Paris silver course 14
PARIS. Silver course lesson 14.
The capital of France is Paris. Paris has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Artefacts have been found there indicating human presence there. Paris started on an island in the middle of the River Seine. The Seine is pronounced ”SEN”. The island in the middle of the Seine is called ”l’Ile de la cite” meaning ”the island of precinct” The tribe that first inhabited the ait were called Parigi. That gives us the word ‘Paris’. In Italian the name for Paris is still ‘Parigi’. In French Paris is pronounced ”pa REE”.
The Gauls lived in what we now call France in ancient times. France was called ‘Gaul’. The Gauls were a Celtic people and spoke a language related to Irish and Welsh. Their language was not written.
The Romans defeated and subjugated the Gauls. Latin was introduced to Gaul (France) by the Romans. The French language gradually evolved from Latin.
The Roman Empire declined in the 5th century AD. The Romans were gradually pushed out of France. The Romans had built a forum (market place) in Paris. There are ruins from Roman Paris still visible today.
Christianity came to Paris under the Romans. The persecuted Christians met underground in tunnels called catacombs. These catacombs still exist. They are supposed to be closed because they are dangerous. However, some people know how to break into them. Those who like going around the catacombs today are known as catophiles and are seen as weird.
From the 5th century AD onwards Paris was in the Dark Ages. Little was built. Many edifices fell into wrack and ruin. Literacy declined. Knowledge was lost. Science and technology retarded.
In 800 AD the Emperor Charlemagne crowned himself Holy Roman Emperor. He put the crown on his own head. He ruled France and much of what we now call Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. He has his capital at Aachen which is in Germany. In French the city is called Aix la Chapelle. Charlemagne said he was the protector of Catholicism and the pope. Charlemagne had Paris as his capital. Charlemagne’s name is derived from the Latin words meaning ”Charles the Great.”
Notre Dame Cathedral was built on l’Ile de la Cite. The cathedral’s name means ”Our Lady” as in it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The cathedral suffered a serious fire in 2019 but was not burnt down.
The Capetian dynasty ruled France after Charlemagne died. The Capet family had Paris as their capital but kings were crowned at Rheims. Rheims is pronounced ”Rhan.’‘ Rheims is about 50 km north-east of Paris.
Paris gradually grew in the early Middle Ages. Castles and palaces were built. It was place of trade and administration. There were many monasteries and convents.
Paris University was founded in the 11th century AD. It was one of Europe’s foremost centres of learning. It is the second oldest extant university in Europe.
St Denis is the patron saint of Paris. He supposedly saved the city from conquest.
In the Middle Ages Paris built a city wall called La Barriere. That gives us the English word ”barrier.” La Barriere existed until the late 19th century.
Le Louvre Palace was built in the early Mediaeval period. It was fortified. Over time as Paris became more secure it was built to be more opulent but less defensive. Les Tuileries ( pronounced ”lay twee le REE”) is another palace that was built close by le Louvre. Les Tuileries was accidentally burnt down in the 19th century. Le Louvre is now an art gallery. It houses the Mona Lisa.
Most of Paris’ historic sites are north of the river. The Seine meanders a lot. You could be fairly south in the city yet still north of somewhere that is north of the Seine.
People in Paris speak of the Left Bank ”la rive gauche” meaning the southern bank of the Seine. The Right Bank ‘‘la rive droite” is the northern bank. The logic of calling it left and right is if one starts at the source and sailed down the river seawards one would have the north bank to one’s right and south bank to one’s left.
In the 14th century England attacked France. The King of England claimed to be the rightful King of France since he was related to the French royal family. England defeated France. In 1421 the 9 month old King Henry VI of England became King of France as well. His soldiers controlled Paris. However, the French under Charles VII fought on against the English. Charles VII was the uncle of Henry VI.
The English had Paris but not Rheims. Henry VI was crowned King of France at Paris. Many Frenchmen said this was invalid since the coronation of the King of France must take place at Rheims. The Burgundians were people who lived in eastern France. For a while they were allies of the English. Then the Burgundians changed sides and fought for Charles VII. This gave him a decisive advantage.
Eventually the English were vanquished. Charles VII was recognised as King of France by everyone. He took back Paris.
Paris has had a significant Jewish minority since the Middle Ages. They were legally discriminated again.
In the 15th century printing presses started at Paris. Most books were still in Latin. The Catholic Church was the state religion. Anyone who was not Catholic was discriminated against. The Church controlled all education. Only a minority of children went to school. The Catholic Church conducted all worship in Latin. Therefore Latin was a language for the clergy and educated people throughout Western Europe.
