10 interesting facts about Paris you should know!

10

The monuments of Paris are imposing, solemn or sacred. Tourists photograph them from every angle and admire them in an often superficial way. But Paris is a city full of history and anecdotes. It would take an encyclopedia to list them one by one. In this article, I just want to give you some facts about Paris to whet your curiosity!

Interesting facts about Paris

1. The golden dome of the Invalids

To celebrate the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989, the Dome of Les Invalides was re-gilded, using 12.65kg (or 27.8lb) of gold leaf.

Click here to book your tickets to the Hôtel des Invalides and explore the museums and Napoleon’s tomb.

The Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

The Dome church of Les Invalides seen from avenue de Tourville © French Moments

The gilded dome of the Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

The gilded dome of the church of Les Invalides © French Moments

The gilded dome of the Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

Close up of the gilded dome of Les Invalides © French Moments

The pinnacle of the Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

The pinnacle of the Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

The pinnacle of the Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments

The pinnacle of the Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments


2. The great watch of the obelisk of the Place de la Concorde

The point of the Luxor obelisk standing on the Place de la Concorde indicated international time, making it the largest sundial in the world. It is also Paris’ oldest monument.

Place de la Concorde Paris June 2015 01 © French Moments

Place de la Concorde, Paris © French Moments

Winter walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre © French Moments

Madeleine from Place de la Concorde © French Moments

Winter walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre © French Moments

Obelisk, Place de la Concorde © French Moments

Place de la Concorde © French Moments

The three needles of Paris! © French Moments


3. The old bridge of Pont Neuf

Despite its name Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is the oldest of the Paris bridges, and was the first road in Paris to benefit from pavements separating pedestrians and traffic. It was also the first bridge to be built without houses on it.

Facts about Paris: Pont-Neuf © French Moments

Facts about Paris: Pont-Neuf © French Moments

Quais de la Seine : Pont Neuf © French Moments

Quais de la Seine : Pont Neuf © French Moments

The Pont Neuf, the Samaritaine and the point of the Cité island

The former Samaritaine water pump on Pont Neuf in the 18th century

Quais de la Seine, Pont Neuf © French Moments

Pont Neuf © French Moments


4. Tour Saint Jacques: a bell tower without a church

Tour Saint Jacques is the former bellower of the church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie. Dating from the 16th century but of Gothic style, it was one of the starting points for pilgrims journeying up rue Saint Jacques and on to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. When the church was dismantled in 1802, it was decided to keep the belfry which has since been converted to a weather station.

Tour Saint-Jacques 05 copyright French Moments

Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris © French Moments

Facts about Paris: Tour Saint-Jacques rue de Rivoli © French Moments

The bell tower of the former Saint-Jacques church © French Moments

Panoramic View from Tour Saint-Jacques 17 copyright French Moments

Place du Châtelet, Paris © French Moments

Eiffel Tower and Seine from Tour Saint-Jacques © French Moments

The River Seine in Paris © French Moments


5. The Clock Tower of the Conciergerie

Since 1370 the Tour de l’Horloge (Tower clock) of the Conciergerie has housed the first public clock to be installed in Paris. Click here to book your tickets to the Conciergerie with access to the sublime Sainte-Chapelle.

Clock Tower Conciergerie © French Moments

The clock tower © French Moments

Clock Tower Conciergerie © French Moments

Conciergerie – the Clock Tower © French Moments

Conciergerie 22 © French Moments

The Conciergerie clock, Paris © French Moments

Clock Tower Conciergerie 04 © French Moments

Clock Tower Conciergerie © French Moments


6. Square du Vert-Galant and the reputation of a king

Down the steps in front of Pont-Neuf, at the western tip of Île de la Cité lies a serene stretch of green known as Square du Vert-Galant. Its name derives from the nickname given to Henri IV, alluding to his reputation as an amorous gentleman despite his age.

Square du Vert Galant © French Moments

Square du Vert Galant © French Moments

Quais de la Seine, Paris © French Moments

Quais de la Seine: Ile de la Cité from Pont des Arts © French Moments

Facts about Paris - Square du Vert Galant © French Moments

A cruise on the river Seine approaching the Square du Vert Galant © French Moments 


7. Half-timbered houses in Paris: a rarity

There are only a few houses from the middle-ages to be found in Paris. Two of them can be seen in Rue François Miron in the Marais (4th arrondissement). They date back to the 15th century and have been much restored in the 1970s.

Rue François Miron, Paris © French Moments

Rue François Miron, Paris © French Moments

Half-timbered houses on rue Francois Miron, Paris © French Moments

Half-timbered houses on rue Francois Miron, Paris © French Moments

Half-timbered houses on rue Francois Miron, Paris © French Moments

Half-timbered houses on rue Francois Miron, Paris © French Moments


8. The flame of the Statue of Liberty

On the southern side of the square of Alma stands a life-size gilded model of the flame held by the Statue of Liberty in New York.

It was a gift to the city for the 100th anniversary of the International Herald Tribune. The flowers on the monument are placed in honour of Lady Diana whose car crashed in the tunnel who runs under the square.

Facts about Paris - Flame of Liberty © French Moments

Place de l’Alma © French Moments

Facts about Paris : the Flame of Liberty © French Moments

The Flame of Liberty, Place de l’Alma in Paris © French Moments

Facts about Paris - Flame of Liberty © French Moments

The Flame of Liberty, Place de l’Alma in Paris © French Moments


9. Montmartre: the Martyrs’ Mound

In Roman times, Montmartre had two hill-top temples devoted to Mars and Mercury. It was known as Martyrs’ Mound from the Ancient Times after Saint-Denis, the first bishop of Lutetia, was beheaded here in the 2nd century AD by the Romans. According to the legend, Saint-Denis picked up his head and walked to the place now known as Saint-Denis Basilica.

St Denis in Square Suzanne Buisson © French Moments

Statue of St. Denis in Montmartre (Square Suzanne Buisson) © French Moments

Montmartre Pompidou Centre Paris

The hill of Montmartre seen from the terrace of the Pompidou Centre © French Moments

Spring sunny day in Montmartre © French Moments

Spring sunny day in Montmartre © French Moments

Facts about Paris - Village of Montmartre © French Moments

The village atmosphere in Montmartre, Paris © French Moments


10. The Eiffel Tower: a high maintenance monument

Our last facts about Paris leads us to Paris’ most iconic monument.

The Eiffel Tower weighs about 7,000t and uses 50t of paint every seven years. The tower swayed 13 cm during a storm in 1999, which blew at 240 kph.

The variation of ambient temperature has an influence on the tower. In fact, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by as much as 18 cm. This was indeed recorded during the 1976 heatwave. But no need to worry for Gustave Eiffel had allowed for a variation as much as 70 cm!

Interested in the Eiffel Tower? Check out my discovery course: the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower!

Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Facts about Paris - the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Pont d'Iéna, Paris © French Moments

Pont d’Iéna and the Eiffel Tower © French Moments


Pin it for later!

Here’s a selection of photos to pin on Pinterest!

10 most beautiful squares of Paris © French Moments

Top 10 things to do in Paris by French Moments

Discover old medieval houses in Paris © French Moments

Romantic Places in Paris © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

10 Comments

  1. David Fuhriman on

    Yes, I have been to the Church of Les Invalides. It is a beautiful building, especially so with the Dome! I have also been to the Quais de la Seine and the Ile de la Cite. Great memories! I hope to return to Paris in the near future!

  2. Pierre, this is so interesting as usual and such good information about places in Paris we may know, but not to this extent. I’ve bookmarked it for my trip this fall. Thank you!

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