found at Bercy in 1991, dating from around 4500–4200 BC.[3] The excavations at Bercy found the fragments of three wooden canoes used by fishermen on the Seine, the oldest dating to 4800-4300 BC. They are now on display at the Carnavalet Museum.[4][5][6] Excavations at the rue Henri-Farman site found traces of settlements from the middle Neolithic period (4200-3500 BC); the early Bronze Age (3500-1500 BC); and the first Iron Age (800-500 BC). The archaeologists found ceramics, animal bone fragments, and pieces of polished axes.[7] Hatchets made in eastern Europe were found at the Neolithic site in Bercy, showing that first Parisians were already trading with settlements in other parts of Europe.[8]

The Parisii and the Roman conquest (250-52 BC)[edit]

The gold coins minted by the Parisii (1st century BC)

Between 250 and 225 BC, during the Iron Age, the Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, settled on the Île de la Cité and on the banks of the Seine. At the beginning of the 2nd century BC they built an oppidum, a walled fort, either on the Île de la Cité or nearby (no trace of it has ever been found), and they built the first bridges over the Seine.[9] The settlement was called Lucotocia (according to the ancient Greek geographer Strabo) or Leucotecia (according to Roman geographer Ptolemy), and may have taken its name from the Celtic word lugo or luco, for a marsh or swamp.[10] It was the easiest place to cross the Seine, and it had a strategic position on the main trade route, via the Seine and Rhône rivers, between Britain and to the Roman colony of Provence and the Mediterranean.[11][12] The location and the fees for crossing the bridge and passing along the river made the new town prosperous,[13] so much so that it was able to mint its own gold coins, which were used for trade across Europe. Coins from the towns along the Rhine and Danube and even from Cádiz in Spain were found in the excavations of the ancient city.[14]

Julius Caesar and his Roman army campaigned in Gaul between 58 and 53 BC, under the pretext of protecting the territory from Germanic invaders, but in reality to conquer it and annex it to the Roman Republic.[15] In the summer of 53 BC he visited the city, and addressed the delegates of the Gallic tribes, assembled before the temple on the Île de la Cité, asking for them to contribute soldiers and money to his campaign.[16] Wary of the Romans, the Parisii listened politely to Caesar, offered to provide some cavalry, but formed a secret alliance with the other Gallic tribes, under the leadership of Vercingetorix, and launched an uprising against the Romans in January 52 BC.[17]

Caesar responded quickly. He force-marched six legions north to Orléans, where the rebellion had begun, and then to Gergovia, the home of Vercingetorix. At the same time, he sent his deputy, Titus Labienus, with four legions to subdue the Parisii and their allies, the Senons. The Commander of the Parisii, Camulogene, burned the bridge that connected the oppidum to the left bank of the Seine, so the Romans were unable to approach the town. Then Labienus and the Romans went downstream, built their own pontoon bridge at Melun, and approached Lutetia on the right bank. Camulogene responded by burning the bridge to the right bank, and burning the town on the Île de la Cité, before retreating to the left bank, and making camp at what is now Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Labienus deceived the Parisii with a clever ruse; in the middle of the night, he sent part of his army, making as much noise as possible, upstream to Melun, left his most inexperienced soldiers in their camp on the right bank, and, with his best soldiers, quietly crossed the Seine to the left bank and laid a trap for the Parisii. Camulogene, believing that the Romans were retreating, divided his own forces, some to capture the Roman camp, which he thought was abandoned, and others to pursue the Roman army. Instead, he ran directly into the best two Roman legions on the plain of Grenelle, near the site of the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire. The Parisii fought bravely and desperately in what became known as the Battle of Lutetia; Camulogene was killed and his soldiers were cut down by the disciplined Romans. Despite the defeat, the Parisii continued to resist the Romans; they sent eight thousand men to fight with Vercingetorix in his last stand against the Romans at the Battle of Alesia.[18]

Roman Lutetia (52 BC-486 AD)[edit]

A Gallo-Roman stele of Mercury, from Lutetia. The people of Lutetia worshipped both Roman and Celtic gods. (Carnavalet Museum)
Julian the Apostate was crowned Roman Emperor in the Thermes de Cluny in 360 AD. He tried unsuccessfully to roll back the Germanic invasions and the spread of Christianity.

The Romans built an entirely new city as a base for their soldiers and the Gallic auxiliaries, intended to keep an eye on the rebellious province. The new city was called Lutetia or Lutetia Parisiorum (Lutece of the Parisii). The name probably came from the Latin word luta, meaning mud or swamp[19] Caesar had described the great marsh, or marais, along the right bank of the Seine.[20] The major part of the city was on the left bank of the Seine, which was higher and less prone to flood. It was laid out following the traditional Roman town design, along a north-south axis (known in Latin as the card maximus). On the left bank, the main Roman street followed the route of the modern day rue Saint-Jacques. It crossed the Seine and traversed the Ile de la Cité on two wooden bridges; the Petit Pont and the Grand Pont (today's Pont Notre-Dame). The port of the city, where the boats docked, was located on the island, where the parvis of Notre Dame is today. On the right bank, it followed the modern rue Saint-Martin.[21] On the left bank, the cardo was crossed by a less-important east-west decumanus, today's rue Cujas, rue Soufflot and rue des Écoles.

The city was centered on the forum, atop Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, between Boulevard Saint-Michel and rue Saint-Jacques, where rue Soufflot is now located. The main building of the forum was one hundred meters long, and contained a temple, a basilica used for civic functions, and a square portico which covered shops. Nearby, on the slope of the hill, was an enormous amphitheatre, built in the 1st century AD, which could seat ten to fifteen thousand spectators, though the population of the city was only six to eight thousand.[22] Fresh drinking water was supplied to the city by an aqueduct sixteen kilometers long from the basin of Rungis and Wissous. The aqueduct also supplied water to the famous baths, or Thermes de Cluny, built near the forum, at the end of the 2nd century or beginning of the 3rd century.

Under Roman rule, the town was thoroughly Romanized and grew considerably. It was, however, not the largest city or the capital of the Roman province, Lugdunensis Senona—that was Agedincum (modern Sens, Yonne).

Besides the Roman architecture and city design, the newcomers imported Roman cuisine: modern excavations have found amphorae of Italian wine and olive oil, shellfish, and a popular Roman sauce called garum.[21] Despite its commercial importance, Lutetia was only a medium-sized Roman city, considerably smaller than Lyon or Sens, which was the capital of the Roman province of Lyonnaise quatrième, where Lutetia was located.[23]

Christianity was introduced into Paris in the middle of the 3rd century AD. According to tradition, it was brought by Saint Denis, the Bishop of the Parisii, who, along with two others, Rustique and Eleuthere, was arrested by the Roman prefect Fescennius. When he refused to renounce his faith, he was beheaded on Mount Mercury. According to the tradition, Saint Denis picked up his head and carried it to a secret Christian cemetery of Vicus Cattulliacus, about six miles away. A different version of the legend says that a devout Christian woman, Catula, came at night to the site of the execution and took his remains to the cemetery. The hill where he was executed, Mount Mercury, later became the Mountain of Martyrs (Mons Martyrum), eventually Montmartre.[24] A church was built on the site of the grave of St. Denis, which later became the Basilica of Saint-Denis. By the 4th century, the city had its first recognized Bishop, Victorinus (346 AD). By 392 AD, it had a cathedral.[25]

Late in the 3rd century AD, the invasion of Germanic tribes, beginning with the Alamans in 275 AD, caused many of the residents of the left bank to leave that part of the city and move to the safety of the Île de la Cité. Many of the monuments on the left bank were abandoned, and the stones used to build a wall around the Île de la Cité, the first city wall of Paris. A new basilica and baths were built on the island; their ruins were found beneath the square in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.[26] Beginning in 305 AD, the name Lutetia was replaced on milestones by Civitas Parisiorum, or "City of the Parisii". By the late Empire it was known simply as "Parisius" in Latin, and "Paris" in French.[27]

From 355 until 360 Paris was ruled by Julian, the nephew of Constantine the Great and the Caesar, or governor, of the western Roman provinces. When he was not campaigning with the army, he spent the winters of 357-358 and 358-359 in the city, living in a palace on the site of the modern Palais de Justice writing and establishing his reputation as a philosopher. In February 360 his soldiers proclaimed him Augustus, or Emperor, and for a brief time Paris was the capital of the western Roman Empire, until he left in 363 and died fighting the Persians. [28][29] Two other Emperors spent winters in the city near the end of the Roman Empire, trying to halt the tide of barbarian invasions: Valentinian I (365-367) and Gratian in 383 AD.[25]

The gradual collapse of the Roman empire, due to the increasing Germanic invasions of the 5th century, sent the city into a period of decline. In 451 AD, the city was threatened by the army of Attila the Hun, which had pillaged Treves, Metz and Reims The Parisians were planning to abandon the city, but they were persuaded to resist by Saint Genevieve (422-502). Attila bypassed Paris and attacked Orléans. In 461, the city was threatened again by the Salian Franks, led by Childeric I (436-481). The siege of the city lasted ten years. Once again Genevieve organized the defense. She rescued the city by bringing wheat to the hungry city from Brie and Champagne on a flotilla of eleven barges. She became the patron saint of Paris.[30]

In 481, the son of Childeric, Clovis I, just sixteen years old, became the new ruler of the Franks. In 486, he defeated the last Roman armies, and became the ruler of all of Gaul north of the Loire River. With the consent of Genevieve, he entered Paris. He was converted to Christianity by his wife Clothilde, was baptised at Reims in 496, and made Paris his capital.[31]

Paris from Clovis to the Capetian Kings (6th to 11th centuries)[edit]

The Church of the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Late 11th century) was the burial place of the first Kings of France.

Clovis the Frank, the first Christian king to rule over Paris, made Paris his capital from 508. He and his successors of the Merovingian dynasty built a host of churches; a basilica on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, near where the Roman forum had been; the Cathedral of Saint-Étienne where Notre Dame is now; and several important monasteries, including one in the fields of the left bank which later became the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. They also built the Basilica of Saint-Denis, which became the traditional burial place of the Kings of France. None of the Merovingian buildings survived, but there are four marble Merovingian columns in the church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre.[32] The kings of the Carolingian dynasty, who came to power in 751, moved the Frankish capital to Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), and paid little attention to Paris, though King Pepin the Short did build an impressive new sanctuary at Saint-Denis, which was consecrated in the presence of Charlemagne on 24 February 775.[33]

In the 9th century, the city was repeatedly attacked by the Vikings, who sailed up the Seine on great fleets of ships. They demanded a ransom and ravaged the fields. In 885-886, they laid siege to Paris for a year, and tried again in 887 and 889, but they were unable to conquer the city, protected by the Seine and the walls on the Île de la Cité. [34]The two bridges, vital to the city, were additionally protected by two massive stone fortresses, the Grand Châtelet on the right bank, and the Petit Châtelet on the left bank, which were built on the initiative of Gauzlin, the bishop of Paris. The Grand Châtelet gave its name to the modern Place du Châtelet, on the same site.[35] [34]

At the end of the 10th century, a new dynasty of kings, the Capetians, begun by Hugh Capet in 987, came to power. Though they spent little time in the city, they restored the royal palace on the Île de la Cité, and built a church where the Sainte-Chapelle stands today. Prosperity returned gradually to the city, and the right bank began to be populated. On the left bank, they founded an important monastery, the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The Kings of the Merovingian dynasty were buried inside the church of Saint-Germain-des Prés, which was rebuilt in the 11th century. The monastery next to it became famous for its scholarship and illuminated manuscripts.

Paris in the Middle Ages (12th-15th centuries)[edit]

The Château of the Louvre as it appeared in this mid-15th century manuscript illumination, Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry.
Sainte-Chapelle, the chapel of the former royal palace on the Île de la Cité, flooded by light through the stained glass windows, is a masterpiece of the Gothic style. (13th century)
A page of the first book printed in France (1470); Epistolae ("Letters"), by Gasparinus de Bergamo (Gasparino da Barzizza).
The Hôtel de Cluny (1485-1510), the former residence of the abbots of the Cluny monastery, is now the Museum of the Middle Ages.

At the beginning of the 12th century the French kings controlled little more than Paris and the surrounding region, but under the Capetian kings, Paris gradually became the political, economic, religious and cultural capital of France. [34] The distinctive character of the city's districts was emerging. The Île de la Cité was the site of the royal palace, and the new Cathedral of Notre-Dame begun in 1163. The Left Bank (south of the Seine) was the site of the new University established by the church and King to train scholars in theology, mathematics and law, and of two great monasteries, the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève.[36] [34] The Right Bank (north of the Seine) became the centre of commerce and finance, where the port, the central market, workshops and the houses of merchants were located. A league of merchants, the Hanse Parisienne, was established and quickly became a powerful force in the city's affairs. Between 1170 and 1220, the population of the city doubled, from 25,000 to 50,000,

The royal palace and the Louvre[edit]

At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the royal residence was on the Île de la Cité. Between 1190 and 1202, King Philippe-Auguste built the massive Château du Louvre, designed to protect the right bank of the Seine against an English attack from Normandy. The fortress was a great rectangle 72 by 78 metres, surrounded by four towers and a moat. In the centre was a circular tower thirty meters high. The foundations can be seen today in the basement of Louvre Museum.

