Special Sub-Topic: The History of Paris: Medieval Times to 1900
|The cathedral of Notre-Dame was begun in 1163 under the auspices of which bishop?|
Maurice de Sully. Although it was begun in 1163, Notre-Dame was only finished in 1345. Between 1844 and 1864 the cathedral underwent a major restoration by Viollet-le-Duc, who added the spire and the famous gargoyles to the cathedral.
|The Palais du Luxembourg, whose construction was begun in 1615, was built for which queen, the second wife of Henri IV?|
Maria de Medici. Maria was a Florentine and felt rather homesick in Paris. Following Henri's death, she had the Palais du Luxembourg built in a style reminiscent of the palazzos and grand houses of her native Florence, but by the time of its completion in 1631, Maria had been banished from France. During the Revolution the Palais became a prison and is now the home of the French Senate. Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615) was Henri IV's first wive, whom he divorced in 1599. For more detail see: http://www.henri-iv.com/wives.htm
Gabrielle d'Estree, who was listed as one of the options in this question, was actually Henri IV's mistress!
|This cafe is Paris's oldest, and can boast among its former patrons Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, Rousseau, and the young Napoleon Bonaparte. What is its name?|
Le Procope. Le Procope was founded in 1686 by Francesco Procopio del Coltelli, and also claims to be the world's oldest coffee-house. Many stories remain about the habits of its famous patrons. It is said that Voltaire enjoyed up to forty cups a day of his favourite drink, coffee mixed with chocolate, and that Napoleon would leave his hat with the proprietor as collateral while he went to find the money to pay his bill!
|When were the Catacombs de Paris established?|
1786. The Catacombs de Paris were established in 1785 as a more sanitary alternative to the unhealthy city cemetery located at Les Halles. For fifteen months, workmen carried out the rather grisly process of ferrying corpses across the city at night from the old cemetery to the catacombs. Rather bizarrely, the catacombs provided the location for infamous parties, held in the years before the Revolution by the Comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's younger brother, who later became Charles X!
|On 14 July 1790, the Fete de la Federation celebrated the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille with ceremonies and processions. Where was the Fete held?|
Champ-de-Mars. As it faces the Ecole Militaire, the Champ-de-Mars was originally a military training and parade ground, but was used even before the Revolution for celebrations and events such as hot air balloon launches. Its role as a site for major events continued right up to the end of the nineteenth century, as it was home to World's Fairs and Grand Exhibitions. It is a remnant of the 1889 Great Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower, which now dominates the Champ-de-Mars.
|In October 1789, the royal family were brought back to Paris following a march to the palace at Versailles, led by Parisian women. Where were the royal family held following their return?|
The Tuileries. The Tuileries palace was originally part of the Louvre, but having made it through the Revolution, the Tuileries were destroyed during the 1871 Commune. Today, they lend their name to the large gardens which stretch from the Place de la Concorde to the Louvre.
|It is, for many, the enduring symbol of the French Revolution. But where was the guillotine located for most of its grisly work during the Revolution?|
Place de la Concorde. What is now called the Place de la Concorde was originally best known for the equestrian statue of Louis XV which stood at its centre. However, during the Revolution it adopted the name of Place de la Republique and became the home of the guillotine. Eventually, the guillotine had to be moved because the ground surrounding it had become so soaked with blood. After the end of the Terror, the square adopted the name of Place de la Concorde. It was extensively renovated during the Grand Transformation of the city during the nineteenth century.
|Originally built as a residence for a palace official, this building is perhaps now best known as the ante-chamber to the guillotine during the Revolution. What is it called?|
Conciergerie. Located beside the Palais de Justice, the Conciergerie gets its name from the official it was originally built for, the Comte des Cierges or "Count of the Candles". This palace official was in charge of taxes and lodgings in the royal household, and became the chief gaoler when the medieval fortress was converted into a prison. During the Revolution it held such notable prisoners as Charlotte Corday, Marie Antoinette, and even Robespierre himself.
|On 9 Thermidor 1794, a coup overthrew the Jacobin dictatorship and effectively ended the Reign of Terror. Where did the Jacobin leader, Robespierre, and his remaining followers flee to before being captured?|
Hotel de Ville. A rather grisly tale about the Thermidorian coup concerns the story of Robespierre's jaw. The story goes that it was shot off by a coup leader in an attempt to prevent the Jacobin leader from making a final speech, but the truth is that it was Robespierre himself who, in a botched suicide attempt, succeeded in shooting off half of his own jawbone! The day after his arrest, he and his fellow Jacobin leaders went to the guillotine which they themselves had instigated as the ultimate instrument of the Reign of Terror.
