Joyeuses Paques

Easter was a sunny, beautiful day here in Paris. We awoke to the melody of bells tolling at St. Eustache church, which we can see from our window. We had a lovely breakfast with tons of fresh fruit in celebration of Spring and Emma opened her very large chocolate rooster. We were unsure of what would be open today, so we tentatively went for a walk. To our delight, the open- air market was in full swing, the restaurants were crowded and even the museums were open and busy.

So after visiting our regular stalls at the market, we went to see the Concierge. The Concierge used to be part of the royal palace, and was used as a prison during the French Revolution. We saw where Marie Antoinette underwent her tribunal, and the prison cell where she spend her last days. We learned much about Robespierre and his pivotal role in the Revolution. They had an entire room filled with the names of all the people who were sent to the guillotine during the Terror, and we were shocked at how many there were. The plaques took up the entire room, and listed thousands of names.

Two things struck us as remarkable about the Concierge. First, knowing that you are standing in the same space as famous historical characters, such as Marie Antoinette, truly gives us goosebumps and sets our minds to spinning. It makes it feel so much more real when the texture of a place surrounds you. Reading about the French Revolution never conjured up images of the stone floor of Marie's cell worn smooths from thousands of pacing footsteps. Nothing compares to thick, sharp sound the heavy iron locks on the doors make. Touching the rough, cold surface of the stone table where thousands of condemned people ate their final meal connects us to those people and go from an interesting fact to a reality. We could even sense a change in the air and detect different smells it the "corner of 12," the small outdoor cell where a dozen people at a time stood while waiting for the carriage to take them to the guillotine. Seeing the hundreds of sharp metal spikes deterring people from climbing out of the courtyard, or an actual guillotine blade used during the bloodiest days all create an odd symphony for the senses and transports our imaginations like nothing else.

Afte took our picnic lunch


  1. Beth did this get cut off? All I got was Afte took our picnic lunch... It seemed an odd place to stop.

  2. I read Kathrine Neville's book, "The Eight", and learned so much on what you have seen. I know it's just a novel, and not all real life facts, but she did write about it in ways that made me think similarly. Someday I hope to see it, as you two have, and get a deeper sense for the history and angst. It feels funny, sometimes, to be interested in this Revolution and our own Revolution...especially knowing the 'me' of today!

    Love reading of your adventures. Thank you for sharing them with us!

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  4. Oh, Beth! I loved reading about the smell, the feel, the textures. I was thinking that this morning, about the first time I saw the ocean, at 17 (touched the ocean, stood at the edge and felt the feel, smelled the air), and the first time I was in a castle, in England, and was surprised by the temperatures and sounds.

    Those thoughts came because of an article someone had linked somewhere. It's not new, and it's not long. It's by someone who was taken traveling too much (against her will, it seems) as a child, and now says travel is a waste of time and the benefits of travel are delusions. YIKES! http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/08/17/4-reasons-travel-for-fun-is-a-waste-of-time

    I contrast that with your note that Emma loves Paris! THANKS for this blog. It's wonderful.