History of Paris

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City arms

The history of the city of Paris goes back over 2000 years. During this time the place developed from the Celtic settlement Lutetia of the tribe of the Parisii to today's metropolis and capital of France .


30 to 40 million years ago, the Paris Basin was a shallow, warm sea from which individual islands protruded: Mont Valérien , Chaillot, Belleville , Montmartre , Bagneux , Meudon . This sea was mainly populated by nummulites from the group of foraminifera , whose fossils later provided the building material for the city. In addition, there was the lagoon fauna of Buttes-Montmartre , Buttes-Chaumont and Ménilmontant , which produced gypsum , the second essential building material.

Later, when the large limestone plateau in what is now northeastern France eroded, the Seine with its catchment area of ​​around 200 kilometers in diameter was formed. At its lowest point, 28 meters above sea ​​level , an archipelago was formed, where people settled. Remnants of this settlement are no longer preserved, especially since the current settlement level is around six meters above the original. Only at the western tip of the Île de la Cité , which at the time consisted of several small islands that were later connected to each other, is the level still the same.


The Grandes Chroniques de France attribute the founding of the city to the Trojan Paris , just as Romulus is said to have founded Rome , whose great-grandson Brutus Britannia and Francus France. On a tapestry from the 16th century, the time of King Francis I , located in the cathedral of Beauvais , Paris is celebrated in contemporary clothing as the founder of the city. During the revolution , citizen Jullian wore the Phrygian hat in the Procope café , referring to the city's mythological founder.

According to another legend, Paris was founded by Heracles on his way to the gardens of the Hesperides : he gathered the Parrhasians from the Arcadian mountains around him, settled them at the foot of Montmartre and called them Parisians. When King Henry II entered the city in 1549, he was greeted by a Gallic Hercules ( Ogmios ); the king named his youngest son François-Hercule six years later . Louis XIV is depicted on the Porte Saint-Martin as Hercules with a club in his fist.


Lutetia, first plan
Lutetia, second plan with city wall

The city developed from the middle of the 3rd century BC. From the Celtic settlement Lutetia of the tribe of the Parisii on the Seine island, which is now called Île de la Cité , as a crossroads ( croisée ) between a north-south road and the river in a west-east direction.

The plain on the Seine around the island, on the other hand, was boggy: the swamp ran as a wide strip in the south along the river and reached as far as the later thermal baths of Cluny. The mouth of the Bièvre in the southeast (one mouth was opposite the Île de la Cité, another a bit upstream, on the later Île Saint-Louis , which was only drained in the 17th century) was swamp, but above all the entire area north of the river that was level with the river. There were only a few permanent places up to Montmartre.

The place was first mentioned in writing as Lutetia in Julius Caesar's sixth book on the Gallic War ( De bello Gallico ) in 53 BC. There has been much speculation about the meaning of the name, but no serious, source-based explanation is available.

The first inhabitants had already connected the island and the shore with a Grand Pont in the north and a Petit Pont in the south. When the troops of Caesar under Titus Labienus collapsed in 52 BC. Chr., After a first failed march, for the second time the city approached , lighted the Parisii under the command of the already very old, but appointed because of his excellent knowledge of warfare Gaul Camulogenus Lutetia, which bridges destroyed the city and took on the banks of the Seine , the city and Labienus' camp opposite. A short time later they were subject to the Roman troops.

The Romans left most of the island to the Parisii and built a new Roman city on the left bank of the Seine, in a dominant position on the slopes of the hill later named after Saint Genoveva of Paris. They also built the fortified Cardo and the Roman road from Soissons to Orléans (today Rue Saint-Martin in the north and Rue Saint-Jacques in the south). The Cardo soon separated the island into an administrative part in the west and a religious part in the east - a structure that has been preserved to this day.

On the south bank (the Rive Gauche ) ran a parallel street, the via inferior (the name later twisted to rue d'enfer ), today the Boulevard Saint-Michel ; in the north a road branched off to the east towards Melun , today's Rue Saint-Antoine . A decumanus , a west-east axis, on the other hand, apparently did not exist - this role was assigned to the river.

The city, which was also known as Civitas Parisiorum or Parisia in the Roman Empire, initially remained relatively insignificant in occupied Gaul . Nevertheless - apart from the regular street network of the Latin Quarter - a number of more or less significant remains from Roman times have been preserved, of which only the so-called Arena of Lutetia and the thermal baths on Boulevard Saint Michel are accessible:

