One MegaCity always seems to be at the forefront
of progressive movements. Whether it’s innovation in its cuisine,
couture, infrastructure, or governance, this refuge for the rebel, artist, philosopher,
and scientist, has always held a place in the hearts of romantics and vanguards alike. Because here, in The City of Light, engineers
and artists often share a line of sight. This is Paris, the Grand MegaCity. Twenty-three hundred years ago, a group of
Celtic Gauls called the Parisii settled on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the
middle of the Seine. After falling into the hands of the Roman
Empire, the town grew, until the Empire collapsed a short time later. Clovis, the first king to unite all the Frankish
tribes is the origin of the name Louis, taken by 18 subsequent French monarchs. For the next thousand years, or the period
known as the Middle Ages, Paris saw rulers, religions, wars, and plagues come and go as
it became the largest city in Europe. Home to one of the first Universities and
the birthplace of Gothic architecture, Paris was ground zero for the enlightenment. Philosophies embracing individual liberty,
religious tolerance, and the scientific method, were perfectly captured by the phrase Sapere
aude, “dare to know.” In the end, the monarchy and the Church were
simply overmatched by the sheer power of a set of ideas whose time had come–ideas that
were spread far and wide by books and pamphlets. The stage was set for Revolution. On the afternoon of July 14, 1789, the Bastille,
a medieval fortress and prison symbolizing royal authority in the center of Paris, was
overtaken by force. It was the opening move in a ten year struggle
that featured the bloody overthrow of the monarchy, the establishment of the French
Republic, and violent political turmoil. The dictatorship of Napoleon followed, delivering
many principles of the revolution to much of Western Europe. By the middle of the 1800’s, Paris had well
over a million people, but was made up of tight streets and overpopulated, filthy alleyways. Life for many was a miserable, day-to-day
struggle in disease-ridden slums. So Napoleon’s nephew, who had become emperor
himself, set out to make the city healthier, less congested, and grander. He turned to a clever man described as big,
strong, energetic, and full of audacity and skill: the visionary urban planner Baron Haussmann. He imagined the modern city as a living organism
with the boulevards its arteries. Over the next 17 years, the duo oversaw the
most epic public works spree since Ancient Rome. Tens of thousands of workers were hired to
carry out their plans, which included a new aqueduct and massive reservoir to bring clean
water from the Vanne River, and hundreds of kilometers of pipes to distribute it throughout
the city; completely rebuilding the sewer system and installing hundreds of kilometers
of pipes inside of it to distribute gas for thousands of new streetlights; two brand new
rail stations connecting Paris to the rest of France; and more than twenty parks to ensure
that none was more than a ten minute’s walk away. Four of these ‘lawns of Paris’ were major
parks, inspired by Hyde Park in London which Napoleon remembered fondly from his time in
exile. But the innovation that most transformed the
city was Haussmann’s dedication to wide boulevards, twelve of which converge on the roundabout
circling the Arc De Triomphe. Throughout the thirty year undertaking, hundreds
of thousands of people were displaced in phases as the entire city became a construction zone. This sacrifice – which wasn’t always appreciated
by the residents of Paris – was well worth the end result. The discipline to keep the buildings lining
these avenues the same height, all faced with similar colored stone, created a striking
visual effect. Over the next 100 years, Paris was thankfully
spared the widespread destruction suffered by many other capitals in the wars and conflicts
that unfolded across Europe. When the unthinkable happened in 1940, and
Nazi flags were raised throughout Paris during the German occupation, Hitler declared the
city too beautiful to bomb. Famous photos show him posing like a tourist
at the base of the Eiffel tower, which was the tallest building in the world at the time
of its construction in 1889. Originally planned to be dismantled after
20 years, converting it into a radio tower saved it and today it is the most visited
landmark on the planet. Another signature site is the Louvre. Built and expanded over the course of eight
centuries, what was once the largest building in the world used to be a palace. That changed when the royals were thrown out
during the French Revolution. Today, it is the most visited museum in the
world. As the decades after the French and allied
victory in WWII stretched into the 21st century, Paris remained at the forefront in the battle
of ideas, grappling with challenges like how best to educate its students, integrate immigrants
and refugees, offer services to its people, and find a balance between security and liberty
in the face of terrorism. But Paris has always come t hrough the other
side of struggles more unified and stronger. Just two weeks after suffering the deadliest
attack on French soil since the Second World War, Paris hosted 196 countries in an effort
to make progress on climate change. The French government is also focused on making
sure the 12 million people who now inhabit Paris are well supported by world-class infrastructure. As it prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics,
Paris is aiming to complete two megaprojects: building 12 more towers in the La Defense
financial district on the westernmost end of the 10 kilometre Historical Axis; and expanding
the Paris metro, adding four new lines and 68 stations to a system that is already the
most extensive on the continent. These improvements will keep the city thriving
for decades, and ensure that the next generation of Parisians are positioned to lead on the
challenges of the second half of the century. If you enjoyed this, check out my other megacity
minidocs, and my rundown of the revolutions that changed the world. Next up, we’ll explore Sao Paolo, Brazil. Until then, I’m Bryce Plank.

