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The Conciergerie


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The Conciergerie | Prisoners of the French Revolution

Published by Kriya Vij — 2 years ago

For those who are interested in knowing the French history and look at the French Revolution more closely, the Conciergerie would be an essential place to visit. It is a well-preserved monument which served formerly as law courts and prison. Even today, a part of it is still used for law courts. Many famous prisoners of the French Revolution (including Queen Marie Antoinette) served their terms here.

Read information about this building below :

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The Conciergerie is seen from the opposite side of the river Seine. It stands on one of the edges of the ancient kingdom island known as l'Île de la Cité.

La Conciergerie

The Conciergerie is an ancient building of the Palais de la Cité which is located on the Ile de la Cité. It can be quite an intense experience to visit this place as it is full of information about the days of the French revolution and the suffering of prisoners during that period. Even if the building saw some of the harshest times in the history of France, its outside remains well preserved and remarkable.

The Conciergerie is one of those places which should be read about before being visited to fully understand what is left of the monument and the displayed items from the past.

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An interior portion of the Conciergerie

History

The Conciergerie has existed since the times of the French kings. The Conciergerie used to be the royal residence before the kings moved to other ones. Even then, it was a part of the kingdom as it was quite close to the kings’ residence and was a part of the Palais de la Cité – which consisted mainly of the Palais de Justice and the Sainte Chapelle.

Thousands of prisoners were kept in the building. The size of the cells is reported to depend on the wealth or the status of the prisoner. Most of the cells are extremely small. Moreover, they are devoid of sunlight.

Famous Prisoners

Marie Antoinette, the queen of France at the time of the French Révolution, is the most famous prisoner of the Conciergerie. She is reported to have been harshly treated despite being the queen. Like thousands of other prisoners of the Conciergerie, she was escorted to the Place de la Concorde where she was executed.

Location

The Conciergerie is located along one of the edges of the Ile de la Cité, just adjoining the magnificent Sainte Chapelle church (also still quite well preserved). Overlooking the Seine, it is circa half an hour walk from the Place de la Concorde.

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The Conciergerie in the evening

Transport

It can be reached by foot from the station Les Halles. Some stations of RER B and metro line 1 are also at a walkable distance from the Conciergerie. You can also look for a connection by bus.

Tickets

Tickets cost 9 euros each. However, for those under the age of 26, the entry can be free depending on various criteria (for example- for students under the age of 26 who are enrolled in a European Education Institution).

Centuries later, the Conciergerie is still mostly used as a law court. A small portion of the Conciergerie is on display. Things that can be seen are, for instance, the guard chamber, the keys to the cells, the room where prisoners’ heads were shaved before they were executed publicly, the cells, and some of the objects from Marie Antoinette’s chamber. It is possible to know more about prisoners' lives thanks to the reading of the documents inside the cells.

The prison cells are really small and dark since they don't have any sunlight accesses. Some prisoners' belongings are on display, however, the authenticity of some of them are disputed.

Although the chamber shown below is not accessible anymore, queen Marie Antoinette's chair and the carpet have been kept behind glass walls and are still visible for visitors. It is notable that the queen was not given any special treatments, she was like the other prisoners.

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Queen Marie Antoinette's prison chamber

The Conciergerie stands apart in the places and monuments to visit in Paris. To understand the French history rationally, visiting the Conciergerie might be useful.

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