Paris at a Glance
Living in Paris
Today, fewer people are still living in Paris than in 1921, when the city reached a historical peak of 2.9 million inhabitants. Eventually, residents started to move to the suburbs, and population figures were in steady decline. Only recently, in 2005, the estimated number of people living in Paris exceeded that of the previous year for the first time since 1954.
On the other hand, an estimated 10.4 million people live in the Paris region. The residents of Paris proper suffer from one of the highest population densities in the world and very high rents. However, people living in Paris can pride themselves on being able to call one of the world´s leading business centers and cultural capitals their home.
The city covers an area of 105 km², divided into 20 administrative boroughs called arrondissements. French citizens living in Paris elect the council of their arrondissement, which then elects the local mayor. The City Council is formed by a selection of local councilors and headed by the Mayor of Paris.
While EU nationals have the right to participate in municipal elections, all other foreign nationals who have chosen life in Paris have no right to vote. The administration system has been criticized for failing to create an inter-communal entity, thus causing isolation and alienation among citizens living in Paris’s different suburbs.
In Paris, expat residents will enjoy a temperate climate influenced both by the Atlantic Ocean in the West and the vast land masses of the continent in the East. Despite recent heat waves with record high temperatures, expats usually don´t need to worry about extremely hot summers or excessively cold winters. In general, weather conditions in this part of France are rather changeable, so the only real constant of life in Paris is – rain.
Despite the rainy weather, most expats enjoy living in Paris, especially due to its many cultural offerings. The city is famous for its theaters, and lovers of classical music and dance have the choice between the Opéra national de Paris, the Opéra Comique, and many other less well-established stages and companies.
A completely different kind of musical performance, which used to enchant theater-goers, is the art of cabaret. However, former trendy and avant-garde establishments, which tempted an international crowd of artists and bohemians during the inter-war period, are now merely serving the tourist industry.
Going to the cinema is a favorite pastime among locals, though. There is a wide array of both commercial and art-house cinemas available to cinéastes living in Paris.
Leisure in Paris
Paris is not exactly known for its great outdoor facilities. However, there are 16 public parks, numerous public gardens and green squares, as well as the two large outlying woodland areas, the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. Some parks have swimming pools or municipal tennis courts, which can be reserved online on the official website of the Mairie de Paris.
While it seems slightly superfluous to mention that Paris is great for shopping, some people might not be aware that there is far more to it than fashionable designer boutiques and department stores. Apart from the over 75 neighborhood food markets, there are countless flea markets specializing in various items from old postcard collections to antiques and second-hand books, flower markets, arts and crafts markets, and many more. Again, the Mairie de Paris has all the information you need to enjoy a day out shopping at Paris’ markets.