50 Picturesque Facts about Paris, The City of Love

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1Annual Baguette Contest

Paris holds an annual contest to find the city’s best baguette. Around 200 bakers take part in this contest. Each submits two baguettes (must be eligible) to be graded on quality, look, smell, taste, and crunch. The winner wins €4000 and a contract to supply the French president fresh baguettes every day for 1 year.


2. When Paris fell to the Nazis in 1940, French soldiers cut the elevator cables to the Eiffel Tower. This meant that if the Nazis wanted to hoist a swastika flag, they would have to climb hundreds of stairs to get to the top.


3. Before Paris was liberated from the Nazis, Hitler ordered military governor Dietrich von Choltitzthe to demolish the Eiffel Tower and other major landmarks. He refused this direct order, and surrendered to the Allies instead, saving the tower.


4. Paris, New York, and London have fake buildings on residential streets that hide subway vents and other infrastructure. These are essentially facades with no building behind them.


5. When Paris was under siege from a Viking raid in 886, King Charles III/The Fat didn't bother fighting them. He instead paid them 700 livres (257 kg) of silver to go and raid the then rebelling Burgundy instead.


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6Inside the Paris Catacombs

In 2004 while searching the Paris Catacombs, police discovered a cinema in one of the caverns. It was equipped with a giant screen, seats for the audience, a fully stocked bar, and a complete restaurant. The source of its electrical power and the identity of those responsible remains unknown.


7. "Le Grand K" is a hunk of platinum kept in a vault in Paris, that until recently was the international prototype for a kilogram of weight. A kilogram's weight is now defined based on the laws of the universe so as to avoid a physical object that decays over time.


8. In 1719, prisoners in Paris were allowed to go free, under the condition that they marry prostitutes and go with them to Louisiana. The newly married couples were chained together and taken to the port of embarkation.


9. When Paris was liberated in 1944, British and American commanders wanted only white soldiers to be involved in the leading French unit, despite the French army being only 40% white. All black soldiers were taken out of an available unit and replaced by white ones from other units.


10. During the 1870s Prussian siege of Paris, supplies and food were so dire that after slaughtering all the farm animals and pets, eventually the animals in the zoo were killed. There is even a copy of a restaurant menu from the time that included dishes like elephant consommé and roast camel.


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11Moving Sidewalk

Paris used to have a moving sidewalk around the year 1900. It moved at 6 miles per hour.


12. There is a grocery store named "Thanksgiving" in Paris that sells U.S. "cuisine" like Pop-Tarts, Heinz ketchup, and Skippy peanut butter to homesick ex-pats.


13. Paris has a Counterfeit Museum which displays the most impressive and accurate knock-offs of popular goods that the authorities have confiscated.


14. In 1867, a jar was found in Paris containing a human rib among other artifacts, and a label claiming that they belonged to Joan of Arc. Tests conducted in 2006 revealed that they came not from Joan of Arc, but an Egyptian mummy.


15. It was illegal for women of Paris to wear pants, till February 2013, when France lifted the 200-year-old ban.


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16Teddy Bear Hospital

Sorbonne University in Paris has a “Teddy Bear Hospital” that introduces child patients to the medical field via teddy bears to help overcome their fears, while also training medical students to adapt their explanations of medicine to young patients


17. In 1240, King Louis IX of France put the Jewish Talmud on trial. Four rabbis defended the Talmud, but to no avail. The trial ended with 24 carriage loads of Jewish religious manuscripts being set on fire in the streets of Paris.


18. Lafayette’s grave in Paris is filled with dirt from Massachusetts as he wished to be buried in American soil. Additionally, the flag remained in place during World War 2 because the Nazis never looked behind the private cemetery’s walls.


19. Until 2015, French law prohibited bakers in Paris from taking vacations at the same time, to avoid a bread shortage like the one that helped cause the French Revolution. Bakers meet to decide who would be open in July and who would be open in August.


20. Giant Iron Balls were rolled through Paris' sewers to clear blockages.


21Eternal Flame Extinguished

The eternal flame at Arc de Triomphe in Paris has only been extinguished once: by drunken Mexican football fans who urinated it after the final of the 1998 World Cup when France defeated Brazil.


22. Paris had a pneumatic post system, where you could send your mail through tubes until 1984.


23. Paris Metro trains drive on the right rather than the left and its tunnels are narrower than main-line ones in order to prevent them from being absorbed into the national railway network.


24. During 19th century construction of Paris' underground sewers, workers found lost medieval dungeons, jewels, and the skeleton of an orangutan that had previously escaped from the zoo.


25. The University of Paris existed for 820 years from 1150 AD to 1970, when it was broken up for being the main source of student revolutionaries who nearly overthrew the French government in May 1968.

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