Before he departed for the crusades, Philippe-Auguste began construction of new fortifications for the city. He built a stone wall on the left bank, with thirty round towers. On the right bank, the wall extended for 2.8 kilometers, with forty towers, protecting the new neighborhoods of the growing medieval city. Many pieces of the wall can still be seen today, particularly in the Marais. His third great project, much appreciated by the Parisians, was to pave the foul-smelling mud streets of the city with stone. He also rebuilt the city's two wooden bridges, the Petit-Pont and Grand-Pont, in stone, and he began construction on the right bank of a covered market, which took the name Les Halles.[37]

King Philip IV (1285-1314) reconstructed the royal residence on the Île de la Cité, transforming it from a fortress into a palace. Two of the great ceremonial halls still remain, within the structure of the Palais de Justice. He also built a more sinister structure, the gibet of Montfacuon, where the bodies of executed criminals were displayed, near the modern Place Fabien and the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. On 13 October 1307, he used his royal power to arrest the members of the Knights Templar, whom he felt had grown too powerful, and on 18 March 1314, he had the Grand Master of the Order, Jacques de Molay, burned alive on the point of the Île de la Cité.[38]

The new King, Charles V, built a new wall of fortifications around the city, including a large fortress guarding the gate of Saint-Antoine, at the east end of the city; it became known as the Bastille. He moved his residence from the Île de la Cité to the Louvre and built an imposing new castle at Vincennes, east of city.[39]

Saint-Denis, Notre-Dame and the birth of the Gothic style[edit]

The flourishing of religious architecture in Paris was largely the work of Suger, the abbot of Saint-Denis from 1122-1151, and advisor to King Louis VI and Louis VII. He rebuilt the façade of the old Carolingian Basilica of Saint Denis, dividing it into three horizontal levels and three vertical sections, symbolizing the Holy Trinity. Then, from 1140 to 1144 AD, he rebuilt the rear of the church with a majestic and dramatic wall of stained glass windows, flooding the church with light. This style, which later was named Gothic, was copied by other Paris churches: the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and quickly spread to England and Germany.[40][41]

An even more ambitious building project, a new cathedral for Paris, was begun by Bishop Maurice de Sully in about 1160, and continued for two centuries. The first stone of the choir of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was laid in 1163, and the altar consecrated in 1182. The façade was built between 1200 and 1225, and the two towers were built between 1225 and 1250. It was an immense structure, 125 metres long, with towers 63 meters high, and seats for 1300 worshippers. The plan of the cathedral was copied on a smaller scale on the left bank of the Seine, in the church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre,i[42][43]

In the 13th century, Louis IX, (1226–1270), known to history as "Saint Louis", built the masterpiece of Gothic Art, Sainte-Chapelle especially to house relics from the cruxifixion of Christ. Built between 1241 and 1248, it has the oldest stained glass windows existing in Paris. At the same time that Saint-Chapelle was built, the great stained glass rose windows, eighteen meters high, were added to the transept of Notre Dame Cathedral.[37]

The University[edit]

Under Louis VI and Louis VII, Paris became one of the principal centers of learning in Europe. Students, scholars and monks flocked to the city from England, Germany and Italy to engage in intellectual exchanges, to teach and be taught. They studied first in the different schools attached to Notre-Dame, and the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The most famous teacher was Pierre Abelard (1079–1142), who taught five thousand students at the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. The University of Paris was originally organized in the mid-12th century as a guild or corporation of students and teachers. It was recognized by King Philippe-Auguste in 1200, and officially recognised by Pope Innocent III, who had studied there, in 1215. Some twenty thousand students lived on the Left Bank, which became known as the Latin Quarter, because Latin was the language of instruction at the university. The poorer students lived in colleges (Collegia pauperum magistrorum), which were hotels where they were lodged and fed. In 1257, the chaplain of Louis IX, Robert de Sorbon, opened the oldest and most famous College of the University, which was later named after him, the Sorbonne.[44] From the 13th to the 15th century, the University of Paris was the most important school of Roman Catholic theology in Western Europe, whose teachers included Roger Bacon from England, Saint Thomas Aquinas from Italy, and Saint Bonaventure from Germany. [34][40]

The Paris merchants[edit]

Beginning in the 11th century, Paris had been governed by a Royal Provost, appointed by the King, who lived in the Grand Châtelet fortress. Saint Louis created a new position, the Provost of the Merchants (prévôt des marchands), to share authority with the Royal Provost, and to recognize the growing power and wealth of the merchants of Paris. He also created the first municipal council of Paris with twenty-four members. The guilds of craftsmen also were growing in importance; the city took its coat of arms, featuring a ship, from the symbol of the guild of the boatmen.

In 1328 The city population was about two hundred thousand, making it the largest city in Europe, more populous than London or Rome. With the growth in population, came growing social tensions; the first riots took place in December 1306 against the Provost of the merchants, accused of raising rents. The houses of many merchants were burned, and twenty-eight rioters were hanged. In January 1357, Étienne Marcel, the Provost of Paris, led a merchants' revolt in a bid to curb the power of the monarchy and obtain privileges for the city and the Estates General, which had met for the first time in Paris in 1347. After initial concessions by the Crown, the city was retaken by royalist forces in 1358 and Marcel and his followers were killed.[45]

Plague and War[edit]

Map of Paris in 1380.

In the middle of the 14h century, Paris was struck by two great catastrophes; the Bubonic plague and the Hundred Years' War. In the first epidemic of the plague in 1348-1349, forty to fifty thousand Parisians died, a quarter of the population. The plague returned in 1360-61, in 1363, and 1366-1368. [46][39] During the 16th and 17th centuries, plague visited the city almost one year out of three.[47]

The war was even more catastrophic. Beginning in 1346, the English army of King Edward III pillaged the countryside outside the walls of Paris. Ten years later, when King Jean le Bon was captured by the English at the Battle of Poitiers, disbanded groups of French soldiers looted and ravaged the surroundings of Paris.

More misfortunes followed for Paris. An English army and its allies from the Duchy of Burgundy occupied Paris on December 1, 1420. Beginning in 1422, the north of France was ruled by the Duke of Bedford, the Regent for the young King Henry VI of England, resident in Paris, while the King of France ruled only France south of the Loire River. When Joan of Arc tried to liberate Paris on the 8th of September 1429, the Parisian merchant class joined with the English and Burgundians in keeping her out.[39] King Henry VI of England was crowned King of France at Notre Dame Cathedral on 16 December 1431.The English did not leave Paris until 1436, when Charles VII of France, was finally able to return. Many areas were left in ruins; a hundred thousand people, half the population, had departed.

Once Paris became France's capital again, the succeeding monarchs chose to live in the Loire Valley, returning to Paris only on special occasions.[48] King Francis I finally returned the royal residence to Paris in 1528.

Besides the Louvre, cathedral and churches, two large residences from the Middle Ages can still be seen in Paris: the Hôtel de Sens, the residence of the Archbishop of Sens (end of the 15th century), now the Forney Library; and the Hôtel de Cluny (1485–1510), the former residence of the abbot of the Cluny Monastery, now the Museum of the Middle Ages, though both buildings were much modified in the centuries that followed. The oldest surviving house in Paris is the house of Nicolas Flamel (1407), located at 51 rue de Montmorency. It was not a private home, but a hostel for the poor.[45]

Renaissance Paris (16th Century)[edit]

The centre of Paris in 1550.
The Fontaine des Innocents (1549), next to the city market, celebrated the entrance of king Henry II into Paris.
The Pont Notre-Dame (1512)), the first Renaissance bridge in Paris, held a street and sixty-eight houses.

By 1500, Paris had regained its old prosperity, and the population once again reached 250,000. Each new king of France added buildings, bridges and fountains to embellish his capital, many in the new Renaissance style imported from Italy.

Louis XI rarely visited Paris, but he rebuilt the old wooden Pont de Notre Dame, which had collapsed on 25 October 1499. The new bridge, opened in 1512, was made of and paved with stone, and lined with sixty-eight houses and shops.[49] On 15 July 1533 King Francois I laid the foundation stone the first Hôtel de Ville, the city hall of Paris, designed by his favourite Italian architect Domenico da Cortona, who also designed the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley for the King. The Hôtel de Ville was not finished until 1628.[50] Cortona also designed the first Renaissance church in Paris, the church of Saint-Eustache, (1532) covering a gothic structure with flamboyant Renaissance detail and decoration. The first Renaissance house in Paris was the Hôtel Carnavalet, begun in 1545. It was modelled after the Grand Ferrare, a mansion in Fontainbleau designed by Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio. It is now the museum of the history of Paris.[51]

In 1534 Francis I became the first French king to make the Louvre his residence; he demolished the massive central tower to create an open courtyard. Near the end of his reign Francis I decided to build a new wing with a Renaissance facade in place of one wing built by Philippe Auguste. The new wing was designed by Pierre Lescot, and became a model for other Renaissance facades in France. Francis I also reinforced the position of Paris as a center of learning and scholarship. In 1500, there were seventy-five printing houses in Paris, second only to Venice; during the 16th century Paris became first in Europe in book publishing. In 1530, Françis I created a new faculty at the University of Paris with the mission of teaching Hebrew, Greek and mathematics. It became the Collège de France.[52] Francis I of France

Francis I died in 1547, and his son, Henry II, continued to decorate Paris in the French Renaissance style; the finest Renaissance fountain in the city, the Fontaine des Innocents, was built to celebrate Henry's entrance into Paris in 1549. Henry II built a new wing for the Louvre, the Pavillon du Roi, along the Seine. The bedroom of the King was on the first floor of this new wing. He also built a magnificent hall for festivities and ceremonies, the Salle des Cariatides, in the Lescot wing of the Louvre.[53]

Henry II died 10 July 1559 from wounds suffered while jousting at his residence at the Hôtel des Tournelles. His widow, Catherine de Medicis, had the old residence demolished in 1563, and between 1564 and 1572 constructed a new royal residence, the Tuileries Palace perpendicular to the Seine, at what was then the edge of the city. To the west of the palace she created a large Italian-style park, which became the Jardin des Tuileries.

An ominous gulf was growing within Paris between the followers of the established Catholic church and Protestant Calvinism and Renaissance humanism. The Sorbonne and University of Paris, the major fortresses of Catholic orthodoxy, forcefully attacked the Protestant and humanist doctrines, and the scholar Etienne Dolet was burned at the stake, along with his books, on Place Maubert in 1532, on the orders of the theology faculty of the Sorbonne; but the new doctrines continued to grow in popularity, particularly among the French upper classes. Beginning in 1562, repression and massacres of Protestants in Paris alternated with periods of tolerance and calm, during what became known as the French Wars of Religion. Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party. On the night of 23–24 August 1572, while many prominent Protestants were in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Henri of Navarre—the future Henry IV—to Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, the royal council decided to assassinate the leaders of the Protesants. The targeted killings quickly turned into a general slaughter of Protestants by Catholic mobs, known as St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, and continued through August and September. spreading from Paris to the rest of the country. About three thousand Protestants were killed in Paris, and five to ten thousand elsewhere in France.[52][54][55]

Henry III, attempted to find a peaceful solution but the city's population turned against him and forced him to flee on 12 May 1588, the so-called Day of the Barricades. On 1 August 1589, Henry III was assassinated by a fanatical Dominican monk, Jacques Clément, bringing the Valois line to an end. Paris, along with the other towns of the Catholic League, held out against Henry IV until 1594. After his victory over the Holy Union at the battle of Ivry on 14 March 1590, Henry IV proceeded to lay siege to Paris. The siege was long and unsuccessful, and finally, Henry IV agreed to convert to Catholicism. On 14 March 1594 Henry IV entered Paris, and he was soon crowned King of France.

Paris in the 17th century[edit]

The Medici Fountain (1633) in the Luxembourg Gardens was built by Marie de' Medici to recall her home in Florence
Place des Vosges, former Place Royale, (renamed in 1800), begun in 1605 by Henry IV, inaugurated in 1612 by his son, Louis XIII, was the first prestigious residential square in Paris.
The facade of the church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis in the Marais, a French adaptation of the sober Jesuit style (1627–1647)
The church of Les Invalides (1671–1678) was built by Louis XIV as the chapel of a hospital for injured soldiers.

Paris had suffered greatly during the wars of religion; a third of the Parisians had fled, many houses were destroyed, and the grand projects of the Louvre, the Hôtel de Ville, and the Tuileries Palace were unfinished. Henry IV took away the independence of the city government, and ruled Paris directly through royal officers. He relaunched the building projects, and built a new wing of the Louvre along the Seine, which connected the old Louvre with the new Tuileries Palace. The project of making the Louvre into a single great palace continued for the next three hundred years.[56]

The Paris building projects of Henry IV were managed by his forceful superindent of buildings, a Protestant and a general, Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully. Henry IV recommenced the construction of the Pont Neuf, which had been begun by Henry III in 1578, but had stopped during the wars of religion. It was finished between 1600 and 1607, and was the first Paris bridge without houses and with sidewalks. Near the bridge, he built La Samaritaine (1602–1608), a large pumping station which provided drinking water, as well as water for the gardens of the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. On the vacant site of the old royal residence of Henri II, the Hôtel des Tournelles, he built an elegant new residential square surrounded by brick houses and an arcade. It was built between 1605 and 1612, and was named Place Royale, renamed Place des Vosges in 1800. In 1607, he began work on a new residential triangle, Place Dauphine, lined by thirty-two brick and stone houses, near the end of the Île de la Cité. It was his final project for the city of Paris. Henri IV was assassinated on 14 May 1610 by François Ravaillac, a Catholic fanatic. Four years later, a bronze equestrian statue of the murdered king was erected on the bridge he had constructed at the Île de la Cité western point, looking toward Place Dauphine.[57]

Henry IV's widow, Marie de Medicis, decided to build her own residence, the Luxembourg Palace (1615–1630), modelled after the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. In the Italian gardens of her palace, she commissioned a Florentine fountain-maker, Tommaso Francini, to create the Medici Fountain. Water was scarce in the Left Bank, one reason that part of the city had grown more slowly than the Right Bank. To provide water for her gardens and fountains, Marie de Medicis had the old Roman aqueduct from Rungis reconstructed. In 1616, she also created another reminder of Florence, the Cours la Reine, a long tree-shaded promenade along the Seine west of the Tuileries Gardens.