  • In the upper area of ​​the new Roman settlement, between Boulevard Saint-Michel and Rue Saint-Jacques, stood the forum , the foundations of which were recently at least partially discovered during the construction of an underground car park under Boulevard Saint-Michel, and numerous remains were also found here from pottery and beyond the boulevard, under the Luxembourg garden, foundations of Roman houses;
  • In the immediate vicinity of the Roman Cardos there were two thermal baths:
The Thermes de Cluny of the Gallo-Roman culture from the 3rd century
    • the great thermal baths (also Thermes de Cluny , today corner of Boulevard Saint-Michel and Boulevard Saint-Germain ), about 200 meters long and thus one of the largest Roman buildings from the 3rd century, whose frigidarium with vaulted ceiling (!) and bathing pool is intact ;
    • the small thermal baths, 44 meters long, a little further up the hill, at the Collège de France , which have not yet been fully exposed;
    • Remains of the Roman aquaduct, which led spring water from Rungis to the Great Baths, can be seen outside Paris in Arcueil ;
  • the segment-shaped walls of a Roman theater or odeon with dimensions of 72 mx 47 meters and a vomitorium could be identified in 1899 further west of the two thermal baths under the Lycée Louis-le-Grand (corner of rue Racine and Boulevard Saint-Michel);
  • east of the Forum are still standing on the gen sunrise swept slope of the hill - at the foot once the Bièvre floss - which rely heavily restored remains of the so-called Arena of Lutetia , or, more precisely, of a stage equipped amphitheater , a rare in the Roman Empire, in Gaul often occurring combination between arena and theater with double function;
  • Remains of the Roman city wall, which was built to protect against the incursion of Germanic tribes around 280 on the Ile de la Cité , as well as a Roman hypocaust (underfloor heating) can be seen in the crypt Archéologique under the cathedral forecourt of Notre-Dame de Paris ;
  • there was also a temple on the east side of the island,
  • on the right bank of the Seine, on the hill of Montmartre (which at that time was still called Mons Mercurius ), far outside the city , there was one, maybe two other temples. From the temple dedicated to Mercurius , which was later built over by the monastery of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, four Roman columns were used in the construction of the former monastery church.

According to the importance of the river, the Gallic river boatmen, the Nautes , whose symbol still adorns the city's coat of arms, were a powerful group at the turn of the times . They were organized, and their own police force ensured safety on the Seine. In the Musée national du Moyen Âge (formerly Musée de Cluny ) is the Pilier de Nautes , on which the first portrait of Parisians can be seen.

Henri Bellechose :
Altarpiece in the Saint-Denis basilica , Last Communion and Martyrdom of St. Dionysius, 1416

In 1711, the remains of a Gallo-Roman votive pillar from the year 37 were found under the head of Notre-Dame , with which the river boatmen asked Jupiter for good business, but actually worshiped Cernunnos and Tarvos Trigaranus , the bull with the three cranes ( see the picture): the latter was celebrated in parades as Bœuf gras at the beginning of the 20th century.

The most respected god, however, was Mercurius, the god of roads and trade - whose temple was therefore also reserved for the highest point in the area, Montmartre. In the 3rd century, when Dionysius of Paris (Saint-Denis) and his followers brought Christianity to the city, they also took action against the pagan gods here, especially against their most important symbol, the Temple of Mercury. Dionysius was beheaded around 250 AD, by order of the Roman governor Sisinnius, as the first bishop of Paris together with the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius on Montmartre (Latin mons martyrium , German Märtyrerberg ). After the beheading, Dionysius is said to have walked six kilometers north with his head in his hands until he reached the place where he wanted to be buried. In the 7th century , the Frankish King Dagobert I built the abbey named after the saint with the basilica Saint-Denis , which served the French kings as a burial place.

In the year 280 Lutetia was hit by Germanic invaders and destroyed by fire. The name Paris, capital of the Parisii, appears for the first time on a road marking from 308, which will replace the name Lutetia. In the 4th century the city was of such great military importance for the north of Gaul that it became the winter quarters of several soldier emperors who tried to defend the Roman borders and curb the Germanic advances. Since 358 Paris was the residence of Caesar (lower emperor) Julian , who was proclaimed Augustus here in March 360 against Constantius II . At the beginning of his reign, Valentinian I (364-375) also resided in the city.

Between Bièvre and Seine, a little away from the Roman settlement and the Île de la Cité, in the time after Dionysius a first Christian community emerged in the old quarries there. The outstanding personality of this time was Bishop Marcellus of Paris , who, according to legend, defeated a dragon that lived in the swamps with blows from his crosier: centuries later, a monster was led through the streets in memory of him on the Jour des Rogations . Above all, it is thanks to him that the suburb of Saint-Marcel in the south gained importance. Its inhabitants removed the columns from the Roman buildings, hollowed them out and used them as sarcophagi - head to the west, feet to the east; Here in Saint-Marcel, dulcissima Barbara , 23 years old, died in the 5th century , the first Parisian woman whose name is known (the associated epitaph was found in 1656). Marcellus is depicted as a Baptist on the Porte Rouge of the cathedral.

Statue of Dagobert I in the Palace of Versailles

When the Merovingian troops under King Clovis I (466-511) defeated the Roman legions under General Syagrius near Soissons , 100 kilometers north of Paris, in 486 , they ended Roman rule in northern Gaul and the city of Paris.

