From how many lightbulbs power the Eiffel Tower to famous art heists, these fun facts about Paris are guaranteed to surprise you.
Paris is a popular holiday destination among lovers of art, culture, and beauty alike. But what secrets does the City of Love hold for curious travelers?
This is a city that is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the western world. Home of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and the medieval Notre-Dame de Paris, there’s plenty to see and do. While you might love to visit, how much do you really know about the city itself? This list of fun facts about Paris will help fill in any gaps in your knowledge.
Paris has been the cultural capital of France since the 1600s and played a huge role in popularising new fashions, cinema, and cuisine. France has always emphasized passion as a mindset, whether in the pursuit of love or the approach taken to enjoying life itself. It’s this unique approach to living that’s helped make Paris such a cultural behemoth, producing exquisite food, drink, art, and fashion adopted by millions around the globe.
If you’re an admirer of the French design for modern life, some of the following trivia should help you form a picture of why Paris’ popularity continues to grow. Read on to learn more about La Ville Lumiére and the people lucky enough to call it home!
15 Fun Facts About Paris
1. Disneyland Paris isn’t actually in Paris
Despite what the name implies, Disneyland Paris isn’t actually in Paris. It’s actually in Marne-la-Vallée, 33 kilometers from the center of the city. Of course, Paris is far more marketable, so don’t expect a name change any time soon.
2. Paris is home to more dogs than children
Parisians are very passionate about man’s best friend, with statistics suggesting 17 dogs exist for every 100 people in the city! That’s more dogs than children, and everyone seems happy enough with that, given that they spend almost half a million dollars a year on their furry friends.
3. It takes over 20,000 bulbs to light the Eiffel Tower
Making sure the Eiffel Tower is visible across the city comes at quite a cost. The landmark boasts 20,000 bulbs which illuminate the tower as night falls. France considers the Eiffel Tower an art installation, and it’s still technically illegal to publish your own photographs of the horizon at night as a result. We can’t imagine the electricity bill is a joy to look at, either.
Tucked beneath Paris is a labyrinth of catacombs, home to miles upon miles of tunnels and millions of skeletons. These were once a stone quarry, though they became a makeshift cemetery in the late 1700s. A small portion of the catacombs is open to tourists, though the adventurous often arrange secret parties and gatherings, accessing the tunnels via the hundreds of entrances scattered around the city.
5. Paris’ most famous work of art was once stolen
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is valued at 860 million US Dollars, making it the world’s most valuable painting. What you may not know is that in 1911, Italian thief Vincenzo Peruggia was able to casually steal the piece from The Louvre, lifting it from the wall under the pretense of being an employee. It took two years to recover, and security was tightened upon its return.
6. The Nazis ordered the Eiffel Tower be destroyed
It’s hard to imagine Paris without its most recognizable landmark, but that’s what Hitler had in mind when he ordered the conquest of Paris. Luckily, the General in charge of the operation ignored this order, and the Eiffel Tower was left unharmed in the German advance.
7. The French Military were the first to use camouflage
Camouflage was first used by the French Military to shield both soldiers and equipment from enemy surveillance. Though more primitive forms of camouflage were seen as early as the 18th century, the French gave it its name, and through them, it became prominent following WW1.
8. Paris is sometimes referred to as the City of Lights
Though you may assume the name originates from the many brightly lit boulevards and bridges dotted around the city, or the Eiffel Tower’s 20,000 bulbs, you’d be incorrect. The term was coined during the Enlightenment Period of the Mid-17th Century under Louis XIV’s reign, which was the precursor to the French Revolution.
9. The Catacombs of Paris were once used For mushroom farming
While the catacombs are most famous as the final resting place of over 6 million people, they were also used to grow mushrooms at one time. The dark, humid tunnels made for perfect growing conditions, though we’d imagine with all the bones about, there wasn’t mushroom to move around down there!
10. Locals hated the Eiffel Tower initially
The construction of the Eiffel Tower wasn’t popular among locals at the time. The monument was originally only supposed to stand for twenty years, but that didn’t stop prominent artists of the period from branding it useless and monstrous. Luckily, most warmed to it over time and it’s still standing firm today.
11. Paris still uses carrier pigeons occasionally
Though carrier pigeons were once key to transporting information between bases during wartime, most countries have opted to rely on technological alternatives over the past few decades. France is an exception, however, and the French armies are the only ones in Europe still to rely on pigeons during times of emergency.
12. There are two small islands bordering Paris
Though France shares borders with many countries, Paris technically has two islands of its own on the River Seine. Both île Saint-Louis and île de la Cité are popular tourist destinations, with boat tours available for visitors to explore the islands at their leisure.
13. The city offers free sparkling water at its fountains
In 2019, Eau de Paris announced an initiative to combat single-use plastic pollution and change the habits of locals. Their solution was the construction of water fountains around the city with both still and sparkling water on offer to reduce public reliance on disposable plastic bottles.
14. A deserted railway line circles the city
La Petite Ceinture is a 32km stretch of derelict railway encircling the city of Paris. It was once connected to the city’s major stations, but it fell out of use and now serves no purpose. Recently, certain sections have been opened for the public to visit, with more plans to promote parts of the line as attractions in coming years.
15. It would take 8 months to view every piece of art in The Louvre
As the world’s most visited museum, it’s no surprise that The Louvre is massive. What is hard to comprehend is that if you were to view each of the museum’s pieces for just 30 seconds, it would take you approximately eight months before you’d seen them all!
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these Paris facts and you’ve learned lots about this incredible city!
If you think we’ve missed any of your favorite facts about Paris, then let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article!