Louis XIII continued the Louvre project begun by Henri IV, creating the harmonious cour carrée, or square courtyard, in the heart of the Louvre. His chief minister, the Cardinal de Richelieu, added another important building in the centre of Paris. In 1624, he began building a grand new residence for himself, the Palais-Cardinal, now known as the Palais-Royal. He began by buying a large mansion, the Hôtel de Rambouillet, then expanding it with an enormous garden (three times larger than the present garden), with a fountain in the centre, and long rows of trees on either side.[58]

In the first part of the 17th century, Richelieu helped introduce a new religious architectural style into Paris, inspired by the famous churches in Rome, particularly the church of the Jesuits, and the Basilica of Saint Peter. The first façade built in the Jesuit style was that of the church of Saint-Gervais (1616); the first church entirely built in the new style was Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, on rue Saint-Antoine in Le Marais, between 1627-1647. It was not entirely in the Jesuit style, since the architects could not resist loading it with ornament, but it was appreciated by kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV; the hearts of both kings were interred there.[59]

The dome of Saint Peter's in Rome inspired the dome of the chapel of the Sorbonne (1635–1642), commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu, who was the proviseur, or head of the college. The chapel became his final resting place. The plan was taken from another Roman church, San Carlo ai Catinari. The new style, sometimes called Flamboyant Gothic or French baroque, appeared in many other new churches, including Notre-Dame de Bonne-Nouvelle (1624, damaged and then demolished after the Revolution), Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (1629), Saint-Sulpice (1646), and Saint-Roch (1653). The largest project in the new style was Val-de-Grâce, built by Anne of Austria, the widow of Louis XIII. Modeled after the Escorial in Spain, it combined a convent, a church, and royal apartments for the widowed queen. One of the architects of Val-de-Grâce and several of the other new churches was François Mansart, most famous for the sloping roof that became the signature feature of the buildings of the 17th century.[56]

During the first half of the 17th century, the population of Paris nearly doubled, reaching 400,000 at the end of the reign of Louis XIII.[60] To facilitate communication between the Right Bank and Left Bank, Louis XIII built five new bridges over the Seine, doubling the existing number. The nobility, government officials and the wealthy built elegant hôtels particuliers, or town residences, on the Right Bank in the new Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the Faubourg Saint-Jacques, and in the Marais, near Place des Vosges. The new residences featured two new and original specialized rooms; the dining room and the salon. One good example in its original form, the Hôtel de Sully (1625–1630), between Place des Vosges and Rue Saint-Antoine, can be seen today. The old ferryboat between the Louvre and Rue de Bac on the Left Bank (bac designates a flat boat ferry) was replaced by a wooden and then a stone bridge, the Pont Royal, finished by Louis XIV. Near the end of new bridge on the Left Bank, a new fashionable neighborhood, the Faubourg Saint-Germain, soon appeared. Under Louis XIII, two small islands in the Seine, the Île Notre-Dame and the Île-aux-vaches, which had been used for grazing cattle and storing firewood, were combined to make the Île Saint-Louis, which became the site of the splendid hôtels particuliers of Parisian financiers.[61]

Under Louis XIII, Paris solidified its reputation as the cultural capital of Europe. Beginning in 1609, the Louvre Galerie was created, where painters, sculptors, and artisans lived and established their workshops. The Académie Française, modelled after the academies of Italian Renaissance princes, was created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu. The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, later the Academy of Fine Arts, was founded in 1648. The first botanical garden in France, today the Jardin des Plantes, was founded in 1633, both as a conservatory of medicinal plants and for botanical research. It was the first public garden in Paris. The first permanent theatre in Paris was created by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635, within his Palais-Cardinal. The first performance, of Mirame by Jean Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin, co-authored by Cardinal Richelieu, was given in 1641 with Louis XIII, Queen Anne of Austria, and Richelieu in the audience.[62]

Richelieu died in 1642, and Louis XIII in 1643. At the death of his father, Louis XIV was only five years old, and his mother, Anne of Austria, became Regent. Richelieu's successor, Cardinal Mazarin tried to impose a new tax upon the Parlement of Paris, consisting of a group of prominent nobles of the city. When they refused to pay, Mazarin had the leaders arrested. This began a long uprising, called the Fronde parlementaire, of the Paris nobility against the royal authority, which lasted from 1648 to 1653. At times, the young Louis XIV was held under virtual house arrest in the Palais-Royal. He and his mother were forced to flee the city twice, in 1649 and 1651, to the royal château at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, until the army could retake control of Paris. As a result of the Fronde, Louis XIV had a profound lifelong distrust of Paris. He moved his Paris residence from the Palais-Royal to the more secure Louvre: then, in 1671, he moved the royal residence out of the city to Versailles, and came into Paris as seldom as possible.[63]

Despite the distrust of the King, Paris continued to grow and prosper. reaching a population of between 400,000 and 500,000. The King named Jean-Baptiste Colbert as his new Superintendent of Buildings, and Colbert began an ambitious building programme to make Paris the successor to ancient Rome. To make his intention clear Louis XIV organised a festival in the carrousel of the Tuileries in January 1661, in which he appeared, on horseback, in the costume of a Roman Emperor, followed by the nobility of Paris. Louis XIV completed the Cour carrée of the Louvre and built a majestic row of columns along its east façade (1670). Inside the Louvre his architect Louis Le Vau and his decorator Charles Le Brun created the Gallery of Apollo, the ceiling of which featured an allegoric figure of the young king steering the chariot of the sun across the sky. He enlarged the Tuileries Palace with a new north pavilion, and had André Le Nôtre, the royal gardener, remodel the gardens of the Tuileries.

Across the Seine from the Louvre, Louis XIV built the Collège des Quatre-Nations (College of the Four Nations) (1662–1672), an ensemble of four baroque palaces and a domed church, to house students coming to Paris from four provinces recently attached to France (today it is the Institut de France). He built a new hospital for Paris, La Salpêtrière, and, for wounded soldiers, a new hospital complex with two churches, Les Invalides (1674). Louis XIV made his visit to Paris in 1704 to see Les Invalides under construction. In the centre of Paris, he constructed two monumental new squares, Place des Victoires (1689) and Place Vendôme (1698). Louis XIV declared that Paris was secure against any attack, and no longer needed its walls. He demolished the main city walls, creating the space which eventually became the Grands Boulevards. To celebrate the destruction of the old walls, he built two small arches of triumph, Porte Saint-Denis (1672) and Porte Saint-Martin (1676).

The cultural life of the city also flourished; the city's future most famous theater, the Comédie Française, was created in 1681 on a former tennis court on rue Fossés Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The city's first café-restaurant, Café Procope, was opened in 1686 by the Italian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli.[64]

For the poor of Paris, life was very different. They were crowded into tall, narrow, five or six story high building, lining the winding streets on the Île de la Cité and other medieval quarters of the city. Crime in the dark streets was a serious problem. Metal lanterns were hung in the streets and Colbert increased to four hundred the number of archers who acted as night watchmen. Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie was appointed the first lieutenant-general of police of Paris in 1667, a position he held for thirty years; his successors reported directly to the King.[65]

The 18th century[edit]

Louis XV, five years old and the new King, makes a grand exit from the Royal Palace on the Île de la Cité (1715).
The Paris Panthéon (1758-90) was originally built as the church of Sainte-Genevieve, but during the Revolution became a mausoleum for French statesmen, scientists and writers.
The Rotonde in Parc Monceau (1784-91) was one of the gates of the Wall of the Farmers-General built by Louis XVI to tax merchandise coming into the city. The wall and tax were highly unpopular, and fuelled the unrest that led to the French Revolution.

Louis XIV died on 1 September 1715. His nephew, Philippe d’Orléans, the Regent for the five-year-old king Louis XV, moved the royal residence back to Paris, where it remained for seven years. The king lived in the Tuileries Palace, while the Regent lived in his family house, the Palais-Royal, the former Palais-Cardinal of Cardinal Richelieu. The Regent devoted his attention to the theater, the opera, costume balls, and the courtesans of Paris. He made one important contribution to Paris intellectual life. In 1719, he moved the Royal library to the Hôtel de Nevers near the Palais-Royal, where it eventually became part of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France). The king and government remained in Paris for seven years. In 1722, distrustful of the turbulence of Paris, Louis XV returned to Versailles, and visited the city only on special occasions.[66]

One of the major building projects in Paris of Louis XV and his successor, Louis XVI, was the new church of Sainte Geneviève on top of Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, on the Left Bank, the future Panthéon. The plans were approved by the king in 1757 and work continued until the French Revolution. Louis XV also built an elegant new military school, the École Militaire (1773), a new medical school, the École de Chirurgie (1775), and a new mint, the Hôtel des Monnaies (1768), all on the Left Bank.[67]


Under Louis XV, the city expanded westward. A new boulevard, the Champs-Élysées, was laid out from the Tuileries Garden to the Rond-Point on the Butte (Place de l'Étoile) and then to the Seine. At the beginning of the boulevard, between the Cours la Reine and the Tuileries gardens, a large square was created between 1766 and 1775, with an equestrian statue of Louis XV in the center. It was first called Place Louis XV, later Place de la Révolution, finally Place de la Concorde.[68]

Between 1640 and 1789, Paris grew in population from 400,000 to 600,000. It was no longer the largest city in Europe; London passed it in population in about 1700, but it was still growing at a rapid rate, largely by an immigration from the Paris basin and from the north and east of France. The center of the city became more and more crowded; building lots became smaller and buildings taller, to four, five and even six stories. In 1784, the height of buildings was finally limited to nine toises, or about eighteen meters.[69]

Age of Enlightenment[edit]

In the 18th century, Paris was the center of an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity known as the Age of Enlightenment. Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert published their Encyclopedie in 1751-52. It provided intellectuals across Europe with a high quality survey of human knowledge. The Montgolfier Brothers launched the first manned flight in a hot-air balloon on 21 November 1783, from the Château de la Muette, near the Bois de Boulogne. Paris was the financial capital of France and continental Europe, the primary European center of book publishing, fashion, and the manufacture of fine furniture and luxury goods.[70] Parisian bankers funded new inventions, theatres, gardens, and works of art. The successful Parisian playwright Pierre de Beaumarchais, the author of The Barber of Seville, helped fund the American Revolution.

The first cafe in Paris, the Café Procope had been opened 1686, and by the 1720s there were around 400 cafés in the city. They became meeting places for the city's writers and scholars, The Café Procope was frequented by Voltaire, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Diderot and D’Alembert.[71] They became important centres for exchanging news, rumors and ideas, often more reliable than the newspapers of the day.[72]

By 1763, the Faubourg Saint-Germain had replaced the Marais as the most fashionable residential neighborhood for the aristocracy and the wealthy, who built magnificent private residences, many of which later became government residences or institutions; the Hôtel d'Évreux (1718–1720) later became the Élysée Palace, the residence of the Presidents of the Republic; the Hôtel Matignon became the residence of the Prime Minister; the Palais Bourbon became the home of the National Assembly; the Hôtel Salm became the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the Hôtel de Biron eventually became the Rodin Museum.[73]


The predominant architectural style in Paris from the mid-17th century until the regime of Louis Philippe was neo-classicism, based on the model of Greco-Roman architecture; the most classical example was the new church of La Madeleine, whose construction began in 1764. It was so widely used that it invited criticism: just before the Revolution the journalist Louis-Sébastien Mercier wrote: "How monotonous is the genius of our architects! How they live on copies, on eternal repetition! They don't know how to make the smallest building without columns... They all more or less resemble temples."[74]

Paris in the first half of the 18th century had some beautiful buildings, but it was not a beautiful city. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau described his disappointment when he first arrived in Paris in 1731:

I expected a city as beautiful as it was grand, of an imposing appearance, where you saw only superb streets, and palaces of marble and gold. Instead, when I entered by the Faubourg Saint-Marceau, I saw only narrow, dirty and foul-smelling streets, and villainous black houses, with an air of unhealthiness; beggars, poverty; wagons-drivers, menders of old garments; and vendors of tea and old hats.".[75]

In 1749, in Embellissements de Paris, Voltaire wrote: "We blush with shame to see the public markets, set up in narrow streets, displaying their filth, spreading infection, and causing continual disorders....Immense neighbourhoods need public places. The centre of the city is dark, cramped, hideous, something from the time of the most shameful barbarism."[76]

The main working-class neighbourhood was the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, on the eastern side of the city, the centre for woodwork and furniture-making since the Middle Ages. Many of the artisans' workshops were located there, and it was the home of about ten percent of the population of Paris. The city continued to spread outwards, especially toward the semi-rural west and northwest, where one and two-story stone and wood houses were mingled with vegetable gardens, shacks, and workshops.[77]

The city had no mayor or single city government; its police chief reported to the King, the Prévôt des marchands de Paris represented the merchants, and the Parlement de Paris, made up of nobles, was largely ceremonial and had little real authority: they struggled to provide the basic necessities to a growing population. For the first time, metal plates or stone were put up to indicate the names of streets, and each building was given a number. Rules for hygiene, safety and traffic circulation were codified by the Lieutenant-General of Police. The first oil lamps were installed on the streets late in the 18th century. Large steam pumps were built at Gros-Caillaux and Chaillot to distribute water to the neighbourhoods that could afford it. There were still no proper sewers; the river Bièvre served as an open sewer, discharging the sewage into the Seine. The first fire brigades were organised between 1729 and 1801, particularly after a large fire destroyed the Opera of the Palais-Royal in 1781. In the streets of Paris, the chairs, in which the nobility were carried by their servants gradually disappeared, replaced by horse-drawn carriages, both private and for hire. By 1750, there were more than ten thousand carriages for hire in Paris, the first Paris taxis.[78]

Louis XVI ascended the throne of France in 1774, and his new government in Versailles soon desperately needed money; the treasury had been drained by the Seven Years' War (1755–63) and the French intervention in the American Revolution. Between 1784 and 1791, Paris was encircled by a new wall, designed not to keep invaders out, but to charge taxes on merchandise coming into the city. The wall, called the Wall of the Farmers-General, was twenty-five kilometres long, four to five metres high, and had fifty-six gates where taxes had to be paid. Portions of the wall can still be seen at Place Denfert-Rochereau and Place de la Nation, and one of the toll gates in the Parc Monceau. The wall and the taxes were highly unpopular, and, along with shortages of bread, fuelled the growing discontent which eventually exploded in the French Revolution.[79]

Paris during the French Revolution (1789-1799)[edit]

