This is a view looking back towards the Louvre along one of the outer avenues of the Jardin des Tuileries. The garden stretches 500m (547 yards) between the Louvre and the Place de Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris by the River Seine.
On the other side of the Place de Concorde, the Av. de Champs-Élysées continues for 2.3km, about a mile and a half – in a straight line on to the Arc de Triomphe. The whole layout is sumptuous and grand.
We drove through Place de Concorde in a taxi a day or two before, and again on the hop-on, hop-off city bus tour – and commented how sumptuous and attractive it looked,
This is a view of the Arc de Triomphe through the front window of the old bus in which we took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
Getting back to the Jardin des Tuileries, the garden was imagined and commissioned by Catherine de’ Medici as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, and was a private park until 1667 when it became a public park.
Then on 24 May 1871 the Tuileries Palace was burned to the ground during the uprising of the Paris Commune.
Here’s a video I made, with all the expertise of a tour guide. It is in two sections spliced together because in the first video I had no idea of the name of the Place de Concorde as I surveyed the scene, and had to google it to find out. Hence the two sections.
If you cannot get the video to play, you can watch it on Vimeo, and there’s a link to it at the end of this post.
And now for a peek into history, for what you cannot see today on Place de la Concorde.
It was originally named Place Louis XV. He died of smallpox at the Palace of Versailles in 1774 and was succeeded by Louis XVI. Then came the first of three revolutions, and Louis XVI was executed here in the Place de la Concorde.
Besides Louis XVI, over a thousand people were executed here, including Marie Antoinette and Maximilien Robespierre.
Robespierre was of course one of the architects of the revolution, and of the Reign of Terror that followed it.
In all, some 16,000 people were executed throughout France during the Reign of Terror.
With the revolution, the Square was renamed Place de la Révolution, and then when everyone was fed up with killing one another, the Bourbon monarchy was restored and in 1814 the Place was renamed Place de la Concorde.
The needle in the Square is the 3,000 year old Luxor obelisk, which was given to France by the Government of Egypt in 1829.
That was either good or bad timing, because the next year the House of Bourbon was overthrown and replaced by the House of Orleans in the 1830 Revolution. Then came the 1848 revolution and so on, and on.
Knowing about the executions that took place here, I cannot look at the Place de la Concorde with the same eyes any more. Probably all the better for it, rather than just sink into the sumptuous splendour of it.
Finally, this is a view from behind one of the clocks of the Musee d’Orsay looking across the River Seine to the Jardin de Tuileries and the Louvre.
Finally, finally, here is the link to the video on Vimeo
16,000 executions, that’s horrid.
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