Want to know more things about Paris that you probably didn’t know? Here are the most interesting facts about Paris that will help you learn more about the French capital.
As someone who has called the City of Lights home for several years and explored every hidden gem as a professional travel writer, I can tell you there’s a lot more to Paris than meets the eye.
Did you know, for instance, that Paris receives over 35 million visitors annually according to the latest France tourism data?
Though the French capital receives an impressive number of visitors, not everyone dives deep to learn about all the Paris facts beyond its famous attractions.
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So to make sure that you know a bit more about the city, I’ve compiled a list of all the fun facts about Paris — you probably know some but I am sure you’ll find a number of eye-openers you didn’t know about before.
For easy navigation, I am breaking down these Paris facts into categories.
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Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips
WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (8.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Prepare your trip extensively with this Paris Travel guidebook.
- Don’t forget a universal travel adapter, a travel neck pouch, and comfortable walking shoes.
- Consider getting either the museum pass or the Paris city pass if you plan to visit a lot of attractions. The city pass comes with free transportation and access to the hop-on-hop-off bus. You can read my Paris museum pass review to see if it’s right for you.
- Book this private transfer from CDG airport to Paris to avoid the hustle of figuring out how to get to Paris.
Psst… Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
Fun facts about Paris
Here is some fun information about Paris you probably didn’t know before!
Interesting Facts On Paris
Let’s start with some of the most interesting things about Paris.
1. Paris has 5 statues of Liberty
This might come as a surprising Paris fact to many as the most known one is in New York but Paris also has a number of replicas of Statues of Liberty.
Actually, even the one in New York was gifted to the US by the French — something I am sure not many people knew.
2. Paris has one of the most famous paintings in the world
The Louvre Museum in Paris houses the most prestigious and most famous painting in the world, the Monalisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
Even though the painting is popular, a lot of people are always surprised by how small it is when they see it in real life — it is 77 cm x 53 cm to be exact.
Psst… Louvre is one of the best places to visit in Paris which means that it also comes with long queues. When in the city of love, make sure that you don’t waste time in long lines by buying this timed ticket to the Louvre, or better yet book this guided tour to learn more about this famous place.
Related post: Best day trips from Paris
3. There are 20 arrondissements in the city
Paris is segmented into 20 different arrondissements which can also be referred to as districts.
4. Paris is referred to as the city of light
One of the nicknames for Paris is the City of Light! I am sure almost everyone knows this as one of the facts in Paris. But what most people don’t know is how it assumed this nickname.
A number of people assume that it got its name from the impressive lights that come from the major tourist attractions of Paris at night or the illuminated lights in Paris at Christmas but that’s all incorrect.
Paris is called the city of light because it was one of the first European cities to install streetlights.
This was commissioned by Louis XIV in the 17th century to put more light on the streets as a way of restoring the city’s safety that had deteriorated due to the recently concluded wars.
But up to now, the nickname is so popular making the city even more special. Now that’s one Paris fact that I am sure you didn’t know about.
5. Paris has an underground city
Paris is undeniably a beautiful city but it also has darkness beneath its walls — a full city of darkness commonly known as the Paris underground city. This city is called “The Catacombs”.
Even though today the Catacombs are one of the places to visit in Paris to learn more about the city’s history, it’s still a dark place that holds over 6 million remains of Parisians. You can learn more about it by reading these Paris catacombs facts.
Pro tip* It might be a “dark city” but it’s also a must-visit. So make sure that you don’t miss visiting it and to avoid spending hours in the queue, buy yourself this skip-the-line entry ticket that comes with an audio guide.
But if you want to get a deeper understanding of the Catacombs and their history and get access to sections closed off to the public, then book this guided tour with knowledgeable and professional tour guides.
6. The Seine River turns part of Paris into 2 islands
For tourists, especially those visiting Paris for the first time, it’s hard for them to believe that there are 2 remaining natural islands in Paris and that is all thanks to the Seine River.
With the islands of Île de la Cité which is the biggest and also famous for having the Notre Dame cathedral and île Saint-Louis (all of which are connected by bridges), Paris can proudly say that it also has islands.
Aside from those 2 natural islands, there is also a man-made island called île aux Cygnes. However, those are not the only islands that ever existed on the Seine — some were filled in to join the mainland and some just disappeared.
Pro tip* The best way to take in all the stunning views of Paris is by cruising the Seine. It even gets better when you take the cruise at sunset.
