Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, welcoming approximately 16 million annual visitors. For many travelling to the City of Light, it isn’t their first visit, but whether it’s your second or fifty-second trip, Paris has so much to offer and there’s always something new to discover.
Get off the beaten track in Paris to discover some less well-known attractions…
Five hidden delights in Paris
Paris’ Zero Point: Also known as ‘Kilometre Zero’, this is the point from which all road distances in France were measured, and can be found tucked into the cobbles outside Notre Dame Cathedral.
A cannonball in a wall: In the wall of the Hotel des Sens, on rue du Figuier, is a reminder of three days of revolution in July 1830, and when the cannonball lodged there, on 28th May, it was decided to leave it in place, and erect a plaque with the date it struck. Definitely an oddity, in such a picturesque medieval building!
Site of Abelard and Heloise’s house: Surely one of the greatest romances in history, the couple met and fell in love in Paris, and stayed in a house in the shadow of Notre Dame.
‘Paris Ends Here’ plaque: In 1726, in an attempt to limit development in the city, King Louis XV established 294 plaques, saying, essentially that yes, Paris Ends Here. Spoiler alert – no it doesn’t.
Nicolas Flamel’s house: Now slightly more famous due to Harry Potter than ‘pure’ history – and for those who aren’t HP aficionados – Nicolas Flamel made an appearance in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. The house is a restaurant now and even has a ‘Harry Potter menu’. This buliding, dating back to 1407, at 51 rue de Montmorency, is the oldest stone house in the city. Regardless of how history subsequently painted the legendary Flamel, the real man lived here in Paris, working as a scribe and manuscript seller. As an additional piece of trivia, a street named for him, rue Nicolas Flamel near the Louvre, intersects with the rue Pernelle, named for his wife, who he married in 1368.
By Jennifer Wilson, author of Kindred Spirits: Tower of London