Early middle ages

In the early Middle Ages , Paris became increasingly important. In 508 Paris had become a main residence of the Frankish Empire . Clovis I had the Basilica of the Apostles Peter and Paul built, which in the 9th century was named " Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève ", named after the city's patron saint, Genoveva of Paris (422–502). According to legend, it is to attack the army of by the power of their prayers Hun Attila have turned to Paris. The Huns were finally defeated in 451 by the Roman troops under the general Flavius ​​Aëtius with the help of Salfranken Merowech , the Burgundians and Visigoths in the battle of the Catalaunian fields , between Châlons-sur-Marne and Troyes , 160 kilometers east of Paris.

After Clovis's death in 511, the city became a Frankish part of the kingdom of Paris under his son Childebert I (497–558) . After the death of Charibert I (517-567), his brothers divided his empire among themselves. In 586 the “Great Fire” destroyed almost all buildings in the city. The severe winter of 763/764 - the Seine froze to the ground - was the cause of a famine in Paris. In 794, Charlemagne (748–814) made Aachen the royal seat of the Frankish Empire and Paris lost its importance. During the Carolingian rule, the Vikings repeatedly raided the city in the 9th century ( 845 , 858, 861 and 869). It was completely burned down.

Hugo Capet (940–960 AD) (Fantasy representation as an oil painting 1837)

From 885 to 886 there was the fifth and final siege . Count Odo of Paris successfully defended the city and withstood the siege for 13 months. The unprotected parts of Paris outside the Île de la Cité were destroyed. After the victory over the Vikings, Odo of Paris dethroned the Carolingian Karl the Dicken in 888 and reigned as king until 898. After the death of Louis V , the last Carolingian, Hugo Capet , Count of Paris and Duke of France , became in 987 King elected. Capet made Paris the capital of France and founded the Capetian dynasty , whose rule lasted in direct line until 1328.

High Middle Ages

Paris 1180

Between 1021 and 1040 the population suffered again from famine. The historian Rodulfus Glaber reported several cases of cannibalism . In 1037 a conflagration devastated parts of the city and in 1105 a flu epidemic claimed numerous deaths. In 1129/1130 numerous residents died of the Antonius fire , an epidemic-like poisoning caused by the consumption of rye contaminated with ergot .

In 1163 the construction of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral began . King Philip II Augustus (1165–1223) had the city fortified. The first covered market hall was opened in 1181. Between 1190 and 1197, prolonged rainfall led to numerous floods and famine. The floods of March 1197 destroyed the city's bridges. The severe winters in the 1220s sparked famine and epidemics. Despite the many catastrophes, Paris flourished under the rule of the Capetians.

In 1190 a wall was built on the right bank of the Seine and in 1210 a wall on the left bank. At that time there were many traders on the right bank of the Seine. At the instigation of Philip II, the Louvre was built on the western outskirts of the city . On April 26, 1248, under King Louis the Saint, the Sainte-Chapelle was inaugurated on the Île de la Cité . Medieval Paris was split between a right bank of the Seine dominated by business, politics and religion, and a left bank, which became a stronghold of intellectual dissidents . The best-known of them, Robert von Sorbon , founded a high school (Collège de Sorbonne) there in 1257, the predecessor of the famous Sorbonne University .

Late Middle Ages

After the fall of Jerusalem in 1291, the Knights Templar settled in Paris. Initially located on the Seine, the area of ​​the order was rebuilt at the beginning of the 14th century a little further north outside the former city walls. In 1305 the members of the order were finally accused of heresy (it was rumored that the cross was to be spit three times in the ceremony of admission to the order, and also that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was denied) and of sodomy (in the sense of homosexual acts) . On Friday, October 13th, 1307 (hence the superstition of Friday the 13th ), all the committees of the Knights Templar (and a large number of serving brothers) were arrested and the headquarters of the order, the Temple in Paris , closed. On March 22, 1312, Pope Clement V dissolved the order at the Council of Vienne (France) under pressure from King Philip the Fair . On March 19, 1314, the last Grand Master of the Templar Order, Jacques de Molay , was burned at the stake in Paris together with the Comtur of Normandy , Geoffroy de Charnay .

Woodcut from Paris 1493

After the severe winter of 1325/1326, the floods washed away all the bridges on the Île de la Cité , and the island had to be supplied with boats for five weeks. Between 1348 and 1350, around a quarter of the residents died during a great plague epidemic . The result was a stagnation of urban development until around 1450. In 1358 there was an uprising of the estates under the leadership of Étienne Marcel , the head of the merchants' guild. The estates required the heir to the throne ( Dauphin ) to control the royal administration. The uprising was put down by the nobility. King Charles V (1338–1380) had the wall on the left bank of the Seine renewed to protect the city from the English . In 1370, at his instigation , a wall was also built on the right bank, where the grands boulevards run today , and the foundation stone for the Bastille was laid .

At the beginning of the 15th century, the residents suffered from several severe winters. During the Hundred Years War , the Burgundians, allied with England, invaded Paris on May 29, 1418 and took control of the city. 1431 Heinrich VI. of England in Notre-Dame de Paris as King of France. After the Duke of Burgundy abandoned the alliance with England in 1435 , the French troops were on the advance. Heinrich VI, who came of age since 1436, but was easily influenced. of England could not oppose this. On April 15, 1436, Paris was retaken, despite the French aristocratic uprising of the Praguerie under one of the most important French generals and diplomats: Johann von Dunois .

