Paris, France, is renowned for art and design, high fashion, and, of course, the cafe culture. The city has played an important role throughout history and continues to be relevant to world events today. No wonder, then, that it’s the most visited city in the world. Everyone wants to visit the ‘city of lights.’

But how did it earn this nickname? We give you 5 reasons why Paris is known as the City of Lights.

Historical Enlightenment

Walk down the street of Paris, and you journey through history. Paris has been the site of many historically significant events over time. It even played a major role in the World Wars. It was bombarded during World War I, and during World War II, Nazi troops occupied it.

However, the occupying forces of the Second World War soon realized that the French were prepared to fight back. And so the French Resistance was born. The French Resistance was instrumental in facilitating Allied forces advancing through French territories after the Normandy Invasion.

Today, a trip to Paris or Normandy is still popular amongst WWII history buffs. Thanks to the wealth of historical tours, these important moments in history will never be forgotten. And neither will the courage and bravery of the Resistance fighters who shone their light against the darkness of tyranny.

The Eiffel Tower at Night

If asked to picture Paris in your mind, what image do you see? More than likely, it’s the wrought-iron lattice tower known as the Eiffel Tower. The tower was built for the International Exposition in 1889 and served as a testament to French industrial ingenuity.

Even today, it is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. But if you think the Eiffel Tower, looming large over Paris, is an impressive sight during the day, just wait until you see it at night! At dusk, the iconic towering structure is lit up by thousands of twinkling lights.


It’s not quite the Northern Lights, but the sight of the Eiffel Tower lit up against the night sky is almost as breathtaking. A trip to Paris isn’t complete without a peek at the Tower all lit up at night. The Eiffel Tower is also the ideal location for a view of the Parisian sunset.

The tower is open to visitors from 9:30 am to 11:45 pm. (Be aware that adverse weather may affect these times) You must purchase tickets to travel to the top, but it’s worth it for those panoramic city views.

A Light to the World

When French history is discussed, the conversation often revolves around the times of Robespierre and the French Revolution, which introduced the modern concept of democracy. Paris played a central role in these uprisings, and the storming of its Bastille is still remembered to this day.

Every year, on the 14th of July, Paris puts on a spectacular fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower to commemorate it. But these days, Paris facilitates change mostly by hosting many international events. And we’re not just talking about events like Paris Fashion Week.

Paris is home to several international organizations. United Nations Education Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Federation for Human Rights, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are a few examples.

Cultural and Artistic Brilliance

Many famous artists hailed from Paris, like Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet. The world’s largest and most visited museum, the Louvre, is a testament to the city’s artistic heritage. But Paris’ light has not faded with time.


There’s always something going on in this light-filled city. In modern times, Paris is a beacon of light for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. It is booming with start-ups, particularly those in the tech sector. With innovation, Paris will always be a part of the story.

Pioneers of Urban Lighting

The above points are all good reasons for calling Paris the city of lights. But the true reason is far more literal. Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt urban street lighting, and this quickly earned them the nickname ‘Ville Lumière’ (city of light).

Like other cities across the world, they used gas lamps at first, in the early 1800s. But by 1878, they switched to electric arc lamps known as Yablochkov candles for street-side illumination. In time, more modern electric street lamps replaced these two.

Parisian street lamps from days of old were very ornate, and many of Paris’s beautiful old street lamp posts are still in use today. Visitors to the city often take pictures of themselves posing near these iconic lampposts. These vintage lamps are also highly sought after by collectors.