Paris Travel Planner   Conciergerie, Paris, France
A notorious prison and last abode of Marie Antoinette and other royals, Paris's Conciergerie today provides a look at this bloody period of French history.




Every French schoolchild learns about Paris's Conciergerie on Paris's Île de la Cité (map), and many must shudder as they pass it, for here were imprisoned those destined for decapitation at the guillotine under the Reign of Terror.

The building dates from the Middle Ages, when it was an administrative office of the Crown, but it is most famous for its days as a prison. These days it looks a little more cheerful, as its beautiful facade has recently been cleaned and restored:

Conciergerie, Paris
Facade of the Conciergerie, Paris.

The French Revolution (1789) resulted in the execution of many French nobles and members of the royal family, including the queen, Marie Antoinette.

In all, more than 2600 condemned were taken from the Conciergerie to the guillotine.

After the royals were done for, the mob turned to other points of the political spectrum, and soon the fury of the Terror consumed the most prominent leaders of the Revolution, and even the judges who had condemned them!

Then, as with the Salem witch trials, everyone had enough and the bloodshed ended.

  Clock, Conciergerie, Paris

Horloge de la Conciergerie, oldest clock in Paris, on corner tower by the Seine, cleaned and restored in 2012.

Your visit begins in the spacious Hall of Men-at-Arms, a lovely vaulted room that served as a refectory, or dining hall. You'll also see the kitchen and the guard rooms, and of course you can visit the dank cells where these unfortunates spent their last days and hours, and marvel at the vagaries of fate. There is a reproduction of Marie-Antoinette's cell, where she was imprisoned and watched by two gendarmes.

After visiting the chapels and seeing where the politician and Revolutionary figure Robespierre spent his last days, be sure to go outside to the Women's Courtyard. This small green space was where women washed their clothes and ate, and it's also where condemned prisoners waited to be taken to the guillotine.

Before you get too depressed though, head for La Sainte-Chapelle (in the next building), for a lift in your spirits.

Métro: Cité, St-Michel or Chatelet
Bus: 21, 24, 27, 38, 58, 81, 85 
RER: St-Michel

Paris Museum Pass accepted. There is also a combination ticket with the Sainte-Chapelle. Open daily.

La Conciergerie
2, boulevard du Palais
Île de la Cité (map)
Paris 75001
Tel: +33 1 53 40 60 80

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Hall of Men-at-Arms, Conciergerie, Paris

Above, The Hall of Men-at-Arms,
from 1302, in the Conciergerie.

Below, Reproduction of Marie Antoinette's cell
at the Conciergerie, Paris.

Marie Antoinette's cell, Conciergerie, Paris


Conciergerie Garden, Paris

Above, Peaceful garden at the Conciergerie? Not if you're waiting to be taken to the guillotine!

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