You get to enjoy an amazing sunset with a backdrop of some of the buildings and on return, you’ll be treated to the shimmering lights that come from all those popular attractions — It’s such a beautiful scene that should not be missed.
And if you’re visiting Paris with your loved one, cruising the Seine is one of the romantic things to do in Paris.
And while at it, don’t forget to book this Seine cruise that comes with dinner or this one with a 3-course meal to avoid last-minute Chaos. If you prefer one without dinner, then this is what I recommend.
Psst… I always use Get Your Guide for all my tours as they have professional tour guides and I know I can always cancel the ticket if something comes up and I can’t take that tour.
7. The very first “Bloody Mary” was made in Paris
One of the fun facts about Paris is that the famous cocktail, Bloody Mary was first made in the French Capital.
Though there are a number of legends about who truly first created Bloody Mary as a number of people have claimed that honor, what is clear is that this classic cocktail that is enjoyed by a number of people originated from Paris.
8. The tradition of “love locks” did not start in Paris
This might come as a surprise to so many people to learn that the tradition of love locks didn’t actually start in Paris.
However, it’s easy to see why most people might have thought that since Paris is usually associated with love locks compared to any other place in the world.
So if not Paris, where did this tradition start? The tradition of locking padlocks started in a small town in Serbia, as a result of a failed love affair between 2 young lovers (Nada and Relja).
And since the relationship failed due to the infidelity of Relja which broke Nada’s heart, the young women in the town decided to start locking padlocks with their names and those of their lovers on the “bridge of love” and later throw the keys into the river as a sign of a life long commitment without infidelity.
Later on, everyone in the town and Serbia started locking padlocks as a sign of love which then spread all across Europe.
But Paris being the city of love, it became the forefront of locking padlocks on bridges that so many people mistaken it to be the origin of this romantic activity.
You can read more about how this tradition of locking padlocks on bridges was birthed in Serbia here.
9. Paris doesn’t have any “STOP” signs on its roads
Now if you come from a country whose roads are marked with “STOP” on every turn you make, you’re in for one big surprise. It’s one of the facts about Paris, France that blows everyone’s mind who hears about it.
Actually, even the 1 stop sign that ever existed at the exit of a construction company in the 16th arrondissement magically disappeared which makes Paris a “STOP” free city. But Parisians still make it work with other numerous road signs.
10. Paris has 450 parks and gardens
Paris is the heart of picnics and this could be thanks to the 450 parks and gardens spread across the city.
Though there are many parks and gardens in Paris, the most famous ones are the Tuileries Garden and the Luxembourg Garden.
This means that whichever part of the city you’re in, you can always chill in the park or take your loved ones for a Parisian picnic.
11. It’s free to make videos in Paris
If you think that one has to pay thousands of Euros to record any kind of commercial video in Paris due to its immense beauty, you’ll be surprised. It’s absolutely free.
Well unless you’re going to film at locations like museums, parks, or swimming pools – that’s when you pay.
No wonder so much filming happens in Paris every day — whether it’s movies, commercials, etc. Yes, most of the movies filmed in Paris didn’t pay for filming locations. However, you need authorization from the officials if it’s a big production.
12. Paris is not the largest French-speaking city in the World
This Paris fun fact may come as a surprise to many, but yes, Paris is not the largest French-speaking city in the world! That title belongs to Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic Of Congo.
If you’re wondering how possible that is, here is why! Kinshasa has a population of over 12 million who consider French their official language and Paris has a population of around 2 million!
Now that’s one of the facts about the French language I am sure you didn’t know about.
13. Paris is the world capital of Fashion
There is no city in the world that speaks and understands fashion like Paris. No wonder it is referred to as the world fashion capital.
With world-class luxurious fashion brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Balmain, Dior, L’Oreal, etc from France, there is no doubt that Parisian and French designers at large set the tone when it comes to fashion.
Related post: Best Paris hotels with an Eiffel Tower view
14. It costs 200,000 Euros to become a taxi driver in Paris
One of the other interesting facts of Paris France is that it costs 200,000 Euros to be a taxi driver. Now you might be wondering, why and how one pays such a huge amount of money for a job that doesn’t even pay that much a year.
To clarify, the 200,000 Euros are for the taxi license fee that taxi drivers pay to be able to operate as self-employed taxi drivers in the city. Need more clarification? There are 3 ways one can obtain a driving license in Paris;
- For free from the government body. But no one wants to take this route since it has a waiting period of over 14 years. Well, that’s even worse than going to college to be a doctor since it doesn’t take that long LOL.
- According to the French government, you can also rent a license from a rental company but the price you pay depends on how much the rental company wants to charge you!
- Buy the license from a taxi driver who retired or stopped driving for some reason. Now this is where that insane amount of money comes from. There is no set amount to sell it at but rather use the current free market price to get its value. And that market price always floats around 180k to 200k Euros.
Honestly, this has to be a lifelong passion for one to invest all that money in a license. No wonder there are not so many self-employed taxi drivers in Paris compared to other big cities.
Related post: Where to get the best views of the Eiffel Tower
Interesting Paris Facts for Tourists
As a tourist, these Paris France facts will come in handy.
15. Paris has the largest art museum in the world
One of the other Paris interesting facts is that it has the largest art museum in the world — the Louvre Museum. The museum which was constructed in the 12th century sits on an area of 72,735 square meters.
Also, its location next to the Seine River makes it a prime location perfect for visiting other attractions next to it. You can also check out more facts about the Louvre Museum.
Besides, the Louvre, there are so many other free museums in Paris that you can check out to truly immerse yourself in Paris’ art.
Pro tip* Since the Louvre museum is one of the most visited places in Paris, it gets really crowded in that it can take you up to 2 hours queuing for the ticket.
So to avoid the long queues, make sure that you get yourself this skip-the-line ticket before your visit. You can also opt for this guided tour to maximize your visit.
16. You’ll need 200 days to see Everything in the Louvre museum
While still talking about art, it’s also important to know that it would take at least 200 days to see all the artwork in the Louvre.
Actually, this time is not even enough because it would mean staying in front of each object for just 30 seconds and we both know it’s impossible given the beauty of the objects in the Louvre.
17. Paris has the most beautiful Avenue in the world
Though it is an unofficial claim, Avenue des Champs-Elysees is believed to be the most beautiful Avenue in the world.
Dotted with trees on either side of the street, this 2- kilometer stretch located between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe is home to some of the world-class luxurious boutiques, nightclubs, flagship stores, and museums.
On top of that, a number of important events like the Bastille Day military parade, the arrival of the Tour de France, and the most beautiful Christmas lights in Paris take place here.
With all that, it’s hard not to see why the Avenue des Champs-Elysees is believed to be the most beautiful avenue in the world and the prettiest street in Paris.
18. Notre Dame Cathedral
is was the most visited attraction in Paris
This might come as a surprising Paris fact since most people imagine that the Eiffel Tower is the most visited landmark in Paris.
To give you proof, the Notre Dame Cathedral received approximately 13 million visitors and the Eiffel Tower received almost 7 million visitors according to 2019 data.
This goes to show that Notre Dame receives almost double the number of people who visit the Eiffel Tower.
Pro tip* Due to the fire that set the roof of the cathedral ablaze, Notre Dame was closed off to visitors as they finish the renovations.
This obviously has impacted the number of people that visit the Cathedral but in normal times, the Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited landmark in Paris while the Eiffel Tower ranks fourth.
19. Paris has 37 bridges
Paris is a city that is well connected with a number of bridges. With 37 bridges in total, you ought to see some.
Some of the most famous and beautiful bridges in Paris that are worth visiting include Pont Alexandre III which is considered to be the most beautiful bridge in the world, (it’s actually my favorite bridge in the city) Pont De Bir-Hakeim which gives stunning views of the Eiffel Tower, Pont Neuf which is the oldest standing bridge in Paris, and Pont Des Arts which is commonly known as the Lovelock bridge.
Related post: Big mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris
20. It takes 2 hours to walk from the south point to the north point of Paris
Paris is a very walkable city and it’s actually the best way to see all the famous landmarks and the hidden gems of Paris.
The city might be assumed to be theoretically big which is true but it’s not that big compared to other popular cities in Europe.
This means that in just 2 hours, you can walk from the north part to the south part of the city with ease. This makes seeing the city easier especially if you have just 1 day in Paris or even 2 days in Paris.
21. Paris has 6,100 streets
One of the other fun Paris facts is that the city has a total of 6,100 streets! Of course, they’re all not made equally!
Some are short and others long with the shortest being Rue des Degrés in the 2nd arrondissement at just 5.75 meters while the longest is Rue Vaugirard in the 15th arrondissement at 4.3 km (2.6 miles).