The Hotel de Ville as it was at the time of the Thermidorian Coup no longer exists, as it was destroyed during the 1871 Commune, but it was rebuilt soon afterwards in a similar style to the old Hotel de Ville. It stands just across the river from the Conciergerie.
|During his reign as Emperor (1804-1814), Napoleon I was very fond of erecting monuments to the glory of himself and his army across Paris, even if many of those he planned were never built. But which of these famous Parisian monuments was not built by him?|
Colonne de Juillet. The Colonne de Juillet is actually a monument to all those who lost their lives in the street battles of 1830, which resulted in the overthrow of the monarch. It is topped with a gilt statue of the "Genius of Liberty" and its crypt contains the remains of some of those who died in 1830, as well as some of the dead from the rebellions of 1848.
|The remains of Napoleon I returned to Paris in 1840, but were not interred in the crypt specially designed for them until 1861. Where is the imperial tomb located?|
Dome Church of Les Invalides. After getting permission to retrieve the remains of Napoleon I and bring them back to France, the French government made plans to construct a special crypt to hold them. The final structure, designed by Visconti, is nothing short of spectacular. At its heart is the tomb of Napoleon, a massive sarcophagus surrounded by twelve female figures of Victory. The sarcophagus echoes the burial practices of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs in that it holds six coffins - one of tin, one of mahogany, two of lead, one of ebony, and one of oak, assembled in that order and then placed in the red porphyr sarcophagus.
|Under Napoleon III (1852-1870), the city was transformed through a massive programme of modernization and urban renewal. What is the name of the Prefect of the Seine who was responsible for the grand transformation?|
Eugene Haussmann. Haussmann was a lawyer by training, and a civil servant by profession, but is remembered as the man who made Paris the spacious, carefully-designed city it is today. The major achievements of Haussmann's modernization project were the construction of new boulevards, the building of a new, more sanitary sewer system, and the expansion of the city into neighbouring areas to create the residential areas of the suburbs. Napoleon III also donated the Bois de Boulogne to the city, which was designed and landscaped by Haussmann so that it became the main park of the city of Paris.
|One of the many periods of unrest in Paris during the nineteenth century, the Paris Commune lasted from 18th March to 28th May 1871. Where did the Commune begin?|
Butte de Montmartre. The Commune was just one of the events which made the French state so unstable during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. It is probably best known for its infamous "Semaine Sanglante" ("Bloody Week"), lasting from 21st to 28th May 1871. As the name suggests, the week was characterised by bloody slaughter, and its end represented the defeat of the Commune.
|Today it dominates the Champ-de-Mars and is seen by many as the symbol of the city, but when was the Eiffel Tower built?|
1889. The Eiffel Tower was designed and built as an impressive display of modern engineering for the 1889 Great Exhibition, and was originally meant to have been taken down after the exhibition ended. Upon its construction, it met with massive opposition from many prominent Parisians, who saw it as an ugly metal monstrosity and some, such as the poet Paul Verlaine, hated it so much that they took a detour to avoid seeing it!
|Now one of the world's best art museums, the Musee d'Orsay was originally a railway station. To what other French city did the trains leaving the Gare d'Orsay travel?|
Orleans. The Gare d'Orsay was designed by Victor Laloux for the Paris-Orleans railway company and building began in 1898. It did not just house the sixteen platforms of the railway station, however - the Gare d'Orsay was also home to restaurants and a hotel with no less than 400 rooms! It was abandoned in 1939, and was lucky not to be torn down during the 1960s. The Musee d'Orsay, housing art from 1848 to 1914, opened to the public in 1986.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction