'Don't look down', the saying goes. Well I'm about to ask you to do exactly that, not once but ten times.
Maybe you already have, as you've wandered the streets of Paris, wondering at all the wonders and occasionally tripping over something somewhat strange underfoot without knowing quite what it's about.
Readers of the Da Vinci Code, and the inevitable film, may well be familiar with at least one of the curious metal plaques you'll find lurking down there on the pavement, or the sidewalk as our US friends might prefer.
It turns out that there are quite a few of these things, and I don't mean quite a few copies of the same plaque; there are quite a few completely different metal plaques on the streets of Paris, each with its own story to tell. So let's see what's been under our very feet all this time without our even realising it. If you know of any others which would fit right in to my Top Ten Paris Pavement Plaques series, I'd be delighted to hear about them!
Sab's Top Ten Paris Pavement Plaques
1) When Thèbes Rises
I thought I'd start off this list with one of the most mysterious plaques in the city.
It's to be found at Place de la Concorde, right next to the Obelisk, and I've just read a whole bunch of posts not able to make head or tale of its intriguing inscription:
I'm not going to add to the debate because I'm not able - I have no pet theories of my own - but I will tell you that it translates, roughly, as 'At the rising of Thèbes, the north comes to Paris'.
Utterly incomprehensible, I think you'll agree. There are clues in there somewhere though, simply not enough to make sense of it at all. Thèbes is a city in Egypt near Luxor, whence the Obelisk, so that can't be a coincidence.
A few of the stabs at explanations talked about the north being symbolic for the good and right way, with Napoleon possibly being the one to come back from Egypt to sort things out.
I don't know, but I'd be interested to find out one day, as I know a few other Paris nerds out there would be too.
~ Sab's TOP 10 PERPLEXING PARIS PAVEMENT PLAQUES ~
* Sab Will runsPhoto and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...