Sandy and I were travelling through England several years ago when we visited a 17th-century manor. I don’t recall a whole lot of visitors at the time we were there so we pretty much had the whole house to ourselves. For security purposes, a docent was stationed in every room and they looked really bored—except for one.
Why Is the Bed So Short?
When we got to what I think was the master bedroom, the fellow keeping an eye on us struck up a conversation. His comments were very interesting and considering the cost to get into the manor and its grounds, all of the room monitors should have done what he did and offer up treasures of information. Yet it was one of his questions that stuck in my head all these years. He asked us if we knew why the bed was so short.
I thought I’d impress him with my knowledge and responded that the people back then were short. In other words, they didn’t need the extra nighttime real estate. He agreed but said that wasn’t the real answer. So much for impressing him.
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
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.
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!
Dan Carpenter | Historian & Author
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