- You’ll look inside Paris’s oldest royal palace!
- You’ll hear the stories of the islands’ holy kings and doomed queens.
- You’ll see the notorious jail where Marie Antoinette was held before she was beheaded!
- Because your guide is full of anecdotes about medieval and Revolutionary Paris!
Conciergerie & Sainte Chapelle Tour
You like architecture and History? This tour is made for you because every stone you will see, every step you will climb during this visit has something to say about French history and keeps the memory of important people of the Past alive. The two main protagonists of the story are a King and a Queen, but living several centuries apart and experiencing divergent fates, if ever there were. The King became a Saint, the Queen was treated as a sorcerer.
The former ordered the Holy Chapel, as a private Royal sanctuary. It represents Gothic style’s unequalled acme. 700 years later, the latter entered this royal precinct, crownless and shortly thereafter condemned to death… Of course, we are speaking about Louis IX and Marie-Antoinette. But other historic characters will be included in this tour: excellent master glaziers, who literally painted with Light; poor and simple citizens trapped in the jaws of Terror. Weaving links between the Middle Ages and the French Revolution, your visit will be a thrilling journey through History, under the shelter of venerable architecture.
Enclosed in the Law Court precinct, the Holy Chapel is not easy to find, but your Welcomer will lead you through all of the obstacles. You will enter into the personal sanctuary of the Kings of France. They came here to worship the relics of the Passion of Christ… and maybe to be worshipped themselves. Such distinguished relics needed a luxurious case. The walled Lower Chapel will emphasize the shock you’ll feel once in the Upper Shrine. It is not a building, it’s a cage, open to light by its 1,000 m² stained-glass windows. Two thirds of them are authentic and they’re 800 years old! They spruce up well, don’t they? And were once the best-preserved array of medieval colored craft in Europe.
1,113 little sketches tell episodes of the Bible, the life of saints … and achievements of kings. Notice how numerous are the fleur-de-lis and crown patterns within sculpted scenes. This holy chapel is also a royal shrine. This artistic success is simultaneously a successful political act. King Saint-Louis (1214-1270) was for sure a champion of Christianity. He could have claimed to be King of propaganda, as well. The Holy Chapel stained glass book is a kind of huge commercial in favor of the French monarchy.
Penetrating into the Conciergerie, you plunge into the very first palace that French Kings occupied in Paris. Literally plunge! Look at the difference between the actual street level and the medieval ground. The Hall of Soldiers is still the biggest medieval room in Europe. Large enough for 2,000 people, it must have been noisy when they all ate together! Imagine the size of the kitchen needed to prepare all that food. Or rather, do not imagine, enter it directly. Recently restored, it’s just gigantic. How many beefs could be cooked in one fireplace?
The Guards room allows access to the revolutionary part of the Conciergerie. Hundreds of prisoners survived in such a narrow space. Most of them only went out to climb onto the Revolution Square scaffold. Among them, of course, Queen Marie-Antoinette, whose last dramatic months your Welcomer will tell you about. She was apart from other prisoners, themselves divided into categories, according to their financial means.
Finally, do not miss the Conciergerie’s outside façade. Its three towers have been watching the Seine pouring and pedestrians passing by for more than 700 years. Listen to them whisper their secrets!
Meeting Address: Cité, Paris, France - Just outside the metro station Cité (line 4)
Solo Traveler? Welcome here!
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