Paris is the capital city of France, as well as the capital of the Île-de-France région, whose territory encompasses Paris and its suburbs. The city of Paris proper is also a département, called Paris département (French: département de Paris).

Paris, together with its suburbs and satellite cities, forms the Greater Paris metropolitan area, with a population estimated at 11.5 million as of January 2004. Paris is the most populous urban area in the European Union and is the second largest metropolitan area in Europe (after Moscow, and along with London), and is ranked approximately as the 20th most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Greater Paris metropolitan area is the largest financial and business center of Europe (alongside London), harboring more than 30% of France's white-collar population, as well as more than 40% of the headquarters of French companies, with the largest business district of Europe (La Défense), and the second largest stock exchange in Europe (Euronext).

Known worldwide as the City of Light (la Ville Lumière), Paris has been a major tourist destination for centuries. The city is renowned for the beauty of its architecture, its urban perspectives and avenues, as well as the wealth of its museums. Built on an arc of the River Seine, it is divided into two parts: the Right Bank to the north and the smaller Left Bank to the south.

Formerly the capital of a colonial empire stretching over five continents, Paris is still regarded as the heart of the French-speaking world and has retained a strong international position, hosting the headquarters of the OECD and the UNESCO among others. This, combined with its financial, business, political, and tourism activities, have turned Paris into one of the major transportation hubs in the world. New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris are often listed as the four major global cities.


The original Latin name of Paris was Lutetia, or Lutetia Parisiorum, known in French as Lutèce. Lutetia was later dropped in favor of only Paris, based on the name of the Gallic Parisi tribe, whose name perhaps comes from the Celtic Gallic word parios, meaning "caldron", but this is not certain.

Traditionally Paris was known as Paname in French slang, but this vulgar appellation is gradually losing currency. ( "I'm from Paname"?.)

The inhabitants of Paris are known as Parisians in English, as Parisiens in French. The pejorative term Parigot is sometimes used in French slang.

Locally, inhabitants of the Paris suburbs are known as banlieusards. Inhabitants of the whole Paris metropolitan area are known as Franciliens


The name of the city comes from the name of a Gallic tribe (parisis) inhabiting the region at the time of the Roman conquest. The historical heart of Paris is the Île de la Cité, a small island largely occupied by the huge Palais de Justice and the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. It is connected with the smaller Île Saint-Louis (another island) occupied by elegant houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Paris was occupied by a Gallic tribe until the Romans arrived in 52 BC. The invaders referred to the previous occupants as the Parisii, but called their new city Lutetia, meaning "marshy place". About fifty years later the city had spread to the left bank of the Seine, now known as the Latin Quarter, and had been renamed "Paris".

Roman rule had ceased by 508, when Clovis the Frank made the city the capital of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks. In 511 he commissioned the building of the cathedral of St.Etienne on the Île. Viking invasions during the 800s forced the Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité. On March 28, 845 Paris was sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris was elected king of France by feudal lords while Charles III was also claiming the throne. Finally, in 987 Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France by the great feudal lords after the last Carolingian king died.

During the 11th century the city spread to the Right Bank. In the 12th and 13th centuries, which included the reign of Philip II Augustus (1180-1223), the city grew strongly. Main thoroughfares were paved, the first Louvre was built as a fortress, and several churches, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, were constructed or begun. Several schools on the Left Bank were grouped together into the Sorbonne, which counts Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas among its early scholars. In the Middle Ages Paris prospered as a trading and intellectual nucleus, interrupted temporarily when the Black Death struck in the 14th century, and again in the 15th century when urban revolts drove the royal court to abandon the city for almost 100 years. Under the reign of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, from 1643 to 1715, the royal residence was moved from Paris to nearby Versailles.

The French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Many of the conflicts in the next few years were between Paris and the outlying rural areas.

In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War ended in a siege of Paris and the Paris Commune, which surrendered in 1871 after a winter of famine and bloodshed. The Eiffel Tower, the best-known landmark in Paris, was built in 1889 in a period of prosperity known as La Belle Époque (The Beautiful period). The famous Parisian Haussmann Style also dates back to this period.

In 1900 Paris hosted the 1900 Summer Olympics. In late August 1944 after the battle of Normandy, Paris was liberated when the German general Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered after skirmishes to the French 2nd Armoured Division commanded by Philippe de Hauteclocque backed by the Allies.

Eiffel Tower
Palace Of Versailles
Champs Elysees
Arc de Triomphe
Notre Dame
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie