Population of Paris
Headcounts and Headlines

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The population of Paris is on the rise again in recent years. It reflects a general uptrend in the French population, which is in contrast to neighboring Germany, or other industrialized countries like Japan that are suffering from slow birth rates and an aging population.

It is mostly good news but also a challenge because although Paris is the largest metropolitan area in continental Europe, if you differentiate it from its larger sprawl, the city of Paris itself is actually surprisingly small (approximately 6.5 by 5.5 miles).

This is a blessing for most Paris visitors, considering that typically, the bulk of their trip activities will take place within central Paris. Paris is in fact walkable! Not that you would, but you could…

Now, don’t get too ambitious because that surface area may be small but it is jam-packed with a staggering number of streets (nearly 6000). Luckily, the 20 arrondissements (concentric municipal subdivisions) that Paris is made of, and indeed the 11 million inhabitants of the entire Île-de-France region, which shares its capital city of Paris with the rest of the country, are copiously served by the Paris Métro.

The Métro has played an instrumental role in the make-up of the population of Paris as it stands today. Paris proper had reached the peak of its population at 2.9 million before World War I, due to a continuous population growth fueled in part by people leaving the countryside to work and settle in the city.

During the span of the two world wars, population receded to 2.7 million because of high mortality and low birth rate. The period following World War II saw a new spurt of population growth that led housing authorities to adopt a policy of construction developments on the outskirts of the city.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, Paris had a rapid depletion of its population, losing over half a million of its inhabitants to the suburbs. It was simply easier, cheaper and, thanks to good public transportation, more convenient to relocate.

That trend only subsided and stabilized as late as the 1980s. It is only starting in the 1990s that a new increase of the population of Paris began, with high birth rates in populous districts, and diminishing population in affluent areas. The present population of Paris hovers around 2.2 million in the city, and 11.7 million in the greater Paris region (Île-de-France Department).

Public transportation continues to be key in the repartition and decentralization of the population of Paris. It serves Banlieues (suburbs) equally well, which incidentally are rarely of interest to tourists (La Défense being one of the few exceptions). Its efficiency makes owning a car optional. You can rapidly go in and out of the city by Métro and RER.

This has a major impact on the decision to live and work in Paris. For visitors as well, The RER, regional express train network is tightly interwoven with the Paris Métro, making even distant excursions to the Château de Versailles for example, or Disneyland outside Paris, quite easy via public transports.

See more interesting Paris population facts here.

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