We all know Paris for its charming streets, fashionable boutiques, smelly boulangeries, sweet macaroons, famous museums and landmarks. But not all of us know the hidden secrets and facts about the city, that everyone wants to visit at least once in a lifetime. Let’s check the most interesting ones starting from the very beginning of founding Paris.
1. Paris was originally a Roman City called “Lutetia.” This was around 300BC. The residents called themselves “Parisii” and therefore gave the name “Paris” to Lutetia. When the Romans came here, the city only had a mere population of 10,000 people. The Franks came here in 486, and the city has since flourished.
2. There are remains of Roman ruins in the capital, the Arènes de Lutèce next to the Place Monge, a crumbling stone amphitheater in the 5th arrondissement, dates back to the 1st century. You can also see parts of the public baths in the Musée de Cluny, and fragments of the old Roman city in the Archeological Crypt under the esplanade at the Cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité.
3. There are 107 public clocks in Paris. The oldest clock is on the corner of the Boulevard du Paris, Quai d’Horloge. It is built into a tower of Conciergerie that historians say dates back to the mid 1300s.
4. The oldest house in Paris is located at 51, rue de Montmorency, 3rd Arrondissement. It was built in 1407!
5. The rue du Pélican in the 1st arrondissement of Paris was originally called the “rue du Poile-Con”. It was only in 1806 that this street was given its current name.
6. There are at least three replicas of the Statue of Liberty in Paris. The most famous of them inaugurated in 1889 exists on an island in the middle of the Seine and looks towards her sister statue in New York symbolizing the friendship between the two countries. Another one is located in Luxembourg garden. In fact, New York’s Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States.
7. The first public screening of a movie was by French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière in December 1895. They used their invention “the cinématographe” to show 10 films of about 50 seconds each.
8. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be a temporary installation, intended to stand for 20 years after being built for the 1889 World Fair. But not everyone loves it. Guy de Maupassant, a French author, hated the Eiffel Tower so much he used to eat lunch at the bottom of it almost every day, because it was the only place in Paris where he couldn’t see the tower.
9. Paris is known as “The City of Lights”. But this is not only due to its historical enlightenment period, but also the fact that it was one of the first cities in the world to install street lights.
10. Place de la Concorde is one of the biggest sundials in the world. The 23m high Egyptian Obelisk allows us to follow the approximate hour according to its shadow, according to the position of the sun. If you pay attention while walking around the Place de la Concorde, you’ll even notice some hour markers in Roman numerals on the pavement. So, the shadow of the obelisk functions to give the time.
11. The longest street in Paris is the rue Vaugirard in the 15th arrondissement. It is 4,360 meters long. While the shortest street of Paris is the rue des Degrés in the 2nd arrondissement. It is 6 meters long. 5.75m, if to be more clear.
12. Walking from the North to the South of the city takes approximately 2 Hours. If you enjoy walking, you can walk across the whole city in just 2 hours. But don’t rush, you should enjoy every street and corner of this city.
13. The regional train system in Paris was going to be called the “Métro Express Régional Défense-Étoile”, which would have resulted in the initials M.E.R.D.E. But since that translates to “shit,” the name was very quickly changed to “Réseau Express Régional”. Good decision, no?
14. The main bell of the Notre Dame Cathedral is named Emmanuel and weighs over 13 tonnes. Only the inner part of the bell (its clapper) weighs 500kg by itself. It is sounded for the main catholic holidays like Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday etc., or for other important events such as the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of his successor Benedict XVI.
15. Paris has the most libraries in the world. It is home to an incredible 830 libraries. Hurry to visit Bibliothèque Mazarine, the oldest public library in France, which has a modern collection focusing on French history from the 12th–17th centuries, as well as thousands of rare, medieval manuscripts.
More short facts as a bonus:
– There are 470,000, trees in Paris. They counted.
– You have to pay around €200,000 to get a licence and be a Parisian taxi driver.
– There’s only one stop sign in Paris.
– The Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris, standing since 1604.
– More people visit Disneyland Paris than the Eiffel Tower.