Reformation and split beliefs

At the beginning of the 16th century, numerous residents died of epidemics and plague epidemics that occurred every few years. During the reign of Francis I (1494–1547) there was a significant development of art and culture. The king had many works by Italian artists such as Michelangelo , Titian and Raphael bought up through agents and thus laid the actual foundation of the royal collection of paintings that is now on display in the Louvre . His most important building project was the expansion of the Fontainebleau Castle near Paris, which soon became his favorite place to stay. Among other things, he founded the still existing Collège de France in Paris under the name Collège des trois langues (School of the Three Languages), since Latin, Greek and Hebrew were initially taught there.

During the Huguenot Wars between 1562 and 1598, the city remained in Catholic ownership. On Bartholomew's Night on August 24, 1572 and the days after, 3,000 to 10,000 Huguenots , including important Protestant figures, were murdered in Paris. The mother of the French King Charles IX. and regent Catherine de Medici initiated the pogrom after a failed assassination attempt on August 21, 1572 on the leader of the Huguenots, the Calvinist Gaspard de Coligny . In 1598 the Huguenot Wars were ended in the Edict of Nantes . The Huguenots received a limited religious tolerance. They became second class citizens and were excluded from all church and state benefices .


Place des Victoires (built by Louis XIV from 1685)

Under Louis XIII. (1601–1643) it went up economically again; he had the Marais district and the suburbs of Saint-Honoré and Saint-Germain built. At around the same time, the Palais du Luxembourg was completed by Maria de Medici , the Val-de-Grâce by Queen Anna of Austria and the Palais Cardinal (today's Palais Royal ) by Cardinal Richelieu . The royal printing works (1620), the Jardin des Plantes (botanical garden) in 1626 and the Académie française (1635) reinforce the cultural significance of the capital.

The government of Louis XIV. (1638–1715) represented an urban development climax in which Paris became the model of baroque urban planning. Under Louis XIV, at his instigation, street lights were installed, the water supply modernized and the “Invalides” and “Salpêtrière” hospitals , the portico of the Louvre, the Invalides, the observatory , Place des Victoires and Place Vendôme built. He had the Paris city walls torn down and the Grands Boulevards built in their place . The magnificent architecture contrasted with the misery of the overcrowded capital.

Paris around 1650

Between 1648 and 1653, Paris was the venue for bloody battles by the Fronde , an alliance of the French high nobility , the high judges of the parliaments and parts of the people, against Cardinal Jules Mazarin and the court. The aim was to take advantage of a moment of weakness in the monarchy, to restore the feudal rights of the nobility and the rights of appeal of the parliaments , which under Louis XIII. and his minister, Cardinal Richelieu, had been severely circumcised; the civil war failed.

On May 6, 1682, the "Sun King" Louis XIV moved the king's residence to Versailles . Nevertheless, Paris remained the political center of France, due to its large population and leading economic role in the country. The strong increase in cafés such as the well-known Café Procope and the numerous literary and philosophical events strengthened the cultural reputation of Paris, which had developed into the center of liberal ideas. The severe winter of 1708/1709 - the temperature dropped to minus 26 ° C - was the cause of the famine that followed. During the subsequent flood, the level of the Seine rose to almost nine meters. The first fire brigade was set up in 1722 and the first post office in 1738.

Revolution and Restoration

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789

With the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the French Revolution began in Paris. The revolutionaries wanted to put an end to absolutism , which had reached its heyday under Louis XIV . On September 3, 1791, a new constitution was passed declaring France a constitutional monarchy. When the Tuileries Palace was stormed on August 10, 1792, during which the rebels defeated the King's Swiss Guards, Louis XVI fled . in the building of the National Assembly and there, under pressure from the sans-culottes , was removed from office by the constituent assembly . When the Tuileries Palace was sacked, documents had been found that proved the king's betrayal of the revolution. On January 21, 1793 Louis XVI. Executed in front of the people on the “ Place de la Révolution ”, today's “Place de la Concorde”.

During the Wars of Liberation , Paris was the target of the Sixth Coalition's operations . After the allies had conquered the heights of Montmartre on March 30, 1814, the French defenders of the capital capitulated. On the afternoon of March 31, 1814, the Allied troops marched, led by the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , in Paris. On June 22, 1815, the allied armies occupied the city a second time after Napoleon Bonaparte's final abdication as emperor. The July Revolution of July 27-29, 1830, which culminated in a three-day violent street fight in Paris, resulted in the final overthrow of the Bourbons in France and the renewed seizure of power by the bourgeoisie under King Ludwig Philip .

Barricade fight in Rue Soufflot, Paris, June 25, 1848 ( June Uprising )

In 1846 the population exceeded the million mark. The reign of the king (1830-1848) was marked by an increasing turn away from liberalism , increasing scandals and cases of corruption. In the end, the French bourgeoisie were visibly disappointed in the politics of Ludwig Philip. Above all, the census suffrage , which prevented the bourgeoisie from having an influence on legislation commensurate with its strength, increased the anger against the king. In the working class, too, dissatisfaction with their problematic social situation, which had been exacerbated by an agricultural and trade crisis in 1847, turned into a revolutionary mood.

