France / Paris


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Last Updated on 23rd December 2016 by Sophie Nadeau

What if I told you that there’s a small slab of concrete inlaid in the parvis of Notre Dame that affects millions of people daily? Would you believe me? Probably not. But it’s true. And it’s called Paris point Zero.

Small and unassuming, it’s so well hidden that you’d be forgiven for never having noticed its existence. The throngs of tourists and locals alike on a daily basis are enough to cover this Paris point zero marker that barely measures a meter wide.

And if I’m being entirely honest, I hadn’t even heard of Paris Point Zero until I recently read about it in a fiction book about Paris- despite having visited Notre Dame on countless occasions previously! Although this medallion may be tiny, it affects the lives of millions on a daily basis- yet few even know of its existence…

And that’s because it’s kilometer zero for France. It’s supposedly meant to be the point from where everything in Paris (and, indeed, France in general) is measured. See what I mean about it affecting everyone? All guidebooks, road signs, town distances etc. etc. etc. are supposed to be calculated from this very spot.

[Tweet “Paris point Zero and why all roads lead to Rome!”]

paris point zero

So why Do All Roads Lead to Rome?

The tradition of having a center point not only stems from practicality but ancient times themselves. It’s often thought that the phrase ‘All Roads Lead to Rome‘ derives from the fact that the most well-remembered point zero from history is the ‘Millarium Aureum‘ (literally: Golden Milestone).

There was either a golden statue or marker erected in the very heart of Rome in the central forum. It was the point from which all distances of the Roman empire were calculated; hence the phrase ‘All Roads Lead to Rome‘.

So if you ever happen to be at Notre Dame, and see a group of tourists huddling around a small spot in the center of the square and wonder why they’re all pointing toward the ground, now you know why…

And finally, one to pin!

paris point zero

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About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!


  • Camille
    3rd August 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I heard that you’re supposed to twirl on it to symbolize a turning point in your life, or an end to something and a beginning of another 🙂

  • Karen - Dressing in labels
    29th July 2016 at 11:02 am

    Such an interesting read. I had never heard of it although I’ve studied history.

    x Karen


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