We all know about the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but what about some of the more bizarre and random facts about Paris? We have compiled a list of the ones that we find the most interesting and have made sure that they are kid-friendly (don’t worry, no guillotines and skeletal catacombs involved!) so you can share them with your children to get them excited about a trip to Paris or just to increase their collection of random facts (who knows, these might come in handy for QuizBowl or Jeopardy someday). Here are our top 10 kid-friendly fun facts about Paris:
10. Someone has the job of being the city’s official tree-counter (we are both impressed by the dedication and horrified by how boring that must be). The latest official count stated that the city is home to 470,000 trees.
9. The first human to be captured on film was on the streets of Paris, of a man on Boulevard du Temple, captured by Louis Daguerre in 1838. The man in the photo was… *drum roll* …shining his shoes. While not the most exciting photo (he can only be barely made out in the lower left corner of the photo), this was because the daguerreotype camera used could not capture moving figures, and as a result they would not show up on developed film. The shoe-shining man coincidentally happened to be standing still long enough to be immortalized on film.
8. The Pont des Arts (commonly known as the Love Locks Bridge, or the Bridge of Love) no longer has any locks on it. The city removed all the locks on the bridge after determining that the weight was causing the structural integrity of the bridge to deteriorate. 1 million locks were removed (which collectively weighed a staggering 45 tons!) and were replaced by glass panels so there was no longer any way to hang locks. Tourists and lovers now hang locks wherever they can.
7. Paris did not receive the nickname “City of Lights” for the Eiffel Tower’s twinkly lights, nor as a reference to the city’s reputation for romance. “City of Lights” was born out of the fact that Paris was one of the first cities to install streetlights. That’s certainly a much less exciting reason, but it’s OK, we’ll keep pretending that it’s because romance is in the air too.
6. Apparently, there are more dogs than children in Paris. We’re a little flabbergasted too.
5. The French Army is the only European army to still use carrier pigeons. These pigeons are kept just outside of Paris and are trained to deliver messages in case of an emergency.
4. There is an unwritten law stating that every city in France must have a road named after Victor Hugo, a French author whose notable works include Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The one in Paris is located in the 16th arrondissement, where he lived.
3. Parisian (and French) police are sometimes referred to as “chickens”. This is because the police headquarters were vandalized and burnt down along with a lot of other buildings during the riots of the Commune in 1871, and Jules Ferry, the mayor at the time, sent the police to City station on the Ile de la Cité, which was built over the site where the poultry market used to take place. Yeah, the nickname isn’t exactly subtle, but you might find it difficult to keep a straight face the next time you see Parisian police gliding around on their infamous roller-skates.
2. A crocodile was once found in Paris. City cleaners reported seeing an animal swimming in the sewers, and when firemen were dispatched to investigate, they found that it was a one-meter long crocodile from the Nile! Now that is definitely a long swim. This little crocodile now resides in the Vannes aquarium in Brittany.
1. Paris holds the world record for having the fewest number of stop signs. That number is…drumroll, please… One. Actually, it’s now zero. Kind of hard to beat, no? The (very lonely) stop sign was originally located in the 16th arrondissement next to the exit of a building company and has since been replaced with a “no left turns” sign. Not to worry though, Paris has a “priority to the right” rule, which alleviated much of the need for stop signs.