Eiffel tower in Paris France

Paris: Culture and History


Paris, the capital city of France and also known as the city of love. A perfect tourist destination for a newly wed couple, celebrating your anniversary, proposing to someone, as well as a safe haven for the hopeless romantics.

This blog is going to be a roller coaster of history, culture and things to do in the city, so try and keep up with me. But first, let’s see a basic overview of the city.

It’s a city with the most population in France, occupying an area of around 41 square miles or 105 square kilometres.
In Europe, Paris has been known as the primary epicenter of diplomacy, commerce, fashion and finance, along with science and the arts, ever since the 17th century.

Paris city has a population of about 2,175,601 residents, according to a survey in 2018. The city is the seat of government of the Paris region, also known as Île-de-France.

The Paris region has a GDP of about €709 billion, or you can say $808 billion, as estimated back in 2017. Paris was termed to be the second most expensive city in the world.

The city came ahead of Geneva, Oslo, Hong Kong and Zürich in this list. It came second only to Singapore, which was given the tag of being the most expensive city.

What language do they speak in Paris?

If you are a traveller, seeking to visit Paris, then this must be a question that might have come into your mind.

As Paris is a major travel hub of France, there are people from around the world in Paris and you can usually hear English as well as other languages in some places. However, it is also true then that most of the people in Paris speak French.

The top 3 languages spoken in France are:

  1. French
  2. German dialects
  3. Magherbi Arabic
    (Alsatian and Lorraine Franconian are some of the German dialects spoken in Paris. A few Occitan language dialects like Languedocian, Gascon and Provençal are also spoken in the city.)

History of Paris

Paris fun facts: history

The history of Paris is quite a tell-to tale, from the Roman monarchy to the Napolean regime, industrialization to renovation and the historical French Revolution.

I am going to take you step by step through it, starting from the origin of Paris, or as they used to say at that time, the Lutetia.

Early History

early history of paris
©france travel blog

Back in the 3rd century, the Parisii used to live around the area where the modern day Paris is situated. The Parisii were supposedly a branch of the tribe Celtic Senones.

The parisii used to trade with a lot of river communities, even some of the distant ones like the Iberian Peninsula. They constructed their own coins to facilitate the trade along the North-South trade routes crossing the Seine.

In 52 BC, the Romans took over the Paris basin and settled down around the left bank of Paris. Originally, the settlement was known as Lutetia or Lutetia of parisii, at that time.
Later on, the small settlement flourished due to trade and became quite affluent. It had an amphitheatre, bathhouses, temples and even public theatres.

The town was later known as Parisius around the end of the western Roman Empire in that province. It was a Latin term that eventually evolved to be popularly known in French as Paris.

Around the middle of the 3rd century, the religion of Christianity was put forward in front of the public for the first time, by Saint Denis. He became the first Bishop of Paris.

According to old legends, Roman government officials forced him to renounce his religion in front of the public. The Saint refused.

This infuriated the Romans and, as a result, he was beheaded publicly on a hill. The Hill became popular later on to be known as Mons Martyrum, which is Latin for Hill of martyrs.

In 508, the primary monarch of the Merovingian dynasty, known as Clovis the Frank, chose the city to be his capital.

The city of Paris was strategically a place of immense importance for the dynasty because the bridges of the city blocked any ships from passing without permission. This in turn helped install anyone wanting to lay siege to the city. From 1885 to 86, Paris successfully defended itself against the invaders in the siege of Paris.

Because of this achievement, the then Count of Paris was chosen as the King of West Francia. During the Capetian regime in 987, the position of Duke of the Franks and count of Paris elected a unified King for Francia. This in turn led to the gradual prosperity of Paris and it’s emergence as the most important city in France.

The French revolution and After-effects

history of Paris: French revolution
©history extra

The city of Paris Adam and in power throughout France as a centralised force in the province. In 1789, the French Revolution crumbled any semblance of neutral balance. Paris has consolidated overtime throughout history.

Most of the primary events in the revolution happened in the city of Paris itself. Some of the major flashbacks of the events are the storming of the Bastille that happened back on July 14th of 1789, and the national constituent assembly around October 1789, as well as the conveying of the King.

The rising that caused the uprooting of the monarchy in front back in August and 1792 as well as the public execution of the King on January 21, 1793, which happened at the place de la revolution, which is presently known as place de la conclude. Many violent events took place during 1793 to 1794, as well as many more rebellions and coups d’état, before the dust settled.

In 1806, Napolean ordered the arches of Étoile and Carrousel to be constructed, to showcase his victorious debut. Neoclassical structures which became an elegant display of the city’s connection to its Imperial Roman history.

The modern constructions such as bridges, Saint Martin canals and many fountains, like the Palmer fountain at Chàtete, as well as new marketplaces, wine markets, storehouses, slaughterhouses and centres of arts and cultures, symbolised the modernization of the city of Paris.