Medal for the suppression of the Paris uprising from 29./30. January 1849, obverse

After the king had banned a planned banquet to reform the electoral law, public protests broke out in Paris on February 21, 1848, which quickly escalated into unrest and assumed a revolutionary development. During the February Revolution of 1848 there was a temporary unification of workers and citizens. On February 23 and 24, 1848, fierce street and barricade fighting ensued between the insurgents and the royal troops. On February 24, 1848, the hated upper-class Prime Minister François Guizot was forced to resign. Shortly afterwards, King Ludwig Philipp himself abdicated and fled into exile in England. A provisional government was then set up under the liberal politician Alphonse de Lamartine and the republic was proclaimed. On June 24, 1848, there was a renewed uprising of the workers on the occasion of the closure of the French national workshops, which had opened up job opportunities for the unemployed. However, the June uprising in Paris was bloodily suppressed by the French army and the National Guard soon after fierce fighting . In the end, 3,000 workers were dead and around 15,000 were banished to the penal camps in the colonies. At the beginning of 1849 the unrest flared up again. A socialist uprising on 29./30. January 1849 was put down by General Changarnier and Changarnier was honored with a medal with the inscription LIBERTÉ, ORDRE PUBLIC, issued by Louis-Eugène Cavaignac in the same year .

The modern city

City map of Paris from 1878

Napoleon III (1808–1873) continued the lavish urban design begun by Louis XIV and Napoléon Bonaparte. The Prefect and architect Georges-Eugène Haussmann had the narrow streets replaced by wide avenues that were arranged in a rectangular pattern, lined with trees and magnificent buildings and on which the new means of transport moved; Gardens and parks were created. In 1844 , a new city fortification was built for defense purposes at the point where the boulevard périphérique runs today . This was 39 kilometers long and with its 94 bastions and 16 forts was the largest fortification in the world. Paris hosted six world exhibitions in 1855, 1867, 1878, 1889, 1900 and 1937 , which underscored the city's cultural and political importance.

In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871, Paris was after the capture of Napoleon III. and the proclamation of the Third Republic by German troops (1870) and had to capitulate in 1871. On March 18, 1871, the French Prime Minister Adolphe Thiers tried to have the defensive National Guard of Paris disarmed. This led to an uprising among workers, artisans and petty bourgeoisie.

On March 26, 1871, a revolutionary government, the Paris Commune, took power in Paris . The Republican interim government was declared deposed. The armed militias of the Paris Commune were only defeated in May 1871 by the reorganized counterrevolutionary French army in street fighting in Paris. There were 25,000 dead in the Bloody Week of May 21-28. 38,000 arrests and 7,500 deportations followed. In all, almost a quarter of the working population of Paris was killed in the fighting and the mass executions that followed.

Main entrance to the 1900 World's Fair

Paris flourished between 1871 and 1914 during the Belle Époque and became a world-recognized intellectual and artistic center; the Montmartre district in particular attracted well-known painters and writers. At the Gare de Lyon , the Pont Alexandre III and the underground stations , the style of this time can be recognized in an exemplary manner.

In January 1910, 12 of the city's 20 arrondissements were flooded by the Seine for around 6 weeks. The damage caused was surprisingly minor, it amounted to the equivalent of around 1 billion euros.

The street La rue Lepic in Paris on Montmartre , 1925

In 1921, the capital had the highest population in its history with just under three million. Urban housing could no longer keep pace with demand.

In 1900, Paris was the venue for the Second Modern Summer Olympic Games (as part of the World Exhibition, women participated in the Olympic Games for the first time). In 1924 the 8th Summer Olympic Games also took place in Paris.

Second World War

German guard parade on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 1940

The Second World War began on September 1st with the invasion of Poland . England and France declared war on the German Reich on September 3, but did not intervene in favor of Poland (contrary to what was announced or contractually guaranteed ). Poland capitulated after a few weeks; this gave Hitler a freer hand in the West (see two-front war ). He ordered the preparation of the western campaign . This began on May 10, 1940; the Benelux countries quickly capitulated. British troops had to leave the continent in a rush near Dunkirk in late May / early June . The Battle of Dunkirk ended on June 5th; During the battle, the Wehrmacht also positioned itself for the attack towards Paris. On June 5, they began an offensive on the Somme and Aisne . The attack met with unusually fierce resistance; After the breakthrough of the Wehrmacht, this quickly subsided through the deeply staggered position system. On June 10, the French government (then President: Albert Lebrun ) declared Paris an open city and moved its seat of government to Bordeaux to avoid arrest by German troops.

