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    22 Cool Paris Facts Most People Go Their Whole Life Without Knowing

    There's more to the City of Lights than the Eiffel Tower and cheese.

    1. Paris has its own Statue of Liberty.

    Statue Of Liberty Replica Against Cloudy Sky
    Dirk Butenschön / Getty Images

    The Statue of Liberty might have been gifted to the US from France in 1886, but a few years later, the American community in Paris gave the French a quarter-scale replica, which now sits on a man-made island in the Seine.

    The city also has a Flame of Liberty — a full-sized replica of the flame from the original Statue of Liberty — that has evolved into a shrine for Princess Diana, who was killed in car crash in the nearby Alma bridge tunnel.

    2. When the Eiffel Tower was first being constructed, Parisians despised it — and some still do.

    Eiffel Tower at sunset
    Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

    It’s hard to imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower, but when it was first being built (for the World’s Fair in 1889), many Parisians were vehemently opposed to the tower — including renowned writers and artists. Insults for the design and structure included: "this truly tragic lamppost," "this belfry skeleton," and "this mast of iron gymnasium apparatus, incomplete, confused, and deformed.” Ouch. Even today, many Parisians find the Eiffel Tower to be a scar on the city's otherwise beautiful architecture.

    3. Paris retains an army of carrier pigeons.

    4. There’s an annual competition to determine the best baguette in Paris. And, as you'd imagine, it's serious business.

    5. Paris is broken up into 20 arrondissements (or neighborhoods) that are numbered to resemble the spiral of a snail shell.

    6. The city's first café has been in business 90 years longer than the US has been a country.

    Prisma By Dukas / Getty Images

    The oldest café in Paris Le Procope opened in 1686, almost a century before the US was founded in 1776.

    7. Built in the 17th century, one of the city's oldest buildings is now home to a (delicious) Vietnamese restaurant.

    8. There are 14 cemeteries in Paris, including one that houses the tomb of Jim Morrison and another that’s home to a horde of stray cats.

    9. The city has two natural islands (and several artificial ones).

    10. Every summer, the city hauls in tons of sand and palm trees and brings the beach to Paris.

    11. The quality of water in France is top-notch and you’ll find free sparkling water fountains throughout Paris.

    12. Some people who visit Paris suffer from Paris Syndrome: a feeling of disappointment that the city wasn’t what they expected.

    Gargoyles atop Notre-Dame Cathedral
    Vw Pics / VW PICS/Universal Images Group / Getty Images

    Paris is so hyped up (romance! wine! art! cobblestones!) that some visitors leave their Paris vacation feeling disappointed. The effect is so common that it’s been given a name: Paris Syndrome. According to the Atlantic, in the summer of 2011, at least 20 people fell victim to this particular ailment.

    13. Below the streets of Paris is a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels that house the bodies of over 6 million people.

    Skulls and bones in an underground cavern
    Frédéric Soltan / Getty Images

    When overflowing Paris cemeteries were tied to public health issues in the late 18th century, bodies were taken from their aboveground resting places at night and dropped into quarries. Workers then distributed the piles of bones and bodies in a network of deep, underground galleries. Not exactly what you imagine when you think of romantic Parieee.

    And a portion of this eerie world, the Paris Catacombs, is open to the public: You can descend 65 feet (20 meters) below the Earth’s surface and wander through a mile-long section of the maze of skulls and femur bones for yourself...if you're into that sort of thing.

    14. But, only a select few know how to access the full 170+ miles of underground tunnels and chambers beyond the Catacombs.

    15. These same tunnels also connect to bomb shelters that were used as protection during World War II.

    16. Many Parisians take a monthlong vacation in August, leaving the city empty.

    17. Some of the city’s metro stations are elaborately decorated, including one that feels like the inside of a submarine.

    18. And some have metro entrances that look like they're crawling with snakes (at least to me).

    19. A deserted railway line circles Paris, much of which is overgrown with plants and closed to the public.

    20. The first known photo featuring people was shot in Paris in 1838.

    Old photo of a tree-lined Paris street
    Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty

    The earliest photograph ever was taken in the French region of Burgundy in 1826, but the first pic featuring a human was snapped years later in Paris by Louis Daguerre. It features Boulevard du Temple and a person having their shoes shined (look closely in the bottom left corner).

    21. If you tried to see every piece of art in the Louvre, Paris's most famous museum, it would take you around eight months.

    The beautiful, old Louvre Museum building and a glass pyramid in the courtyard
    Chesnot / Getty Images

    Musée du Louvre spans 73,000 square meters (over 785,000 square feet) and houses around 35,000 artworks. If you looked at each of these pieces for 30 seconds, you'd be there for roughly 200 (!!) days. It's also the most visited museum in the world: 10.2 million people stopped by in 2018 alone.

    22. And finally, Leonardo da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa painting was once stolen from the Louvre — and it took over a day for anyone to notice it was missing.

    Person hanging the Mona Lisa painting on a wall
    Getty Images

    Leonardo da Vinci was born and raised in Italy but died in France, and both countries claim the artist as their own. His most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, was put on display in the Lourve in 1804, but was later stolen by Italian national Vincenzo Peruggia in 1911. Peruggia dressed up like an employee and took the painting off the wall when no one was looking. He was caught two years later and the Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre, further fueling the two countries' feud over the artist.

    Any interesting facts about Paris I missed? Chime in below!

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