The next time you’re in Paris, stop by 53, rue de la Grange aux Belles (10e). You’ll be standing in front of a garage with apartments built on top—sounds exciting, huh? Seven hundred or so years ago, this was a pretty scary site. You never wanted to end up here.
You are standing in an area that was once part of the countryside outside the medieval walls of Paris. Standing here, you would have had a pretty good view of the city. You’re on a hill (actually, more like a mound). The area we now call Montmartre would have been visible to you toward the northwest. Surrounding you would have been the leper colony of St. Lazare, the Convent of the Filles-Dieu (a home for prostitutes), and the original Hôpital Saint-Louis. Clearly, the king did not want any undesirable elements with the walls of his city.
One of the monarch’s most undesirable icons stood in front of you. It was the Gibet de Montfaucon (Gibbet/Gallows of Montfaucon). Erected around the late 13th century, the gibbet was used until 1629 and finally dismantled in 1760. The structure was used to hang people and to display the bodies of the executed (both local and imported). There are written accounts of the executed being displayed here for more than three years before they were either posthumously exonerated or whatever remained of the body was turned over to the family. Read More Hanging Around Medieval Paris
Recently, Sandy and I spent a couple of weeks on board a cruise ship with a lovely couple, Gerry and Marsha. They were our evening dinner mates along with two other wonderful couples. It turns out Gerry got his undergraduate degree in archeology (he’s a federal judge—kind of like me getting my degree in geology but becoming a commercial banker). So needless to say, we had some interesting conversations.
With that in mind, I thought I’d dedicate a blog on Paris archeology to Gerry. So Gerry, this one’s for you.
I think I’ve written in the past that I’m convinced the largest museum in the world is just beneath the surface of Paris streets (if you don’t believe me, visit the CrypteArchéologique du Parvis Notre-Dame—the Archaeological Crypt). It seems every time an excavation is performed, they find something interesting from the Middle Ages. The problem is the Paris government doesn’t like to do archeological digs. It’s only when a basement is remodeled, a new Métro station is created, or restoration is done on one of Paris’s landmarks that we get a glimpse into Paris’s past.Read More Paris Digs
Stew takes you on a walking tour of buildings, places, and sites significant to the theme of each of his books. But most importantly, you will learn the intricate stories of the people and places that many other tours do not.
Stewart Ross’ book is full of interesting documents and research, it put you well on the tracks of Marie Antoinette, Danton, Robespierre and many more, whether in Paris or in Versailles, extremely interesting and easy to read!
Raphaelle Crevet | Certified Tour Guide, Paris, France
Mr. Ross brings the streets of Paris to life, making it possible for you to stand on the very spots where the grand and tragic events of the French Revolution took place. If you are looking for more than just the typical tourist experience in Paris, then this book is must reading!