Paris is renowned for a lot of stunning monuments and structures, but some gems go underrated, like the Conciergerie Paris. Constructed in the sixth century by King Clovis, the Palais de la Cite became the seat of the French monarchy under the Capetians in the tenth century. Renamed ‘Conciergerie’, the ancient structure stayed the royal residence till the fourteenth century and also housed the Paris Parliament. The most iconic role, however, came with the French Revolution, when it was turned into a prison and the “antechamber of the guillotine”. By the nineteenth century, the Conciergerie Paris underwent restorations and was declared a historical monument by the twentieth century.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a stunning gem of Gothic architecture, where traces of later architectural styles reflecting contemporary political climates can also be witnessed. In addition to its remarkable beauty, the monument’s historical significance can be witnessed in its most popular sight, the prison cell of the fallen French queen, Marie Antoinette. Visitors also witness its four majestic towers, Bonbec, Silver, Caesar, and Clock Towers, which date back to the early mediaeval centuries. Watch the dark side of the French Revolution come alive as you walk through the Salle des Gens d’Armes, Salle des Gardes, Poor Prisoner’s Cell, Girondins’ Chapel, and the Women’s Courtyard. All of these were imprisoned revolutionaries who changed the history of France and the world.
Among the prominent attractions at Conciergerie Paris is the Salle des Gens d’Armes, which is the largest non-religious Gothic Hall in Europe. Constructed in the fourteenth century, the hall was once the dining room and gathering spot of soldiers and servants of the palace. With a length of 200 feet, a width of 92 feet and a height of 29 feet, the hall had huge pillars in the centre and was divided into four naves. Large windows and huge fireplaces dotted the walls of the hall that was later modified and turned into a prison, the Rue de Paris.
Conciergerie tickets get you access to the Salle des Gardes, which was once the quarters of soldiers who guarded the king in the mediaeval era. Constructed around the same time as the Salle des Gens d’Armes, the small rib-vaulted hall had three massive pillars and arched windows. After the Royal Guard, the hall was used as an antechamber of the Parliament and later was turned into a prison. During the Reign of Terror, hundreds of prisoners were tried for their crimes and sentenced to death in this small hall.
Conciergerie Paris serves a grim remembrance of France’s most infamous queen, Marie Antoinette, at Marie Antoinette’s cell. The queen’s original cell and an adjacent infirmary were transformed into a commemorative Expiatory Chapel in the nineteenth century. The present-day Marie Antoinette’s Cell is a recreation of the cell where she spent her final ten weeks before she was beheaded by the guillotine. The original cell has been replicated with all the fine details, and a mannequin shrouded in black sits in the centre in memory of the room’s original inhabitant.
Conciergerie tickets promise a walk down France’s dark historical times, including an insight into the lives of the kingdom’s poor commoners. The Poor Prisoners’ Cell was where the not-so-rich inhabitants of the eighteenth century were imprisoned. The bare communal space had no facilities for its inhabitants, who had to sleep on straw-covered floors and were fed with only bread and water. The prisoners had to sometimes sleep in shifts due to overcrowding. The cell also lacked indoor plumbing and even bathrooms, worsening the state in which the destitute people lived here.
The original oratory of the Conciergerie Paris was from the mediaeval period, which got destroyed in a fire. The Girondins’ Chapel, constructed in 1776 at the location where the old oratory stood, has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. The space was named after the Girondins, a political faction from the French Revolution who were provided with a ‘last supper’ at the chapel before their execution. The altar, confessional, and the large crucifix are from the eighteenth century, and the chapel was transformed into a prison during the Reign of Terror.
Conciergerie tickets take you to the Women’s Courtyard in La Conciergerie, which has remained mostly unchanged from the times of the French Revolution. The courtyard was a space where women prisoners, including Marie Antoinette, were allowed to exercise, walk around, eat food, and wash their garments. The little courtyard has arcades, a fountain, a stone table and a garden where flowers are grown now. In the northeast corner of the courtyard is a separated tiny triangular area, which had once been a part of the men’s prison.
Conciergerie Sainte Chapelle tickets offer you access to one of France’s most sophisticated royal chapels, the Sainte Chapelle. Constructed by the French monarch Louis IX in the thirteenth century, Sainte Chapelle houses precious Christian relics, including the crown of Jesus Christ. The most prominent feature of the chapel is its gorgeous stained-glass panes that depict more than a thousand scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The panes, arranged across fifteen windows, recount the world’s history till the arrival of the relics in Paris.
Add to your Conciergerie Paris experience by exploring the beauty of Place Dauphine, one of the most gorgeous squares of Paris. The square, which is actually shaped like a triangle, is lined with classic Parisian buildings, small cobblestone streets, and art galleries and cafes. The charming ambience of the historic square, along with the thick walls of surrounding buildings that provide sound protection, make Place Dauphine the perfect spot to take a break from your tour. Indulge in gourmet coffees, fine wines, and classic Parisian delicacies as you soak in the quaint charm of the square.
Conciergerie Paris is located close to the world’s most-visited museum, the Louvre Museum. Home to some of the greatest artworks in the history of humankind, the Museum’s collection has historical artefacts from all across the globe, including the most famous artwork, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Musee du Louvre was once a palace and was converted into a display for the royal collection under the French monarch Louis XIV and into a museum during the French Revolution. Witness more than 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art in the world’s largest museum.
2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
From 9:30 AM to 6 PM on all days. The last admission is at 5:15 PM. Conciergerie Paris is closed on 25th December and 1st May.
The best time to visit Conciergerie Paris is early in the morning hours, so that you get enough time and space to explore the world’s biggest museum. At this time the place is less crowded and offers you enough time to observe each and every art in detail.
Yes it is worth a visit as Conciergerie tickets get you access to one of the greatest known marvels of Gothic architecture and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Paris. If you love to explore history, then Conciergerie, with its centuries-old existence and crucial role in the French Revolution is a must-visit. And if you wish to admire an underrated architectural structure, Conciergerie is the perfect destination for you.
It was in the sixth century that King Clovis established the royal residence on the Ile de la Cite. In the thirteenth century, Philip II made the Palais de la Cite the seat of the Capetian dynasty, while Louis IX added the palace chapel. The Palace was further renovated and extended under Philip IV to add the administrative institutions of the kingdom.
Conciergerie tickets provide you access to one of the symbols of old Gothic architecture which has also been witness to the long eventful history of Paris. Conciergerie Paris stands where the first Roman fortress of the city once stood and was the royal residence of French monarchs for hundreds of years. The structure has been witness to the reigns of several French rulers and their political ambitions, which is reflected in the blend of architectural styles that can be seen in the structure.
A comprehensive tour of the Conciergerie Paris can be completed in 60 to 90 minutes. You can choose to tour the historical landmark on your own or with a guide, although it is highly recommended you take a guided tour to understand the history better and gain more insight.
Conciergerie Paris is located at 2 Boulevard du Palais in Paris. The historical structure is located in the Ile de la Cite and is within walking distance of the iconic Sainte Chapelle.