Things you didn't know about Paris monuments

Paris’s skyline is littered with iconic monuments and silhouettes that make it one of the most inspiring horizons in the world. You only need to wander the streets of the City of Lights to appreciate the variety of architectural styles and capture the stories of Paris’ past embodied in the city’s monuments. We wanted to dig down a little further and learn about Paris’ best monuments – and see if there’s something we didn’t know. Turns out there are a few fun facts! Arc de Triomphe

  • The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon who wanted to honour his Grande Armee who had conquered half of Europe
  • Napoleon wanted his victorious army “return home through the arches of triumph”
  • At the time, the Arc de Triomphe cost 9.3 million Francs; a huge amount of money!
  • Napoleon didn’t survive to witness the completion of his arch, as it was finished in 1836
  • Before it was constructed, the space in which it sits was almost home to a giant three-storey elephant, accessible through a spiral staircase into its belly, and where the furniture would fold into the walls. Unsurprisingly planning permission was denied...
  • The Arc de Triomphe was the largest triumphal arch in the world up to 1982 when North Korea deliberately built one higher
  • You can see Charles Godefroy’s daring flight under the arch, in 1919, now on YouTube
Eiffel Tower
  • As one of Paris’ most visited attractions – it averages around 7 million visitors a year
  • There are 1,665 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower but most people prefer to take the lift
  • The lifts, combined, travel a distance of two and a half times the circumference of the earth (about 103,000km) each year
  • Gustave Eiffel, engineer and architect, also designed the interior elements of the Empire State Building in New York
  • The Eiffel Tower isn’t svelte – she weighs 10,100 tonnes and needs 60 tonnes of paint every 7 years
  • The Eiffel Tower was part of one of the world’s largest advertising campaigns as Citroen used the tower to illuminate its name across it from 1925 – 1934 with 250,000 light bulbs
  • If you look at the base of the tower you can see 72 names engraved of France’s most prominent scientists, engineers and notables
Les Invalides
  • Built in 1670, under the reign of Louis XIV, it is now considered one of the finest examples of French classical architecture
  • The building was funded by a five year levy of soldier's salaries in the army at the time – ironic, seeing as the church was built as a military hospital
  • After the storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789, all the 28,000 weapons were stored in Les Invalides
  • Les Invalides houses Napoleon’s dead body in the cupola in St Jerome’s chapel
  • The large church covers an area of 13 hectares and is now home to Musée de l'Armée, Musée des Plans-Reliefs, Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération and L'Eglise de St-Louis-des-Invalides
  • The gold dome on the top, which makes the building one of Paris’ most iconic, was to symbolise the King of the Sun
Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Notre Dame, which translates to Our Lady displays around 37 representations of the Virgin Mary
  • As a place of huge significance and importance, the cathedral has hosted many important cultural and social events over the centuries, including the marriage of King Henry IV to Marguerite de Valois in 1572 and the coronation of Emperor Napoleon I by Pope Pius VII in 1804 to name a few
  • The Île de la Cité, where Notre Dame sits, dates back to 2 BC andthe Parisi Gauls; it also has links to Julius Caesar in 52 BC when he invaded
  • The gargoyles and chimera that decorate the exterior of the cathedral were originally water spouts and irrigation systems
  • In 1806 the Crown of Thorns were transferred from Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame’s neighbour, to the cathedral where now it can be seen every first Friday of the month
The Paris Pass is your key to enjoying the city with ease, while saving time and money. With free entry into over 60 attractions, including Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe, you can even skip the lines at the most popular.
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