In the 16th century France was rocked by religious controveries. The Reformation started. France was a Catholic country. Some Frenchmen turned to Protestantism. They were called Huguenots. There were the French Wars of Religion.
In August 1572 there was an attempt at reconciliation. Henri de Bourbon a Protestant was to wed Margot de Valois who was the daughter of the king and therefore a Catholic. They wed at Paris. There was a truce between Catholics and Huguenots (i.e. Protestants). However, after the revelry many Protestants lay drunk in the streets. Catholics accosted the Hugenots and demanded that they immediately reconvert to Catholicism. Any who did not were killed. That is called the St Batholemew’s Day Massacre. Thousands of Protestants were slain.
It took decades for the wars to cease. Finally the Catholics won. The Huguenots were granted toleration by the Edict of Nantes.
In the 17th century France became strong again. Paris began to prosper. It became a centre for art and fashion. France dominated northern Italy. The French learnt much from the Italians.
In the late 17th century Louis XIV became king at the age of 3. He became known as the sun king such was his radiant glory. The sunburst was his symbol. He built Versailles – a huge palace 8 miles south-west of Paris. He spent most of his time there. He landscaped the gardens. Trianon is a minor palace in the grounds of Versailles. Versailles is pronounced ”ver SIE’‘. France became unofficially known as ‘the Great Nation’ by some. France was the European superpower. France’s cultural influence in the Occident can hardly be exaggerated. Upper class Europeans of all nationalities.
Les Invalides was built by him. It was to house disabled ex-army officers. Napoleon is now interred there.
In the 18th century Paris was the largest city in Europe. It attracted immigrants from other nations. Paris was the cultural centre of the Occident. However, the city was overcrowded and many denizens live in penury.
In 1789 the French Revolution occurred. La Bastille – a fortress – in Paris was taken by a mob. Bastille is pronounced ”bass TEE” in French. The seven prisoners held there without trial were freed. The Governor of La Bastille killed. Revolutionaries seized thousands of muskets from the fortress. The Bastille was demolished. Its former site is marked by an obelisk. The square there is called Place de la Bastille. The French word ‘place’ means a city square.
In the 1790s there were many ructions in Paris. Counterrevolutionaries tried to oust the republican government. Different factions of revolutionaries quarrelled. Thousands of people were guillotined. King Louis XVI was executed at Place de la Revolution in January 1793.
Notre Dame was renamed the Temple of the Supreme Being. A new religion was invented. Festivals of reason were held. There processions with exquisite young women were paraded around as godesses of the new religion. France adopted an invented calender. The new calendar had months with names meaning windy month, snowy month, foggy month, month of meadows, month of vintage and so forth. A week had ten days. The purpose of the new calendar was so people did not know when the Christian festivals were. Catholicism had been the religious denomination of 95% of French people. Festivals were very important to Catholics. These meant not just Christmas and Easter but saints days.
France soon abandoned that religion and returned to Christianity. There was still tension in Paris and spy mania.
La Barriere was demolished. A church was turned into La Pantheon. It is the burial place of the most exalted French people. They are victorious generals, magnificent writers, fabulous philosophers and successful statesmen.
Napoleon Bonaparte came to rule France in 1799. He ordered much of Paris to be rebuilt. Only a small part of this work was accomplished in his lifetime. He ordered l’Arc de Triomphe to be built. He never lived to see it even half finished.
L’Arc de Triomphe means ”the arch of triumph”. It is a replica of the Arch of Titus in Rome. There are similar arches in Delhi, Bucharest, London, Moscow, Dublin and even Nur Sultan City. You can go up inside l ‘Arc de Triomphe. There is a museum inside. You can stand on the roof. It is dedicated to French soldiers. On the walls there are engraved there are listed the names of many victories. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is beneath the arch. After the First World War an unidentified French soldier was buried there. They knew he was French from his uniform but he had been so badly blown up that no one knew who he was. He was there to represent all the French soldiers with no known grave. French families who had no grave for their relative who was killed in the war could visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and imagine it was their relative’s grave. An eternal flame burns there.
Les Champs Elysees (”the Elysian Fields”) is the street leading up the hill from Le Louvre to l’Arc de Triomphe. It is a boulevard with many exclusive restaurants and upscale shops along it.
The streets leading to L’Arc de Triomphe are all related to Napoleonic victories as in La Grand Armee (the Great Army), Boulevard Kellermann (named after one of Napoleon’s marshalls), Boulevard Eylau, Boulevard Friedland and so forth.
