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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Commune of Papeete

Location of the commune (in red) within the Windward Islands
Country France
Overseas community French Polynesia
(capital city)
Administrative subdivision Windward Islands
(administrative capital)
Commune centre Papeete
Mayor Michel Buillard
Elevation 0–621 m (0–2,000 ft)
Land area 17.4 km2 (6.7 sq mi)
Population1 26,017  (August 2007 census)
 - Density 1,495 /km2 (3,870 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 98735/ 98714
1 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Coordinates: 17°32′S 149°34′W / 17.533°S 149.567°W / -17.533; -149.567

Papeete ("water from a basket",[1] see footnote for variant spelling) (pronounced [papeʔete]) is the capital of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The commune (municipality) of Papeete is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands, of which Papeete is the administrative capital. The French High Commissioner also resides in Papeete.[2] It is the primary center of Tahitian and French Polynesian public and private governmental, commercial, industrial and financial services, the hub of French Polynesian tourism and a commonly used Port of call.[2] The Windward Islands are themselves part of the Society Islands.

The urban area of Papeete had a total population of 131,695 inhabitants at the August 2007 census, 26,017 of whom lived in the commune of Papeete proper.[3]



Papeete Waterfront

The area that now constitutes Papeete was first settled by the British missionary William Crook of the London Missionary Society in 1818.[1] Queen Pōmare IV moved her court to Papeete and made it her capital in the late 1820s, and the town grew into a major regional shipping and transportation center.[1] Papeete was retained as Tahiti's capital after France took control of the Tahitian Islands and made them a protectorate in 1842.[2] Herman Melville was imprisoned in Papeete in 1842; his experiences there became the basis for the novel Omoo.[4] Paul Gauguin journeyed to and toured Papeete in 1891 and, except for a two-year period in 1893–1895, never returned to France.[5] Robert Louis Stevenson also spent time in Papeete in 1888.[6] Half of Papeete was destroyed by a major fire in 1884, which then prohibited the use of native building materials.[2] A major cyclone caused extensive damage to the city in 1906, and a French naval vessel was sunk in the harbor in October 1914 by two German men-of war, which then bombarded Papeete.[2] [2]

The growth of the city was boosted by the decision to move the nuclear weapon test range from Algeria to the atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa, some 1,500 km (930 mi) at the east of Tahiti; this originated in particular in the construction of the Faa'a airport next to Pape'ete, the only international airport in French Polynesia. In 1983, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built the Papeete Tahiti Temple here because of the large number of members in the region. On 5 September 1995 the government of Jacques Chirac conducted the first of the last series of nuclear test detonations off the shores of Moruroa. A resulting riot in Papeete lasted for two days and damaged the international airport, injured 40 people, and scared away tourism for some time.[7][8](Similar rioting occurred after another French nuclear test in the same area in 1987).


The urban area of Papeete had a total population of 131,695 inhabitants at the August 2007 census, 26,017 of whom lived in the commune of Papeete proper. The urban area of Papeete is made up of 7 communes:

  • Faaa (which became in 1988 the most populous commune in the urban area)
  • Papeete (historically the most populous commune in the urban area, and still the administrative capital)
  • Punaauia
  • Pirae
  • Mahina
  • Paea
  • Arue

Construction has boomed since the 1960s due to an influx of 35,000 immigrants (20,000 from France and 15,000 from French Polynesia's outer islands) in response to an improved infrastructure and France's nuclear testing program.[2]

Travel and tourism

Presidency of Papeete

Arrival and departure

Traveling tourists arrive and depart Papeete via cruise ship at Papeete Harbor or domestic airline at Faa'a International Airport, which was completed and opened in 1962.


Primary roads consist of the 3-lane "Boulevard Pomare" along the city's harbor front which extends into a 4-lane highway.




  • Heiva festival (proposed)
  • Tahiti Manava Visitors Bureau
  • The waterfront esplanade
  • Bougainville Park (once named Albert Park, in honor of a former Belgian king and World War One hero, is now named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the first French explorer to circumnavigate the globe.
  • Cathedral of Notre Dame of Papeete
  • Temple de Paofai
  • The Territorial Assembly is the heart of the Polynesian government and contains the Territorial Assembly building, the High Commissioner's residence and also a once popular clubhouse of Paul Gauguin. It was also once the site of the royal residence and palace of Queen Pomare IV of Tahiti, who ruled from 1827 to 1877.
  • Gaston Flosse's presidential palace
  • The Monument to Pouvanaa a Oopa (a decorated World War I hero, Tahitian nationalist, and deputy to Paris for the Tahitian Territorial Assembly)
  • The Mairie (town hall)

Famous Shopping Market

  • Marché Papeete ("municipal market") is a primarily famous Tahitian landmark. The market sells oils, handicrafts, and various souvenir items.

Papeete in popular culture

  • Papeete is mentioned in the song Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash.
  • Papeete is also mentioned in the Bruce Iron's groundbreaking surf film Endless Summer as one of the surf sites visited by the two longboarders chasing the summer season around the world. The beach at Papeete is dubbed "Ins and outs" because the steep shore causes waves to break in both directions -- toward the beach and out to sea.


