You are looking for the most interesting Paris facts? Well, you’ve found the right place. Writing those types of posts is always fun for me, but I’ve got to say this one was the next level of amusement.
Paris is one of the most attractive tourist destinations for a good reason. There are countless world-renounced landmarks, fascinating culture, and some of the best food in the world. With such a rich and colorful history, the curious facts about Paris just kept piling over the years, reaching insurmountable heights and becoming more and more bizarre. After careful research, both on the cobbled streets of Paris and online, I believe I’ve discovered the most interesting ones, and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy them a lot.
Are you ready for a virtual journey around the peculiar side of Paris?
The Eiffel Tower should’ve been dismantled
We start our Paris facts with the symbol of France. Do you know that the beloved Eiffel Tower was not always as popular as it is today? Built for the legendary 1889 world fair, the tower was seen as a useless monstrosity that will ruin the beautiful landscape of Paris. The famous author Guy de Maupassant hated the Eiffel Tower so much that he used to have lunch at its bottom every day. Why is that? Because that was the only place in Paris where you can’t see the Eiffel Tower.
To appease the angry Parisians, Gustav Eiffel promised the tower is temporary and would be taken down in 20 years. Fortunately, the radio waves become a thing by then, and the Eiffel Tower received an antenna that could transmit waves to over 6000km (3700mi), which made it quite useful and ultimately saved it from dismantling.
Psst: Do you know that Gustav Eiffel initially wanted to build his tower in Barcelona? See more interesting Barcelona facts.
Paris never stops
Paris holds the world record for capital with the least amount of stop signs with the grand total of…0. Yes, there’s not a single stop sign in the entire city.
Even though the Paris traffic is infamously chaotic, cars there don’t come to a full stop at any intersection without a traffic light. Cars on the right have the advantage at both regular intersections and traffic circles, so no stop signs are needed.
There used to be one sign in Paris, though (that was hugely disregarded). It was positioned on the exit of a construction facility on the Quai Saint-Exupéry road in Paris’ 16th district. However, somewhere between 2012 and 2014, the red octagon reading ‘STOP’ mysteriously disappeared, leaving Paris the only stop-free capital in Europe.
City of Light
Paris has many nicknames, but probably the most famous one is the City of Light. It’s a fun Paris fact that even though the French capital was one of the first in the world to install street lighting, the nickname has nothing to do with electricity. It derives from the large number of bright intellectuals that lived in Paris through the years.
Some of the most notable ones include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Claude Debussy, and Voltaire.
Parisians love dogs
Duh, everybody loves dogs. Well yeah, but not as much as Parisians.
If you’ve been to the capital of France, you probably noticed that there are dogs everywhere. No matter the time of the day, you are poised to meet someone walking their dog. In fact, there are over 300,000 registered dogs in Paris, which makes an average of one dog to every seven Parisians (2.1 mln) and almost two dogs per child (165,000). Just one more reason to love Paris!
The First Bloody Mary
As far as Paris facts go, this one is not 100% confirmed to be accurate, but here it goes. A french bartender named Fernand Petiot claims to be the one who invented the famous Bloody Mary cocktail. At the time, he was working at the New York Bar in Paris, a prominent place for the American expats, when non-other than Ernest Hemingway requested a drink without an alcohol smell. The story has not been confirmed but knowing the infamous Hemingway drinking habits; it’s pretty plausible.
The Paris Syndrome
I love Paris! The history, the culture, the abundance of landmarks, the food, everything! That’s not the same with everyone, though. In fact, some people get so disappointed by Paris that they develop a number of psychiatric symptoms. Although incredibly rare, the Paris Syndrome is a legit mental illness in Japan.
As per Wikipedia, the people suffering from the Paris syndrome didn’t think Paris is as beautiful as described. I’m no psychiatrist, but I believe the reason is a little bit different. The capital of France is incredible, but in order to enjoy it, you need to be very well prepared. With over 30 mln tourists per year, if you decide to go to Paris and wing it, I can guarantee you’ll spend most of your vacation waiting in a line at some attraction. Some lines (like the ones for the Paris catacombs) are over 4 hours long!
Don’t risk catching the Paris syndrome, but check my detailed Paris guide. This way, you’d be prepared for everything and will enjoy the best Paris vacation. Castaway guaranteed!
The Louvre is pretty big
This may sound like one of the lousiest Paris facts you’ve ever heard but bear with me. The Louvre is big…very big. It’s the biggest museum in the world. I know you probably know that already, but let me try to put it into perspective. There are 460,000 artifacts in the Louvre (albeit not all of them on display). If you spend just 30 seconds on each one of them, you’ll need 160 days to see them all. One-hundred-sixty-days, 24/7 that is. Just mindblowing!
The diabolical pyramid
And speaking of the Louvre, there is a curious urban legend about the signature glass pyramid on the entrance. The story originated in 1980 when the official brochure made a mistake, listing that the pyramid was made of 666 pieces. This, of course, led to countless conspiracy theories about satanist cults, Illuminati, and Knights Templar. That until someone actually counted the panels finding out they are not 666 but 673. It turned out there’s nothing sinister in the Louvre pyramid beside the humongous line in front of it.
New Bridge is the oldest bridge?
One of the funniest facts about Paris…to me, at least. The oldest bridge in town was built all the way back in 1607. Due to its modern features, King Henry III named it Pont Neuf.
How is that funny?
Because Pont Neuf literally translates to ‘New Bridge‘, making the oldest bridge in Paris to be the New Bridge.
