France boasts many dream holiday destinations but its capital city stands out as the most idyllic. Paris is one of the most famous cities in the world: it’s the epitome of a romantic setting. France’s capital city features a huge range of incredible attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe. The city has been the host of some of the greatest acts of all-time, inspires trends across the world of fashion in its image or as its home, while also creating trends in pop-culture and media. The iconic city is also utilized as the perfect base for other adventures, such as road trips.
However, some of the greatest sights and aspects of Paris are not as well-known as these great landmarks and don’t necessarily tie into pop-culture as frequently. These hidden gems reveal a great deal about Paris’ culture and deserve to rank as some of the most interesting aspects of the tourism magnet.
Arago’s Invisible Monument
Paris, and France as a whole, boasts many great minds throughout its history. Some debate that its nickname, ‘City of Lights’, derives from Paris hosting so many phenomenal minds. One such great is astronomer Francois Arago, who, in the early 19th Century, founded a global meridian line. The meridian line cut through Paris and was considered by many astronomers of the time to be the dividing line of the globe. However, as explained by Slate, a conference in 1884 decided that Greenwich’s meridian line would be deemed the prime meridian line. Regardless, Jan Dibbets, a Dutch artist, immortalized Arago’s work with 135 bronze medallions embedded in Paris’ streets along Arago’s meridian line. The invisible monument to Arago stretches for over five miles.
The Headless Statues
There are many sculptures around Paris but some of the most intriguing are those that feature a decapitated man. Stranger still, the decapitated man will often be holding his own head. The unfortunate chap is Saint-Denis and can be seen on the front of Notre Dame. Saint-Denis is the patron saint of France and was the first bishop of Paris. Paris was a Roman-ruled city in the third century when Saint-Denis was around. He was beheaded by the Romans for refusing to denounce Christianity. But the legend also states that, after the beheading, Saint-Denis picked up his head, walked six kilometers and died in an area that is now a commune bearing his name. This seemingly kicked off a new trend in Paris as the guillotine took a further 2000 heads over the ensuing 1500 years.
Paris’ Classic Game Invention
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As discussed, Paris has been home to many great minds over the centuries so it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular games of all-time began in Paris’ Palais Royal. The game of roulette was born in France, with the game’s name meaning ‘little wheel.’ As found by Betway, La Roulette, ou le Jour, a book by Jaques Lablee, is the earliest record of the game being played, which was in the 18th Century at Palais Royal. It was said to have come from a combination of wheel games from England as well as favored Georgian-era games, such as Even-Odd and Reiner. The game since evolved into a few different forms but the European and French variations are, by far, the most popular and found throughout casinos in Paris.
World Leader in Urban Beekeeping
A little-known fact about Paris: the city is a world leader when it comes to urban beekeeping. Across the world, a crisis has arisen concerning the survival of bees, but, in Paris, they are thriving. Paris has a deep connection with the conservation and support of the important pollinators; you can even see beehives set up on rooftops throughout the city. But one of the most spectacular locations for the bees and enthusiasts is within the famous Jardin du Luxembourg. Classic City Bee blog details the Jardin du Luxembourg apiary, which has housed beehives for over 160 years and produces some truly delicious honey. Paris is a huge city, with images of architectural achievements often springing to mind when it is mentioned, so its connection to nature with its gardens, parks, and beehives comes as a wonderful surprise.
The Lights of Paris
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There are two theories behind the alias of ‘City of Lights’ for Paris: the city has hosted many great thinkers; the city’s streets are brightly illuminated every night. Both arguments have substantial backing but walking around the streets of Paris certainly gives support to the latter. But it’s not just that the streets are well-lit as Paris boasts a huge range of different lights which adds to the differing character of each street. From elaborate lamp posts to modern eco-friendly and simple designs, those who explore Paris will notice a huge range of lights if they look up.
Paris is steeped in history and, while the gigantic attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame often catch the eye, it’s the intricacies of the city’s history which add another level of charm. So, be sure to look out for these incredible sights and experiences when in the French