Paris has so many must-see places, and here’s one you may not have heard about to add to your list: The Conciergerie. Where is this? And what is it? All I knew going into the building was that Marie Antoinette spent her final days imprisoned here. A fascinating tour taught me more about this centuries-old place.
The Conciergerie was first a palace on the banks of the Seine right in the early center of Paris, near Notre-Dame. Built by King Philip the Fair in medieval times, the palace still stands. The center and kitchen, added by King John the Good, are open for touring. (Don’t you love those names?)
Of course, we know that the kings and queens of France took up residence in the Louvre and Versailles as time went on. They left the Conciergerie at the end of the 14th century. So this palace became judicial offices, which it houses even today. And part of it was converted into a prison. It’s most famous occupant was the queen of France during the days of the French Revolution, but many others were housed here until they lost their heads.
It appears to me that all this honors Marie Antoinette and that she is held in high esteem now. Gift shops have memorabilia of the queen, and I saw a young girl clutching a coloring book of Marie Antoinette to buy as her souvenir.
The winds of history change. Those held in a prison cell may one day be honored. The walls of this palace, keeping their place in the center of Paris, have seen so much. It’s awesome to spend an afternoon here, imagining all that’s happened in this palace.