Lamp Posts of Paris

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Lamp posts have become part of Paris’ identity, so much so that one can easily recognise the French capital by their design. It comes at no surprise that Paris’ historical lamp posts are famous throughout the world for providing atmosphere and elegance on the city’s streets.


Technically, a lamp post is a raised source of light on the edge of a street which is lit every night. The first electric street lighting used arc lamps, designed in 1875 by a Russian electrical engineer, Pavel Yablochkov. His candles were first used in 1878 to light the Grands Magasins du Louvre in Paris, and partly contributed to give the French capital the nickname of “City of Lights“. On the 1st January 2009, 61,900 candelabra and 29,800 lights attached to buildings were recorded in Paris.

There are many different styles of lamp posts in Paris: some are very plain and modern, others are old-fashioned, fixed on a single pole or as a candelabra (candle tree), and a few are extravagantly ornate.


Single Pole Lamps

This is a common yet delicate lamp post found all over the city – here pictured near Hôtel des Invalides.

A double-arm version is seen featured in Place de la Bastille:

This old-fashioned-style lamp post like this one in Place Dauphine can be found all over town.

A variant shape of the above is more elaborate and topped with a crown. It is a ‘single version’ of the famous candelabra and is also found in many parts of town: by the stairs of Montmartre, on Pont des Arts or in the Napoleon Courtyard of the Louvre.

Another classic lamp post in Paris pictured on Pont Notre-Dame, Pont de l’Archevêché, near the Panthéon, at the Louvre and in the Tuileries Garden:

On the banks of River Seine, Pont de la Tournelle linking the Left Bank to Île Saint-Louis features a particular single pole rather unusual:

Rounded lamp posts can create romantic shadows like in Place des Vosges.

There are many narrow streets in Paris (mainly in the districts of Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Latin Quarter and Montmartre) where the lighting is simply attached to the façades of the buildings.


Candelabra Lamps

There are many types of candelabra in Paris with a varying number of arms.

Candelabra with three arms in Place de l’Opéra, Place Vendôme, in the Grands Boulevards, and near the Petit-Palais:

And a more modern version of three-arm candelabra as pictured in Place Clemenceau (Champs-Élysées), looking like water drops:

Candelabra with four arms in Place de l’Hôtel de Ville:

Candelabra with five arms in the Louvre:

The lamp posts on Place de la Concorde are candelabra with incredibly intricate details.

The most extravagant lamp posts of Paris are without doubt those standing on Pont Alexandre III with ornate candelabra reminiscent of La Belle Époque.

The silhouette of some lamp posts in Paris can look fantastic when in presence of a famous monument. Here in the square of Hôtel de Ville.


English-French Vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • arm = bras (m)
  • bank = rive (f)
  • branch = branche (f)
  • candelabra = candélabre (m)
  • City of Lights = Ville Lumière (f)
  • lamp post = lampadaire (m), réverbère (m)
  • pavement = trottoir (m)
  • stair = escalier (m)
  • street = rue (f)

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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. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French 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.

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