Have you already visited the French capital?
If you did, you may have visited the must-see Notre-Dame Cathedral forecourt! This historical monument is so high, so beautiful and impressive that you can’t help taking a look up to the sky to admire it. Doing so, you may probably have walked, without even knowing it, on Paris’ road starting point, the Kilometer zero (known in US as “the Zero Milestone“).
That’s what it is, 200 feet away from the Cathedral. How can you discover it? This symbol of Paris’ roads starting point (or zero point, as they call it in France) is a stone inserted in the pavement designed with a bronze wind rose where one can read “Point Zero of the French roads” in the middle.
This point, as a matter of fact, is the starting point of the Parisian streets and the French roads as well. This is the point used to calculate the distance between Paris and the other French cities. Isn’t that something? It actually has nothing to do with the geographical middle point of the country.
This is what the story of this place is about:
In the past, a “Ladder of Justice” was installed at this specific location. Convicted criminals had to climb to the top, kneel and acknowledge their crimes publicly to ask for mercy.
On April 22nd 1769, the “Ladder of Justice” became the zero point of the Parisian roads thanks to King Louis XV, and it was declared a milestone by decision of King Louis XVI in 1786.
The current bronze fixture was installed in 1924.
Now that you know about the Parisian’s road starting point, take a good look at the floor of the forecourt of the Notre Dame de Paris’ Cathedral next time you visit so you don’t miss seeing it. And if you happen to walk on it without noticing, don’t worry: A legend says that if you step on this stone, you will be back in Paris another time for sure!