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Île-de-France (Paris)

Paris or Ile de France reflects typical French living and has several extremely interesting destinations. It is among the most preferred tourist choices, with as many as 45 million tourists visiting each year. Of these, about 60% are from abroad. Tourism in Ile de France offers employment to over 300,000 people, with the regional council spending about 20 million Euros on tourism each year. Ile de France today is truly worth discovering, with several unexpected facets. It covers about 2% of France with about 80% being farmland or other natural areas. It is also the heart of a large geographical unit, which includes the Paris basin enclosed by the ancient Ardennes Hills, Vosges, Morvan, part of Massif Central and Brittany.

The history of Ile de France is very much associated with that of France and Europe. Evidence points out to the existence of human life on the banks of the Seine from prehistoric times. From the 4th to the 3rd century BC, the Celtic Parisi occupied Lucoticia (Lutecia). The Paris Basin was then conquered by the Roman legions. However, their domination ended in 489 AD with the victory of Clovis, who made Paris his capital. The region is considerably associated with medieval heritage, as Paris was the political center under Capetians (987-1328). The borders of the French kingdom of that time were similar to those of present day Ile de France. Today, the Philippe-Auguste’s Louvre Palace reflects the region’s growth and influence during the middle ages. The name Ile de France is assumed to have emerged in 1387, when France was referred to as the French Kingdom. It then included the lands bordering the rivers Seine, Marne and Oise. Henri IV initiated major developmental works in Paris during the 16th century. The Sun King established the court in Versailles in 1682, about 20 km from Paris. The area has witnessed several famous battles in its history. It was from here that the monarchs extended their rule over the rest of France.

The climate of Ile de France is a mix of moderate continental and oceanic weather which gives the region mild winters and warm summers. The rainfall too is moderate and more or less evenly spread throughout the year. Ile de France contains about 1281 communes and eight departments. Paris is the administrative center and the government’s capital and differs from the rest in that it is both a department and a commune. Paris city is surrounded by the inner suburb departments of Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne and exterior suburbs of Yvelines, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne and Val d’Oise. With a population of 11,362,000, the region is the most populated one in France and constitutes about 19% of the French population and 22.5% of its working population.
Paris, as we all know, is indeed a beautiful city providing everything that a city lover could possibly seek. Huge department stores, great restaurants, antique markets, memorable art galleries and performances spaces – Paris has everything to offer at its best. For romance, beauty and inspiration, there are several elegant squares and extremely beautiful parks. Among the many prominent offerings of Ile de France is the Seine – the slow flowing river and commercial waterway considered by many the world’s most romantic waterfront. Ile de France is among the richest regions of Europe, accounting for about 28.6% of GDP. You will notice that many international organizations have their headquarters here. Paris is a particularly ideal place for Central Londoners who like to have a second urban home here, as the place is smaller and better manageable.

The region’s long royal history is evident in the Notre-Dame de Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Versailles, and Vincennes. The Georges-Pompidou Center is internationally renowned for its leading artistic movements. The main attractions of Ile de France today include its famous museums, the chateaux, cultural activities and events. The region is also known for its association with cinema, showing over 350 films every week in its cinemas. There are numerous cultural centers, local bookshops, concert halls and galleries. The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is among the world’s largest museums with about 1.6 visitors each year. It has several features including the Explora where one can get inside the human body, inside a camera or even the Ariane rocket. The Avenue des Champs-Elysees is a world-famous promenade leading to the Arc de Triomphe. This two kilometer road stretch has some of the city’s best shops and restaurants. The fifty-meter-tall Arc de Triomphe monument was completed in 1836 in honor of Napoleon and his troops. The body of an unknown soldier of WWI is buried under the arc, with a flame burning since 1923, which is rekindled every evening. Nowadays the Arc de Triomphe is a major activity hub on big holidays like New Year’s Eve. The Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris stands as a testimony of Catholicism and a true masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. It can accommodate about 6000 people at any time and one can get a spectacular view of Paris city from its tower top after climbing its 387 steps. Built in 1839, the Eiffel Tower, which is 200 meters high, was once the tallest structure in the world. An elevator takes tourists to its three separate floors and each of those has something different to offer. The Chateau de Versailles started in 1623 by Louis XIV was initially intended to be a hunting lodge. Symbolizing the monarchy and its power, the Hall of Mirrors here is full of chandeliers and the ceiling paintings depict the achievements of Louis XIV. The popular amusement park Eurodisney is located outside Paris and includes the Disneyland Park, Disney Studios and Disney Village.