Located on the Île de la Cité, just a stone’s throw from Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, the Conciergerie served as a royal residence in medieval times and later a prison. That’s where we started our day yesterday.
I was enthralled by the vast Salle des Gens d”Armes (Hall of the Soldiers). Constructed in 1302, it’s a great example of Gothic architecture.
During the French Revolution of the late 1700s and the Reign of Terror that followed, part of the old royal palace held prisoners including Marie Antoinette whose prison cell was later converted into a small chapel in her memory.
This painting shows the queen ascending the steps from the Conciergerie to the courtyard where she would be transferred to an open cart pulled by horses that would take her to the guillotine located in the Place de la Revolution, now Place de la Concorde.
Looking serene today, this was the women’s courtyard. Surrounded by two floors of cramped cells, it was used by the female prisoners to take daytime walks.
Our visit included Sainte Chapelle, the church built within the palace walls. I thought by now we might be getting tired of churches, but not so. I continue to be amazed by each one that we step into.
Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the sight that greeted me when I reached to top of the narrow winding staircase to the upper chapel.
If you read my post about our afternoon in Milan, you’ll know that I love stained glass windows. Never in my life could I ever have imagined something like this though! Photos simply can’t capture the magnitude of what surrounded us.
Later in the day, after eating crepes from a street vendor and treats at a nearby bakery then taking an elevator to the observation deck of the 56 storey Montparnasse Tower for panoramic views of the city, we made our way to Place de la Concorde.
It was here that the guillotine stood; here that Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and many others lost their heads. From there, we strolled 2.3 km up the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe enjoying the Sunday afternoon crowds.