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5 Fun Facts about Paris

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Fun facts about Paris

1. ‘Paris’ is not the city’s original name.

Many centuries ago when the first settlers in Paris were scrubbing their clothes on the muddy banks of the Seine, the city that would be founded on that spot was not referred to as Paris. Paris’s original name was Lutetia Parisiorum (called Lutèce in French), and the settlers there were Celts known as the “Parisii.” It is commonly believed that “Lutetia” comes from the Latin word “lutum,” meaning “. So the elegant, glittering city that we all know and love, most likely was first known as “mud town of the Parisii.”

2. Île de la Cité is the birthplace of Paris.

When you’re wandering around the Île de la Cité, admiring St. Chapelle, Notre-Dame Cathedral or crossing Pont Neuf, take a look around and try to imagine what it must have been like in 53 BC when the Julius Caesar and his Roman troops first joined the Celtic settlers living on the tiny island. Instead of the beautiful stone Pont Neuf or Pont St. Michel connecting the island to the Right and Left Banks, there were two wooden bridges.

3. Roman ruins still exist in Paris.

For its first few centuries (roughly 53 BC-212, A.D.), Paris was a Roman city, complete with an aqueduct, public baths, stone fountains, and a 10,000 seat arena where Gallo-Romans could gather to watch Christians being slaughtered. A few remnants of  this period still exist. For example, the Arènes de Lutèce, a crumbling stone amphitheater in the 5th arrondissement, dates back to the 1st century. You can also see parts of the public baths in the Musée de Cluny, and fragments of the old Roman city in the Archeological Crypt under the esplanade at the Cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité.

4. Pont Neuf doesn’t mean “Bridge Nine”.

Speaking of the Île de la Cité, the lovely stone bridge that you cross to get there – the Pont Neuf – isn’t the ninth bridge in Paris. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the number nine. Pont Neuf means “New Bridge,” so named by King Henry IV, who ordered its construction in 1578. He named it “New Bridge” because it had very modern features for its time. It was the first bridge without houses built on it, the widest bridge in Paris (for awhile), and the first to have pavement, which made it an ideal place to socialize. Today, it is the oldest existing bridge in Paris.

5. The Storming of Bastille was a symbolic act.

One of the biggest holidays in France is Bastille Day on July 14th. Colorful fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower, armored tanks trundle down the Champs-Elysees in a military parade, low-flying jet planes rip through the sky, spouting blue, white and red smoke in their wake – all to celebrate the storming of the prison Bastille in 1789 and the release of its prisoners. Bastille was known for holding political prisoners, especially those openly critical of the monarchy. But on the day Bastille was actually stormed, there were no political prisoners of significance in the jail. In fact, there were only 7 prisoners – and four of them had been jailed for check-forging.

Boutique hotels in Paris

Kube Hotel Paris - Fun hotel facilities: the Ice Kube (Paris’s first ice bar), high-tech lobby, cube-shaped furniture, fluorescent stools,…

Hotel des Académies et des Arts - Fun hotel facilities:  the art room offering a large choice of artist’s videos as well as the interior decor featuring “White Bodies” silhouette paintings by Jérôme Mesnager and “Climbing Model Ladders” sculptures by Sophie de Watigrant.

Photo of Bastille fireworks by James Whitesmith.

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer barbara diggs

Barbara Diggs is a freelance writer living in Paris, France. She has travelled to many European countries with her toddler son in tow, and firmly believes that traveling with a child is not only possible, but fun (if you plan in advance)!

50 responses to “5 Fun Facts about Paris”

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  1. Renny Amundsen says:
    December 27th, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I can tell it’s way too long since I was in Paris (1967!)

    Happy Holidays :-)

  2. courtney says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    some of the facts were old and boring they needs to be fun exting facts wich are new plus 5 facts are way to small they need to be round about 10 to 20 facts

  3. Myriam says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Hey Courtney, are you having fun ditching somenone else’s work? I don’t see you coming up with any funny facts! I think its great that Barbara took the time to share with us, and i for one had never heard of the two hotels she mentioned. So thanks Barbara!

  4. logan says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    i agree with courtney! :)

  5. g says:
    April 15th, 2011 at 4:55 am

    france rocks

  6. Ambrose Mugwump says:
    June 15th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    “Pont Neuf doesn’t mean “Bridge Nine”.

    Of course not. It means Bridge of Eggs, everyone knows that!

  7. Sophie Lucina says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    UNE TOUR EFFILE CEST SUPERB!

  8. SpongeBobLover says:
    June 26th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I need there to be more facts!
    I have to have some facts for my homework…can someone give me some please? xx

  9. javier says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 2:56 am

    I agrre with courtney

  10. Emily says:
    October 20th, 2011 at 2:57 am

    I do agree w/ courtney!!!!:):)XD

  11. epicness!!! says:
    October 21st, 2011 at 12:53 am

    whoa awseosoome!!!

  12. Kitty says:
    October 21st, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    (1) I agree with courtney. (2)
    bridge of eggs? (3) Mon Oeuf. That means ‘my egg’ right?