The German 18th Army under Colonel General Georg von Küchler was dispatched to Paris . After a French negotiator had assured him that the French 7th Army would withdraw , Wehrmacht units entered the deserted Paris on June 14th without a fight. There were no strategic goals associated with it; it was a symbolic act. At the Arc de Triomphe , Küchler and the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group B, Colonel General Fedor von Bock , watched the 18th Army march past . In the early morning of June 28th, Hitler - u. a. accompanied by Albert Speer , the sculptor Arno Breker and the architect Hermann Giesler - Paris. Images of Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower are considered iconic . The Hôtel de Crillon was confiscated and used as the headquarters of the German troops in France. On July 16, 1942, the 13,000 remaining Jews in Paris were arrested and transported to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. After the Allied landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944 and the rapid advance towards Paris, employees of the Paris subway, the gendarmerie and the police went on strike from August 10, 1944, which the postmen later joined. The Germans reacted and shot 35 young French resistance fighters on the night of August 16 at the Carrefour des Cascades , (in the Bois de Boulogne ). When other workers joined the strike movement, a general strike and uprising broke out on August 18 (the day when all the resistance members were asked to mobilize) , whereupon French resistance fighters occupied some streets and buildings, including the town hall .

The 2 e division blindée drives on August 26, 1944 on the Champs Elysées and is cheered by people for the liberation of Paris

The Battle of Paris began on August 22nd . Allied troops and French resistance fighters took the city on August 25, 1944. Around 10,000 German soldiers were taken prisoner by the Allies. Around 1,000 resistance fighters were killed and another 1,500 wounded. On the night of August 26-27, 1944, German planes dropped bombs on Paris. Almost 500 houses went up in flames, 50 people died and about 500 were wounded.

The fact that Paris was largely spared from destruction is due to several factors and circumstances:

  • General Dietrich von Choltitz , the city ​​commander of Greater Paris, ignored Hitler's order to destroy the city during the last days of the occupation ("Rubble Field Order".)
  • There were no strategic targets for Allied air strikes.

Development from 1945

Street view from the 1950s

After the destroyed houses in Paris had been rebuilt, the first buildings were erected in the suburb of La Défense from 1958 , including the “Center National des Industries et des Techniques” (CNIT).

On October 17, 1961, after repeated demonstrations by Algerian immigrants against the Algerian war, the Paris massacre broke out . Although there was no violence from the demonstrators, the Paris police, under the command of Maurice Papon (according to other reports, units of the army), were extremely brutal and killed numerous demonstrators. The exact number of deaths is unknown; it is estimated by historians at around 200. Police reports amount to three deaths. Thousands of people were injured and around 14,000 arrested.

In the post-war decades, France also experienced an economic boom comparable to the West German economic miracle , the trente glorieuses ; while until then in many regions of small-scale agriculture had dominated, this has now been in rapid pace through industrial and post-industrial structures replaced . Millions of people from the villages moved to the capital, the population of the Paris agglomeration rose from 5.6 million in 1946 to 8.6 million in 1975.

Market in the Quartier des Halles , 1960

In 1962, the French Minister of Culture André Malraux created redevelopment programs for the inner-city problem areas (for example the Marais ); At the same time, the construction of the first satellite cities ( villes nouvelles ) of Paris (including Créteil , Marne-la-Vallée , Nanterre and Sarcelles ) began. Although the interventions in the cityscape at that time were less than during the building work of Baron Haussmann and less than in other cities in Europe, many observers lamented the disappearance of the old Paris of the Belle Époque , which was transformed into a rationally organized, technocratic capital. To cope with the by a dramatic increase in private transport resulting traffic situation were beltway boulevard périphérique and numerous new metro -lines and a system of regional railways created ( Réseau express régional , RER).

In 1968 there were student revolts and mass strikes in Paris. The so-called May riots , which broke out in May 1968 initially because of the evacuation of a faculty at the Sorbonne University in Paris , ultimately led to a week-long general strike in France that paralyzed the whole country. The demonstrators set up barricades and fought street battles with the police for days. As a result of the unrest, the Sorbonne was divided into 13 separate areas in 1968. Five of them are out of town. Government agencies viewed the students and thus their university as a generalized potential troublemaker. They should be driven out of the confusing, “sensitive” city center.

The Seine and parts of the
La Défense high-rise district, created in 1963

The presidents of the Fifth Republic such as Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou left their mark on the capital with numerous buildings. During President François Mitterrand's fourteen-year tenure (1981–1995) in particular, many monumental buildings were erected in Paris that gave rise to polemics on the one hand, but also to enthusiasm on the other: the glass pyramid of the Louvre , the Bastille Opera , the French National Library and the Grande Arche in the suburb of La Défense .

In recent years, the contrast between the city center, whose culture and architecture attract millions of tourists and whose rents are no longer affordable for many after gentrification processes , and the suburbs has become a political issue. Many suburbs have a poor infrastructure and are hardly connected to the city center, there are only a few connections with each other by public transport. Especially in the northern and eastern banlieue , where large housing estates in prefabricated construction were built in the 1960s and 1970s, social, ethnic and religious conflicts, drugs and crime are part of everyday life.

