“Paris is always a good idea.” Strolling along the banks of the Seine, under the Eiffel Tower and across the Champs-Élysées is something every traveller should do in a lifetime. These facts we think you didn’t know about the charming French capital are not only interesting for students and teachers on a school tour to France, but for anyone. Here’s some interesting facts you may not know about the French capital:
1) Paris, France is only one out of many. There are more than 30 cities called Paris around the world. Many of them are in the US, but you can also find Paris in Canada, Denmark, Panama, Antarctica and in Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean.
2) Up until 2012, there was only one stop sign in the whole of Paris. The sign was situated at the exit of a building company in the rich 16th arrondissement but has now been removed. The traffic system in Paris is mainly based on giving way to those coming from the right.
3) All those who love the famous French pastries and baguettes are definitely in the right city. There are 1,784 bakeries in Paris. That’s more than the number of bars (‘only’ 1,124).
4) 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. If you understand French, you know that this would have been very inappropriate, so the name was very quickly changed to “Réseau Express Régional”.
5) The statues all around the Place de la Concorde represent eight large cities of France: Lille, Strasbourg, Marseille, Nantes, Lyon, Brest, Bordeaux, and Rouen.
6) The oldest bridge in the city is called ‘Pont Neuf’, which means ‘New Bridge’. Spanning the Seine between the Right and Left Banks, it crosses the western tip of the Île de la Cité. Pont-Neuf is a stone bridge built in different stages between 1578 and 1607.
7) Île de la Cité is the birthplace of Paris. This is where in 53 BC Roman troops first joined the Celtic settlers living on the tiny island.
8) There are more dogs in Paris than there are children, around 300,000 dogs. The Parisians are truly caring towards their pets, spending nearly half a million dollars just to make sure their dogs are groomed and cared for.
9) Paris is called the City of Lights. You may already know that, but did you know that it actually refers to the many writers, artists and academics who have always been drawn to this city? The expression has nothing to do with the illuminated Eiffel Tower or street lights but means the city of intellectuals.
10 Paris has its own Statue of Liberty. It is a much smaller copy of Statue of Liberty in New York facing America as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. Paris also has a life size gilded model of the flame of liberty at the entrance of Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris. It was offered to the city of Paris in 1989 by the International Herald Tribune on behalf of donors who had contributed approximately $400,000 for its fabrication. It represented the culmination of that newspaper’s 1987 celebration of its hundredth anniversary of publishing an English-language daily newspaper in Paris.
11) The most visited attraction in Paris is not the Eiffel Tower but the historical Notre Dame Cathedral. It is widely regarded as the finest example of French architecture.
12) Until 2012, it was illegal for French women to wear trousers in Paris. Although it was not enforced, the 214-year-old law was still in effect.
13) The Eiffel Tower can shift away. During a storm in 1999 which blew at 240 kilometres per hour, it swayed 13 cm. During a heatwave in 1976, a shift of 18 cm was recorded.
14) Many tourists, in particular Japanese, suffer from the so-called ‘Paris Syndrome’, an extreme form of a culture shock. They cannot deal with the reality of Paris not being the greatest place in the world and different from their imagination.
15) Paris and Rome are exclusive sister cities, seeing no other city as equal counterparts. The two use the motto: “Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.”
Interested in a school tour to Paris or a language tour to France? Contact our team for a free consultation.