Paris is one of the most visited cities in Europe, but most people are totally oblivious to the cool, quirky facts that help make it such an amazing city. Did you know that there’s a whole host of mystery beneath Paris’ surface? Above ground it’s the city of love and light, but delve a little deeper and you’ll find out about its enormous, secret underground world that only those in-the-know are aware of. Before setting off on your next trip to the French capital, discover these cool facts that you didn’t know before.
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1. TO SEE EVERY PIECE OF ARTWORK IN THE LOUVRE (SPENDING JUST 30 SECONDS AT EACH), YOU’D BE THERE FOR 35 DAYS STRAIGHT
The Louvre is the most popular museum in the world with around 9 million people visiting each year, but I wonder how many people have actually seen it ALL if it takes this long…
2. A CROCODILE WAS FOUND SWIMMING AROUND THE CITY’S SEWER SYSTEM
Back in 1984, Paris sewer workers were greeted with a surprise - a small 80cm crocodile from the Nile. It had been roaming the sewer system for a month or two and surviving on rats, before firefighters caught it and gave it to an aquarium in Vannes where it still lives today.
3. YOU CAN VISIT PARIS’ GHOSTLY UNDERGROUND METRO NETWORK
Like feeling a little creeped out? Many of the city’s metro stations were closed off in 1939 when France entered World War 2, and they’ve been shut ever since. The Croix-Rouge stop in the Latin Quarter is the most well-known of the abandoned group, but it’s actually illegal to visit them apart from when a few open up to the public for Annual Heritage Days.
4. THE NOTRE-DAME IS THE MOST VISITED MONUMENT IN PARIS
Not the Eiffel Tower?! Quelle surprise.
5. THERE’S AN UNDERGROUND LAKE BENEATH THE PARIS OPERA HOUSE
People call it a lake, but it’s really a large water tank… Still, it’s super eerie and is what inspired the Phantom of the Opera’s lair by Gaston Leroux. Sadly the lake isn’t open to the public - only firefighters use it to practice swimming in the dark.
6. THERE SEEMS TO BE ALMOST AS MUCH GOING ON UNDERNEATH PARIS AS THERE IS IN THE OPEN-AIR!
Underground Paris stretches further than just the abandoned metro, underground lake and the Catacombs… Authorities have found a theatre, projection room, chairs and even a bar and popcorn machine. It’s not all as friendly as this might seem, Parisians know of it as the ‘darker’ side of the city - they wouldn’t go snooping so neither should you.
7. IT HOLDS THE WORLD RECORD FOR THE LEAST AMOUNT OF STOP SIGNS
And the magic number is 0. There used to be one (yup, just one), but at some point between May 2012 and September 2014 it disappeared and no one knows who did it...
8. PARIS HAS THE MOST LIBRARIES IN THE WORLD
There are 830 libraries around the city. Shakespeare and Company is a real favourite - just look how pretty it is. The city's oldest, grandest and most beautiful library is Bibliothèque Mazarine, visit it soon before it turns into another tourist hotspot!
9. THE SHORTEST ROAD IN PARIS IS JUST 5.75 METRES LONG
The little Rue des Degrés can be found in the 2nd arrondissement.
10. THE ARRONDISSEMENTS HAVE NAMES, NOT JUST NUMBERS
Most of us know them as a simple number, but did you know that they all do have names? For example, the 1st arrondissement is the ‘Louvre’, the 8th is ‘Elysee’... You get the jist.
11. THE CITY OF LIGHT HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN CALLED PARIS
It was formerly called Lutetia until 360 AD when it took on it’s tribe name: Parisii.
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