If you’re planning a trip to Paris with the kids, it’s helpful to learn a little about the history, culture, and facts about the country.
Here are our 10 fun Paris facts for kids:
- The Namesake of Paris – The capitol city was named after the tribe of Parisii, who settled on the Ile de la Cité between 250 and 200 B.C.
- Eiffel Tower – This landmark structure was only supposed to be a temporary exhibit. The winner of a contest for best design, la Tour Eiffel was erected as an entrance to the 1889 Paris Exhibit and expected to stand for only 20 years. The construction designer Eiffel suggested its continued use as a military radio tower, and the tower was fitted with a permanent base in 1906.
- Paris emblems –Three main emblems in France are the cockerel (le coq), considered a courageous fighter; the stylized lily or iris (la fleur-de-lis); and Marianne, the nation’s symbol of freedom (her profile is on coins, stamps, and the official seal).
- Bastille Day – A national holiday held on July 14th, Bastille Day (Le Fête Nationale) celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution. On July 14th, 1789, peasants, fueled by anger over unfair treatment, stormed the prison, released prisoners, and seized weapons. Bastille Day celebrations include a huge Paris parade and fireworks displays across the country.
- Le Musée du Louvre – One of the most visited museums in the world, it was first built as a castle in 1190 to prevent enemy attacks. In 1535, the existing Louvre was built after demolition of the original building. In 1985, the glass pyramid was erected as an entrance to the famed museum and art gallery.
- The Mona Lisa – The famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, La Joconde was bought in 1519 by the French government. Considered the most valuable painting in the world, the Mona Lisa is housed in the Louvre.
- L’Arc de Triomphe – This huge, ornamental monument was built to honor soldiers, and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior lies beneath the arch. The monument sits in the center of a well-known roundabout, nicknamed the star because twelve incoming roads resemble the points of a star.
- “Name Day” Celebrations – Le jour de fête celebrates a saint every day of the year. If your name is the same as the day’s celebrated saint, it’s your name day! You receive presents and best wishes, just like you would on your birthday.
- Wedding Dress Tradition – Wearing a white wedding dress is a tradition originated in France. In 1499, Anne of Brittany is thought to be the first bride to wear a white gown for her marriage to Louis XII. In 1558, Mary Queen of Scots also wore a white gown.
- Christmas Traditions – Christmas starts with a huge, family dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve (Le Réveillon de Noël). The tradition is that Father Christmas (Père Noël) leaves gifts by the tree and goodies in children’s shoes left in front of the fireplace.
There are obviously more interesting things to learn about Paris. What are your favorite Paris facts for kids?