It’s fair to say that most foreigners know a thing or two about Paris, the most visited and arguably the most revered city in the world. They know that it’s nicknamed the City of Love (for good reason), that Marie-Antoinette wanted to feed cake to the poor to appease them (taste an éclair here and you may have agreed with her) and that many Parisians think the Eiffel Tower is the ugliest monstrosity mankind ever made. They got a bit too fussy there. Yet there are actually many more fun facts about the stunning French capital that you probably have never even heard about. To be honest, we’re not even sure about the veracity of some of them but hey, mondieu, life is too short to doubt! Here are seven totally fun facts and fables about Paris we think you ought to know:
1) In Japanese culture, there is something known as ‘Paris Syndrome’, whereby sufferers have to be counselled on their return home from what is often a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris. The malaise comes from the allegedly devastating realization that Paris is not what they expected and is not, in actual fact, perfection personified. Sufferers are usually diagnosed with acute depression and shock. Perhaps high-expectation-syndrome would be more appropriate?
2) Famed French writer Guy de Maupassant detested the sight of the Eiffel Tower so much he resorted to eating all his meals right under it each day for years on end. He lamented it was the only place in the whole city where he could enjoy his food without having to see the tower. Can’t quite decide if this was crazy or pure genius...
3) For over seven decades an apartment in Paris was left abandoned and unoccupied, yet the rent was always dutifully paid by an elderly lady who left Paris during the war and never returned. Upon her death, the heirs of her estate finally got access to the apartment. Inside, among dusty and aged furniture, they found a painting by Giovanni Boldini worth €2 million. We can all safely assume they did not suffer any kind of depression at the discovery!
4) There are almost 6 million people buried underneath the streets of Paris, in the city’s catacombs. The tunnels are so extensive, that legend has it a doorkeeper who went inside on his own (probably looking for hidden alcohol) in the late 1700s, never re-emerged. His body was found a decade later and a tomb was built on the site where he perished.
5) It is certainly common knowledge that life for pigs during medieval times was not an easy affair, however for a particularly foolish porky it proved fatal. In 1396 a wayward pig was charged with murder in Paris after it attacked and killed a child. Said pig was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and even stood trial before being duly hung.
6) Another fact which may make those overly-sensitive Parisians cringe with despair, states that the Disneyland Paris amusement park receives more visitors every year than both the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre combined. Oops...
7) Just before the Germans stormed into Paris during WWII, all the valuable contents of the Louvre were removed and given into the care of the city’s richest residents. Yes, every single one was returned after the Allied Liberation of the city.
Image: Tristan Nitot