Step Into History with this French Revolution Walking Tour
Paris still showcases several remnants of the revolution, most in plain sight but more often than not they go unnoticed. We’ll start this two-hour themed walk at what some refer to as the starting point of the revolution itself: the Hôtel des Invalides. This veterans hospital housed the weapons used to storm the Bastille prison later the same day, inaugurating the first July 14 that has been celebrated as France’s national holiday ever since 1789.
From the breathtaking views of the Esplanade, we’ll continue towards Place de la Concorde which was the site of the public guillotine throughout most of the revolution. From here, you’ll learn about the National Assembly, the storming of Versailles, famous figureheads of the revolution such as Robespierre and Danton, as well as the ideologies that fueled and surrounded the Reign of Terror following the beheading of the King & Queen.
The French Revolution is viewed as a turning point of the late 1700’s as it gave credence to the end of divine right in European monarchies. Coming on the heels of the American Revolution, it also inherited fledgling ideas of representation that would be discussed at length and drawn up in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’, a document still consulted in France’s Fifth Republic.
Although this walk will take us through the timeline of the French Revolution through the Napoleonic era, our hope is that it instills a deeper understanding of the French political landscape and how it was shaped over the course of several hundred years. You will leave having a richer appreciation for common themes in France, such as ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ or the symbol of the French republic, Marianne, who personifies freedom and democracy.
We will wrap up our tour near Ile de la Cité, the birthplace of Paris. Here you can find the Conciergerie, a prison for those awaiting trial during the revolution. Probably its most famous inmate, Queen Marie Antoinette, spent the last days of her life here. We invite you to continue your visit by spending some time inside where you can see what her cell would have resembled as well as a series of items preserved from the revolution.