- The dramatic history of the famous Conciergerie includes life as both a palace and riverside prison fortress. Note the varied decor from its different lives!
- See the former jail cell - and current chapel - dedicated to the prison’s most famous resident: Marie Antoinette
- Wander through the _Salle des Gens d’Armes, the former dining room for 2,000 palace staff,and Europe's largest existing medieval hall
Get priority access to this former palace and riverside prison on Paris's medieval Île de la Cité. You’ll see prison cells from the French Revolution (including the cell of Queen Marie Antoinette), and the Gothic Salle des Gens d’Armes is Europe’s biggest medieval hall still in existence.
History is soaked into the thick walls of this incredible Gothic building. Built as a royal palace in the 14th century, when the royal family decamped for fancier surroundings in the Louvre and Vincennes, it found new life as a prison. During the French Revolution it earned the chilling nickname "the antechamber to the guillotine".
People accused of being an enemy of the republic would face a tribunal in the Great Hall, where they would either be acquitted, or found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. If convicted they would await their fate in one of the nearby cells. The wealthy would pay for relatively comfortable rooms with beds, while commoners were crammed into plague-infested haybed cells.
The most famous resident during its stint as a prison was Queen Marie Antoinette. After the Restoration, her cell was converted into a chapel. A visit to her lockup is one of the highlights of a trip to this famous building.
Other attractions include Europe's largest medieval hall, the Salle des Gens d’Armes, and the dreaded Bonbec Tower, which was a torture chamber. The name 'Bonbec' refers to the fact that prisoners who came here would confess to whatever they were being accused of (bon means 'good' and bec meant 'mouth').
A visit to the Conciergerie is a fascinating glimpse into the turbulent history of the French Republic. And unlike many of its residents, you're allowed to leave afterwards!
LEGAL STANDING: The Conciergerie's past as a tribunal lives on in the present - parts of it now house the Paris Law Courts.
- Entrance to the Conciergerie
- Entrance to Sainte-Chapelle
09:30 - 18:00.
Metro: Line 4 to Cité; line 1, 7, 11 or 14 to Châtelet
Bus: Lines 21, 27, 38, 85, 96 or Balabus
Seule inquiétude: elles annoncent la fin des guides qui ont langue, bras et jambes pour donner ces commentaires sur les lieux historiques - un métier de plus en voie de disparition ...