100 comments on “PARIS: Europe’s MEGACITY

  1. It all sounds great but Paris has MAJOR issues more than how you quickly simplified them. The video is great but it comes off a tad like a globalist dream. (My source: grew up there, live there)

  2. Just a thought ….
    Do you think Staten Island and the Bronx in NYC are really NYC ??? or even Brooklyn and Queens are really part of Long Island … NYC is really Manhattan which is under 2 millions people
    Same with London who include so many suburban area …. LA is big suburb too .. theses numbers are kind of Fake … Now Paris is doing what NYC did 100 years ago that is including, adding his nearest village suburb in the big Paris …. Life is beautiful ….

  3. Paris actually have 2 million habitants in the city and 12 million habitants with the metropolitan are. London, Moskow and Istanbul are much bigger within in the city. Why you don't make a video about this cities?

  4. Great history along with great visuals! And thanks for pointing out just how beautiful the city is.

    Viewers might be interested in knowing one reason why Paris has those huge boulevards radiating from central locations like the spokes of a wheel and cutting across the more rectangular grid of ordinary streets. It was designed to put down a chronic French problem, revolutions that challenge the established order.

    Imagine angry mobs bent on capturing a city by taking control of key buildings and opposed by troops tasked with suppressing them. In the traditional grid city plan, suppression would be hard to do. If the troops block one street, the mob simply moves down another. To block a mob's movement, say from east to west, troops have to be stationed on every north-south street for miles.

    Not so with those boulevards cutting across both north-south and east-west streets. Station troops with cannons at those central locations and they can command an entire sector of the city. By simply wheeling their cannons around, they can control the city along multiple axis for a miles. Even the wideness of the boulevard aids that, since the mob has to cross that entire distance under fire.

    In my more suspicious moods, I also suspect the Parisian emphasis on mass transit has a similar purpose. Unlike privately own vehicles, it gives the government control of the primary means of getting about. A relatively small number of heavily armed troops can prevent movement around the city.
    Unfortunately, I don't share Bryce Plank's confidence in the future of Paris. Even though the French birthrate is better than most other West European countries, it is well below the replacement rate. And while the French could have encouraged immigration from regions of the world that respect French culture, which is almost everywhere, they instead chose to accept mass immigration from the only regions—North Africa and the Middle East—that are distinctly hostile to it. Given that the latter have a much higher birthrate, that spells ill for the future of France and especially Paris. Someday the Eiffel Tower may have giant loudspeakers blaring out the Muslim call to prayer. And it is quite likely that much else that makes the city beautiful will be destroyed simply because it represents a civilization that the new rulers hate. They have done that before. They will do it again.
    Oh, and when the war turned against the Germans, a furious Hitler ordered Paris destroyed. Only the defiance of a German general prevented that. You can find more details in the book Is Paris Burning.

  5. I was in Paris August 2018. What a shame it's turned into what it is now. Immigrants camping in all the parks, harassing everyone, peeing in shop doorways, saw 3 pestering a woman and no one did anything in case they have a knife, so different to when I lived there.

