Paris Travel Guide: A History of Paris
In 55 BC, Paris was conquered by the Romans. It had been a flood-prone fishing village on the
Ile de la Cite inhabited by the Parisii tribe. The area was known as Lutetia. The Roman settlement flourished and
spread to the Left Bank of the Seine. The Romans built 2 wooden bridges dividing the city into the Right Bank and
the Left Bank. Because of the constant flooding, more people moved to the Left Bank and the surrounding hills. The
inhabitants on the Left Bank were attacked in AD 200 by Christians. Christianity became a dominant force in the
The Romans were displaced by the Franks around AD 400. The Franks and the Christians made an
alliance and the Christians of Rome became connected with the Catholic Church in Rome. Its first bishop was St.
The rulers of Paris had power over Western Germany and Eastern France. At the end of AD 987, the
empire was split into modern France and modern Germany.
In the middle ages, the city became a religious center and Sainte-Chapelle was erected as an
architectural wonder. It also became a center of learning and many European scholars joined the faculty of the
During the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, it became a center of culture and ideas. Louis
XIV, as its ruler, created a city of great wealth and power. However, in 1789 there was a bloody revolution by the
people. In the 1800s, Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself Emperor of France. His ambition was to make Paris the
center of the world.
In 1848 there was another revolution and the city began to undergo a radical transformation. The
changes were drafted by Baron Haussmann. The medieval slums of Paris were replaced with grand boulevards and
avenues. By the end of the century, Paris was considered a great influential force of Western culture.
From 1940 to 1944 the German army led by Adolph Hitler occupied Paris. After they were driven out
by the Allies, Paris revived itself.
Paris was divided into 20 arrondissements or sections by Napoleon and is set up in
that configuration today. The arrondissements or sections are:
Each section has its own mayor, city hall, police station, and post office. The arrondissements are
identified by their postal codes.
Around the 10th century, the swampland of the Right Bank dried and residents of Paris started
moving from the Left Bank to the Right Bank. The Left Bank is now mostly a historic religious and scholarly
Parisians have developed quarters or areas of interest in Paris. This are not known as
administrative areas but are easy to mark as tourist areas when talking about the various sights in the city.
The areas or quarters of Paris are:
There are 32 bridges crossing the Seine River with small islands at the end of some of them. The
city's birthplace is the Ile de la Cite and is the location of Notre Dame. The island of Ile St-Louis is the home
of many 17th century mansions.
Paris is not only an historical city but a beautiful one. You can still see many of the remains of
many structures that were built during the Roman occupation of the city.