Paris is one of the most beautiful, elegant, and charming cities in the world. We may be biased, of course, but I’m sure there are many who will agree. Everyday you can discover a new bistro, coffee shop, or boutique as you meander down the small streets and loose yourself in the city of light. You may feel as though you know this city like the back of your hand after living here for a few years, but there is always something new to learn about Paris!
We’ve spent some time gathering our favourite anecdotes and secrets about Paris that are unknown to many. We love how the city continues to surprise, so allow us to share some of our little know favourite facts with you.
1. Did you know that the area of Monparnasse is named after Mount Parnassus from Greek mythology? Parnassus mountain is where the Muses lived and for this reason was associated with many of the arts such as poetry and music, and learning. The many literature students who recited poetry in the streets on Montparnasse adopted the name, “(le) Mont Parnasse”.
2. Back in 1910 when construction of the Paris metro was taking place, engineers had to freeze the Seine river along 64 meters between Saint Michel and the river. The lengths that were taken to dig a tunnel underground for the metro to pass through are really quite astonishing!
3. Some of you may be aware of this one, but we still can’t believe that up until 2012 there was only ONE stop sign in the whole of Paris. This sign was situated at the exit of a building company in the wealthy 16th arrondissement. Paris only has one rule when it comes to traffic and that is to give way to the right.
Photo courtesy of The Local France
4. The Judgement of Paris – a wine tasting show down between California and France in 1976 which saw California coming out on top! France losing to the United States at wine? Unthinkable. But you can be sure that the French were not happy about this at all, so much so that the reporter covering the event at the time was blacklisted for reporting it!
5. Paris has several nicknames, namely the City of Light. Why, we ask ourselves? Surprisingly it has nothing to do with the power used to illuminate the Eiffel Tower every night or the streetlights. The light actually refers to the intellectuals and the high-concentration of writers, artists and academics that have always been drawn to the city, therefore making Paris full of lights in all sorts. We liked that one too.
6. Jim Haynes, the one and only man in Paris who hosts dinner parties for strangers and welcomes everyone and anyone on a weekly basis to his humble abode in the 14th. If you’re in need of some company and want to try something new, then register here for his next dinner party.
7. King Henry IV commissioned the Royal Pavillion in the Place des Vosges and wanted all 36 buildings in the square to take on the exact same design. Due to the King’s demands, the square’s architecture is completely symmetrical and harmonious, with each facade, roof and corner measuring up to the EXACT same numbers. No wonder the Place des Vosges is so pleasing to the eyes.
8. In 2004 authorities discovered a fully functioning movie theater in the Parisian catacombs, located below the 16th arrondissement. The theater was equipped with a fully functioning restaurant, stocked bar, and projecting equipment. When the police returned 3 days later to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: “Do not try to find us.”
9. We’ve all experienced dog poop on the streets of Paris, in the beautiful gardens, and, most annoyingly, on the soles of our shoes! Here are the facts : over 300,000 dogs live in Paris which accounts for more than 20 tonnes of crottes de chien, which adds up to 1 kilo of poop every 5 seconds. WOW.
10. Have you heard about the Paris Syndrome? I know it’s hard to believe but the physical, psychological, depression-like symptoms that first time visitors to Paris experience when they realise Paris isn’t what they imagine it to be, is actually a real syndrome. Annually, Paris experiences nearly 20 cases of mental break downs from Japanese tourists who cannot come to the terms with the reality of Paris!
11. Due to the similarities between Arabs and Jews in traditions, culture, and everyday habits, the Grande Mosque of Paris offered a helping hand by giving shelter to the Jews during the Holocaust and gave them Muslim identity certificates in order to help them avoid arrest and deportation.
12. There are precisely 9,067 open terraces in the whole of Paris. That’s a whole lot of eating and drinking outside! If you wanted to visit each terrace for a glass of vin, it would take you 29.8 years to get through them all. And that’s just the ones that are open now!