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Visiting France

RFI reveals hidden Paris

media A statue at Paris's Cité universitaire Tony Cross

In a series starting this week, RFI’s English-language website will be revealing some of the secrets of the City of Light. Hidden Paris will take you to places that are mentioned in only the quirkiest of guidebooks and look at moments in the city’s history that some people would rather forget.

About 30 million tourists visit Paris in a year. But do they know that the Place de Clichy is a centre for foreign-born transsexuals, that some of the city’s bars used to be perfectly

Interactive map of France

legal luxury brothels or that traces of mediaeval alchemists can still be seen on many of the city’s monuments?

 
Do they visit the particle accelerator under the Louvre, the gardens hidden behind the elegant facades of Haussmanien buildings or the hot water bottle museum?
 
When they walk down the rue Toullier are they aware that Carlos the Jackal shot one of his comrades there? That Moroccan opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka was abducted in front of the Brasserie Lipp on the Left Bank? That over 200 Algerians were killed in the centre of the city during a demonstration for independence in 1961?
 
If you’re a historian or seasoned Paris hand, maybe you do know all this and more. But we’re sure that many more people don’t and hope that some of them will be check in on rfienglish.com for such fascinating facts.  
 
Ideas are road-tested in our office. Grizzled old hacks run a nugget by a fresh-faced young beginner and, if the fresh-faced young beginner responds “Hey, Dude, I like totally didn’t know that!”, we think we might be onto something.

 
We don’t know at the moment how long the series will last. So, if you like it, be sure to let us know and send the link to your friends. OK, let us know if you don’t like it, too, - maybe you could send the link to your enemies, in that case. And tell us – via the comments on the site or via Facebook - if you think it could be improved in any way or if you have a story idea yourself.
 
The series will kick off this week when Amanda Morrow will ask why a leafy Paris boulevard is named after a man who would surely be dubbed a terrorist today.
 
Want to know which one?
 
Log on on Thursday … and every Thursday thereafter as long as Hiddden Paris stays online.

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