See Also: What NOT to do in Paris
You can’t visit Paris and skip the Eiffel Tower…or, can you?
No one would argue that the Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in the entire world. Contrary to popular belief, however, ‘The Iron Lady’ is not the most visited attraction in Paris. It’s not even second or third! With ‘just’ 7mln visitors per year, the Eiffel Tower ranks fourth behind the Notre Dame Cathedral (before the fire obviously), the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, and the Louvre Museum.
Maybe people don’t know you can use an elevator to get to the top.
The Emmanuel of Notre Dame
For some bizarre reason, the European cities like to name their bells. Few people know that Big Ben is not the famous clock tower’s name but the bell inside it. This, however, is a post about Paris facts, not London (I do have one of those tho), so we’re going to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Since there’s no clock tower that big in the French capital, they named the giant bell inside their most famous cathedral. It’s called Emmanuel, and it sounds for the main Catholic holidays and other significant events.
If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve probably noticed the giant Egyptian obelisk on Place de la Concorde.
What you probably didn’t notice were the Roman numerals on the pavement. During sunny days, the magnificent Luxor obelisk turns into one of the world’s most giant sundials! Useless in the modern world, but pretty cool to have.
When I was in Egypt, the locals were a bit bitter about the obelisk trade. It turned out this is one of their most significant and well-preserved obelisks, and all they got for it was a French clock that’s not even working.
The pigeon army
In the 21st century, with 4G, 5G, and all the other Gs there are, you’d never imagine one of the most powerful armies in the world would still use pigeons to carry messages, would you? Well, here comes the French!
Based inside a fortress in Suresnes, a western Paris suburb, the little feathery soldiers are seen as an alternative way of communication in case the modern methods are compromised.
An abundance of attractions
We all know there is plenty to do in Paris. But have you wondered exactly how many attractions there are? Apparently, there are 173 museums and 1,803 monuments scattered around in the French capital…and those numbers don’t include some heavyweights like Moulin Rouge and Disneyland.
I wonder if someone has visited them all.
Paris’s statues of liberty
One of the lesser-known facts about Paris is that the city, just like New York, has a Statue of Liberty. It has five, actually.
The most famous one is sitting on a tiny Seine island facing its sister overseas. It’s an exact copy of the US statue (although 1/3 of the size), and it was a gift to the French people by the American community in Paris.
To drive a taxi is expensive
The first weird thing I noticed in Paris was there were hardly any taxis. Not that I use them a lot, but in every tourist town I’ve been to, there were plenty of taxis trying to get your attention (and money). And Paris is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, right?
It turned out that driving a taxi in Paris is too expensive to be popular. A permit costs 200,000 EUR, and since most of the locals prefer to use the highly-developed public transport system, it’s not even that profitable.
There are plenty of Paris around the world
When we hear Paris, we automatically assume the french capital, the home of the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. But do you know there are actually 53 places in the world called Paris?
A big part of them (23) are in the US. Maine, by itself, has three different Parises! As weird as it sounds, there’s even a second Paris in France and a fake Paris in China.
Paris gave us a lot
There’s not a city in the world that has influenced our everyday life more than Paris. A simple list of things invented in Paris includes strip dancing, SCUBA gear, human rights, fashion, stethoscope, car racing, the metric system, chemistry, photography, and…pastries.
Imagine a world without pastries *shiver*.
Ten movies per day
It’s been estimated that an average of ten movies/commercials are taken in Paris every single day! If your dream is to be randomly discovered by a famous director while going for groceries, Paris is your city. Some of the most popular films taken in the City of Light are Johny Dep’s Tourist and Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Fallout. And speaking of Tom Cruise:
Honorary citizen of Paris – mission impossible
It’s a publicly known fact that Tom Cruise loves Paris. He even proposed to Katie Holmes there. When asked to be an honorary citizen, however, Paris didn’t love him back. Due to him being part of the controversial Scientology church (classified as a cult in France), the Parisian government leaders decided to ban him from ever becoming an honorary citizen of the city.
Paris is green
The next one is one of my favorite facts about Paris. With 484,000 trees, the French capital is the greenest city in France and Europe! And speaking of trees:
The oldest tree in Paris
The oldest tree in Paris is a locust tree planted in 1601. It’s situated on Square René-Viviani. It’s believed to be planted by Joe Robin and has two concrete crutches to support its weight. Even though the upper branches were also lost to a shell during World War I, the tree still blooms every year. A true veteran!
The center of Paris
Have you ever wondered where the exact center of Paris is? Probably not. I can’t imagine someone lying in bed thinking, ‘hmm I wonder whеre’s the exact center of Paris‘. Anyway, we are listing Paris facts here, so you’re about to find out.
Are you ready?
The center of Paris is a compass right outside Notre Dame, and all distances from Paris are measured from there. The legend says it brings good luck to all who spin around on this star.
The baguette law
This one is not a joke. There really is a baguette law in Paris. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the French take their baguettes very seriously.
The law states that the traditional baguette can be made only with four ingredients: wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast, can’t be frozen or contain additives/preservatives, and have to be sold at the same place it’s made.
Even the cemetery is popular
We cap our Paris facts with a creepy one. Paris is home to the most visited cemetery in the world. Père Lachaise is a famous Parisian landmark that attracts around 3.5 million visitors per year. As you can imagine, the reason behind all that interest is not the beautiful setting of the cemetery but its famous inhabitants. Some of the most popular people buried in Père Lachaise are Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Honore De Balzac, Frederic Chopin, and the rock legend Jim Morrison.
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed these 25 fun Paris facts.
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