Of course, as a tourist, you can’t see all of them but there are some prettiest streets in Paris that are worth checking out.
22. Paris Has The Only Disneyland in Europe
One of the cool facts about Paris is that it is home to the only Disneyland in Europe, technically located outside the city bounds! Just 32 km east of Paris.
If you plan to visit the happiest place in France, then you can check out my articles on the best Disneyland Paris rides, the best restaurants at Disneyland Paris, and practical tips for visiting Disneyland Paris.
Also, make sure that you buy your entry ticket in advance to avoid wasting time in the long lines.
23. A Visit to The City Can Cause The Paris Syndrome
Various movies set in Paris have done a good (or bad job depending on how you look at it) of showing Paris as all romance, beauty, and nothing more!
This means that some people travel to Paris expecting to experience just that and not the “bad” or “ordinary” side of it and when they’re faced with a different reality compared to what they had envisioned or even romanticized about, they suffer from some kind of shock, disappointment, and often feel underwhelmed.
This became such a huge issue that this experience got a name — the Paris Syndrome! Though any tourist from any country can suffer from it, it is usually experienced by travelers from Japan.
24. The Most Visited Cemetery in the World Can Be Found in Paris
It’s not every day that a cemetery is considered a tourist attraction, but in Paris, the cemetery of Père-Lachaise is!
On average, it receives about 3.5 million visitors a year making it the most visited necropolis in the world.
This is thanks to it being the final resting place of some notable people like Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and more, and the visually detailed gravestones.
Eiffel Tower Interesting Facts
These Eiffel Tower facts will give you a more detailed understanding of the Iron Lady.
25. The Eiffel Tower was initially a temporary structure
Despite the Eiffel Tower being the icon of France and one of the major landmarks in Europe, it wasn’t always like this. In fact, no one anticipated that it would be one of the most visited attractions in the country and in the world.
It was initially constructed to last for just 20 years and later destroyed but after seeing how many people embraced it and how many people traveled from afar just to see it, that forever changed the history of Paris and France in general.
And now, it’s the international symbol for France and a bucket list item for a number of travelers.
Pro tip* While visiting Paris, the one thing you should not miss is visiting the Eiffel Tower. Climbing the tower offers breathtaking Paris views.
But since it’s a famous Parisian landmark, you’re guaranteed to find long lines — so the best way to skip those long queues is to buy this online skip-the-line entry ticket with access to the summit.
And if you prefer having a guided tour to learn more about the Iron Lady, then this guided tour is exactly what I took and the guide was so friendly on top of being very knowledgeable.
26. The Eiffel Tower was considered ugly at one point
Forget the current times when millions of people flock to see the beauty of the tower plus the millions that dream of visiting it at one point in life, this wasn’t the case at the time of its construction.
When Gustave Eiffel (the man who constructed the tower and named after him) presented his proposal to build the tower, many influential people at the time opposed him claiming that they were going to destroy the untouched beauty of Paris with a “useless piece of metal” that would overshadow meaningful landmarks like Notre Dame, Louvre museum and Arch de Triomphe.
Actually, the famous writer, Guy de Maupassant thought it was too ugly for his eyes that he ate his lunch right below the tower as it was the only place his eyes couldn’t see it while in the city.
But in the present day, it is one of the most beautiful landmarks in France and the entire world as a whole.
27. It’s illegal to distribute images of the Eiffel Tower at night
I am sure this is one of the facts on Paris France that most people overlook. It is considered illegal to distribute these photos because the 200,000 lights that illuminate at night are considered a work of art that is copyrighted by the artists.
So try not to clash with French law by not distributing night photos of the Eiffel Tower even if they’re taken by you.
And when I say distribute, I don’t mean posting those photos on your social media — that is totally legal. But what is illegal is printing those photos and selling them.
Related post: The ultimate guide to visiting the Eiffel Tower
28. The Eiffel Tower is the most valuable icon in Europe
The tower is the most valuable landmark in Europe. It is estimated to be worth 435 billion Euros.
29. There are 1,665 steps from the base to the Top of the Eiffel Tower
To reach the top of the Eiffel Tower, you’d need to climb 1665 steps! Don’t worry though as you won’t have to climb all of them since the stairs from the second to the third floor are not open to the public.
In reality, you can climb 674 stairs from the esplanade to the second floor which takes around 30-45 minutes depending on your fitness level. You’ll be able to enjoy stunning views from the Eiffel Tower when you reach the top.