Main article: French Revolution
The storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 marked the beginning of the French Revolution, though it only freed two prisoners.
The execution of King Louis XVI on the Place de la Revolution. Drums were played loudly so his final words to the crowd could not be heard.
The Festival of the Supreme Being,held on 8 June 1794 on the Champs de Mars, was an official celebration of Cult of reason presided over by Robespierre. On July 27 he was arrested and sent to the guillotine, ending the reign of terror.
Many Paris churches were sold, demolished or turned into other uses during the Revolution. This was the Eglise Saint-Barthelemy on the Île de la Cité, sold and demolished for building materials in 1791.
Despite the Revolution, private building continued in Paris; the Passage des Panoramas, one of the first covered shopping streets in Europe, opened in 1799

In the summer of 1789 Paris became the center stage of the French Revolution, and of events which changed the history of France and Europe. In 1789, the population of Paris was between 600,000 and 640,000. Then as now, most wealthier Parisians lived in the western part of the city, the merchants in the center, and the workers and artisans in the southern and eastern city, particularly the Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The population included about one hundred thousand Parisians who were extremely poor and unemployed, including many who had recently come to escape hunger in the countryside. Known as the sans-culottes, they made up as much as a third of the population of the eastern neighborhoods, and became important actors in the revolution.[80]

On 11 July 1789, soldiers of the Royal-Allemand regiment attacked a peaceful demonstration on Place Louis XV (now Place de la Concorde), a large crowd of Parisians who were protesting the dismissal by the King of his reformist finance minister, Jacques Necker. The reform movement turned quickly into a revolution.[80] On 13 July, a crowd of Parisians occupied the Hôtel de Ville, and the Marquis de Lafayette organized a Garde nationale to defend the city. On 14 July, a mob seized the arsenal at the Invalides, acquiring thousands of guns, and stormed the Bastille, a symbol of royal authority, a prison which at the time held only two prisoners. 87 revolutionaries were killed in the fighting. The governor of the Bastille, the Marquis de Launay, surrendered and then was killed, and his head put on the end of a pike and carried around Paris. The Provost of the merchants of Paris, Jacques des Fleselles, was also murdered.[81] The fortress itself was completely demolished by November, and the stones turned into souvenirs.[82]

The first independent Paris Commune, or city council, met in the Hôtel de Ville and on 15 July, and chose a new Mayor, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly. [83] The King came to Paris on 17 July, where he was welcomed by the new mayor and wore the tricolor on his hat; red and blue, the colors of Paris, and white, the royal color.[84]

On 5 October 1789, a large crowd of Parisians marched to Versailles and, the following day, brought the royal family and government back to Paris, as virtual prisoners. The new government of France, the National Assembly, began to meet in the Salle du Manège of the Tuileries Palace.[85]

On 21 May 1790, the Charter of the city of Paris was adopted, declaring the city independent of royal authority. The city was divided into twelve municipalities, (later known as arrondissements), and into forty-eight sections. It was governed by a mayor, sixteen administrators and thirty-two city council members. Bailly was formally elected Mayor by the Parisians on 2 August 1790.[86]

A solemn ceremony, the Fête de la Fédération, was held on the Champ de Mars on 14 July 1790. The units of the National Guard, led by the Lafayette, took an oath to defend “The Nation, the Law and the King”, and swore to uphold the Constitution approved by the king.[87]

Louis XVI and his family fled Paris on 21 June 1791, but were captured in Varennes and brought back to Paris on 25 June. Hostility grew within Paris between the liberal aristocrats and merchants, who wanted a constitutional monarchy, and the more radical ‘sans-culottes from the working-class and poor neighbourhoods, who wanted a republic and the abolition of the old regime, including the aristocracy and the Church. Aristocrats continued to leave Paris for safety in the countryside or abroad. On 17 July 1791, the National Guard fired upon a gathering of petitioners on the Champs de Mars, killing dozens, widening the gulf between the more moderate and more radical revolutionaries.

Revolutionary life was centered around the political clubs. The Jacobins had their headquarters in a former church on the Rue Saint-Honoré, where the home of its most famous member, Robespierre, was also located. The left bank, near the Odéon Theater, was the home of the club of Cordeliers, and of Jean-Paul Marat, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and of the printers who published the newspapers and pamphlets that enflamed public opinion.

In April, 1792, Austria declared war on France, and in June 1792, the Duke of Brunswick, commander of the army of the King of Prussia, threatened to destroy Paris unless the Parisians accepted the authority of their king.[88] In response to the threat from the Prussians, on 10 August the leaders of the sans-culottes deposed the Paris city government and established their own government, the insurrectional Commune, in the Hôtel-de-Ville. Mobs of sans-culottes attacked the Tuileries Palace, killing the last defenders of the King, his Swiss guards, and forcing the King to seek sanctuary with the National Assembly. The Assembly, threatened by the sans-culottes, “suspended” the power of the King and, on 11 August, declared that France would be governed by a National Convention. On 13 August, Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned in the Temple fortress. On 21 September, at its first meeting, the Convention abolished the monarchy, and the next day declared France to be a republic. The Convention moved its meeting place to a large hall within the Tuileries Palace. The Committee of Public Safety, charged with hunting down the enemies of the Revolution, established its headquarters in the Pavillon de Flore of the Louvre, while the Tribunal, the revolutionary court, set up its courtroom within the old Royal Palace on the Île-de-la-Cité, inside what is now the Palais de Justice.[89]

The new government imposed a reign of terror upon France. From 2 to 6 September 1792, bands of sans-culottes broke into the prisons and murdered refractory priests, aristocrats and common criminals. On 21 January 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined on the Place de la Révolution (former Place Louis XV, renamed Place de la Concorde in 1830). Marie Antoinette was executed on the same square on 16 October 1793. Bailly, the first Mayor of Paris, was sent to the guillotine. During the reign of terror, 16,594 persons were tried by the revolutionary tribune and executed by the guillotine.[90] Tens of thousands of others associated with the old regime were arrested and imprisoned. The property of the aristocracy and of the Church was confiscated and declared Biens nationaux (national property); the churches were closed.

The French Republican Calendar, a new non-Christian calendar, was created, with the year 1793 becoming "Year One": 27 July 1794 was "9 Thermidor of the year II". Many street names were changed, and the revolutionary slogan, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", was engraved on the façades of government buildings. New forms of address were required: ‘’Monsieur’’ and ‘’Madame’’ were replaced by ‘’Citoyen’’ and ‘’Citoyenne’’, and the formal ‘’vous’’ was replaced by the more proletarian ‘’tu’’.[91]

The sans-culottes knocked down the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in 1792; in 1793, a crowd of sans-culottes attacked the façade of the cathedral, destroying the figures of the kings of the Old Testament, believing they were statues of the Kings of France. A number of prominent historic buildings, including the enclosure of the Temple, the Abbey of Montmartre, and most of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, were nationalized and demolished. any churches were sold as public property, and were demolished for their stone and other construction material. Henri Grégoire, a priest and elected member of the Convention, invented a new word, “vandalism”, to describe the destruction of the churches.[91]

A succession of revolutionary factions ruled Paris: on 1 June 1793, the Montagnards seized power from the Girondins, then were replaced by Georges Danton and his followers; in 1794, they were overthrown and guillotined by a new government led by Maximillien Robespierre. On 27 July 1794, Robespierre himself was executed by a coalition of Montagnards and moderates. The executions ceased and the prisons gradually emptied.[92]

A small group of scholars and historians collected statues and paintings from the demolished churches, and made a storeroom of the old Couvent des Petits-Augustins, in order to preserve them. The paintings went to the Louvre, where the Central Museum of the Arts was opened at the end of 1793. In October 1795, the collection at the Petits-Augustins became officially the Museum of French Monuments.[92]

A new government, the Directory took the place of the Convention. It moved its headquarters to the Luxembourg Palace, and limited the autonomy of Paris. When the authority of the Directory was challenged by a royalist uprising on 13 Vendémiaire, Year IV (5 October 1795), the Directory called upon a young general, Napoléon Bonaparte, for help. Bonaparte used cannon and grapeshot to clear the streets of demonstrators. On 18 Brumaire, Year VIII (9 November 1799), he organised a coup d’état, which overthrew the Directory, replacing it by the Consulate with Bonaparte as First Consul. This event marked the end of the French Revolution and opened the way to the First French Empire (Premier Empire).[93]

The population of Paris had dropped to 570,000 by 1797,[94] but building still continued. A new bridge over the Seine, the modern Pont de la Concorde, which had been started under Louis XVI, was completed in 1792. Other landmarks were converted to new purposes: the Pantheon was transformed from a church into a mausoleum for notable Frenchmen, the Louvre became a museum, and the Palais-Bourbon, a residence of the royal family, became the home of the National Assembly. The two first covered commercial streets in Paris, the Passage du Caire and the Passage des Panoramas, were opened in 1799.

The Paris of Napoleon I (1800–1815)[edit]

The Pont des Arts, built by Napoleon I in 1802. was the first iron bridge in Paris. The Institut de France is in the background.
The Elephant of the Bastille, a fountain with a giant bronze elephant begun by Napoleon I in 1810 but never completed.

First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte moved into the Tuileries Palace on 19 February 1800 and immediately began to re-establish calm and order after the years of uncertainty and terror of the Revolution. He made peace with the Catholic church; masses were held again in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, priests were allowed to wear ecclesiastical clothing again, and churches to ring their bells.[95] To re-establish order in the unruly city, he abolished the elected position of the Mayor of Paris, and replaced it with a Prefect of the Seine and a Prefect of Police, both appointed by him. Each of the twelve arrondissements had its own mayor, but their power was limited to enforcing the decrees of Napoleon's ministers.[96]

After he crowned himself Emperor on December 2, 1804, Napoleon began a series of projects to make Paris into an imperial capital to rival ancient Rome. He began construction of the Rue de Rivoli, from the Place de la Concorde to the Place des Pyramides. The old convent of the Capucines was demolished and he built a new street that connected Place Vendôme to the Grands Boulevards. The street was called Rue Napoléon, later renamed Rue de la Paix.[97]

In 1802, he built a revolutionary iron bridge, the Pont des Arts, across the Seine. It was decorated with two greenhouses of exotic plants, and rows of orange trees. Passage across the bridge cost one sou.[97] He gave the names of his victories to two new bridges, the Pont d'Austerlitz (1802) and the Pont d'Iéna (1807)[98]

In 1806, in imitation of Ancient Rome, Napoléon ordered the construction of a series of monuments dedicated to the military glory of France. The first and largest was the Arc de Triomphe, built at the edge of the city at the Barrière d'Étoile, and not finished before July 1836. He ordered the building of the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (1806–1808), copied from the arch of Arch of Septimius Severus and Constantine in Rome, next to the Tuileries Palace. It was crowned with a team of bronze horses he took from the façade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice. His soldiers celebrated his victories with grand parades around the Carrousel. He also commissioned the building of the Vendôme Column (1806–10), copied from the Trajan's Column in Rome, made of the iron of cannon captured from the Russians and Austrians in 1805. At the end of the Rue de la Concorde (given again its former name of Rue Royale on 27 April 1814), he took the foundations of an unfinished church, the Église de la Madeleine, which had been started in 1763, and transformed it into the Temple de la Gloire, a military shrine to display the statues of France’s most famous generals.[99]

Napoleon also looked after the infrastructure of the city, which had been neglected for years. In 1802, he began construction of the Ourq canal to bring fresh water to the city, and built the Bassin de la Villette to serve as a reservoir. To distribute the fresh water to the Parisians, he built a series of monumental fountains, the largest of which was the Fontaine du Palmier, on the Place du Châtelet. He also began construction of the Canal St. Martin to further river transportation within the city.[99]

Napoléon's last project was, in 1810, the Elephant of the Bastille, a fountain in the shape of an colossal bronze elephant, twenty-four meters high, which was intended for the center of the Place de la Bastille, but he did not have time to finish it: an enormous plaster mockup of the elephant stood in the square for many years after the emperor's final defeat and exile.

Paris during the Restoration (1815-1830)[edit]

The Chapelle expiatoire was built by Louis XVIII on the site of the little cemetery where the remains of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were taken after their executions.
The capture of the Hôtel de VIlle during the July Revolution of 1830, which brought down the regime of Charles X.

Following the downfall of Napoleon, an army of 300,000 soldiers from England, Austria, Russia and Germany occupied Paris, and remained until December 1815. Louis XVIII returned to the city and moved into the old rooms of Napoleon at the Tuileries Palace.[100] The Pont de la Concorde became the Pont Louis XVI, a new statue of Henry IV was put back on the empty pedestal next to the Pont Neuf, and the white flag of the Bourbons flew from the top of the column in Place Vendôme.[101]

The aristocrats who had emigrated returned to their town houses in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and the cultural life of the city quickly resumed, though on a less extravagant scale. A new opera house was constructed on rue le Peletier. The Louvre was expanded in 1827 with nine new galleries, putting on display the antiquities collected during Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt.

Work continued on the Arc de Triomphe, and the new churches in the neoclassical style were constructed to replace those destroyed during the Revolution; Saint-Pierre-du-Gros-Caillou (1822-1830); Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (1823-1836); Notre-Dame de Bonne-Nouvelle (1828-1830); Saint-VIncent-de-Paul (1824-1844) and Saint-Denis-du-Saint-Sacrament (1826-1835). The Temple of Glory (1807) created by Napoleon to celebrate military heroes was turned back into a church, the Royal church of La Madeleine. King Louis XVIII also built the Chapelle expiatoire, a church devoted to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, on the site of the small cemetery of the Madeleine, where their remains (now in the Basilica of Saint-Denis) were buried following their execution.[102]

The city grew quickly, and passed 800,000 in 1830.[103] In 1828 to 1860 the city built a horse-drawn omnibus system that was world's first mass public transit system. It greatly speeded the movement of people inside the city and became a model for other cities.[104] The old Paris street names, carved into stone on walls, were replaced by royal blue metal plates with the street names in white letters, the model still in use today. Fashionable new neighborhoods were built on the right bank around the Church of Saint-VIncent-de-Paul, the Church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and the Place de l’Europe. “The New Athens’’ neighbourhood became, during the restoration and period of Louis-Philippe, the home of artists and writers. The actor François-Joseph Talma lived at number 9 rue de la Tour-des-Dames; the painter Eugene Delacroix lived at 54 rue Notre-Dame de-Lorette. The novelist George Sand lived in the Square d'Orléans, a private community opening at 80 rue Taibout, which had forty-six apartments and three artists' studios. She lived on the first floor of number five, while Frederic Chopin lived on the ground floor of number nine.[105]

Louis XVIII was succeeded by his son Charles X in 1824, but the government became increasingly unpopular with both the upper classes and the general population of Paris. The play ‘’Hernani’’ (1830) by the twenty-eight year old Victor Hugo, caused disturbances and fights in the theater audience because of its calls for liberty of expression. On 26 July, Charles X signed decrees limiting freedom of the press and dissolving the Parliament, provoking demonstrations which turned into riots which turned into a general uprising. After three days, known as the ‘’Trois Glorieuses’’ the army joined the demonstrators, the King departed Paris and the Marquis de Lafayette and the new constitutional monarch, Louis-Philippe, raised he tricolor flag again before cheering crowds at the Hôtel de Ville.[103]

The Paris of Louis-Philippe (1830–1848)[edit]

The Pont Neuf in 1832 (Carnavalet Museum)
A huge crowd watched as the Luxor oblelisk was hoisted into place on the Place de la Concorde on 25 October 1836.

