History of Paris
A Brief Survey

This history of Paris is a brief survey of the 2,000 year story of this fascinating city.

Little more can be done than to offer a skeleton of the life and history of Paris with the hope that our readers will flesh out for themselves the bigger picture according to their own interests.

It goes without saying that there will be many gaps and holes in our history of Paris. Where possible we will refer to other sources and sites for further information and we will offer some suggestions on further reading materials.

Please feel free to make this interactive. Corrections are welcome. And we encourage you to write us using our Contact Form.

This will be a story of the rich and the powerful to be sure but the wonder and beauty of Paris has always resided in the strength and vitality of her people. It is really their story that is told when we speak of the doings of Kings and Cardinals.

For few Kings ever baked bread, and it takes a great stretch of the imagination to see a Cardinal laying stone for a Cathedral except if it be the first one surrounded by great pomp and circumstance.

It has been said that history is written by the winners, but what must not be forgotten is that the everyday efforts of the nameless millions is history's life blood.

We will present this survey then in the following periods:

  • Prehistory of Paris
  • Celts, Romans and the Dark Ages
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance and the Wars of Religion
  • The Absolute Monarchy
  • The French Revolution and the Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The Restoration and the Second Empire
  • The Paris Commune
  • The Belle Epoque and the Third Republic
  • The Collapse of the Third Republic
  • The Liberation of Paris and Post war
  • Present Day Paris

Under the Arc de Triomphe, in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, burns the flame for the Unknown Soldier. I like to think that it burns for all of history's Unknowns, unsung and forgotten, those forever nameless who played no lesser part in the growth of this city than did those whose names and deeds found a place in the histories, or carved upon a wall.

So, as we describe the epochs and periods in the history of Paris, using as we must the lives and deeds of those who stood in the forefront either by conquest, heredity, accomplishment or notoriety, we will try to keep in mind that their lives and deeds were not lived in isolation but were the visible features of waves and movements of human energies playing out in the field of time.

Such is the history of Paris and continues today in the efforts of the millions who go about their business of "hauling water, chopping wood", the everyday tasks of life.

Her story begins with the forever nameless, in the mists of Prehistory.

Let us begin then Before the Beginning.

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