You can learn more about the Iron Lady by reading these fun Eiffel Tower facts.
Paris history facts
Here are some Paris history facts you may not have known.
30. The first photo of a person ever taken was in Paris
The said first photograph of a human person was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838 at the Boulevard du Temple Street. And thanks to him and Paris, photography has become a big deal all across the world.
31. The oldest standing bridge in Paris is called the New Bridge (The Pont Neuf)
It might come as a surprise but it’s actually a Paris fact. By the time Pont Neuf was constructed, there were a number of old bridges and it was the newest, hence the name “New Bridge”.
But as time went on, the “old bridges” all collapsed and they had to construct new ones which meant that the “New bridge” was no longer the newest but its name couldn’t be taken away.
So as of now, it’s the oldest standing bridge in Paris even if the name says “New”.
32. Paris was originally a Roman City called “Lutetia”
Having conquered the city of Parisii in 52 BC, the Romans who had been trading along the river, changed the name from Parissi to Lutetia. This and many others are some of the interesting nicknames for Paris.
33. You Can Still Find Roman Ruins in Paris
To add to the above Paris fact, you should know that there are still some Roman Ruins in Paris with the most prominent being an amphitheater, Arènes de Lutèce in the Latin Quarter.
Related post: How to spend a weekend in Paris
34. The French people were the first to use the camouflaged army uniform
If you were wondering where the entire world got the idea of the camouflaged army uniform, now you know.
With the creative minds of Parisians and the French people in general in terms of fashion, it’s not surprising that they came up with this idea that the whole world embraced.
35. Notre Dame is considered Paris’ Point Zero
What this means is that all distances in Paris are measured from Notre Dame! Just like how all “roads lead to Rome”, in Paris, they all lead to Notre Dame Cathedral.
If you visit the area, you’ll be able to see a small compass in the concrete in front of the church. Being point zero, this makes this spot the exact center of Paris.
And just like everything else in Paris, this comes with traditions where people put coins and hope that their wishes will come true or couples kissing next to it and hope for eternal love.
36. It was once illegal for women in Paris to wear pants
One of the shocking facts about Paris is that women were not allowed to wear pants in Public up until 2012.
A law that was enacted in 1800 banned all women from wearing “Men’s clothes” and anyone who wanted to do so had to get permission from the Police.
However, even with the law present, women did wear pants with no consequences but it was only in 2012 that the law was removed due to the efforts of then Minister of Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem who said that the law could no longer match up with the modern-day values.
37. Paris is the Birth Place of Cabaret
The tradition of Cabaret has been part of Paris for a long time! It is believed to have started in Le Chat Noir in Montmartre in 1881.
At that time, it used to be a show of amateurs singing, doing poetry, or plays and comic shows in a nightclub while patrons enjoyed drinks.
It became popular and it started spreading, and the famous Moulin Rouge also caught up in 1889. Today, there are a number of cabarets in Paris but the most popular is still Moulin Rouge, especially among tourists.
The shows at Moulin Rouge are incredibly fun with perfectly dressed and talented dancers putting on an electric show. If you want to watch one, you can book our spot here as tickets sell out fast.
Fun Facts about Paris for Kids
These Paris facts are what most kids will want to learn.
38. Paris is the capital city of France
It is also the largest city in the country. Paris became the capital of France in 987 A.D
39. Tree counting is an official job in Paris
Well for that lucky or unlucky person- depending on how you’re looking at it, the government pays him/her to count all the trees in Paris.
The current official standing is at 484,000 trees with more to be planted in the coming years! This makes Paris one of the most treed cities in Europe.
40. Paris is one of the oldest cities in Europe
Having been established in 987 A.D., Paris ranks as one of the oldest cities in Europe. It’s actually older than a number of countries around the world.
41. Paris’ Subway system is the second busiest in Europe
Paris’ subway system known as the Paris Metro is the second busiest in Europe just after the Moscow Metro serving 5.23 million passengers every single day. It also ranks 4th in the world.
Final Thoughts on the interesting facts about Paris, France
There you have it, folks. I hope you learned something from these Paris fun facts as I had so much fun and learned a lot while putting together these interesting facts about Paris.
Do you know of any other facts on Paris that I may not have included here, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section and I will add them to my list.
NEVER TRAVEL TO PARIS WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE
One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make when planning a trip to Paris is to forego Travel Insurance!
You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!
Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for
more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
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