Today was another day of our tour of ‘Paris by Gilbert’. Each day, he gives us a name of a street in Paris where we have to meet him, and in order to know where we meet him exactly, we have to navigate our maps of Paris and find it ourselves. I like this way of doing things. Today we met him at the ‘Arenes de Lutèce’, in the 5th. And so starts the 27th of August edition of ‘what I learned today…’
1) Lutèce, or in English, Lutetia (sp?) was the original name for Paris given by the Romans. The name Paris came after in 212 a.d., from a Celtic tribe named Parisii. The Arenes de Lutèce, (Lutetian Arenas) where we met this morning dated back to 1st century a.d.! C’est fou! (crazy).
2) The building that now houses the Mayor of Paris, l’Hotel de Ville in the 1st arrondissement, is actually a fake! Fake, as in, replica of the original that was destroyed sometime in the 1800’s during a civil war. Actually, not many Parisians know this, and go on thinking that it’s the original building that’s centuries old!
3) The Marais (pronounced Muh-ray) district is the name of the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. Marais in French means marsh, and during the beginnings of the city, the Marais was actually an inhabitable marsh that was drained and made livable. For the most part, all traces of this marsh are gone now, except for the fact that there is no actual Metro station in the 3rd - the ground just can’t support it.
4) For those of you who aren’t familiar with Monmartre, it is home to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful, almost fake looking white basilica that is also the highest point in Paris. Have you ever wondered where the name came from? During the 3rd century a.d., Paris’ first bishop, St. Denis, was decapitated on the hill that is now Monmartre. It was then named Mons Martis, meaning Martyr’s Hill, or Monmartre!
O god, I can’t get enough of this stuff. As soon as the library by me reopens (Sept. 1), I am going and checking out books on the history of Paris. It is really fascinating me now more than ever because I am surrounded by it.
We learned all of this on our tour via the Batobus, the water bus on the Seine that one can take and get on and off at one’s leisure.
Oh! I also got my French portable (cellphone) today! Unfortunately, that’s only for local calls, but it makes communicating within the group much easier.
Until tomorrow, when I hopefully learn more juicy tidbits of information that I can then relay back to you!
Thank you so much for reading, hope you’re enjoying it!