Saturday, 7 July 2007

The Concierge and Saint-Chapelle

The Concierge and Saint-Chapelle are kind of connected as they are all one part of what used to be the French palace. The Concierge was the gaol and torture chamber whilst Saint-Chapelle was built to house the holy relics of the French kings. The Concierge was where Marie-Antoinette spent 67 days after the French Revolution before being guillotened, though she certainly wasn't alone. The French went a bit crazy with the whole killing people and guillotened over 2700 people in the years 1793-1795.
It was interesting to see the Concierge, the name comes from the keeper of the prison, (who was called the concierge), but I wouldn't rate it in the top 10.

Below on the left is a recreation of Marie Antoinette's cell, complete with a life-size Marie doll. On the left of the picture is a screen which separates her from the gendarmes who were constantly watching her.

The picture on the right is the Hall of Men-at-Arms. It was built in 1310 and is huge. It was used as a dining room to feed the 2000 people in the king's service.

After the Concierge I went to Saint-Chapelle and whilst I had to stand in a massive line for maybe 40 minutes, it was totally worth it, even for the approximately 30 minutes I spent inside. It is an amazing building and unfortunately the camera really doesn't do it justice. Unlike Notre-Dame, Saint-Chapelle was built in only 6 years from 1248, and it was intended to house the crown of thorns (which the king at the time spent 3 times the value of the chapel on) as well as, among other things, a fragment of the True Cross. So a lot of effort went into making the chapel good enough for the relics. Unfortunately during the French Revolution these relics were stolen, so I couldn't see the crown of thorns :(.

On the left is the lower chapel, where the poor people went to pray, whilst on the right is the upper chapel which was connected directly to the palace, so the royalty never had to see the plebs downstairs. The upper chapel was were the relics were stored and it had this amazing feeling of space. It really was beautiful and I highly recommend it, especially after seeing Notre-Dame.

This is a picture of the outside of Saint-Chapelle, with what used to be the palace on the right, it is now the law court of France.

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