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"Just for a visit, not a stay!" Conciergerie Tip by tiabunna

Conciergerie, Paris: 75 reviews and 182 photos

  Welcome, Citizen. Your name please...
by tiabunna
  • Welcome, Citizen.  Your name please... - Paris
      Welcome, Citizen. Your name please...
    by tiabunna
  • Hall of the Guards - the entry hall - Paris
      Hall of the Guards - the entry hall
    by tiabunna
  • Replica of Marie Antoinette's cell - Paris
      Replica of Marie Antoinette's cell
    by tiabunna
  • The 'Women's Courtyard' - Paris
      The 'Women's Courtyard'
    by tiabunna
  • The Conciergerie walls - Paris
      The Conciergerie walls
    by tiabunna

Built by King Phillip the Fair as an annexe to his new palace, the Conciergerie originally was for the Concierge, the King’s official gatekeeper. It since has been incorporated into the complex that now is the Palais de Justice. To say the least, it is an impressive and extremely substantial building – so much so that it became the Paris equivalent of the Tower of London. It was used to house the Crown Jewels of France. In the 16th century, it became a prison: a very grim one at that – rising to notoriety in that role during the Revolution, when it housed thousands condemned to the guillotine. But long before the Revolution it was no place to be, one of its towers being known as the “Tour Bonbec”, or Blabbing Tower where ‘suitable means’ were administered as necessary to extract information.

Entry is through the ‘Hall of the Guards’ and the ‘Hall of the Men at Arms’, massively constructed of arched stone. Interestingly, early in the 1900s the Seine flooded this area to a depth of nearly two metres, as is indicated on a pillar at the rear. Heading onward, there is something of a museum, with a few effigies such as one of the Concierge, looking after the ledgers of prisoners, and a cell set up to simulate the one in which Marie Antoinette was kept under constant supervision by two guards. The former queen’s actual cell has been demolished, but there is a shrine to her where it was. One of the more evocative areas is the Women’s Courtyard, provided for women prisoners to exercise – the bars and spikes making it somewhat less than pleasant!

Main photo - The Concierge at his work with his ledger
photo 2 - The entry through the Hall of the Guards
photo 3 - Replica of Marie Antoinette’s cell, with guards and ‘privacy screen’
photo 4 - The ‘Women’s Courtyard’. Note the iron spikes (and their shadows from above)
photo 5 - Some of the walls and towers.

Address: 1, quai de l'Horloge , 75001
Directions: Métro: Cité ; RER: Saint Michel-Notre Dame, Châtelet-Les Halles
Phone: +33 1 53 40 60 80

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 16, 2006
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