Why is Paris called the City of Light? The City of Love? And why ‘Paris?’

The Earful Tower sometimes get emails with questions about Paris. Sometimes I answer them. Best restaurants? These ones. Best streets to see? These ones. Best podcast? This one.

But I thought I’d let Google’s auto-complete function ask the questions. I typed “Why is Paris” into the search engine, then set about answering the questions that popped up. Some I didn’t know, actually. Now we all know.

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Why is Paris the City of Love?

Well, this is a tough one to answer, but most seem to agree that it’s a mix of the city’s aesthetic beauty, the abundance of romantic restaurants, and the magical settings we’ve seen so many times in movies.

Here’s a deeper investigation into this question.

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Why is Paris called the City of Light?

Two reasons. First, it was among the first European cities to use gas street lamps back in the 1860s, making it literally a City of Light (see pic below). But also because earlier, in the 18th century, Paris was a essentially a hub during the Age of Enlightenment. So literally light, with enlightened minds. Voila.

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Why is Paris so popular?

Paris is indeed hugely popular. One recent study said that with 15 million visitors in 2016, it was the 3rd most-visited city in the world. But why Paris? Let’s see… it could be the food, the history, the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine, the romance, the beautiful language, the home of the artists – past and present, the incredible museums everywhere you look, the fashion, the people watching, the architecture, the podcasts. Who knows?

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Why is Paris called Paris?

The name comes from a Celtic tribe called the Parisii, which was moving and shaking on these shores in the 3rd century BC. Here’s a picture of their currency.

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Why is Paris so dirty?

Good question, Google. There’s no denying that it can be quite filthy, and I’ve often wondered why many Parisians don’t seem to think twice about littering, throwing cigarette butts, or letting their dog shit everywhere. My best answer is because there is a very active army of street cleaners from the City Hall, and I think many Parisians just think “Well, I’m paying my taxes for those guys to clean, so I’ll give them something to do”.

Otherwise, the City Hall is actually very active in keeping the place clean, let’s hope the message spreads. In terms of pollution, Paris is pretty bad too – but they’re working on cutting back on petrol guzzling cars and making more bike lanes.

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Why is Paris the capital of France?

Clovis, the first King of France (well, the first king of the franks), made it his capital in 508 and that’s how it remained.

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Why is Paris getting attacked?

Well, Paris isn’t getting attacked. It was attacked a few times, most notably in 2015. Why? well, that’s a tough one, but this article from The Guardian does a good job of explaining it. One main reason is that the Islamic State specifically singled out France as a target back in 2014.

Why is Paris important?

Historically, enormous contributions to the world have come from Paris, whether we’re talking about culture, medicine, sports…. But more recently, while still making these contributions, Paris is making a huge name for itself with its multi-national companies, international organizations like Unesco, and hosting skills for things like the Climate Change Conference in 2015. And let’s not forget the 2024 Olympics on the horizon…

Why is Paris called Paname?

Here’s one that past guest Amber Minogue answered on the show way better than I ever could (listen below). But in short, it’s because workers from the Panama Canal came back to France wearing Panama hats… and the name stuck.

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2 thoughts on “Why is Paris called the City of Light? The City of Love? And why ‘Paris?’

  1. LOL so sad that when you ask people in Paris (or in France) why they throw things in the street instead of into bins, their only answer is “Well, without litter, the cleaners wouldn’t have a job”. Clever isn’t it? I am dreaming that one day we will have the same system as Switzerland has: when you throw something in the street, you get heavily fined. Period. Have you already been in the streets of Zurich? The town itself shows how efficient this measure is. But above all, I am deeply convinced that this is only a question of education. After all, the French are those who led the Revolution, aren’t they?

    1. Ha! Yes, I’ve been to lovely Zurich, and it sure was clean. There are supposed to be fines for littering in Paris, and for throwing cigarettes, but I don’t really think it’s enforced 🙁 Maybe, with time, it will turn around…

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