The Paris of King Louis-Philippe was the city described in the novels of Honore de Balzac and Victor Hugo. The population of Paris increased from 785,000 in 1831 to 1,053,000 in 1848, crowded more and more densely in the center of the city.[106]

The heart the city, around the Ile de la Cite, was a maze of narrow, winding streets and crumbling buildings from earlier centuries; it was picturesque but dark, crowded, unhealthy and dangerous. Water was distributed by porters carrying buckets from a pole on their shoulders, and the sewers emptied directly into the Seine. A cholera outbreak in the centre 1830 killed twenty thousand people. The Comte de Rambuteau, the prefect of the Seine for fifteen years under Louis-Philippe, made tentative efforts to improve the center of the city; he paved the quays of the Seine with stone paths, and planted trees along the river. He built a new street (now Rue Rambuteau) to connect the Le Marais District with the markets, and began construction of Les Halles, the famous central markets of Paris, finished by Napoleon III.[107]

Louis-Philippe lived in his old family residence, the Palais-Royal until 1832, before moving to the Tuileries Palace. His chief contribution to the monuments of Paris was the completion of the Place de la Concorde in 1836; the huge square was decorated with two fountains, one devoted to river commerce and the other to sea commerce, and statues of women representing the great cities of France. (The statue of Strasbourg was a likeness of Juliette Drouet, the mistress of Victor Hugo. The Place de la Concorde was further embellished on 25 October 1836 by the placement of the obelisque of Luxor, weighing two hundred fifty tons, carried to France from Egypt on a specially-built ship. In the same year, at the other end of the Champs-Élysées, Louis-Philippe completed and dedicated the Arc de Triomphe, which had been begun by Napoleon I.[107]

The ashes of Napoleon were returned to Paris from Saint Helena in a solemn ceremony on 15 December 1840, and Louis-Philippe built an impressive tomb for them at the Invalides. He also placed the statue of Napoleon atop the column in the Place Vendome. In 1840 he completed a column in the Place de la Bastille dedicated to the July 1830 revolution which had brought him to power. He also began the restoration of the Paris churches ruined by the French Revolution, carried out by the ardent architectural historian Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, beginning with the church of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Between 1837-1841, he built a new Hôtel de Ville with an interior salon decorated by Eugene Delacroix.[108]

The first railway stations in Paris were built under Louis-Philippe. Each belonged to a different company, they were not connected to each other, and they were outside the center of the city. The first, called Embarcadero Saint-Germain, was opened on 24 August 1837 on Place de l'Europe. An early version of the Gare Saint-Lazare was begun in 1842, and the first lines between Paris and Orleans and Paris and Rouen were inaugurated 1–2 May 1843.[109]

As the population of Paris grew, so did discontent in the working-class neighborhoods. There were riots in 1830, in 1831, 1832, 1835, 1839, and 1840. The 1832 uprising, following the funeral of a fierce critic of Louis-Philippe, General Jean Maximilien Lamarque, was immortalized in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.[110]

The growing unrest finally exploded in 23 February 1848, when a large demonstration was broken up by the army. Barricades went up in the eastern working-class neighborhoods, The King reviewed his soldiers in front of the Tuileries Palace, but instead of cheering him, many shouted "Long Live Reform!" Discouraged, he abdicated and departed for exile in England.

The Second Republic and the Paris of Napoleon III (1848-1870)[edit]

The avenue de l'Opéra, built by Napoleon III. His prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, required that the buildings on the new boulevards be the same height, same style, and be faced with cream-colored stone.
The Paris Opera was the centerpiece of Napoleon III's new Paris. The architect, Charles Garnier, described the style simply as "Napoleon the Third."

In December 1848, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon I, became the first elected President of France, winning seventy-four percent of the vote. Because of the sharp divisions between monarchists and republicans, the "Prince-President" was able to accomplish little, and he was prevented by the Constitution from running for re-election. in December 1851 he organized a coup d'état, dismissed the Parliament, and on 2 December 1852, after winning approval in a national referendum, became Emperor Napoleon III.[111]

Paris had a population of about one million people, most living in crowded and unhealthy conditions. A cholera epidemic in the overcrowded center in 1848 had killed twenty thousand people. In 1853 Napoleon III launched a gigantic public works program, under the direction of his new prefect of the Seine, George Eugene Haussmann, whose purpose was to put unemployed Parisians to work and to bring clean water, light and open space to the centre of the city.[112]

Napoleon III began by enlarging the city limits beyond the twelve arrondissements established in 1795. The towns around Paris had resisted becoming part of the city, fearing higher taxes; Napoleon used his new Imperial power to annex them, adding eight new arrondissements to the city and bringing it to its present size. Over the next seventeen years Napoleon III and Haussmann transformed entirely the appearance of Paris. They demolished most of the old neighborhoods on the Île de a Cité, replacing them with a new Palais de Justice and prefecture of police, and rebuilding the old city hospital, the Hôtel de Dieu. They completed the extension of the Rue de Rivoli, begun by Napoleon I, and built a network of wide boulevards to connect the railway stations and neighborhoods of the city, to improve traffic circulation, and create open space around the city's monuments. The new boulevards also made it harder to build barricades in the neighborhoods prone to uprisings and revolutions, but, as Haussmann himself wrote, this was not the main purpose of the boulevards.[113][114] Haussmann imposed strict standards on the new buildings along the new boulevards; they had to be the same height, to follow the same basic design, and to be faced in a creamy white stone. These standards gave central Paris the street plan and distinctive look it still retains today.[112][115][116]

Napoleon III also wanted to give the Parisians, particularly those in the outer neighborhoods, access to green space for recreation and relaxation. He was inspired by Hyde Park in London, which he had often visited when he was in exile there. He ordered the construction of four large new parks at the four cardinal points of the compass around the city; the Bois de Boulogne to the west; the Bois de Vincennes to the east; the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont to the north; and Parc Montsouris to the south, plus many smaller parks and squares around the city, so that no neighbourhood was more than a ten minute walk from a park.[117]

Napoleon III and Haussmann rebuilt the major railway stations, the Gare de Lyon and the Gare de Nord to make them monumental gateways to the city. They improved the sanitation of the city by building new sewers and water mains under the streets, and built a new reservoir and aqueduct to increase the supply of fresh water, and installed tens of thousands of gaslights to illuminate the streets and monuments. They began construction of the Palais Garnier for the Paris Opera, and built two new theaters at Place de Chatelet, to replace those on the old theater district of the Rue de Temple, known as "The Boulevard of Crime", which had been demolished to make room for the new boulevards. They completely rebuilt the central market of the city, Les Halles, built the first railway bridge over the Seine, and built the monumental Fontaine Saint-Michel at the beginning of the new Boulevard Saint-Michel. They also redesigned the street architecture of Paris, installing new street lamps, kiosks, omnibus stops and public toilets (called "Chalets of necessity"), which were specially designed by the city architect Gabriel Davioud, and which gave the Paris boulevards their distinct harmony and look.[118]

In the late 1860s Napoleon III decided to liberalize his regime and gave greater freedom and power to the legislature. Haussmann became the chief target of criticism in the parliament, blamed for the unorthodox ways in which he financed his projects, for amputating four hectares from the thirty hectares of the Luxembourg Gardens in order to make room for new streets, and for the general inconvenience his projects caused to Parisians for nearly two decades. In Janunary 1870 Napoleon was forced to dismiss him. A few months later Napoleon was drawn into a war with Prussia, and was defeated and captured, but the work on Haussmann's boulevards continued during the Third Republic until they were finally finished in 1927.[119]


A Paris chocolate factory in 1855
Further information: Economic history of France

The first large scale industries arrived in Paris during the reign of Napoleon, and settled in the outskirts of the city, where buildings and land, often taken from churches and convents closed during the Revolution, was available. Large textile mills were built in the faubourg Saint-Antoine and the faubourg Saint-Denis, and the first sugar refinery using sugar beets was opened in Passy in 1812, to replace shipments of sugar from the West Indies blocked by the British blockade. Iron and bronze foundries had been started late in the 18th century the Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Chaillot, and early chemical works at Javel, La Chapelle and Clignancourt. in 1801 Paris had nine hundred enterprises employing sixty thousand workers, but only twenty-four enterprises had more than a hundred workers. Most Parisians were employed in small workshops.[120] Paris in the 19th century had many artisans producing luxury goods, particularly clothing, watches, fine furniture, porcelain, jewelry and leather goods, which commanded premium prices in a world market. [120][121] Throughout the 19th century, the amount of industry and number of workers increased; In 1847 there were three hundred fifty thousand workers in Paris in sixty-five thousand enterprises, but only seven thousand enterprises had more than ten workers. The textile industry declined, but at mid-century Paris produced twenty percent of the steam engines and machinery in France, and had the third largest metallurgy industry. New chemical plants, highly polluting, appeared around the edges of the city in Javel, Grenelle, Passy, Clichy, Belleville and Pantin.[122]

Paris emerged as an international center of finance in the mid-19th century second only to London.[123] It had a strong national bank and numerous aggressive private banks that financed projects all across Europe and the expanding French Empire. Napoleon III had the goal of overtaking London to make Paris the premier financial center of the world, but the war in 1870-71 hit finance hard, and sharply reduced the range of Parisian financial influence.[124] One major development was setting up one of the main branches of the Rothschild family. In 1812, James Mayer Rothschild arrived in Paris from Frankfurt, and set up the bank "De Rothschild Frères".[125] This bank helped fund Napoleon's brief return from Elba and became one of the leading banks in European finance. The Rothschild banking family of France, along with other new investment banks, funded some of France's industrial expansion and colonial expansion.[126] The Banque de France, founded in 1796 helped resolve the financial crisis of 1848 and emerged as a powerful central bank. The Comptoir National d'Escompte de Paris (CNEP) was established during the financial crisis and the republican revolution of 1848. Its innovations included both private and public sources in funding large projects, and the creation of a network of local offices to reach a much larger pool of depositors. Other major banks included the Société Générale and the Crédit Mobilier. The Crédit Lyonnais began in Lyon and moved to Paris.[127]

The Paris Bourse or stock exchange emerged as a key market for investors to buy and sell securities. It was primarily a forward market, and it pioneered in creating a mutual guarantee fund so that failures of major brokers would not escalate into a devastating financial crisis. Speculators in the 1880s who disliked the control of the Bourse used a less regulated alternative the Coulisse. However it collapsed in the face of the simultaneous failure of a number of its brokers in 1895–1896. The Bourse secured legislation that guaranteed its monopoly, increased control of the curb market, and reduced the risk of another financial panic.[128]

The Siege of Paris and the Commune (1870-1871)[edit]

Crowd outside a butcher shop during the siege of Paris (1871)
The Tuileries Palace was set afire by the communards and completely destroyed in the last days of the Paris Commune.

Napoleon's rule came to an abrupt end when he declared war on Prussia in 1870, only to be defeated in the Franco-Prussian War and captured at Sedan. He abdicated on 4 September, with a Third Republic proclaimed that same day in Paris. On 19 September the Prussian army arrived at Paris and besieged the city. The city suffered from cold and hunger; even the elephants in the Paris zoo were eaten by the Parisians. In January the Prussians began the bombardment of the city with heavy siege guns. The city finally surrendered on January 28, 1871. The Prussians briefly occupied the city and then took up positions nearby.

A revolt broke out on 18 March when radicalized soldiers from the Paris National Guard killed two French generals. French government officials and the army withdrew quickly to Versailles, and a new city council, the Paris Commune, dominated by anarchists and radical socialists, was elected and took power on March 26, and tried to implement an ambitious and radical social program. The Paris Commune held power for only two months. Between May 21 and 28 the French army reconquered the city in bitter fighting, in what became known as "la semaine sanglante" or "bloody week." During the street fighting, the Communards were outnumbered four or five to one; they lacked competent officers; and they had no plan for the defense of the city, so each neighborhood was left to defend itself. Their military commander, Louis Charles Delescluze, committed suicide by dramatically standing atop a barricade on May 26. In the final days of the battle the Communards set fire to the Tuileries Palace, the Hôtel de Ville, the Palais de Justice, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and other prominent government buildings, and executed hostages they had taken, including Georges Darboy, the archbishop of Paris.[129]

Army casualties from the beginning April through Bloody Week amounted to 837 dead and 6,424 wounded. Nearly seven thousand Communards were killed in combat or summarily executed by army firing squads afterwards, and buried in the city cemeteries, and in temporary mass graves.[130] About ten thousand Communards escaped and went into exile in Belgium, England, Switzerland and the United States. Forty-five thousand prisoners taken after the fall of the Commune. Most were released, but twenty-three were sentenced to death, and about ten thousand were sentenced to prison or deportation to New Caledonia or other prison colonies. All the prisoners and exiles were amnestied in 1879 and 1880, and most returned to France, where some were elected to the National Assembly.[131]

Paris during the Belle Époque (1871–1914)[edit]

The neo-Byzantine style Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre was begun in 1873 but not finished until 1919. It was intended to atone for the sufferings of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune.
The Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876) showed a Sunday afternoon dance in Montmartre. Paris became the birthplace of modern art during the Belle Epoque.