In 2005 youth riots broke out in the suburbs of the capital. The violent riots in Paris in October and November of that year consisted of a series of initially unorganized property damage and arson, as well as violent clashes with the police in the suburbs of Paris, which began on October 27, 2005, after the accidental death of two young people . Initially, the riots were limited to the hometown of the youth, the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois . In the course of the following days, the unrest initially spread to the Parisian hinterland such as Seine-et-Marne or Val-d'Oise , and later to other French cities.

Scene of the republican march in Paris after the January
7, 2015 attacks

For several years there have been efforts to improve the traffic situation, for example by building 8 tram lines for the Tramway Île-de-France . The administrative and mental division between the core city, the borders of which have not changed since 1860, and the suburbs, is to be overcome by the Grand Paris project .

In 2015 there were coordinated Islamist attacks, each with several deaths, on the editors of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and in November in the greater Paris area . Another attempt was made in 2017.


About 75% of the population are baptized , about 70% profess the Catholic faith, most practice the Latin rite , a few also the Armenian and Ukrainian rites. The Archbishop of Paris is responsible for the Catholics of the Eastern rites. There are a total of 94 Catholic parishes in Paris within the political boundaries of the city, as well as 73 Protestant churches of various denominations, 15 Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, six Romanian Orthodox churches, seven synagogues for about 220,000 Jews and 19 mosques for around 80,000 Muslims , mostly Sunnis . Just under 12% of Christians and around 15% of Jews are practicing believers.

The Île-de-France region is also a center of Arab-Islamic life in Europe. During the 20th century, the number of Muslims in the metropolitan area rose to an estimated one million (ten percent of the population). Since the early 1960s in particular, numerous immigrants from North Africa ( Algeria , Morocco and Tunisia ) came to Paris and especially to its suburbs. While the relationship between Christians, Jews and Muslims was hardly shaped by conflicts until the early 1980s, tensions between the religious communities have increased considerably since then.

After Jean-Marie Le Pen's right-wing extremist Front National (FN) won the local elections in 1983, the region and large parts of the country were hit by a wave of violence against Muslims of North African origin. Especially after the flare-up of the Middle East conflict in autumn 2000 and the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York, there has been a further increase in anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic crimes such as propaganda inciting hatred, insulting, threats, bodily harm and arson attacks on buildings (mosques, synagogues, culture - and educational institutions). The desecration of Jewish, Muslim and Christian cemeteries, of memorials to soldiers of various religious origins who died in the wars, and of memorials commemorating the persecution of Jews by the German occupying forces in World War II increased.

However, these facts should by no means be exaggerated. The everyday life of Parisians is characterized by an overwhelming multiculturalism, which has become one of the most notable features of the city.

Population development

Population growth in Paris since the first census in 1801.

The recurring decline in the population in ancient times and in the Middle Ages is due to the numerous wars, epidemics and famines. Around 20,000 people died in a cholera epidemic in 1832 . It was not until industrialization in the 19th century that the population rose sharply. In 1846 around one million people lived in Paris, by 1876 that number had doubled to two million. In 1921, the population of Paris had reached its historic high of just under three million. A little over two million people currently live in the capital. Three quarters of a million people have left Paris since 1954. Some have moved to the provinces, but the vast majority to the numerous suburbs. The population of the metropolitan region , which includes Paris and the Île-de-France region , doubled from 5.85 million in 1946 to 12.2 million in 2009. The city limits of Paris today still essentially follow the fortifications built in the 1860s under Adolphe Thiers and the motorway ring ( Boulevard périphérique ) built at this point in the 1970s . A comprehensive incorporation of the suburbs like in other capitals ( Greater Berlin , Greater London ) never took place. Especially in the 1960s, during the economic boom of the postwar period, increased the population of the capital region dramatically, the government of Charles de Gaulle , therefore, let the suburbanization by building satellite towns ( banlieue ) and on the drawing board designed plan cities ( Ville nouvelle ) promoting. The main reason for the emigration was the constantly increasing purchase and rental prices of the apartments. But the decentralization of some industrial sectors and the construction of many office buildings have also played an important role in the loss of population in the capital.

During the 20th century, numerous waves of immigration made Paris a multicultural , cosmopolitan city. Up until the First World War , the immigrants were mainly Italians, then Poles, Armenians and Spaniards. After 1945 guest workers came from Portugal and the former colonies in the Maghreb , Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean . There is now a cultural diversity that dominates the quarters in some areas . The 13th arrondissement , which is dominated by Southeast Asia and China, and the 18th arrondissement , which is influenced by Africa and Maghreb, and the multicultural district of Belleville are particularly well known . In addition, there are also Jewish (around Rue des Rosiers ), Japanese (around Rue Sainte-Anne ) and Tamil (around Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis ) dominated quarters. The largest groups of immigrants come from Algeria, Portugal and Spain. A total of around 40 nationalities live in Paris (from North Africa to South America to Indochina ).

