Paris by night
Parc de Bagatelles

Paris, World Capital

The city of Paris is the fifth largest in Europe at more than two million residents and yet remains a very livable city. Not only is the city dotted with small and large parks but its twenty arrondissements (neighborhoods) have very distinct characters making Paris seem even smaller and more intimate. From the world famous Eiffel Tower in the Southwest to the ritzy Champs Elyssées across the river, to the rich historical center of Paris divided between the Right and Left Banks with their respective business and educational focus, Paris is remarkably metropolitan and diverse but always with a sense of class and elegance!

Still holding strong against globalization, in Paris you’ll see endless small shops mixed in with some of the world famous brand names. Paris is a bustling city, much like New York or London but Parisians have quite different priorities. The French, contrary to what is sometimes said, are very serious and professional about their work but they do keep their work life from completely overshadowing their personal lives. Meeting with friends, having a leisurely meal is of the utmost importance in France.

  • The French, undoubtedly because of the symbolic power the French Revolution still holds over them, want their voices to be heard and one way this has been felt is in the mostly careful way the city of Paris has grown and developed over the centuries. One benefit of this protectiveness is how it has mostly been preserved from overdevelopment. Most neighborhoods limit the height of buildings to no more than seven floors, making its scale more human than some modern cities.
  • Likewise, the French have made concrete efforts to protect their family life and therefore more shops are closed on Sundays than one might see in the U.S. Students will still find cafés and restaurants open on Sundays but fewer large department stores will be open.  And typically during the week many shops close around seven at night.
  • Paris, in the not so distant past, enacted a ban on smoking  in indoor public facilities (restaurants, bars, cafés, shops, etc.). However, outdoor terraces are still open to smokers.

Paris is divided into 20 arrondisemonts (neighborhoods) that spiral out from the center. The Seine River then cuts across the entire city from West to East, dividing the city into the right (droit) and left (gauche) banks. Most arrondissements have their own distinct qualities.

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