Paris, the French capital, is chocking in history – going back to the Roman Empire, when it was just a small settlement (when the country was then known as “Gaul”). Even before then, a Celtic tribe called the Parisii (where the city eventually got its name) was thought to have settled there around 250 BC.
Going through various periods since then (including the Frankish, Merovingian Carolingian, Capetian, and Bourbon dynasties, Paris was already considered a major European center for learning and the arts by the 12th century, and was the largest city in Europe until the 18th century. Paris also acted as the epicenter of the French Revolution during the late 1700s (which included the infamous guillotining of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette in 1793), and reached prominence during the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800s.
Under the rule of Napoleon III (Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew), Paris was physically transformed when he had entire districts leveled, eliminating their narrow, and often winding medieval streets in favor of a network of wide avenues and neo-classical façades that are still seen in the streets of the city today. During the early 20th century, Paris, taking similar action to other metropolises like New York City, built its own local Métro subway system to accommodate its growing population (with another rail system, RER, covering Paris’ outer lying areas and suburbs, being built during the 1960s).
With Paris earning a reputation for its cultural & artistic communities, as well as its nightlife during the 1920s & 1930s, it weathered through the Nazi occupation during World War II, being spared much of the aerial bombings that befell other European cities at that time. Since then, the city has grown, with the construction of large social estates known as cités (in Paris’ outer lying suburbs, which accommodated the arrival of immigrant blue collar workers from former French colonies in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and the French Caribbean) and the beginning of La Défense — the business district.
Visitors from all walks of life will not be bored with Paris – whether you’re a history buff, a sports enthusiast, music lover, an artist, or a gastronomer. Given Paris’ history, the city will likely see another wave of transformation as the 21st century moves forward.