After the fall of the Commune, the city was governed under the strict surveillance of the conservative national government. The French government and parliament did not return to the city from Versaillles until 1879, though the Senate returned earlier to its home in the Luxembourg Palace.[132] On 23 July 1873, the National Assembly endorsed the project of building a basilica at the site where the uprising of the Paris Commune had begun; it was intended to atone for the sufferings of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur was built in the neo-Byzantine style, and paid for by public subscription. It was not finished until 1919, but quickly became one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris.[133]

The radical Republicans dominated the Paris municipal elections of 1878, winning 75 of the 80 municipal council seats. In 1879, they changed the name of many of the Paris streets and squares; Place du Château-d’Eau became Place de la République, and a statue of the Republic was placed in the centre in 1883. The avenues de la Reine-Hortense, Joséphine and Roi-de-Rome were renamed Hoche, Marceau and Kléber, after generals of Napoleon I. The Hôtel de Ville was rebuilt between 1874 and 1882 in the neo-Renaissance style, with towers modelled after those of the Château de Chambord. The ruins of the Cour des Comptes on the Quai d'Orsay, burned by the Communards, were demolished and replaced by a new railway station, the Gare d'Orsay (today's Musée d'Orsay). The walls of the Tuileries Palace were still standing. Baron Haussmann pleaded for its restoration, but the council decided that it was a symbol of monarchy and in 1884 had it pulled down.[134]

The most memorable Parisian civic event during the period was the funeral of Victor Hugo in 1885. Hundreds of thousands of Parisians lined the Champs Élysées to see the passage of his coffin. The Arc de Triomphe was draped in black. The remains of the writer were placed in the Panthéon, formerly the Church of Saint-Genevieve, which had been turned into a mausoleum for great Frenchmen during the Revolution of 1789, then turned back into a church in April 1816, during the Bourbon Restoration. After several changes during the 19th century, it was secularised again in 1885 on the occasion of Victor Hugo's funeral.[135]


At the end of the century, Paris began to modernise its public transport system, to try to catch up with London. The first metro line was begun in 1897 between Porte Maillot and the Porte de Vincennes. It was finished in time for the 1900 Universal Exposition. Two new bridges were built over the Seine; the Pont Alexandre III, which connected the left bank with the site of the 1900 Exposition, whose cornerstone was laid by Emperor Alexander III of Russia's son and the future tsar, Nicholas II of Russia. The new street between the bridge and the Champs Élysées was named Avenue Alexandre III, then renamed Avenue Nicolas II when he became emperor at the death of his father. The same engineers who built the modern iron structure of the Pont Alexandre III also built the new Pont Mirabeau, which connected Auteuil and Javel.

Modern art[edit]

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Paris became the birthplace of modern art and of the cinema. Many notable artists lived and worked in Paris during the Belle Époque, often in Montmartre where rents were low and the atmosphere congenial. Auguste Renoir rented space at 12 rue Cartot in 1876 to paint Bal du moulin de la Galette, showing a dance at Montmartre on a Sunday afternoon. Maurice Utrillo lived at the same address from 1906 to 1914, and Raoul Dufy shared an atelier there from 1901 to 1911. The building is now the Musée de Montmartre.[136] Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and other artists lived and worked in a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir during the years 1904–1909: where Picasso painted one of his most important masterpieces, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Several noted composers, including Erik Satie, lived in the neighborhood. Most of the artists left after the outbreak of World War I, the majority of them going to the Montparnasse quarter.[137]

On 25 December 1895, the Grand Café on Boulevard des Capucines was the location of the first public projection of a motion picture by the Lumière Brothers. Thirty-three spectators paid one franc each to see a series of short films, beginning with a film of workers leaving the Lumière brothers' factory in Lyon.[136]

At the outset of the 20th century Henri Matisse and several other artists including the pre-cubists Georges Braque, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, Jean Metzinger and Maurice de Vlaminck revolutionized the Paris art world with "wild", multi-coloured, expressive landscapes and figure paintings that the critics called Fauvism. Henri Matisse's two versions of The Dance signified a key point in his career and in the development of modern painting.[138]

Consumerism and the department store[edit]

"Au Bon Marché"

Wealth was growing rapidly, and was increasingly concentrated. Paris from 1872 to 1927 was a "rentier society". Rentiers (that is, people who relied primarily on inherited wealth) made up about 10% of the population but owned 70% of aggregate wealth; they spent heavily on luxuries as their income from capital assets could sustain a living standard far beyond what labor income alone would permit.[139] Paris became world famous for, among other reasons, making consumerism a social priority and economic force, especially through its upscale arcades filled with luxury shops and especially its grand department stores. These were "dream machines" that set the world standard for consumption of fine products by the upper classes as well as the rising middle class.[140] Aristide Boucicaut founded Le Bon Marché in Paris in 1838, and by 1852 it offered a wide variety of goods in "departments" inside one building.".[141] Goods were sold at fixed prices, with guarantees that allowed exchanges and refunds.[142]

The French gloried in the national prestige brought by the great Parisian stores.[143] Émile Zola (1840-1902) set his novel Au Bonheur des Dames (1882–83) in the typical department store. Zola represented it as a symbol of the new technology that was both improving society and devouring it. The novel describes merchandising, management techniques, marketing, and consumerism.[144]

The Grands Magasins Dufayel was a huge department store with inexpensive prices built in 1890 in the northern part of Paris, where it reached a very large new customer base in the working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It educated workers to approach shopping as an exciting social activity not just a routine exercise in obtaining necessities, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in the central city. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a business transaction into a direct relationship between consumer and sought-after goods. Its advertisements promised the opportunity to participate in the newest, most fashionable consumerism at reasonable cost. The latest technology was featured, such as cinemas and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines (that could be used to fit shoes) and the gramophone.[145]

Increasingly after 1870 the stores' work force became feminized, opening up prestigious job opportunities for young women. Despite the low pay and long hours they enjoyed the exciting complex interactions with the newest and most fashionable merchandise and upscale customers.[146]

The Paris Universal Expositions (1855–1900)[edit]

Inside the Gallery of Machines at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.
The Pont Alexandre III and the Grand Palais, the legacy of the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900

In the second half of the 19th century, Paris hosted five international expositions, which attracted millions of visitors and made Paris an increasingly important center of technology, trade, and tourism. The Expositions celebrated the cult of technology and industrial production, both through the impressive iron architecture in which the exhibits were displayed, and the almost demonic energy of machines and installations in place.[147][148]

The first was the Universal Exposition of 1855, hosted by Napoleon III, held in the gardens next to the Champs Elysees. It was inspired by the London’s Great Exhibition in 1851, and was designed to showcase the achievements of French industry and culture. The classification system of Bordeaux wines was developed especially for the Exposition. The Theater du Rond-Point next to the Champs Elysees is a vestige of the Exposition.

1900 Exposition

The Paris International Exposition in 1867, also hosted by Napoleon III, was held in an enormous oval exhibit hall 490 metres long and 380 metres wide in the Champs de Mars. Famous visitors included Czar Alexander II of Russia, Otto Von Bismarck, Kaiser William I of Germany, King Louis II of Bavaria (better known as “Mad Ludwig") and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, the first foreign trip ever made by an Ottoman ruler. The Bateaux Mouches excursion riverboats made their first journeys on the Seine during the Exposition.[149]

The Universal Exposition of 1878, took place on both sides of the Seine, in the Champs de Mars and heights of Trocadéro, where the first Palais de Trocadero was built. Alexander Graham Bell displayed his new telephone, Thomas Edison presented his phonograph, and the head of the newly finished Statue of Liberty was displayed, before it was sent to New York to be attached to the body. In honor of the Exposition, the Avenue de l’Opera and Place de l’Opera were lit with electric lights for the first time. The Exposition attracted thirteen million visitors.

The Universal Exposition of 1889, which also took place on the Champs de Mars, celebrated the centenary of the beginning of the French Revolution. The most memorable feature was the Eiffel Tower, 300 meterss tall when it opened (now 324 with the addition of broadcast antennas), which served as the gateway to the Exposition. .[150] The Eiffel Tower remained the world's tallest structure until 1930,[151] The Eiffel Tower was not popular with everyone; its modern style was denounced in public letter by many of France’s most prominent cultural figures, including Guy de Maupassant, Charles Gounod and Charles Garnier. Other popular exhibits included the first musical fountain, lit with colored electric lights, changing in time to music. Buffalo Bill and sharpshooter Annie Oakley drew large crowds to their Wild West Show at the Exposition.[152]

The Universal Exposition of 1900 celebrated the turn of the century. It also took place at the Champs de Mars, and attracted fifty million visitors. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, the Exposition featured the world’s largest ferris wheel, the Grande Roue de Paris, one hundred metres high, carrying sixteen hundred passengers in forty cars. Inside the exhibit hall, Rudolph Diesel demonstrated his new engine. and the first escalator was on display. The Exposition coincided with the 1900 Paris Olympics, the first time that the Olympic games were held outside of Greece. The Exposition also popularised a new artistic style, the art nouveau, to the world.[153] Two architectural legacies of the Exposition, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, are still in place.[154]

The First World War (1914-1918)[edit]

Paris taxis carried 6000 soldiers to the front lines during the First Battle of the Marne (1914).
Victory parade on the Place de la Concorde, 1918

The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 saw patriotic demonstrations on the Place de la Concorde and at the Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord, as the mobilized soldiers departed for the front. Within a few weeks, however, the German Army had reached the Marne River, east of Paris. The French government moved to Bordeaux on 2 September, and the great masterpieces of the Louvre were transported to Toulouse.

Early in the First Battle of the Marne, on September 5, 1914, the French army desperately needed reinforcements. General Galieni, the military governor of Paris, lacked trains. He requisioned buses and, most famously, about 600 Paris taxicabs, and used them to carry six thousand troops to the front at Nanteuil-le Haudoin, fifty kilometers away. Each taxi carried five soldiers, following the lights of the taxi ahead, and the mission was accomplished within twenty-four hours. The Germans were surprised, and were pushed back by the French and British armies. The number of soldiers transported was small, but the effect on French morale was enormous; it showed the solidarity between the people and the army. The government returned to Paris, and theatres and cafés re-opened.[155]

The city was bombed by German heavy bombers Gothas, and by Zeppelins. The Parisians suffered epidemics of typhoid and measles; a deadly outbreak of Spanish influenza during the winter of 1918-19 killed thousands of Parisians.[156]

In the spring of 1918, the German army launched a new offensive and threatened Paris once more. The Germans bombarded the city with a type of long-range howitzer called a Big Bertha. On 29 March 1918, one shell struck the Saint-Gervais church, killing 88 persons. Sirens were installed to warn the population of impending bombardments. On 29 June 1917, American soldiers arrived in France to reinforce the French and British armies. The Germans were pushed back once again, and the armistice was declared on 11 November 1918. Hundreds of thousands of Parisians filled the Champs Élysées on 17 November to celebrate the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France. Equally huge crowds welcomed President Woodrow Wilson to the Hôtel de Ville on 16 November. Huge crowds of Parisians lined the Champs Élysées on 14 July 1919 for a victory parade by the Allied armies.[156]

Civilian life[edit]

Life in Paris was difficult during the war: gas, electricity, coal, bread, butter, flour, potatoes and sugar were strictly rationed. Consumer co-operatives sprang up and municipalities developed communal gardening spaces. Coal was critically short in the unusually cold winter of 1916-17. The outer neighborhoods of the city, particularly the 13th, 14th, 15th and 18th arrondissements, became centers of the defense industry, producing trucks, cannons, ambulances, and munitions. A large Citroen factory was built at Javel, and a Renault factory at Boulogne-Billancourt. As factory workers were drafted and sent to the front, their places were taken by women as well as 183,000 colonials from Africa and Indo-China who were closely watched by the government.[157][158] All classes supported the war effort, in a burst of consensus known as the "union sacrée." Antiwar voices existed but did not represent a strong base. While the government stressed efficiency and maximizing supplies for the army, the working class was largely committed to a traditional sense of consumer rights, whereby it was the duty of the government to provide the basic food, housing and fuel for the city, and where hoarding and profiteering were evils that citizens should organize to combat.[159]

Paris between the Wars -- (1919-1938)[edit]

Josephine Baker dances the Charleston at the Folies Bergère (1926)
The pavilions of Germany (left) and the Soviet Union faced each other at 1937 Paris Exposition

After the war, unemployment surged, prices, soared, and rationing continued; Parisian households were limited to 300 grams of bread per day, and meat only four days a week. A general strike paralysed the city 21 July 1919.[160] The French Communist and Socialist parties competed for influence with the workers. The future leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, worked as a pastry chef in Paris from 1919 to 1923, studying nationalism and socialism. Leopold Senghor, the future first president of Senegal, arrived in 1928 to study, and became a university professor and eventually a member of the Académie Française. The old fortifications surrounding the city were useless, and were torn down in the 1920s. They were replaced by tens of thousands of low-cost seven-story public housing units that were filled by low-income blue-collar workers workers who mostly voted socialist or communist. In the 1960s they would be replaced by refugees from Algeria. The result was a bourgeois central city, surrounded by a radicalized ring.[161] In the central city, meanwhile, a number of new museums were built, especially in connection with the 1931 Colonial Exposition. That Exposition proved a disappointment in comparison with the city's previous successful international projects.[162]


Despite the hardships, Paris resumed its place as the capital of the arts during what became known as les années folles, or "the crazy years." The centre of artistic ferment moved from Montmartre to the neighbourhood of Montparnasse, around the intersection of Boulevard Raspail, to the cafés ‘’Le Jockey’’, Le Dôme’’, La Rontonde’’, and after 1927, ‘’La Coupole’’. Painters, writers and poets, including Ernest Hemingway, Igor Stravinsky, W.B. Yeats, and Ezra Pound came from around the world to take part in the fête. Paris was the birthplace of new movements: Dadaism and Surrealism. George Gershwin came to Paris in 1928 and stayed at the Majestic Hotel, where he composed An American in Paris, capturing the sound of the horns of the Paris taxis as they circled the Place de l'Étoile.[163] Jazz allowed black communities to present their culture as innovative and civilized, but also opened associations between jazz, primitivism, and sexually suggestive performances. The American singer, Josephine Baker and the ‘’Revue nègre’’ encapsulated these issues in sensational performances at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.[164] A circle of Parisian men and women of colour presented their own Caribbean biguine style in distinction to jazz and promoted it as a source of pride and racial identification. They demonstrated an early instance of Negritude values intermingled with race-uplift concerns.[165]

