Definitely not one of my favorite cities, Paris is nonetheless in the hearts and minds of many of you. Perhaps my reluctance to embrace this city started in the 70s, when France and Paris specifically, were very anti-American due to the deGaulle years. Yes, it has become infinitely better over the years, though I find a kindler, gentler France when I head out to the countryside. Places like Loire, Bordeaux, and Champagne are certainly more welcoming than Paris.
So, why not take a rather irreverent look at the City of Lights?
Over 9 million people visit the Louvre annually, making it the most popular museum in the world. Only 35,000 pieces are on display, though their collection numbers over 460,000. If you allowed 30 seconds to view each piece, your visit would last 35 days!
The Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1889 and meant to be a temporary monument. Parisians called it a “useless monstrosity.” A mere 1665 steps get you to the top unless you take the elevator.
If you are a fan of the Bourne Trilogy, you remember Jason’s ill-fated meeting with the CIA at the Pont Neuf (New Bridge). It was one of the first stone bridges with pedestrian sidewalks.
Love-lock bridge, aka Pont des Artes no longer exists. Over one million locks weighing over 45 tons, had to be removed to prevent structural damage. Did any of you place a lock there?
Over 400 Metro stations in Paris, but 14 have never been used or now abandoned. Some are rented out by film production companies.
The French army was the first to use camouflage, which comes from the French verb “to make up for the stage.” The army began wearing camouflage in 1915 during World War I. Leave it to the French to stay fashion forward!
Every year since 1994, Le Grand Prix de la Baguette takes place: a competition that relies on a jury of baking pros and six randomly chosen Parisians to determine the city’s best baguette. These lucky bread lovers get to eat baguettes all day long — judging each loaf for taste, texture, smell, and aesthetics — and the winning boulangerie (bakery) gets a line around the block and national notoriety.
Starting with the first arrondissement, which is found in the center of the city near the Seine River (and houses the Louvre), the arrondissements are numbered in a clockwise spiral. If you zoom out, the placement of arrondissements resembles the swirl of a snail shell, which just so happens to be one of the foods associated with the French. And I just love escargot!
There are a total of 14 cemeteries in Paris. One houses the tomb of Jim Morrison. Another is home to a horde of stray cats.
Every summer, the city hauls in tons of sand and palm trees to make Paris feel like the beach.
Paris has free sparkling water fountains.
There’s an unwritten law that states that every city in France must have a road named after Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables. Paris’ Avenue Victor-Hugo can be found in the 16th arrondissement, and is also where the novelist lived.
The famous “Bloody Mary” cocktail originated in Paris at the Ritz Hotel, by who other than famed novelist Ernest Hemingway himself! Legend says that the popular drink was the result of Hemingway’s request for a drink that didn’t smell like alcohol, so he was given vodka mixed with tomato juice.
The first photo ever taken of a person was taken on a street in Paris by Louis Daguerre. By today’s standards it isn’t great quality, but it paved the way for people like me to do what I do! We studied Dabuerre in my photography class.
If you love cheese like I do, head to Paris. They have over 1000 distinct types of cheese.
Paris has over 500 km of bike lanes, a new destination for cyclists. I cycled on my last trip to Paris, on regular streets. the bike lanes are most welcome.
There is a phenomenon called “The Paris Syndrome”. Most common amongst Japanese tourists, The Paris Syndrome comes as a result of the media’s depiction of Paris as a world-class fashion destination with endless natural beauty. Upon arrival in Paris, these visitors feel super disappointed by the false image they’ve been fed. I assume it is better than the Stockholm Syndrome?
There are more dogs in Paris than children.
So, almost time to take the Metro to Roland Garros.
French is the second most studied language in the world, after English of course.