Paris, known as the City of Light, is filled with fascinating and lesser-known facts. Here are some surprising and unique facts about Paris that you may not know.
1. The Eiffel Tower was initially meant to be a temporary structure: Built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), the Eiffel Tower was intended to stand for only 20 years. However, its popularity and value as a radio transmission tower saved it from demolition.
2. Paris has hidden vineyards: You might be surprised to learn that Paris has vineyards within its city limits. The most famous vineyard is Clos Montmartre, located in the Montmartre neighborhood. Every year, during the Fête des Vendanges (Grape Harvest Festival), wine produced from these vineyards is sold to the public.
3. The Louvre Museum is the world’s largest art museum: The Louvre is not only one of the most renowned art museums globally, but it’s also the largest. Spanning over 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet), it houses approximately 38,000 objects, including the famous Mona Lisa.
4. The Catacombs of Paris hold the remains of millions: Beneath the streets of Paris lies the Catacombs, an underground ossuary holding the remains of around six million people. The catacombs were created in the late 18th century to alleviate the overcrowding of Parisian cemeteries.
5. The city was designed with public spaces in mind: Paris is well-known for its beautiful parks and public spaces. Over 400 parks and gardens exist in the city, including popular ones like Luxembourg Gardens and Tuileries Garden. This emphasis on public spaces was a deliberate design choice by city planners.
6. Paris was the birthplace of cinema: The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, pioneered the art of motion pictures in Paris. They held the first-ever public film screening at the Grand Café on the Boulevard des Capucines on December 28, 1895.
7. The Père Lachaise Cemetery is a resting place for many notable figures: The Père Lachaise Cemetery is the final resting place of numerous famous personalities, including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Frédéric Chopin. It is one of the most visited cemeteries globally.
8. Paris has its own Statue of Liberty: While the Statue of Liberty in New York City is famous worldwide, Paris has its own smaller version. The replica statue, known as the Flame of Liberty, can be found near the Pont de l’Alma. It has become an unofficial memorial to Princess Diana.
9. The city has its own beach: Each year, Parisians and visitors can enjoy a man-made beach called Paris Plages. It is created along the banks of the Seine River, where sand, deck chairs, and palm trees are brought in, providing a summer beach experience in the heart of the city.
10. Paris has a secret apartment at the top of the Eiffel Tower: Gustave Eiffel, the engineer behind the Eiffel Tower, had a private apartment at the top of the structure. While it is not open to the public, it still exists and is preserved with period furniture and decor. It is also said that Gustave Eiffel would eat lunch every day under the Eiffel Tower as it was the only place he didn’t have to look at it.
While Paris is known as the city of light, these surprising and unique facts about Paris offer a glimpse into the rich history, cultural significance, and hidden gems of the city.