Five sites of revolutionary Paris
Place de la Concorde

Paris’s largest square (21 acres in total) – pitched at the south-east end of the Champs Elysées – was, of course, the scene of the French Revolution’s official bloodletting. Christened Place Louis XV when it was inaugurated in 1755, it was renamed “Place de la Revolution” as France embraced republicanism. Louis XVI was executed in the square on January 21 1793. The infamous guillotine stood in its northern corner, roughly outside what is now, by complete contrast, the decidedly refined and composed Hotel de Crillon.


Image: Wikipedia “Execution of Louis XVI in the then Place de la Révolution. The empty pedestal in front of him had supported a statue of his grandfather, Louis XV, torn down during one of the many revolutionary riots. ルイ16世の処刑の様子。目前の台座には祖父ルイ15世の銅像があったが、革命の暴動で破壊された。”

Pont de la Concorde

The bridge which runs off the south side of Place de la Concorde was already under construction when the Revolution took hold in July 1789. It was completed in 1791 – some of its structure made of stone blocks retrieved from the demolition of the Bastille.


Image: Wikipedia “Le pont en 1829, avec les douze statues placées sous la Restauration 1829年当時のコンコルド橋。王政復古期に12体の銅像が設置された”

The Louvre

Now (arguably) the world’s finest art gallery (0033 1 4020 5317;; €15), the Louvre was the French monarch’s main residence until the late 17th century. In 1648, the Fronde riots saw a Parisian mob break into the palace, and into the bedchamber of Louis XIV – then a nine-year-old minority king, who feigned sleep until the intruders retreated. The incident affected the boy, and was a contributing factor in his later commissioning of the Palace of Versailles, which shifted the French royal court 15 miles south-west of the capital, and helped to dislocate the French king from his people. Louis moved in in 1682.


Palace of Versailles

The French monarchy was cocooned in its enclave of luxury and ornate gardens when the Revolution broke out. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were removed from the palace on October 6 1789. The Petit Trianon – the pastoral estate within the grounds where the queen used to play – has become seen as a symbol of the royal family’s distance from the harsh economic realities which sparked the crisis. It is still there as part of a palace which revels in royal pomp over two centuries on (0033 1 3083 7800;; €18).


Musée Carnavalet

This intriguing museum (0033 1 4459 5858;; €9), in the Marais, is dedicated to the history of Paris. It covers the Revolution with exhibits including some of Marie Antoinette’s possessions, and portraits of key players like Danton and Robespierre