The worldwide Great Depression hit home in 1931 bringing hardships and a more somber mood. The population declined slightly from its all-time peak of 2.9 million in 1921 to 2.8 million in 1936. The arrondissements in the centre lost as much as twenty percent of their population, while the outer neighborhoods, gained ten percent. The low birth rate of Parisians was compensated by a new wave of immigration from Russia, Poland, Germany, eastern and central Europe, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Political tensions mounted in Paris with strikes, demonstrations and confrontations between the Communists and Front populaire on the extreme left and the Action Française on the extreme right.[166]

Despite the tensions, in 1937 the city hosted yet another world's fair, with the very long title Exposition internationale des « Arts et des Techniques appliqués à la Vie moderne » ("International Exposition of arts and technology in modern life"). It was held on both sides of the Seine at the Champ de Mars and the colline de Chaillot. The Palais de Chaillot, the terraces of which were ornamented with gigantic water cannon fountains, was the main venue, along with the Palais de Tokyo, now hosting in its eastern wing the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris ("Paris Museum of Modern Art"). The pavilions of the Soviet Union, crowned by a hammer and sickle, and of Germany, with an eagle and swastika on its summit, faced each other in the center of the exhibition. Instead of a spirit of Paris proclaiming international harmony, the juxtaposition of these two foreign pavilions, trying to outdo each other in political grandiloquence, was a reminder that by the late 1930s, besides its other problems, the city was overshadowed by threatening international rivalries.[167][168]

Occupied Paris and the Liberation (1940–1945)[edit]

German soldiers parade on the Champs Elysees in 1940
A German sign outside a Paris restaurant announcing that Jews would not be served
General Charles de Gaulle leads the parade celebrating the liberation of Paris in August 1944

Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, France declared war on Germany. The French defense plan was purely passive. waiting for the Germans to attack. On 31 August, thirty thousand children were evacuated from Paris to the French provinces, the population was issued gas masks, and bomb shelters were constructed in the city squares. The major works of art of the Louvre and other museums were also evacuated to the Loire Valley and other locations, and the architectural landmarks were protected by sandbags. The French Army waited in the fortifications of the Maginot Line, while in Paris the cafes and theatres remained open.[169]

The Germans attacked France on 10 May 1940, bypassing the Maginot Line and going all the way to the English Channel, before heading toward Paris. Paris was flooded with refugees from the battle zone. The Citroen factory was bombed on 2 June. On 10 June, the French government fled Paris, first to Tours and then to Bordeaux. On 12 June Paris was declared an open city. The first German soldiers entered the city on June 14, and paraded on the Champs Elysees. [170] The city's conqueror, Adolf Hitler, arrived on June 24, saw the tourist sites, and paid homage at Napoleons tomb.[169]

During the Occupation, the French Government moved to Vichy, and the German flag flew over all the French government buildings. Signs in German were placed on the main boulevards, and the clocks of Paris were reset to Berlin time. The German military high command moved into the Majestic Hotel on Avenue Kleber; The Abwehr, or German military intelligence, took over the Hôtel Lutetia; the Luftwaffe occupied the Ritz; the German Navy to the Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de La Concorde; the Gestapo occupied the building at 93 Rue Lauriston; and the German commandant of Paris and his staff moved into the Hôtel Meurice on the Rue de Rivoli.[171] Certain movie theatres and cafes were set aside for German soldiers, while the German officers enjoyed the Ritz, Maxim’s, the Coupole and the other expensive restaurants; the exchange rate was fixed to favor the German occupiers.

For the Parisians, the occupation was a series of frustrations, shortages and humiliations. A curfew was in effect from nine in the evening until five in the morning; the city went dark. Rationing of food, tobacco, coal and clothing was imposed from September 1940, Every year the supplies grew scantier and the prices higher. A million Parisians left the city for the provinces, where there was more food and fewer Germans. The French press and radio contained only German propaganda.[172][173]

Parisian Jews were forced to wear a yellow star, and barred from certain professions and places. On 16–17 July 1942, 12,884 Jews, including 4,051 children and 5.082 women, were rounded up by the French police, on orders of the Germans. Unmarried persons and couples without children were taken to Drancy, north of Paris, while seven thousand members of families went to the Velodrome d’Hiver, on rue Nelaton in the 15th arronissement, where they were crowded together in the stadium for five days before being send to concentration camps.[174]

The first demonstration against the occupation, by Paris students, took place on 11 November 1940. As the war continued, clandestine groups and networks, some loyal to the Communist Party, others to General Charles De Gaulle in London. They wrote slogans on walls, organized an underground press, and sometimes attacked German officers. Reprisals by the Germans were swift and harsh. [172]

Paris was not bombed as often or as heavily as London or Berlin, but the factories and railway yards in the outer parts of the city and suburbs were frequent targets. A night raid on 20–21 April 1944 on the La Chapelle railway station in the 18th arrondissement killed 650 persons and destroyed hundreds of buildings.[175]

The Allies landed at Normandy on 6 June 1944, and two months later broke the German lines and began to advance toward and around Paris. As the Allies advanced, strikes organised by the resistance disrupted the railways, police and other public services in the city. On August 19, the resistance networks gave the orders for a general uprising in the city. The resistance forces seized the prefecture of police and other public buildings in the heart of the city. The French Second Armoured Division of General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque and the American Fourth Armored Division entered the city on August 24 and converged in the centre, where they were met by delirious crowds. The German commander of Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, ignored an order from Adolf Hitler to destroy the monuments of the city, and surrendered the city on 25 August. General De Gaulle arrived on 26 August, and led a massive parade down the Champs Elysees.[176]

Post-war Paris (1946-2000)[edit]

Soon after the War designers such as Christian Dior brought Paris back to the lead of high fashion. This was Dior's "New Look" (1947).
The Pompidou Centre, the city's major museum of modern art (1977), surprised Parisians by putting all its internal plumbing and infrastructure on the outside.

Colin Jones says that "the wear and tear of decades of neglect were painfully obvious in smoke-blackened stone facades, cracked and untended stucco, and peeling paintwork." However by the mid-1970s Paris had been repaired and refurbished on a scale that echoed the age of Haussmann.[177]

The liberation and the end of the war did not end the hardships of the Parisians. Rationing of bread continued until February 1948, and coffee, cooking oil, sugar and rice were rationed until May 1949. Housing in Paris was old and run-down. In 1954, thirty-five percent of Paris apartment buildings had been built before 1871. Eighty-one percent of Paris apartments did not have their own bathroom, and fifty-five percent did not have their own toilet. It was also expensive and in short supply. In 1950, the government began a new large-scale project to construct apartment blocks for low-income Parisians, called HLMs (habitations a loyers moderes), usually on the edges of the city or in the suburbs.[178]

The population of Paris did not return to its 1936 level until 1946, and grew to 2,850,000 by 1954, including 135,000 immigrants, mostly from Algeria, Morocco, Italy and Spain. The exodus of middle-class Parisians to the suburbs continued. The population of the city declined during the 1960s and 1970s (2,753,000 in 1962, 2.3 million in 1972) before finally stabilizing in the 1980s (2,168.000 in 1982, 2,152,000 in 1992).[179]

With France badly hurt by the war, the question was whether Paris could recover its world stature. By the 1970s Parisians on all sides feared that the city was “losing its star-quality attractiveness and prestige.” They felt that the modernizing operations of the 1960s and 1970s had failed to reverse the declining quality of life, and that the capital had a diminished lustre and influence abroad.[180]

The politics of Paris remained turbulent throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. A strike in December 1950 caused the cutoff of electricity, and the shutdown of the Paris Metro. Communist-led demonstrators battled the police in the streets in 1948 and 1951. The struggle for the independence of Algeria, and the resistance of French residents of Algeria, led in 1961 and 1962 to numerous bombings and deadly violent confrontations in Paris between demonstrators and the police; The deeply divided postwar Fourth Republic collapsed in 1958, and a new Constitution was adopted and a new government, under President Charles De Gaulle, was elected. In May 1968, Paris experienced student uprisings on the left bank; barricades and red flags appeared in the Latin Quarter on May 2, 1968, university buildings were occupied, and a general strike closed down much of Paris on 13 May. A massive counter-demonstration of one million people on the Champs Elysees in support of President De Gaulle on 30 May 1968, was followed by a gradual return to calm.[181]

The cultural life of Paris resumed, this time centered around the cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Pres; the Cafe de Flore, the Brasserie Lipp and Les Deux-Magots, where the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and writer Simone de Beauvoir held court, and the night clubs le Rose Rouge, and Le Tabou. The musical styles were be-bop and jazz, led by Sydney Bechet and trumpet player Boris Vian. The new Museum of Modern Art of Paris opened in June, 1947 in the old Palais de Tokyo of the 1937 Universal Exposition. Paris designers, led by Christian Dior, made Paris once again the capital of high fashion.[178]

Paris had not had an elected Mayor since the French Revolution; Napoleon Bonaparte and his successors had personally chosen the Prefect to run the city. Under President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the law was changed on December 31, 1975. The first mayoral election in 1977 was won by Jacques Chirac, the former Prime Minister. Chirac served as Mayor of Paris for eighteen years, until 1995, when he was elected President of the Republic. He was succeeded by another candidate of the right, Jean Tibéri.

Paris projects of the French presidents[edit]

Each President of the Fifth Republic desired to make his mark on Paris, and each initiated a plan of Grands Travaux, or Great Works. The first President of the new Republic Charles De Gaulle, constructed a new central produce market at Rungis, to replace the picturesque but antiquated market of Les Halles. But the most visible and appreciated improvement made by De Gaulle was the Malraux Law, drafted by writer and Minister of Culture Andre Malraux. The façades of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and other landmarks of Paris were cleaned of centuries of soot and grime, and returned to their original colours.

The major project of President Georges Pompidou was the Pompidou Centre at Beaubourg, an ultramodern showcase of the contemporary arts, whose pipes, escalators ducts and other internal workings were exposed outside of the building. His successor, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, converted the Gare D'Orsay railway station into the Musee D'Orsay for art of the 19th century; it was opened in 1977 under President Mitterrand. He also replaced the old slaughterhouses at La Vilette with a new museum of science and technology, La Cité des sciences (1986).

President François Mitterrand had fourteen years in power, enough time to complete more projects than any president since Napoleon III. His Grands Travaux included the Institute of the Arab World, a new national library (now called the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand; a new opera house, the Opera Bastille, opened in 1989 to help celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution; a new Ministry of Finance in Bercy (the old Ministry had been housed in a wing of the Louvre), also opened in 1989. The Grande Arche in La Défense also finished in 1989, a massive hollow cube-shaped building 112 metres high, completed the long perspective from the Place de la Concorde through the Champs Elysees. The most famous project of all, the Grand Louvre, included the expulsion of the Ministry of Finance, the reconstruction of large parts of the museum, an underground gallery, and the addition of a glass pyramid by I.M. Pei in the courtyard.[182]

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 La Défense, the business district. A comprehensive express subway network, the RER, was built to complement the Métro and serve the distant suburbs. A network of roads was developed in the suburbs centred on the Périphérique expressway encircling the city, which was completed in 1973.[183]

Crisis in the banlieue[edit]

Beginning in the 1970s, many banlieue (suburbs of Paris especially those in the north and east) experienced deindustrialisation, as factories closed or moved farther out. The once-thriving residential cités became ghettos for African and Arab immigrants, with few skills and high unemployment. At the same time, some neighbourhoods within the city of Paris and the western and southern suburbs successfully shifted their economic base from traditional manufacturing to high-value-added services and high-tech manufacturing, giving these neighbourhoods the highest per-capita incomes in France, and among the highest in Europe. .[184][185] The resulting widening economic and religious gap between these two areas led to periodic clashes between young Muslims in the northeast housing projects and the police, as occurred in the 2005 riots in the suburbs.[186]


The Economy[edit]

Visitors to the Louvre. Paris was one of the world's top tourist destinations in 2013.

In the first part of the 21st century, the vitality of the Paris economy made it an important financial centre and influential global city. The Paris region, including the business centre of La Defense just outside the city limits, had a 2012 GDP of 612 billion (US$760 billion).[187] In 2011 its GDP ranked second among the regions of Europe and its per-capita GDP was the 4th highest in Europe.[188][189] In 2013 it hosted the world headquarters of 29 Fortune Global 500 companies, mostly in banking, finance, insurance and business services.[190]

Tourism was an important part of the Paris economy. In 2013, the city of Paris welcomed 29.3 million tourists, the largest number of whom came from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Spain. There were 550,000 visitors from Japan, a decrease from previous years, while there was a growth of 20 percent in the number of visitors from China (186,000) and the Middle East (326,000).[191]

The Paris region received 32.3 million visitors in 2013, putting the region just ahead of London as the world's top tourist destination region, measured by hotel occupancy. The largest numbers of foreign tourists to the Paris region came in order from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Italy and China.[192] As a destination for upscale European shopping, Paris was especially important.[193] In 2014, visitors to Paris spent $17 billion (€13.58 billion), the third-highest sum globally after London and New York.[194]

Fashion and luxury goods also made an important contribution to the Paris economy. In 2014 Paris was the home of the world's largest cosmetics company, L’Oréal, and three of the five top global makers of luxury fashion accessories; Louis Vuitton, Hermés and Cartier.[195]

According to one study produced in 2009, Paris was the third most economically powerful city in the world among the 35 major cities in the study, ranking behind London and New York. The study ranked Paris first in terms of quality of life, and accessibility; third in cultural life, sixth in terms of economy, and seventh in research and development.[196] Another study in 2012 grouped Paris with New York, London, and Tokyo as the four leading global cities. This study concluded that Paris ranked as the third global city for accountancy and management consultancy, network connectivity, and airline connections, and was fifth in terms of insurance.[197]


In March 2001, Bertrand Delanoë became the first Socialist mayor of Paris, and also the first openly gay mayor of the city. The socialists and their allies dominated city politics for the next thirteen years; Delanoë was re-elected in 2007, and on April 5, 2014, Anne Hidalgo, another socialist, was elected mayor. The two mayors made social issues and the environment a priority. In 2007, in an effort to reduce car traffic in the city, Mayor Dealnoë introduced the Vélib', a system which rented bicycles at low cost for the use of local residents and visitors. To discourage automobile traffic, the city administration increased parking fees and added new restrictions on driving in the city. Between 2008 and 2013, the city converted a section of the highway along the Seine between the Pont d'Alma and the Musée d'Orsay into a public park, called the Promenade des Berges de la Seine.


