Thomas Jefferson once said, “a walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” He wasn’t wrong. There’s a reason that Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world and captivates all of us. Known as the “City of Light” or the “City of Love,” the streets of Paris gush with culture, art, beauty, and history.
While we have all seen glorious pictures of the French capital, but there’s still a lot you may not know about it. For instance, did you know that Paris wasn’t always called “Paris”? And do you know what the city’s motto is? Here, we have listed some little-known and interesting facts about Paris that you are unlikely to know. Check them out.
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1. Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris.
It was built from 1578 to 1607 and was designed by Baptiste Du Cerceau and Pierre des Illes. It was the city's first path-breaking public work and introduced them to a new kind of street life.
2. The motto of Paris is “Fluctuat nec mergitur”.
This means ‘Tossed but not sunk,’ or ‘Beaten by the waves, but does not flounder.’ This phrase is most commonly found on Paris’ coat of arms and suggests resilience, courage, and inner strength.
3. Paris was founded around the end of the 3rd century BC and was initially called Lutetia.
The city was founded around the end of the 3rd century BC by a Celtic tribe called Parisii who had settled on the banks of the Seine. In 52 BC, the village was conquered by the Romans, who went on to establish it as a Gallo-Roman town called Lutetia. The city changed its name to Paris during the 4th century.
4. Paris was among the first cities in the world to install street lights.
It is said that the first public lamp in Paris was the famous candle lantern placed in front of the Grand Chatelet in 1318. The first gas lamps were placed in the Place du Carrousel in 1829. By 1900, there were around 50,900 street lamps in Paris.
5. The Eiffel Tower has 1665 steps.
There are 1665 steps from the esplanade up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. However, the stairway from the 2nd floor to the top is not open to the public. In 2019, Polish elite runner Piotr Lobodzinski climbed the 1,665 stairs in under 8 minutes during the Eiffel Tower Vertical race.
6. The oldest house in Paris was built in 1407.
The house is located at 51 rue de Montmorency and was built by the city’s most famous alchemist, Nicolas Flamel, in 1407. Historians believe that this is the house where Flamel carried out his experiments in alchemy.
7. The Moulin Rouge has been operating since 1899.
Moulin Rouge, the famous cabaret of Paris, was founded in 1889 by Joseph Oller (1839-1922) and Charles Zidler (1831-1897). In the initial days, the place would be host to champagne-filled parties where popular dancers performed. Moulin Rouge was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1915 and was rebuilt 10 years later.
8. Paris is home to 830 libraries.
Paris has the most libraries of any city in the world – 830 to be precise. This means there’s one library per 2900 inhabitants in the city! No wonder Paris has produced such great intellectuals over the years.
9. The oldest café in Paris has been around since 1686.
Café Procope is the oldest and among the most famous eateries in the city. It is known as the first literary cafe in the world and was opened in 1686 by the Sicilian chef Procopio Cutò. The café is said to have played a major part in setting up the café culture in Paris.
10. Cheese shops in Paris have more than 1000 different varieties of French Cheese.
You will be spoilt for choice when looking for French cheese in Paris. From the soft and creamy Camembert to the rich and firm Comté, you won’t be able to try out all the varieties in one trip.
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