Of course, it’s the sparkling Eiffel Tower that’s to blame for the misinterpretation behind the famous nickname, ‘City of Lights’. The monument shines like a beacon each night with 40km of illuminated garlands made up of 20,000 light bulbs.
The Champs-Elysées is also all aglow, especially during Christmas time. The world’s most romantic boulevard lights up during the festive season with over 2.4km of lights stretching from the Place de la Concorde right down to the Arc de Triomphe. It’s made even brighter with its 450 decorated trees along the avenue and on the pavement.
However, putting the street lighting aside, Paris’ reputation as the ‘City of Lights’ is actually due to its historical legacy. It used to be dubbed ‘La Ville-Lumière’, because Paris was the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment and was known as a centre of education and ideas throughout the whole of Europe. The city inspired poets and philosophers, engineers and scientists galore. For example, did you know that the stethoscope, hairdryer and the calculator are just some of the wonders invented by the hands of the French?
Of course, the fact that Paris adopted street lighting much earlier than other cities probably did help the nickname of ‘City of Lights’ stick. But it’s less to do with wattage and more to do intellectual prowess.
So, the next time you find yourself marvelling in front of the façade of Galeries Lafayette on the Grands Boulevards, whose 2,000 square metres of lights inspire awe during the festive season, with some 250,000 light bulbs, remember that the legacy of Paris is much more than just sparkle and shine.