There is an Egyptian Obelisk on Place de la Revolution. It was placed there by Napoleon. He had been on expedition to Egypt with hundreds of scholars called savants. The scholars wrote a multivolume book on the country entitled La Description d’Egypte. They brought many treasures and ancient artefacts to France. The idea of erecting an obelisk in the middle of a metropolis was replicated in London and New York.
After the fall of Napoleon the Bourbons were restored. The king was Louis XVIII. He was the brother of Louis XVI despite having the same name. They had several Christian names each. They simply chose one as the regnal name.
In the 19th century factories started in Paris. The French invented the bicycle and the camera. The Daguerre brothers invented the camera. The first photographs were called Daguerreotypes because of them.
In July 1830 a revolution in Paris overthrew Charles X. He was replaced by his distant cousin Louis Philippe Egalite the Duke of Orleans. This was called the July monarchy.
In February 1848 a banquet of all the mayors in France met at Paris. This led to another revolution. King Louis Philippe was ousted and fled. The Second Republic was proclaimed.
In June 1848 there were large scale demonstrations. General Cavaignac had his men face off against the protestors. It was a cold morning and he coughed, He said ”ma sacre tous.” meaning ”my holy cough.” This was misheard as ”massacre tout” meaning ”massacre all.” It was done. Hundreds of unarmed people were shot on his orders. Cavaiganc was then known as the Butcher of June.
Les Miserables is a famous novel and musical. It is set in Paris during the 1848 revolution. The title means ‘the wretched ones’.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was elected President of France. He was the nephew of Napoleon the Great. Louis Napoleon staged a coup d’etat in 1851. He proclaimed himself Emperor Napoleon III.
Napoleon III had Baron Hausmann rebuilt much of Paris. Jaded and untidy streets were knocked down. Broad boulevards were constructed. This made the city airier and more handsome. It also allowed the army to shoot down the streets more easily in the case of revolution.
In 1870 Napoleon III was defeated by Prussia and the other German states. He abdicated and was taken prisoner. In Paris many working class people declared a Commune. Communards (communists) tried to run an egalitarian society.
La Garde Mobile – a middle class militia – fought against them. The French Government was evacuated to Bordeaux. There was a siege of Paris. The Commune was eventually defeated. Many Communards were executed. Others were sent to do hard labour in the French colony Guyana in South America. Paris was not allowed a municipal elected government for a century after that. Sacre Coeur (”Sacred Heart”) Church is built on the site of the HQ of the Commune.
In January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles King Wilhelm I of Prussia was declared German Emperor. The German Army soon left France. They had stayed until the French paid their reparations.
In the late 19th century France recovered from its defeat. This is La Belle Epoque (”the beautiful era”). Paris was once again the cultural magnet for the Western World. In terms of music, drama, literature and fashion this was the place to be. Even France’s enemies admired France cultural pre-eminence.
In 1889 it was the centenary of the French Revolution. The government erected the Eiffel Tower. It was supposed to be temporary. It was named after its designer Gustave Eiffel.
Not everyone was enamoured of the tower. Guy de Maupassant was a celebrated French author. He took luncheon daily in the Eiffel Tower. He was known to loathe . La Tour Eiffel. He was asked why he dined there diurnally. He replied waspishly that the only place in Paris from which he could not see the Eiffel Tower was the Eiffel Tower.
People from Italy and Spain moved to Paris in the late 19th century. France was more prosperous than their countries.
Paris built a metro in the late 19th century. It was one of the earliest underground railway systems in the world.
In 1914 the First World War broke out. The German Army never reached Paris. However, they were close enough to bombard it.
In 1918 the war ended. The Allies prevailed. However, Paris had not had any repairs for 4 years. There was very little money left. The leaders of the Allied nations met at the Palace of Versailles. There they thrashed out a treaty to impose on the vanquished Germany. It was delectable revenge for France to make the Germans sign the treaty in the Hall of Mirrors: the very same room where the German Emperor had been proclaimed 48 years earlier.
In the 1920s a rumour went around that the government was considering dismantling the Eiffel Tower and selling it for scrap. A Czech fraudster Victor Lutz posed as a government minister. He invited several businessmen to a meeting. He offered to sell them the Eiffel Tower but they had to promise absolute secrecy and pay a bribe. He successfully ”sold” the Eiffel Tower a few times. He correctly surmised that the victims of his scam would be too embarrassed to tell the police.
