I was in Paris for work and lingering for a little tourism. So today I went for a bit of a city walk. I began in the Rue Mouuffetard, in the Latin Quarter where I was staying, just round the corner from the Pantheon. I walked from here to the river and west along it as far as the Pont du Carrousel which I crossed to reach the Place du Carrousel between the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens with its imposing Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built at the height of Napoleon’s power and success in 1806-8. For 300 years the Tuileries Palace stood at the west side of the square but it was destroyed by the Communards in 1871. Now there are just the Gardens which I followed west towards the huge ferris wheel, the Roue de Paris, which marks the point where one leaves the Tuileries Gardens and enters the Place the La Concorde with its huge Egyptian Obelisk. Once of course this was the Place de la Revolution and the scene of countless executions, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Danton, Robespierre, St Juste and many others.
From here I turned back east along the Rue de Rivoli the rather posh street that bounds the Gardens on the North. You could easily miss the modest little plaque on the railings that says: Sur cet emplacement, avant l'ouverture de la rue de Rivoli, s'elevait la salle du Manege, construite en 1726 pour Louis XV enfant, ou siegerent successivement l'Assemblée constituante du 9 novembre 1789 au 30 septembre 1791, l'Assemblée législative du 1er octobre 1791 au 21 septembre 1792, la Convention nationale du 21 septembre 1792 au 9 mai 1793 et ou fut instituee La Republique le 21 septembre 1792.” Nothing else but a windswept corner of the Tuileries Gardens now marks the scene where so much history was made. Another place that does nothing to advertise its significance is round the corner where the Rue du Marché-Saint-Honoré opens onto Rue Saint-Honoré. I popped round to have a look. This was once where the entrance was to the Couvent des Jacobins, the Dominican monastery where the Jacobin Club had their meetings and whence they took their name. But it is all gone and there is no trace. On one corner a little restarant, on the other a branch of Christian Dior. I kept heading east till I reached the Palais Royale where I turned right and headed back past the Louvre, back over the Seine and down the Rue Bonaparte past the 'École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. I then turned left into the Rue de l’abbaye. It was here in 2nd September 1792 that the first of the murders that came to be known as the Prison Massacres took place. From here I kept going south until I came to the Palais de Luxembourg, now the seat of the French Senate, all round which a great many armed police were a reminder that France has had her troubles of late: they are clearly taking no chances with security.
I took a look at the Luxembourg Gardens then made for the Place de l’Odeon and up the Rue de l’Odeon past Thomas Paine’s old house. Coming to the Boulavard St-Germain I made a trip down the Rue de lecole de medicine. Apparently Marat used to live at – and was murdered at - no. 20 but no. 20 is no more eaten up by the Universite Paris Descerates. It was lunchtime now so I stopped at the Breizh Café at the Carrefour de l’Odeon for a little crepe before carrying on my way. I headed west now towards the rue de La Huchette and Rue Galande where what were once places of torture and death are now trendy pubs and jazz venues, the Trois Mailletz, the Caveau de la Huchette and the tellingly named Caveau des Oubliettes. Then over the bridge onto the Ile de la Cite where I was overtaken by torrential rain and took refuge from it by stopping for a coffee and another crepe (sweet this time) in a café opposite the Conciergerie. Then over the bridge on the other side to pass the front of the Hotel de Ville and on through no longer torrential but decidedly wet rain through the Marais to the Place de la Bastille where a sharp right down the Boulvard Henri IV pointed me in the direction of home.