Paris is France's capital and largest city, and a leading cultural, business, and political center of Europe. Nicknamed "The City of Light" (la Ville Lumii¨re) since the 19th century, Paris also has a reputation as a "romantic" city. Paris is also capital of France's ÃƒÆ’Ã…Â½le-de-France region and one of eight departements in that region, whose territory encompasses Paris and its suburbs.
Paris is home to Europe's largest business district, La Defense, and Euronext, the second-largest stock exchange . The Paris Region produces over a quarter of France's wealth, with a GDP of nearly ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬450 billion (US$506.7 billion) in 2003. Paris hosts the head offices of nearly half of all French companies, offices of many major international firms, and the headquarters o
f many international trade and social organisations, such as UNESCO and the OECD.
Paris is served by two principal airports: Orly Airport, which is south of Paris, and the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in nearby Roissy-en-France, one of the busiest in Europe. A third and much smaller airport, at the town of Beauvais, 70 km (45 mi) to the north of the city, is used by charter and low-cost airlines. Le Bourget airport nowadays only hosts business jets, air trade shows and the aerospace museum.
Paris has an oceanic climate and is affected by the North Atlantic Current, so the city has a temperate climate that rarely sees extremely high or low temperatures. The average yearly high temperature is about 15 Â°C (59 Â°F), and yearly lows tend to remain around an average of 7 Â°C (45 Â°F). The highest temperature ever, recorded on 28 July 1948, was 40.4 Â°C (104.7 Â°F), and the lowest was a −23.9 Â°C (−11.0 Â°F) temperature reached on 10 December 1879. The Paris region has recently seen temperatures reaching both extremes, with the heat wave of 2003 and the cold wave of 2006.
Rainfall can occur at any time of the year, and Paris is known for its sudden showers. The city sees an average yearly precipitation of 641.6 mm (25.2 inches). Snowfall is a rare occurrence, usually appearing in the coldest months of January or February (but has been recorded as late as April), and almost never accumulates enough to make a covering that will last more than a day.
Three of the most famous Parisian landmarks are the twelfth century cathedral Notre Dame de Paris on the ÃƒÆ’Ã…Â½le de la Cite, the nineteenth century Eiffel Tower, and the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower was a "temporary" construction by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exposition but the tower was never dismantled and is now an enduring symbol of Paris. It is visible from many parts of the city as are the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper and the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur on the Montmartre hill.
Paris is also internationally renowned for its defining neo-classical architecture and its influence in fashion and the arts straddling the river Seine in the north central part of France. Hosting a rich array of museums, galleries, and nightlife, it is the most visited city in the world, with more than 30 million visitors per year. The most recognisable symbol of Paris is the 324 metre (1,063 ft) brown metal Eiffel Tower located on the banks of the Seine.
Many of France's greatest musical legends such as ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â°dith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Georges Brassens and Charles Aznavour found their fame in Parisian concert halls: legendary yet still-showing examples of these are Le Lido, Bobino, l'Olympia, la Cigale and le Splendid.
Travel and Tourism :
The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous museums, housing many works of art, including the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) and the Venus de Milo statue. Works by Pablo Picasso and Rodin are found in Musee Picasso and Musee Rodin respectively, while the artistic community of Montparnasse is chronicled at the Musee du Montparnasse.
Paris had always been a destination for traders, students and those on religious pilgrimages, but its 'tourism' in the proper sense of the term began on a large scale only with the appearance of rail travel, namely from state organisation of France's rail network from 1848.