It had been a bit of a mess in preparation, as many more students wanted to go than were spaces available on the Eurostar we'd reserved, and as we thought we had a hostel but did not. Solutions to all of the above and more were solved by the resourceful ICLC staff, however, and bright and early (hmmmm...it wasn't BRIGHT and early in London, though it was in gay Paree) we left St Pancras and arrived in Paris at the Gare du Nord a few hours later.
|The Gare du Nord|
|French Revolution walk at Place de la Bastille|
|Place des Vosges|
We continued down the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois to the Musee Carnavalet. an imposing seventeenth century town house("Hotel" en Francaise) which is now home to the museum of the city of Paris.
We turned left into the Rue Pavee, so called because it was one of the first roads in Paris to be paved, in the mid-fifteenth century. Here an historical marker notes the location of the La Force prison, one of the sites of the prison massacres in September 1792 and the site where the fictitious Charles Darnay from A Tale of Two Cities was imprisoned.
|Hotel de Ville|
We crossed halfway over the Seine, to the Isle de la Cite, on which is located one of the most famous Parisian landmarks, the cathedral of Notre Dame.
at Notre Dame
We stayed on the Isle de la Cite after Notre Dame just long enough for me to point out the Palais de Justice, part of which, the Conciergerie, was where many prisoners of the revolution, including Marie Antoinette, spent their very last night, before their locks were shorn and they were taken in carts to the Place de la Revolution, now the Place de la Concorde, to be guillotined. It is another site I'd have loved the students to wander through, but again, time was pressing, and there was also an admission fee, so we crossed Pont St Michel to the famous "rive gauche" or "left bank."
You'd have to look very hard, and even then you'd be disappointed, to find a Rue Marat, for example. Like many other Revolutionaries Marat became radicalized, resulting in many, many deaths, many, some would say all, needless. At any rate, where the Rue Danton hits another famous Boulevard, named St Germain you will see the Odeon Metro station -- just in front of it is a great statue of Danton (don't even bother to search for a statue of Marat), in a defiant, oratorical stance.
Danton seems to be looking across the street at a tiny alley whose historical value is much broader than its physical breadth or length. In this alley, called Cour de Commerce St Andre, Marat kept his printing press, Doctor Guillotin experimented on a new, humane system of execution by lopping off sheep heads, and the first Cafe in Paris, called the Cafe Procope, was the preferred coffee house of Voltaire, Rousseau, even Ben Franklin, and of the notorious Robespierre, another Revolutionary who is not much in evidence in the street signs or statuary of Paris today.
|Cour de Commerce St Andre|
|Plaque for Cafe Procope|
We then headed back to the Seine, crossed it at the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge known for its "love-locks" - pairs of lovers place a padlock (some combination locks, which seems a bit suspect to me) on the bridge, lock it and throw away the key, symbolizing that their love will last a lifetime, I suppose. Makes for a colorful bridge whatever you may think of the notion. I don't think much of it at all, but judging from the number of locks I would seem to be in the minority.
|Pont des Arts love locks|
|Place de la Concorde, from the Tuileries Gardens|
We crossed the Rue de Rivoli (it's a lengthy rue) to finish our tour as I pointed out to the students the Comedie Francaise, divided into two groups during the Revolution, one pro, the other anti the conflict.
|The Comedie Francaise|
Nearly all of them came very close to a tumbril ride down to the Place de la Revolution, but most were spared by...well, by a story too long to tell in this bloggo, which has become anything but piccolo! And to our final destination, the gardens of the Palais Royal, which had become a pleasure garden in the eighteenth century, housing shops, cafes and courtesans, but also a meeting place where speakers including Camille Desmoulins shouted for Revolution...and got it. Which goes to show the efficacy of the phrase that begins, "Be careful what you wish for..." Desmoulins went to the guillotine on the same day, probably in the same tumbril, that Danton did.
|Gardens of the Palais Royal|
|The Louvre, by moonlight|
"If you get caught between the Louvre and moon-lit Paris..."
|Greater love hath no man than this:|
That leaveth himself out of a photo
for his companions' sake