  6. Can you make a video on navi Mumbai which is the largest planned city of the world….is set to become the biggest city of the world..with new massive infrastructure projects like DMIC MTHL NMIA

  7. Well, to claim that Paris in the Middle Ages was the most populated city of Europe is wrong: ever heard of Córdoba at that time? Yet it was Al Andalus, it WAS AND IS in Europe. Do your homework before publishing!

  8. I never about Napoleon's son, which is odd to me. But he must be a revered figure in local French history for his work.

    I have always wanted to visit France and wouldn't mind living there, except for the few terrorists who keep getting in. I was fascinated by this video and because of this, I think it was a little short lol.

  9. While I agree that Paris is a "megacity" it still lacks what I'd consider characteristic of a "real" mega city. The houses are just too small and too old fashioned. You still need to build up. The Paris downtown pales in comparison to most of the world's downtowns. Build some more skyscrapers. You guys have no threat of earthquakes or extreme winds. I am much more impressed by cities with big modern downtowns like San Francisco, Tokyo, Shanghai, Chongqing. Tall buildings create a more modern look.

  10. Even though I live in Northern Europe nearly 2000 km away from Paris, I've always considered Paris a jewel of Europe and the pride of all Europeans. 🙂

  11. So much for making progress with climate change. Apparently raising taxes to lower carbon emissions isn't popular amongst the French people

  12. Umm.. Paris is not small.
    Alongside Istanbul, it's the only 2 Western city that qualify as megacity.
    Even New York City is not as big as Paris.
    It's extremely dense, 21,000 people per sqkm, on par with Asian cities

  13. I thought London was bigger, but fine, wouldn't like to know how bad our government is. Try make a video on London anyway.

  14. When I spent 2 weeks in France, the world cup thing was going on and they won. I had to listen to music blasting in a nearby club, honking of cars and motorcyclists doing weird tricks while I tried to sleep.

  15. London is a bigger, older and has a larger economy than any city in Europe. Paris is not a mega city in Europe. It's great and huge but not a mega city

  16. I think the opening line is antiquated. When does France ever make headlines for innovation especially in science or technology anymore?

  17. Hardly… Innovation? What new technology, fashion or food brand had come out of France in the last three decades? Nothing.

  18. I question whether it's really a "megacity". It's actually pretty small, relatively speaking. There's 10-15 bigger cities in China alone.

  19. 6:06
    This is Frankfurt Germany. In the center the Deutsche Bank twin Tower and on the left the Trianon building where the streets Mainzer Landstraße and Taunusanlage is crossing.

  20. In Japan live the Japanese, in china live the chinese, in Russia, the Russians. But in Western Europe, specially france, you have a hidgepodge of races from the entire 3rd world that has permanently changed the culture and social order of the continent and country. Any minority, from anywhere, if it wants to live in a certain country, to work, to study should not only speak the local language, but should also respect the local laws. If they prefer their own culture amd language, then they are advised to go back to those places where they feel like home. The West does not need minorities and it should not continue to grant them special privileges, or try to change the laws to fit the desires of the foreigners, no matter how loud they yell ‘discrimination’.

  21. As a French person, the only no go zone I've ever come across is this comment section: those hate filled fascists should find a job instead of spreading false rumors about a place they've never been to

  22. Megacity ? Seriously ? Half of the Poor's lives in France and none of the city there has stable economic condition now.

  23. The only official megacity in Europe is London, even Berlin and Rome are closer to becoming a megacity. Paris is just a glorified refugee camp

  24. Enfin, du coup – selon la video – la Paris d'aujourd'hui n'a vraiment aucuns problemes serieux alors, sauf qu'elle a un haut cout de la vie…? Bon boulot, Mme*Hidalgo; c'est tres bien fait!

  25. Moscow is technically Europe's megacity, although if you only mean EU/Western Europe, then the main largest megacity is London. London should get a video

  26. london's way bigger than paris and much more of a financial centre than paris is. Paris only really wins in tourism, culture and being overated and over priced.

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