The Philharmonie de Paris the new symphony hall of Paris, by architect Jean Nouvel. (January 2015).

In 2013 the Louvre was the most-visited art museum in the world, and the Centre Georges Pompidou was the most-visited museum of modern art.[198]

A new national museum, The Musée du quai Branly, opened in 2006. It was the presidential grand project of Jacques Chirac, designed by architect Jean Nouvel to showcase the indigenous art of Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas.[199]

A new private museum, the Contemporary Art museum of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, designed by architect Frank Gehry, opened on October 2014 in the Bois de Boulogne.[200]

On 14 January 2015 President Hollande inaugurated a new symphony hall, the Philharmonie de Paris, also designed by architect Jean Nouvel. The hall opened with a performance by the Orchestre de Paris of Faure's Requiem, played to honour the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings which took place in the city a week earlier. It is located in the Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.[201] The new concert hall cost 386 million Euros, and was completed in seven years, two years longer than planned, and at three times the original planned cost. The architect did not attend the opening, protesting that the opening was rushed, the hall was not finished, and that the acoustics had not been properly tested, though journalists at the opening reported that the sound quality was perfectly clear. The architecture critic of the Guardian wrote that the building looked like a space ship that had crashed in France.[202]

Social unrest and terrorism[edit]

While Paris and the Paris region had some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in France, it also had some of the poorest, particularly in the suburbs to the north and east, where many residents were immigrants or children of immigrants from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Between 27 October and 14 November 14, 2005, in what became known as the 2005 Paris Riots, young residents, mostly Muslims, of low-income housing projects in Clichy-sous-Bois, a Paris suburb, rioted, after two young men fleeing the police were accidentally electrocuted. The riots gradually spread to other predominantly Muslim suburbs and then across France, as rioters burned schools, day-care centres and other government buildings and almost nine thousand cars. The riots caused an estimated 200 million Euros in property damage, and led to almost three thousand arrests.[203] On 14 November 2005, as the riots ended, President Jacques Chirac blamed the rioters for a lack of respect for the law and for French values, but also condemned inequalities in French society and “the poison of racism.” [204] Traditional interpretations say these race riots were spurred by radical Muslims, unemployed youth, or children of African polygamists. Another view states that the riots reflected broader problem of racism and police violence in France.[205]

Anti-terrorism demonstration on Place de la Republique after Charlie Hebdo shooting (11 January 2015)

On the 7th of January 2015, two Islamicist extremists, both French citizens raised in the Paris region, attacked the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a controversial satirical magazine that had poked ridicule at Mohammed, in what became known as the Charlie Hebdo shooting. They killed thirteen people, including five prominent cartoonists and the director of the magazine and three police officers. On the 9th of January a third terrorist killed four hostages at a Jewish grocery store at Porte de Vincennes. The three terrorists were killed by the police the same day. Together, these were the most deadly terrorist attacks in Paris since 1961.[206] On January the 11th, an estimated 1.5 million people marched in Paris to show solidarity against terrorism and in defence of freedom of speech.[207]

The attacks intensified the decades-old debate in the Paris press about immigration, integration and freedom of speech. The New York Times summarised the ongoing debate:

So as France grieves, it is also faced with profound questions about its future: How large is the radicalized part of the country’s Muslim population, the largest in Europe? How deep is the rift between France’s values of secularism, of individual, sexual and religious freedom, of freedom of the press and the freedom to shock, and a growing Muslim conservatism that rejects many of these values in the name of religion?[208]

Maps show the growth of Paris (508 to 1750)[edit]

See also[edit]


Notes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ James W. White, "Old wine, cracked bottle? Tokyo, Paris, and the global city hypothesis." Urban Affairs Review (1998) 33#4 pp: 451-477.
  2. ^ Dictionnaire Historique de Paris (2013), Le Livre de Poche, p. 606
  3. ^ "Paris, Roman City –Chronology". Mairie de Paris. Retrieved 16 July 2006. 
  4. ^ Lawrence & Gondrand 2010, p. 26.
  5. ^ (French) vidéo, radio, audio et publicité - Actualités, archives de la radio et de la télévision en ligne - Archives vidéo et radio. Ina.fr. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  6. ^ (French) vidéo, radio, audio et publicité - Actualités, archives de la radio et de la télévision en ligne - Archives vidéo et radio. Ina.fr. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  7. ^ Dictionnaire Historique de Paris (2013), Le Livre de Poche, p. 608.
  8. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris (1999), Presses Universitaires de France, p. 6.
  9. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1999, p. 6.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Lutèce,- Paris, des origines à Clovis (2009), pp. 28-29.
  11. ^ Arbois de Jubainville & Dottin 1889, p. 132.
  12. ^ Cunliffe 2004, p. 201.
  13. ^ Lawrence & Gondrand 2010, p. 25.
  14. ^ Schmidt, Lutèce, Paris des origines à Clovis (2009), pp. 69-70.
  15. ^ Schmidt, Lutèce, Paris des origines à Clovis (2009), pp. 74-76.
  16. ^ Caesar, Commentary on the Gallic War, Book 6, chapter 3.
  17. ^ Schmidt, Lutèce, Paris des origines à Clovis (2009), pp. 80-81.
  18. ^ Schmidt, Lutèce, Paris des origins à Clovis (2009), pp. 88-104
  19. ^ Dictionnaire Historique de Paris (2013), p. 41
  20. ^ Combeau, Yves, Histoire de Paris (2013), pp. 8-9.
  21. ^ a b Dictionnaire Historique de Paris (2013), p. 412.
  22. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation (2012), p. 12
  23. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris (2013), p. 11
  24. ^ Schmidt, Joel, Lutèce: Paris, des origines à Clovis (2009), pp. 210-211.
  25. ^ a b Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation (2012), pp. 16-18.
  26. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation (2012), p. 14
  27. ^ Meunier, Florian, Le Paris du Moyen Âge (2014), Editions Ouest-France. P. 12
  28. ^ d'Istria 2002, p. 6.
  29. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris (2013), p. 12
  30. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris (2013), pp. 13-14.
  31. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris, (2013), pp. 13-14.
  32. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation, 2012, pp. 21-22.
  33. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation, 2012, p. 22
  34. ^ a b c d e Lawrence & Gondrand 2010, p. 27.
  35. ^ Sarmant, History of Paris, p. 24.
  36. ^ Sarmant, History of Paris, pp. 28-29.
  37. ^ a b Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris (2012) p. 36-40.
  38. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris pp. 43-44.
  39. ^ a b c Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris (2012) p. 46
  40. ^ a b Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris (2012) p. 29.
  41. ^ Jean Bony, "French Influences on the Origins of English Gothic Architecture," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (1949) 12:1-15 in JSTOR
  42. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris (2012) p. 33.
  43. ^ Caroline Bruzelius, "The Construction of Notre-Dame in Paris." Art Bulletin (1987): 540-569 in JSTOR.
  44. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris, pp. 25-26
  45. ^ a b Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris (2012) pp. 44-45
  46. ^ Byrne 2012, p. 259.
  47. ^ Harding 2002, p. 25.
  48. ^ Steves, Rick (7 March 2007). "Loire Valley: Land of a thousand chateaux". CNN. Retrieved 4 January 2013. [dead link]
  49. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 59
  50. ^ Combeau, Yvan, Histoire de Paris, p. 35.
  51. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 68-69
  52. ^ a b Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 68
  53. ^ Virginia Scott (2002). Molière: A Theatrical Life. Cambridge University Press. pp. 90–91. 
  54. ^ Barbara B. Diefendorf, The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre: A Brief History with Documents (2008)
  55. ^ James R. Smither, "The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and Images of Kingship in France: 1572-1574." The Sixteenth Century Journal (1991): 27-46. In JSTOR
  56. ^ a b Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 82
  57. ^ Sarmand, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, pp. 90-92
  58. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, pp. 84-85
  59. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 86
  60. ^ Sarmant, Thierry, Histoire de Paris, p. 94.
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Bibliography in French[edit]

  • Combeau, Yvan (2013). Histoire de Paris. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. ISBN 978-2-13-060852-3. 
  • De Moncan, Patrice (2007). Les jardins du Baron Haussmann. Paris: Les Éditions du Mécène. ISBN 978-2-907970-914. 
  • De Moncan, Patrice (2012). Le Paris d'Haussmann. Paris: Les Editions du Mecene. ISBN 978-2-9079-70983. 
  • Fierro, Alfred (1996). Histoire et dictionnaire de Paris. Robert Laffont. ISBN 2-221--07862-4. 
  • Héron de Villefosse, René (1959). HIstoire de Paris. Bernard Grasset. 
  • Meunier, Florian (2014). Le Paris du moyen âge. Paris: Editions Ouest-France. ISBN 978-2-7373-6217-0. 
  • Sarmant, Thierry (2012). Histoire de Paris: Politique, urbanisme, civilisation. Editions Jean-Paul Gisserot. ISBN 978-2-755-803303. 
  • Schmidt, Joel (2009). Lutece- Paris, des origines a Clovis. Perrin. ISBN 978-2-262-03015-5. }
  • du Camp, Maxime (1993). Paris: ses organes, ses fonctions, et sa vie jusqu'en 1870. Monaco: Rondeau. ISBN 2-910305-02-3. 
  • Maneglier, Hervé (1990). Paris Impérial- La vie quotidienne sous le Second Empire. Paris: Armand Colin. ISBN 2-200-37226-4. 
  • Milza, Pierre (2006). Napoléon III. Paris: Tempus. ISBN 978-2-262-02607-3. 
  • Dictionnaire Historique de Paris. Le Livre de Poche. 2013. ISBN 978-2-253-13140-3. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Edwards, Henry Sutherland. Old and new Paris: its history, its people, and its places (2 vol 1894) online
  • Fierro, Alfred. Historical Dictionary of Paris (1998) 392pp, an abridged translation of his Histoire et dictionnaire de Paris (1996), 1580pp
  • Horne, Alistair. Seven Ages of Paris (2002), emphasis on ruling elites excerpt and text search
  • Jones, Colin. Paris: Biography of a City (2004), 592pp; comprehensive history by a leading British scholar excerpt and text search
  • Lawrence, Rachel; Gondrand, Fabienne (2010). Paris (City Guide) (12th ed.). London: Insight Guides. ISBN 9789812820792.
  • Sutcliffe, Anthony. Paris: An Architectural History (1996) excerpt and text search

To 1600[edit]

  • Baldwin. John W. Paris, 1200 (Stanford University Press, 2010). 304 pp online review
  • Roux, Simone. Paris in the Middle Ages (2009) online review
  • Thomson, David. Renaissance Paris: Architecture and Growth, 1475-1600 (1992)


  • Bernard, Leon. The Emerging City: Paris in the Age of Louis XIV (1970)
  • DeJean, Joan (2014). How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City. ISBN 978-1608195916. 
  • De Villefosse, René Héron, Histoire de Paris, Bernard Grasset, (1959).
  • Bradshaw's Illustrated Guide through Paris and its Environs, London: W.J. Adams and Sons, 1880, OCLC 19043482 
  • Dickens, Charles (1882), Dickens's Dictionary of Paris, London: Macmillan 
  • Garrioch, David. The Making of Revolutionary Paris (2004) excerpt and text search
  • Garrioch, David. The Formation of the Parisian Bourgeoisie, 1690-1830 (1997)
  • Handbook for Visitors to Paris, London: John Murray, 1879 
  • Higonnet, Patrice. Paris: Capital of the World (2002) excerpt and text search; social, cultural and political topics 1750-1940
  • Maneglier, Hervé, Paris Impérial (1992), Armand Colin, Paris, (ISBN 2-200-37226-4)
  • McAuliffe, Mary. Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends (2011) excerpt and text search, covers 1870-1900
  • McClain, James L., John M. Merriman and Ugawa Kaoru. Edo and Paris: Urban Life and the State in the Early Modern Era (1997) compares Paris and Edo (Tokyo, Japan) excerpt and text search
  • Paris and its Environs (6th ed.), Leipsic: Karl Baedeker, 1878, OCLC 8489825 
  • Prendergast, Christopher. Paris and the Nineteenth Century (1995), the city in fiction excerpt and text search
  • Ranum, Orest A. Paris in the Age of Absolutism (2nd ed. 2002)
  • Roche, Daniel et al. The People of Paris: An Essay in Popular Culture in the 18th Century (1987)
  • Willms, Johannes. Paris: Capital of Europe: From the Revolution to the Belle Epoque (1997) online, translated from the German edition

Since 1900[edit]

  • Mitchell, Allan. Nazi Paris: The History of an Occupation, 1940-1944 (2010)
  • Wakeman, Rosemary. The Heroic City: Paris, 1945-1958 (University of Chicago Press, 2009) 416 pp. online review
  • Winter, Jay and Jean-Louis Robert, eds. Capital Cities at War: Volume 2, A Cultural History: Paris, London, Berlin 1914-1919 (2 vol 2012)


  • Nora, Pierre, ed. Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past (3 vol, 1996), essays by scholars
  • Pinkney, David H. "Two Thousand Years of Paris," Journal of Modern History (1951) 23#3 pp. 262–264 in JSTOR

External links[edit]