Air Tahiti Nui has its headquarters in Papeete.[9]


The name Papeete is sometimes spelled Pape’ete in Tahitian, using the apostrophe (in fact a variant of it hard to differentiate from the regular apostrophe when using small fonts) to represent the glottal stop, as promoted by the Académie Tahitienne and accepted by the territorial government [10]. This apostrophe, however, is often omitted.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Kay, p102
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kay, p106
  3. ^ (French) Institut Statistique de Polynésie Française (ISPF). "Recensement de la population 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  4. ^ Kay, p108
  5. ^ Kay, pp462–464
  6. ^ Kay, p466
  7. ^ New York Times coverage of Atomic tests resumption in Tahiti
  8. ^ New York Times coverage of riot at Tahiti's international airport
  9. ^ "Worldwide Offices and Sales Agents." Air Tahiti Nui. Retrieved on 26 February 2010.
  10. ^ [1]


  • Kay, Robert F. Hidden Tahiti, Ulysses Press, Berkeley, California, 2001. ISBN 1-56975-222-2.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Papeete is the largest city in and capital of French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti.


Papeete is not a tropical paradise. It is a gritty government center and industrial port with small doses of French and Polynesian charm. It has shopping, eating, and drinking, but very little sightseeing for a capital city and even fewer top-class hotels. The residents speak French and Tahitian -though English is spoken by many in the tourist trade- and the people-watching is superb.

Get in

Papeete International Airport (PPT).

Get around

Papeete is a walking city. It's really too small to bother with any other form of transport, unless you are going out to the fringes, or would simply like to experience the famous le truck for fun (hop-on, hop-off, anywhere in the city center for about XPF100!) Bring a water bottle: it can be quite hot and humid.

Don't bother with taxis: they're extremely expensive and very hard to find after 6pm, apart from two dedicated taxi stands along the waterfront. Meters are unheard of, so be sure to confirm the fare (in French, if possible) before getting into a taxi, and don't be afraid to protest or refuse to ride if you think the fare too high; as a general rule, you should never have to pay more than XPF 1500 for a journey from one side of the city center to the other. Many drivers distribute calling cards when you disembark; if you'll be relying on taxi transport for whatever reason during your stay, it's definitely worth becoming a repeat customer with a driver you trust and who will give you a good deal.

  • The waterfront. Papeete has redeveloped its waterfront into a long park, with foods and carnival-like attractions. It's still partially under construction as of August 2008, but will surely be good for a scenic stroll someday.  edit


Black pearls abound. There is just about every kind of store here, including some (particularly near the Marché) who have no problem selling you imitation balls of black glass or fiberglass at market prices. Be sure to look for a certificate of authenticity on the wall of the shop, and trust your guidebook for recommendations.


You can go broke eating in this town. There are some fine restaurants but expect to pay US$30 for a hamburger at a hotel restaurant or other proper sit-down establishment.

There are a lot of midrange places where you can expect to pay US$20-30 for your whole meal. French and Chinese are well represented here. Look for the word "Snack" in the name of the restaurant. There is also a conveyor belt sushi place that's very good, and the chefs are quite friendly there.

The best deal in town is the Roulottes, the food trucks that set up shop every evening in the big square in the waterfront park. Every day they begin setting up around dusk. Chinese, French, and Tahitian cuisine are all well represented. You can get chow mein, poisson cru, crepes, pizza, ice cream, and because this is France, everything comes with bread. Expect to pay about XPF 1500 for your whole meal.


You can expect to pay upwards of US$10 for a pint of beer. A (small) jug of microbrew will run you US$35. Buy pitchers of Hinano to keep the costs down.

  • Chaplain's, (Downtown on the waterfront). The decor is a tribute to silent film star Charles Chaplain. Expect loud French rap. Keep an eye on your tab.  edit
  • Mana Rock Cafe, (Downtown on the waterfront). This open-air pub is a good place to sit outside in the shade and have a cold beer on a hot afternoon.  edit
  • Les 3 Brasseurs, (Downtown on the waterfront). The only microbrewery in French Polynesia. The beer is certainly better than Hinano, but you do pay a premium for it, and it pales in comparison to U.S. microbrews. US$35 for a 3.5 glass jug.  edit
  • That tiki-bar near Les 3 Brasseurs, (Downtown on the waterfront). Its name doesn't really matter; it's the only other bar along this stretch. Some sidewalk seating and very limited indoor seating. Watch out for aggressive she-males. There's a sweet little dog that hangs out here. If you pet her, she will bark at anybody who gives you trouble for the rest of the night.  edit

Get out

If you have the time, take the ferry over to Moorea. Le Truck will take you to other parts of the island and around town quite cheaply.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PAPEETE, the capital of the Pacific island of Tahiti, and the chief port and trading centre, and the seat of government of the French establishments in Oceania. Pop. 4280 (2500 French). The town, lying on the north-west coast of the island, on a beautiful harbour entered by two passages through the protecting reef, and backed by five mountains, is French in character as far as concerns the richer quarters. It has a cathedral, barracks and arsenal, government buildings and a botanical garden. The Chinese quarter and the picturesque native market contrast strongly with the European settlement. Of the entrances to the harbour, which is of fair extent and depth, that of Papeete has about seven fathoms depth; that of Taunoa is shallower, though wider and more convenient.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia has an article on:


Alternative spellings

  • Papeʻete

Proper noun




  1. The capital city of French Polynesia, on the island of Tahiti.


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