Just by Notre-Dame and the Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie of Paris is a good place to visit if you want to learn more about French history. This imposing medieval building was once the palace of the kings of France, who decided to move to the Louvre, on the other bank, at the end of the 14th century. The place was then turned into a prison and they appointed a concierge to run the place, hence the strange modern name “la conciergerie”. While visiting it, you first enter a beautiful hall, one of the finest and biggest examples in Europe of Gothic secular architecture, that was used in the Middle Ages as a refectory for the staff working for the king. Then you proceed into the part of the building were the prison was recreated. You will learn everything about the daily life in prison after and before the French Revolution. Don’t miss the small room with, on the walls, an endless list of names of people killed during the Terror, the guillotine blade or the cell of the queen Marie-Antoinette, who was kept at the Conciergerie before being taken to the scaffold.

The Conciergerie is a less famous place than the Sainte-Chapelle nearby but it is definitely worth a visit. There is rarely a line so it’s really easy to get in and, in a single place, you can admire Gothic architecture and also learn a lot about French justice and history.

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