In 1924 Paris hosted the Olympics.
In the 1920s George Orwell lived in Paris. The poor still suffered badly. American artists such as George Gershwin and Eugene O’Neill also spent time there. An American hospital and cathedral were founded in Paris by that time.
In the 1930s communism was a major force in Paris. There were many protests due to mass unemployment.
People from French colonies moved to Paris. They came from Algeria, Senegal, Martinique, Morroco, the Congo and Vietnam. Non-whites formed a significant minority in Paris since the 1930s.
In 1940 France surrendered to Germany. The German Army entered Paris without facing resistance. They paraded along Les Champs Elysees and under L’Arc de Triomphe. Adolf Hitler visited Paris for a few hours in June 1940.
Some French people fought against the German Army. Most stayed out of trouble.
In the 1942 the French Police were ordered to round up all the Jews in Paris. They kept them in le Veldrome d’Hiver (the winter bicycle stadium) for a couple of days before they were taken by train to concentration camps. Not a single German was involved in this operation. The French Republic has subsequently apologised for this and paid compensation.
In August 1944 Paris was retaken by the French Army. Charles de Gaulle arrived with Winston Churchill. They walked along Les Champs Elysees to an ecstatic welcome. Hitler had ordered the German commander in Paris to burn the city down if it was going to fall into Allied hands. The German general in Paris disobeyed the order. Hitler asked ”Paris brennt?” meaning ”Is Paris burning?”
In 1951 An American in Paris was made. It is a film by George Gershwin set in 1951 but based on his experiences in the 1920s. The film is unrealistic. It shows French children being eager to learn English. It never alludes to the French conflict in Indochina which was raging at the time.
In the late 20th century some modern architecture was built. La Defense was built. The Pompidou Centre is an example of modern art. It is an art gallery.
Paris is a major financial centre. The CAC is the index there.
Tourism is important to the Parisian economy. It is the most visited city in the world.
Paris is a very multi ethnic and multi religious city. About 50% of the city are non white people. Most of them are French citizens. There are mosques in the city as well as synagogues and Hindu temples. France has the largest Jewish community outside Israel and the USA.
There are famous cemeteries in Paris such as Pere Lachaise. renowned French people and foreigners are buried there. Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison are among the most celebrated personages laid to rest there.
There are many parks in Paris. Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes and the Luxembourg Gardens are among the most famous. The city is therefore blessed with a superabundance of green space.
There are many railway stations in Paris. Gare du Nord serves northern France, Gare du Lyon takes you to southern France where the City of Lyon is, there is Gare de l’Est for the east and so on. There is Gare St Lazare, Gare d’Austerlitz and there are others. France has a superb railway network. You can take the train from Paris to Nice on la Cote d’Azure in only five hours.
Paris Charles de Gaulle is the city’s main airport. It is north of the city. Paris Orly is the city’s secondary airport. Paris Beauvais is further away and is the low cost airline airport.
Outside the city there is le Boulevard Peripherique. For short this is known as le Peri. It is a ring road around Paris.
Paris University conists of 13 colleges. They are numbered Paris I, Paris II, Paris III and so on. Several of them have the historic name the Sorbonne as part of their names.
Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) is also in Paris. ENA is the best university in France. It is tiny and very hard to get into. Enarcs are its graduates. Emmanuel Macron is one of them. In 2021 Macron announced that ENA is being dissolved. Some said that enarquie had disfigured French public life.
Notre Dame was badly damaged by fire in 2019.
Paris will host the 2024 Olympics. That will be the first time Paris has held the Summer Olympics since 1924. It will make Paris one of only three cities to have hosted the Olympics thrice. The others are London and Los Angeles.
Paris St Germain is one of the city’s main football teams.
Parc des Princes is the national rugby stadium. It is sometimes used for football matches.
Under Paris there are catacombs. Les cataphiles are those who like hanging out there.
The French Open is an annual tennis tournament in Paris.
Strictly speaking the population of Paris is just over 2 000 000. However, the Paris metropolitan area has 12 000 000 people.
- Which city is the French capital?
2. On what island was Paris founded?
3. Which cathedral is on l’Ile de France?
4. What arch did Napoleon order to be built?
5. What does Les Champs Elysees mean?
6. When was the Eiffel Tower built?
7. Which city bisects Paris?
8. Is there more than one religion in Paris?
9. What art gallery in the middle of the city used to be a palace?
10. Where is Versailles?
11. Why is Paris popular with tourists? Five marks.