It was on this day in 49 B.C. that the Parisii, a tribe of Celtic fisherman, first set foot in what would become the magnificent city of Paris. The Parisii settled on the banks of the Seine and formed a town that became known as Lutetia, which meant “Midwater-Dwelling.” They mostly lived in thatched wooden huts, but they were smart, and fierce, and had their own coinage with their name on it, and began successfully trading with other European settlements. They built bridges, a fort, and minted coins. We mostly know about them from Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars (52 B.C.), which detailed the sacking and pillaging of Lutetia by the Roman army in 52 B.C. Rather than give up their town, the Parisii burned it to the ground. The Romans won, though, and brought with them such modern conveniences as a theater, baths, a forum, and even a temple.
Remnants of the Parisii and the early town of Lutetia were first discovered in the 19th century when the medieval streets were torn up to accommodate Baron Haussmann’s redesign of the city of Paris.