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Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris, square Louis XVI (©Paris by Pierre)

La Chapelle Expiatoire de Paris, souvenir de la Révolution Française

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Le long du boulevard Haussmann, un bâtiment étrange, peu connu des parisiens et encore moins des touristes.

De loin, on a du mal à deviner ce qui se cache derrière les arbres et les haies. Le nom du square donne pourtant un indice : square Louis XVI.

Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris, square Louis XVI (©Paris by Pierre)


Revenons un peu en arrière. Le 21 janvier 1793, Louis XVI est guillotiné sur la place de la Concorde voisine. Son corps est enterré ici discrètement, dans ce qui était alors l’ancien cimetière de la Madeleine.  Marie-Antoinette le rejoindra peu après, ainsi que 3000 autres guillotinés.

Depuis sa maison, un voisin observe la scène et note l’emplacement exact des tombes. Lorsque le cimetière est désaffecté, celui-ci rachète le terrain et plante des arbres pour délimiter le lieu précis de l’inhumation.


Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris


Ce n’est que 22 ans plus tard, sous les ordres de Louis XVIII, qu’on retrouvera les restes grâce aux indications du riverain. Restes qui seront ensuite transférés à Saint-Denis. En souvenir, Louis XVIII fit édifier cette chapelle dite « Expiatoire ».

Plusieurs fois menacée de destruction, elle mène désormais une existence paisible, et se visite sur demande auprès des monuments nationaux.

Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris, square Louis XVI (©Paris by Pierre)


Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris, square Louis XVI (©Paris by Pierre)

The Expiatory Chapel, a remembrance of the French Revolution

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Along the Boulevard Haussmann stands a strange building which is not known by most Parisians, let alone the tourists. From a far, it’s difficult to guess what is hiding besides the trees and the hedges. But the name of the square gives a hint: it’s the Louis XVI square.

Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris, square Louis XVI (©Paris by Pierre)

Let’s go back in time. 1793, January 21st: King Louis XVI is beheaded on the nearby place de la Concorde. His body is discreetly buried here, in what was then the cemetery of La Madeleine. Queen Marie-Antoinette as well as around 3000 other victims of the Revolution joined him during the following months.

From his house, a neighbour watch the scene and noted down the exact places where the King and the other corpses were buried. When the cemetery was finally closed, he bought the place and planted trees to mark the places.

Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris

It’s only 22 years later that the remains were found and exhumed, under the orders of King Louis XVIII and thanks to the clear indications of the neighbour. These remains were then transferred to the Saint Denis basilica, traditional place of burial of the kings and queens of France. Louis XVIII then built an expiatory chapel on the place of the former cemetery in memory of the victims of the Guillotine.

Several times threatened to be demolished, this chapel leads now a peaceful life, and can only be visited with special authorization from the Center of the National Monuments.  Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris, square Louis XVI (©Paris by Pierre)

Guerlain parent shop on the Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris, scene of the beauty class

The Beauty Class, by Guerlain

Paris is synonymous with luxury and refinement. The real “Parisienne” is necessarily a perfect woman, who always looks rested and with a glowing complexion. Well, great news for everyone else: it’s false! Yes, we Parisians women also have dark circles under the eyes after too festive an evening, and the passing of time does not spare us more than it does for the others … But we have a secret weapon: the Guerlain Beauty Class.

In the magnificent setting of the historic boutique on the Champs Elysees, the famous House offers indeed to learn different techniques and beauty care gestures and makeup, that are easy to replicate at home afterwards. As master of ceremonies, Maxime Poulain, make-up artist of the House, teaches the basics of beauty. Assisted by his lovely demonstrators, Maxime explains to us the difference between a tonic and a lotion, and when to use one or the other. He explains how to choose a blush (which you always need to coordinate with your lipstick), or how to apply it (always on top of the cheekbone). He explains why products like the oil Abeille Royale or the products from the Terracotta line meet such a success for so many years now, and how to use them well. In short, in one hour only, Maxime shows us how to wear make-up and feel perfect in 2 minutes flat.

 These beauty classes, in small groups of about 10 to 15 people, offer a first approach to the French beauty. To go further, Guerlain also offers customized individual consultations. A true moment of relaxation that makes you feel beautiful and radiant. It is no doubt what we call the “French touch”!

For who: for women who want to feel beautiful.
How Much: from 40€
Duration: count 1 hour for a Beauty Class in group.
Tip: Guerlain offers various customization services, from your makeup ritual to the design of your bottle of perfume, do not hesitate to ask.

Chateau de Vincennes

Chateau de Vincennes, a medieval castle a stone’s throw from Paris

Just outside the doors of Paris stands the last royal fortified castle still standing in France.  Alternately a hunting lodge, a royal residence, a state prison and an arsenal, Vincennes is not as famous as Versailles, which was built later. And yet, its history is rich: the Marquis de Sade, Voltaire, Mirabeau, Diderot were imprisoned there; a French prince was murdered in its moats on Napoleon’s orders; after WWII, President Charles de Gaulle made plans to move the presidential palace there…Dunjeon of the castle of Vincennes

With its 52 meters, the highest dungeon in Europe is a witness of French history. Conscious very early of the importance to leave the seething heart of the capital, to better control and contain all possible riots initiated by a warm-blooded Parisian population, the kings of France decided to have this castle built 8 km outside of Paris. The same reasoning led to the construction of Versailles a few centuries later. From a simple hunting lodge constructed around 1150 in the heart of the forest of Vincennes, it was turned into a real fortress in the 13th century.