Era of Industrialization: Paris

Era of industrial revolution
©industrial revolution

From the restoration period during 1814 to 1830 and the July Monarchy(the regime of Louise-Phillipe, caused by the July uprising, 1830-48), industrialization picked up speed, propelling the progress of Paris as a whole.

The city underwent major technological and cultural advancements during this time. Some of the major events, like the introduction of omnibus services, the first railway in Paris, connecting it to Le Pecq in 1837 and gas lighting was also introduced in the city.

Plenty of new districts started sprouting around the area of Paris. Overall, it became a big problem for the city as the rapid industrialization ate up a lot of important space.
This forced the authorities to reconsider space management. Accessing the railway stations, even going from one centre to another, was a difficult thing to do at that time.

Restructuring of Paris by Baron Haussmann

Baron Haussmann's plan for Paris
©the guardian

The ruler, from 1852 to 1870, Napoleon III, appointed Baron Haussmann to take care of the dilemmas that were afflicting the city.

Baron haussmann, the name that became famed worldwide because of his genius grand scale planning of the city of Paris. He planned the city to fit in a symmetry which made places more accessible and traffic much easier to handle.

The slum lanes were renovated and modern sewer and water systems were put in place in that region.

The ancient markets of Halles were restructured as well as four more Seine bridges were added. 3 of the old bridges were renovated as well. The city of Paris witnessed a period of architectural innovation and a prosperous regime under Napoleon III with the help of Baron Houssmann.

Admire the Culture and lifestyle of Paris!

Culture of Paris
©adventure travel tips

Any travel junkie knows Paris to be the art, music and cultural focal point of the European region. From impressive art museums housing masterpieces dating back to the impressionist era to curious artefacts even from the Middle Ages, can be found on display in Musée Cluny.

Notre Dame de Paris, Opera Garnier and the Eiffel Tower, are some landmarks that are correlated as cultural icons of the city.

Paris is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, which has eventually led to famous establishments serving according to the tastes of foreign guests, rather than the local specialties as they used to before.

Tour the famous festivals of Paris

Things to do in Paris: attend Paris festivals

St John’s Day

St John’s Day or feux de la Saint-Jean is celebrated in June. It’s usually done at Parc De la Villette.

Paris Street Music Festival

The Paris Street Musical Festival is celebrated on June 21, just a few days before the annual Gay Pride Day (which is on Jun 24).

Bastille Day

It is a national event that is celebrated on July 14th every year in Paris. This day is important in French culture because it marks the day that may have begun the French Revolution in full force. On that day, a mob of Frenchmen broke into a prison, overtaking it, and securing all the weapons inside, as well as freeing the prisoners to rebel against their King.

Paris Plage

This festival is a uniquely innovative event that lets the Parisians as well as tourists from around the world relish the pleasure of the beach and related leisure activities.

Some of the relevant features are, relaxing under sunny umbrellas, taking a swim in the waters, chatting with your friends and colleagues on the lawn, taking part in sports activities and attending cultural events.

To keep it short, everything you could think of to enjoy at the beach is offered during the Paris Plage event. It is usually organized during the summertime. It was started back in 2002 and has been being held every year since.

Film Festivals held in Paris comprise Festival du film de Paris, Festival Paris Cinema and Films Des Femmes(women’s film festival).

The music festival scene in the city of Love includes Rock en the seine and Jazz music concerts held at a park located near the eastern region of Paris, known as Bois De Vincennes.

.Things to do in Paris: Music Festivals
©Do travel

A music festival dedicated to rap and reggae for modern music lovers known as La Goutte d’Or en Féte is held every July in the first week.

La Grand Parade is a popular annual procession that is done to enjoy New Year’s Day. The world-renown ancient Parisian tradition from back in the middle ages, the Paris Carnival, is celebrated in February.

If you want to know about the sports events held in Paris, the Paris Marathon comes to the forefront of my mind.

Some of the famous professional sports clubs to tour in Paris are Paris Saint Germain- a pro football club, Stade Farançais Paris- a pro rugby club, Paris Volley- a pro volleyball club.

Things to do in Paris

Fun things to do in Paris
©culture trip

  1. Visit the Eiffel Tower
  2. See the Louvre Museum
  3. The famous Notre Dame Cathedral
  4. Des Champs-Elysees
  5. Impressionist art at Musée d’Orsay
  6. Palais Garnier, Opera house
  7. Place De la concorde
  8. Tribute to soldiers at The Arc De Triomphe
  9. Seine River Cruises
  10. Attend the concert at Saint Chapelle
  11. Take a stroll in Luxembourg gardens

Just a quick research on Google will lead you to a lot of options for major attractions to choose from.

However, if you truly want to get to know any travel destination, then I advise you to research about its culture, history and some of the traditions, so you can fully experience travelling as how it was meant to be.

While hopping from one major attraction to another can be a good enough idea for touring, you should also be on the look out for hidden gems of Paris.

If you are planning your visit to Paris, then perhaps you might be interested in finding the best accommodation for the duration of your vacation? You can get to know more in detail about it in my previous blog here.

Go on now, explorer, have fun, happy travels!

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