Culinary, cultural and insider knowledge about Paris, France

Paris has a multitude of attractive sights to offer. To be precise, there are 137 museums, 300 churches and 37 bridges as well as 463 parks and gardens. Everyone has at least heard of some of the sights. But there is much more to experience and discover in Paris.

There are many interesting facts and figures about the capital of France. They concern, among other things, the inhabitants and their nationalities as well as the districts and the age of the city.

  • Inhabitants: More than 2.2 million people live in the city of Paris. If you consider Paris as a metropolitan region, there are more than 12.4 million inhabitants. And the number is constantly growing.
  • Nationalities: Around 40 different nationalities live in Paris, from North African regions to Indochina and areas in South America. Immigrants from all over the world have made Paris a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. Most immigrants come from Algeria, Portugal and Spain.
  • Population: The area of Paris is about 105 square kilometres. In relation to the number of inhabitants, this is quite a small area, which is why Paris is one of the most densely populated major cities, with about 21,000 inhabitants per square kilometre.
  • Districts: Paris is divided into 20 districts. They are numbered and extend clockwise from the centre to the outskirts.

PICTURES: Holiday in Paris

Photo gallery: Top shots of Paris

The history of Paris

The first inhabitants of Paris were members of the Celtic tribe Parisii. In the 3rd century BC, the tribe sought protection from invaders on what is now Île de la cité, one of the islands of the Seine. In 52 BC, the Romans under the rule of Julius Caesar took the settlement and named it Lutetia.

The Romans left most of the island to the Parisii. They themselves built a new Roman city on the left bank of the Seine, called Lutetia. In the process, they also laid out the Cardo, a main axis typical of Roman cities, to which another axis (Decumanus) usually ran perpendicularly.

The intersection of the two axes marked the city centre. However, Lutetia was only divided by a cardo, into an administrative part in the west and a religious part in the east. This structure has been preserved until today.

The city built by the Romans was known in the Roman Empire as "Civitas Parisiorum" or "Parisia". It was not until 360 AD that the city was given its present name. Many buildings were erected during the rule of the Romans: Palaces, baths and an amphitheatre. But when the Roman Empire collapsed, Paris was only a sparsely populated occupation city.

Paris only became really important much later. King Clovis declared the city the main residence of the Merovingian Empire in 508. In 987, Hugo Capets became king and Paris became the capital of France .

Gradually, Paris developed into an intellectual and cultural centre, but wars and the recurring plague stopped the upswing. During the Hundred Years' War (1339-1453), Paris was occupied by the English and lost its position as capital. It was not until 1437, under Charles VIII, that the city regained this status.

The Place de la Bastille in Paris used to be home to the Bastille, first a castle and later a prison; today it is home to the July Column and the new Paris Opera House, France - © Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock
© Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock

In 1654, King Louis XIV came to power in infancy. In the 72 years of his reign, he promoted art, science and business and modernised the city. With the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the French Revolution began and the monarchy came to an abrupt end. In 1804 Napoleon was crowned the first Emperor of France.

After the world wars, especially after the second, the city recovered only with difficulty. Today, Paris with its historic buildings is a special experience for tourists and still very important in terms of art and culture.

Paris for Gourmets

The French are known to be a people of connoisseurs and so there are also numerous occasions in Paris with sumptuous culinary offerings. Lovers of French cuisine get their money's worth in Paris, although the prices are sometimes higher than in Germany.

In addition to good home cooking and regional specialities, you can also taste rather special dishes in Paris that are not to everyone's taste, such as snails. But international cuisine is also represented here. Because of France's former colonies, you can also find some restaurants in Paris with North African cuisine. All in all, there is something for every taste in the many restaurants, brasseries and bistros.

Those who prefer to cook for themselves can stock up on fresh ingredients at one of the markets. For gourmets, the "Marché d'Aligre" and the "Marché des Enfants Rouges" are just right with their wide variety of quality products.

Paris has a multitude of places worth seeing that should not be missed. A visit to one of the 8,000 cafés is a must, and there are particularly many in the St. German de Prés district. Many cafés are very simple from a culinary point of view and captivate with their cosy atmosphere.

Others offer unusual and exclusive dishes. While some cafés offer a good breakfast, others are great for dinner or brunch. Anyone visiting Paris should at least try an original French croissant and baguette.

Parties and celebrations in Paris

The Pont Neuf connects the two banks of the Seine with the Ile de la Cité in the French capital Paris, from here boat tours are offered on the Seine, France - © Nikonaft / Shutterstock
© Nikonaft / Shutterstock

The capital of France offers its visitors and residents an extensive nightlife. There are many trendy nightclubs and discos to party in, including "Alimentation Générale", "La Rontonde" and "Gibus Club". There are also theatres and shows. But even during the day, the regular parties determine the Parisian scene.


There are also festivals throughout the year such as the Fête de la Musique, Cinéma au clair de lune, Techno parade, the Fête des Jardins de Paris and many more. As a world metropolis, Paris naturally celebrates not only its own national holidays, but also many festivals from other cultures. These include the Chinese New Year, the Jewish Rosh ha-Shanah, the Garnesh festival of the Indians and the Ramadan of the Muslims.

Insider knowledge around Paris

Apart from the typical information about France and Paris, there are some facts that belong to the absolute insider knowledge. They make the city unique - the name alone is not.

  • A common name: the name "Paris" is automatically associated with the capital of France. Yet 30 cities and villages around the world bear this name.
  • The smallest street: It is located in the 2nd arrondissement of the city and is called Rue des Degrés. The street is just six metres long.
  • The oldest house: it was built in 1407 and stands at 51, rue de Montmorency, in the 3rd arrondissement.
  • Bees in Paris: The city is home to about 12 million bees in 300 hives. This means that there are almost as many bees as inhabitants in the metropolitan region.
  • The "Pont Neuf " is not the ninth bridge: When the "Pont Neuf" was built, it was very modern and, among other things, the first bridge to directly connect the two banks of the Seine. That is why it is still called the "New Bridge" today and is now the oldest bridge in Paris.
  • The only stop sign: There is only one stop sign in the entire city. It is placed at the exit of a building materials company in the 16th arrondissement.
  • The catacombs of Paris: they have a total length of 300 kilometres - roughly the distance from Hamburg to Berlin.
  • Paris has a Statue of Liberty: In reference to the gift of the French to the USA, a small edition of the Statue of Liberty stands in Paris looking towards the American Stat ue of Liberty as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.
  • The"Place de la Concorde" is a giant sundial: the 23-metre-high obelisk, an Egyptian column and also the square's main monument, makes it possible to read off the approximate time. You just have to look at its shadow in relation to the position of the sun. On the pavements of the square you can see hour markings in Roman numerals. This makes the square one of the largest sundials in the world.
  • Curious disease: Every year, tourists fall ill with the so-called Paris Syndrome, a temporary mental disorder associated with dizziness, anxiety, hallucinations and even delusions of persecution.

    It is mainly the Japanese who are affected. They have a very romanticised idea of the city and corresponding expectations. They suffer a kind of culture shock when they see the real Paris. The main cause is the great cultural differences between Japan and France, especially in terms of the behaviour of the population.

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