"An Infamous Parisian Prison" Conciergerie Tip by CALSF

Conciergerie, Paris: 75 reviews and 182 photos

  La Conciergerie

A visit to La Conciergerie is a must-see if you want to experience what prison life was like not only for the poor but also for the aristocracy. The massive building with its towers can be seen from the Seine. It is definitely an ominous sight to behold.
La Conciergerie was originally part of a royal palace that included Saint-Chapelle and the Palais de Justice. Later on it became a law court and a prison during the reign of Charles V after he moved the royal residence.

Its entrance on the ground floor is the Salle des Gens d' Armes where the staff ate when the Conciergerie was a palace. During the French Revolution the Conciergerie held thousands of prisoners, many of them both famous and infamous revolutionaries: Robespierre, Danton, Desmoulins, etc.

To get an idea of the prisoners lived, visit the prison cell replicas upstairs. The poorest prisoners had bare cells save for some hay to sleep on. The aristocratic prisoners had luxurious furnishings and objects in their cells.

The most visited cell is the replica of Marie Antoinette's. It is a tiny room with replicas of her furnishings, very dark. There is a replica of the queen who is seated with her back facing you and she wears a veil; behind her standing watch is a prison guard. It's difficult to imagine a French queen-whose home was Versailles at one time-being confined to such a dank, depressing cell. On the wall are displayed personal objects belonging to the queen. One reads about Marie Antoinette and once you see her personal effects, she becomes a real person, another human like us. It's both sad and touching at the same time.

Tip: Be sure that when you purchase a ticket to see the Conciergerie include the visit to St. Chapelle. This allows you to enter St. Chapelle with priority (something I declined to do due to time).

Address: 2 Blvd. du Palais, 75001
Directions: Nearby Hotel de Ville

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 6, 2006
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