  13. Rose Borden says:
    November 20th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    I agree with Courtney!MORE FACTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. susy says:
    January 7th, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    wow thats cool

  15. PandaBear says:
    January 26th, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I wanted 20 intersting UN-boring facts!! Not 5 totally ridulas ones!! Courtney is ABSOLUTLY RIGHT!!

  16. Sanjay Kandasamy says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Hey, I would suggest something more interesting to keep anyone wanting to visit paris. I agree with courtney. ADD MORE FACTS YOU KUNDI!!!!

  17. sam says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 11:58 am

    more better facts

  18. prettyellie8 says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    its fine i got all 5 facts well done xxxxxxxxx

  19. Sharon says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    iagree with courtney too!!!!!!!!!!!!!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxshestinks

  20. Athena says:
    April 5th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    cool I didn’t know that1

  21. Gillian says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    No offense but those facts were not fun. upd8 new fun facts please.

  22. isaella says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    france is not boring i agree courtney and me 2 courtney

  23. Cassie says:
    May 26th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I think these facts are interesting. If you love Paris as much as I do and want to go there so badly then learning new things is quite fastinating. I have never been, but if you are looking for more facts simply do some more searching. Many facts are online. I have been online for maybe 10 minutes and I already know so much more than I already knew just from visiting a few cites. I know the population, I know how big it is, I know some of the history. 10 minutes…devote your time then if you cannot find anything then come back and complain. I think this writter did a good job. Maybe she picked her favorites. Ever thought of that?

  24. Laura says:
    May 31st, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Bounjour!

  25. Brandon says:
    June 13th, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Needs more fun facts the only decent one was the first on think I need to look on more sights never even got that much I have to agree with courtney whoo hoooo you go girl<3

  26. Parisian tour guide says:
    July 21st, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Lutetia is a roman word, and is the name the Romans gave to the city, hundreds of years after the Parisii lived here. And the first settlers of Paris were not in Ile de la Cite but in Nanterre, today a suburb by the financial district called La Defense. Get your facts straight!

  27. leona says:
    September 12th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    i like this website it is good

  28. Anon1623 says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 2:40 am

    i agree with Courtney

  29. chelsea says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I have been Paris with the school this year in year 8 and we went up the eiffel tower and went to the waxworks and it was great xxx I had a great time and i would love to go again.

  30. grace says:
    October 7th, 2012 at 3:13 am

    thanks this web site is great it really helped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Brittany says:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    That is awesome. im doing a report on paris and this will be an awesome thing to include. (:

  32. Ariana says:
    October 25th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    i like this

  33. a says:
    December 10th, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    hello

  34. jordaN says:
    December 10th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    this should be more detail because it doesnt make any sence at all

  35. haley says:
    February 6th, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    thanks

  36. haley says:
    February 6th, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    i would like to move to paris i love paris its so beautiful now i know why they call it the city of lights

  37. Shawana says:
    February 26th, 2013 at 6:08 am

    I’m going to London, Canterbury, Paris and Edinburgh this summer

  38. bridgette says:
    March 8th, 2013 at 12:09 am

    i need more uuuuuugggggg i really mad i need facts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it would be nice if you put more facts because i need them but otherwise
    great website.

  39. hally says:
    March 10th, 2013 at 12:01 am

    I agree with cassie and myriam. Just because this website doesn’t everything you need, you go complaining. Nowadays there are so many spoilt people, it’s unbelievable. Just because you lot are lazy, don’t take it out on the author. Just go on wikipedia if your really that desperate!!!!
    XD

  40. alyssa says:
    March 21st, 2013 at 2:09 am

    this is not the greatest of sites but i think i was good and i needs more info and maby more intiresting tips….. i think it needs more info more interesting facts on paris thous where very cool facts on paris
    i dont mean to hurt your feeling but thous are my tips if you do them awesome if you dont i dont really care so keep your head high and enjoy life i really hope your happy bye from alyssa (:

  41. Taya M.G.K says:
    May 1st, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I want 2 go to Paris someday!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 :) ;)

  42. Taya M.G.K says:
    May 1st, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I agree with Courtney. But the hotels seem REALLY neat!

  43. gemma nand olivia says:
    June 11th, 2013 at 11:48 am

    hello french people:D

  44. Posiedon says:
    June 17th, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Going to Paris in 2 weeks!

  45. interesting facts says:
    June 27th, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I’ve been in Paris 3 years ago for a trip. I must say its the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
    I’ll surely be going there with my gf (if manage to get :P )

  46. ptr says:
    September 26th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    coolllllll

  47. nick says:
    December 2nd, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    your facts are fun please have more facts

  48. hayley donoghue says:
    February 2nd, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    i wanna go so bad!!!!!B3

  49. esther says:
    April 5th, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Really helpful in getting my humanities homework finished!!!:):):)

    thanks a lot !
    Esther greendyk

  50. ashley says:
    June 11th, 2014 at 9:19 am

    atleast Barbara Diggs took the time and energy to write this… why dont we just appriciate this.. instead of ditching her work… if you really need more facts just find them instead of commenting.. Barbara anyways you did a good job and it helped me.. thank you :D :) :)


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