Perched on the Ile de la Cite in the River Seine, the Conciergerie is one of those everyone’s-got-to-snap-a-picture-of-it-even-if-they-don’t-really-know-what-it-is sights when they visit Paris. When I was in view of the palace, it was a bit too rainy for any outdoor pictures, but the interior is just as deserving of space on your memory card as the exterior.
La Conciergerie Quick Facts
- There’s been a palace on this spot since around 500 to 700 AD (when the Merovingians were top chiens in France).
- Remodeling and fortifying of the palace we see today started in the 1200s and continued on for a couple hundred years (you know how contractors can be).
- The Hall of Soldiers (pictured above, gotta love those arches) measures 210 feet long, 89 feet wide and 29 feet high. For most of its existence it basically served as the cafeteria for the staff of 2000 people who worked in the palace. A bit nicer than any cafeteria I’ve ever eaten in, that’s for sure!
- A castle on an island may sound idyllic, but not if you’re Marie Antoinette or any of the 2,700 people who got locked away in the castle’s prison during the French Revolution.
- Trials for the Revolution’s prisoners were held in the Hall of Soldiers where the options for a ruling were slim: You could either be set free or you could be executed. The second option seemed to be the ruling of choice as 2,600 prisoners were trundled off to the guillotine.
- Although you can tour a portion of the building, including Marie Antoinette’s cell (and the chapel erected in her honor), most of the palace still functions as a legal court – here’s hoping the options are a little more varied today.
- Tourist tip: While Sainte Chapelle (next door) is a huge tourist draw, few people swarm La Conciergerie making it the perfect place to pick up your Paris Pass!