The following overview shows the number of inhabitants according to the respective territorial status . Up to 1784 it is based on estimates by the historians Jacques Dupâquier and Alfred Fierro, and from 1801 to 2009 on census results.

year Residents
Core city
150 80,000
363 20,000
510 30,000
1000 20,000
1180 110,000
1250 215,000
1365 275,000
1500 200,000
1589 300,000
1637 415,000
1675 500,000
1700 600,000
1784 660,000
1796 556304
1801 546.856
1807 580,609
1817 718.966
year Residents
Core city Agglomeration
1831 785,862
1835 1,000,000
1836 899.313
1841 935.261
1846 1,053,897
1851 1,053,262
1856 1,174,346
1861 1,696,141
1863 2,000,000
1866 1,825,274
1872 1,851,792
1876 1,988,806
1881 2,269,023
1885 3,000,000
1886 2,344,550
1891 2,447,957
1896 2,536,834
year Residents
Core city Agglomeration Metropolitan area
March 24, 1901 2,714,068
1905 4,000,000
03/04/1906 2,763,393
03/05/1911 2,888,110 4,500,000
03/06/1921 2,906,472 4,850,000
03/07/1926 2,871,429 5,160,008
03/08/1931 2,891,020 5,674,419
03/08/1936 2,829,753 5,784,072
03/10/1946 2,725,374 5,600,000
05/10/1954 2,850,189 6,436,296
07.03.1962 2,790,091 7,384,363
03/01/1968 2,590,771 8,196,746 8,368,000
02/20/1975 2,299,830 8,549,898 9,096,000
03/04/1982 2,176,243 8,706,963 9,362,000
05.03.1990 2,152,423 9,318,821 10,291,851
03/08/1999 2,125,246 9,644,507 11,174,743
01/01/2008 2,211,297 10,354,675 12,089,098
year Residents
Core city Agglomeration Metropolitan area
01/01/2009 2.234.105 10,413,386 12,161,542
01/01/2010 2,243,833 nv nv

According to a forecast from 2013, the population of Île-de-France , which is largely identical to the metropolitan region of Paris, is expected to increase by another 1.1 million between 2010 and 2030.

Development of the living situation

View from the Eiffel Tower to north-western Paris
Domont , a suburb of Paris with single-family houses and larger residential complexes

At the beginning of the 1960s, a large-scale urban redevelopment and urban development began in Paris. In the eastern and south-eastern parts of the capital, entire districts have been renovated by demolishing dilapidated houses and building new buildings. Near the modernized and newly built train stations Gare de Lyon and Gare Montparnasse , new districts were built around service centers.

Many historical buildings were also destroyed by these interventions, which provoked protests from numerous residents. Urban development led to the emergence of concrete quarters and the construction of high-rise buildings made of glass and steel, which made Paris more and more similar to many of the world's major cities. The now expensive apartments were no longer affordable for the poorer residents, they migrated to the suburbs ( banlieues ), while the affluent strata of the population moved into the city. Numerous immigrants, mainly of North African and Black African origin, have also moved to the concrete settlements on the outskirts over the past few decades.

In France, the immigration of millions of people from outside Europe was promoted for decades without analyzing and dealing with the consequences. Experts see the recurring outbreaks of violence in the suburbs of Paris as an expression of the long pent-up anger of many young people about the prevailing relative poverty, racism , a lack of prospects, mass unemployment and the associated resignation , boredom and gang crime as well as a lack of integration opportunities ( ghettoization ) particularly affect young people of non-European origin in the satellite towns .

Literature and Sources

  • Grandes Chroniques de France . 15th century. New edition in 10 volumes. Viard, Paris 1920–1953.
  • Lutèce. Paris de César à Clovis. Catalog of the exhibition of the Musée Carnavalet and the Musée National des Thermes et de l'Hôtel de Cluny. Paris 1984, ISBN 2-901414-06-0 .
  • Henri-Paul Eydoux: Monuments et trésors de la Gaule. Plon, Paris 1962.
  • Alfred Fierro: Histoire et dictionnaire de Paris. Laffont, Paris 1996, ISBN 2-221-07862-4 .
  • Jacques Hillairet: Dictionnaire historique des rues de Paris. Minuit, Paris 1963, ISBN 2-7073-0092-6 .
  • Jean Colson, Marie-Christine Lauroa: Dictionnaire des monuments de Paris. Hervas, Paris 1995, ISBN 2-903-118-66-3
  • Ramón Chao / Ignacio Ramonet: Paris - City of Rebels - A cultural guide , translated from the French by Barbara Heber-Schärer, Rotpunktverlag, Zurich ISBN 978-3-85869-418-8
  • Alan Riding: And the Show Went On. Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris , Alfred A Knopf Verlag, New York 2010 ISBN 978-0-307-26897-6

Web links

Wikisource: Paris  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ Caesar, De bello Gallico 6, 3.
  2. ^ Caesar, De bello Gallico 7, 58.
  3. ^ German Historical Museum
  4. a b Johannes Willms: When Paris was like Venice, The capital of modernity under the spell of the "grande crue": memories of a century flood in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of January 26, 2010
  5. dhm.de
  6. ^ Photo of the command
  7. http://www.eglises.org/france/75/
  8. ^ List of the Romanian Orthodox communities in France
  9. L'Île-de-France in 2030 . Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved on December 10, 2012.