Dungeon of the Vincennes castle

King Louis IX (Saint Louis) was fond of the castle. While waiting for the Holy Chapel of Paris to be ready to receive them, he had the relics of the Crown of Thorns temporarily housed there. A fragment that remained behind received its own chapel at Vincennes, chapel which is worth visiting. Built on only one level, with beautiful coloured stained glass contrasting with the whiteness of the stone, it is at least as majestic as its illustrious sister on the Ile de la Cité in Paris.The Holy Chapel in Vincennes castle

In 1804, before the French Empire was establish, Napoleon had the Duke of Enghien, of royal blood, murdered in the moats of the castle, after a sham judgement, to prevent any possible coup from the royalist party and to quiet any possible domestic resistance to his rising power. “It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder”, analysed a famous state man of the time. The Duke’s remains were exhumed from the gross tomb where he had been hastily buried in the moat and placed in the Holy Chapel of the castle in 1816.Assassination of the Duke d'Enghien in the moats of Vincennes Castle

Closer to us, in 1964, French President Charles de Gaulle raised the idea to transfer the presidential palace from the Elysée palace to the castle of Vincennes, considering that the Elysées was too closed in and not prestigious enough. But the idea was soon abandoned. Nevertheless, there still exists a plan to move the seat of the presidential power to Vincennes in case the Seine River would overflow, as the Elysée is located in the flood zone. Who knows: maybe we’ll have an official speech from a president one day from the heights of the dungeon?…

 For additional photos of the castle, check this album on our Facebook page.

For whom: everyone
Hours: open every day
From May 21st to September 22nd: from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (access to the Holy Chapel from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm, and from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm).
From September 23rd to May 20th: dungeon opened from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and access to the Holy Chapel from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm, and from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm).


Chateau de Vincennes

Le château de Vincennes, un château fort médieval aux portes de Paris

Saviez-vous qu’aux portes de Paris se dresse le dernier château fort médiéval royal de France ? Successivement pavillon de chasse, résidence royale, prison d’Etat et arsenal, le château de Vincennes n’est pas aussi connu que celui de Versailles, construit plus tardivement, et pourtant son histoire est particulièrement riche : le marquis de Sade, Voltaire, Mirabeau ou encore Diderot furent emprisonnés ici ; un prince de sang royal fut assassiné dans ses douves sur ordre de Napoléon ; Charles de Gaulle envisagea un moment de délocaliser le siège du pouvoir présidentiel de l’Elysée à Vincennes…

Dunjeon of the castle of Vincennes

Du haut de ses 52 mètres, le plus haut donjon d’Europe a été témoin privilégié de l’Histoire de France. Conscients de l’importance de s’éloigner du cœur bouillonnant de Paris afin de mieux contrôler et contenir les éventuels débuts d’insurrection d’une population parisienne au sang toujours chaud, les rois de France décidèrent très tôt de faire construire cette forteresse à 8 km en dehors de la ville. Le même raisonnement conduisit à la construction de Versailles hors de l’enceinte de Paris quelques siècles plus tard. Ainsi, d’un simple pavillon de chasse construit aux alentours de 1150 en plein cœur de la forêt de Vincennes, les rois de France firent une véritable forteresse durant le 13° siècle.

Dungeon of the Vincennes castle

Le roi Louis IX (futur Saint Louis) appréciait particulièrement ce château. En attendant la fin de la construction de la Sainte Chapelle parisienne, c’est là qu’il fît entreposer les reliques de la Couronnes d’Epines. Au transfert de la relique à Paris, un fragment en fut laissé à Vincennes et on érigea une Sainte Chapelle pour le recevoir. Sainte Chapelle qui vaut la peine d’être visitée : construite sur un seul niveau, présentant de magnifiques vitraux colorés qui contrastent avec la blancheur de la pierre, elle est au moins aussi majestueuse que son illustre sœur de l’Ile de la Cité à Paris.

The Holy Chapel in Vincennes castle

En 1804, avant l’avènement de l’Empire, c’est également à Vincennes que fût assassiné le Duc d’Enghien. Prince de sang royal considéré comme un possible héritier au trône de France par le parti royaliste, il fut fusillé dans les douves du château sur ordre de Napoléon après un simulacre de jugement, afin de prévenir toute tentative de coup d’Etat et d’étouffer dans l’œuf toute résistance à son ascension. « C’est plus qu’un crime, c’est une faute », analysa un homme politique à l’époque. Les restes du duc, enterrés à la va-vite dans les douves, furent exhumés en 1816 et transférés dans la Sainte Chapelle.

Assassination of the Duke d'Enghien in the moats of Vincennes Castle

Plus proche de nous, en 1964, Charles de Gaulle, alors président de la République, souleva l’idée de transférer le siège du pouvoir présidentiel de l’Elysée, qu’il jugeait trop enclavé et pas assez prestigieux, au château de Vincennes.  Mais l’idée fut abandonnée. Toutefois, il existe toujours un plan d’urgence pour effectuer ce transfert en cas de crue de la Seine, le palais de l’Elysée se trouvant en zone inondable. Alors qui sait : peut-être un président fra-t-il un jour un discours officiel du haut du donjon…

 Pour voir d’autres photos, jetez un oeil à cet album photo sur notre page Facebook.

Pour qui : tout le monde
Horaires: ouvert tous les jours
Du 21 mai au 22 septembre : donjon ouvert de 10h00 à 18h00 (accès à la Sainte Chapelle de 10h30 à 13h00, puis de 14h00 à 17h30).
Du 23 septembre au 20 mai : donjon ouvert de 10h00 à 17h00 (accès à la Sainte Chapelle de 10h30 à 13h00, puis de 14h00 à 16h30).