Place de la Concorde and Tuilerie Gardens, Paris

LINKS to other pages in the FRANCE PART ONE site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

NORMANDY (Honfleur and Deauville)
NORMANDY (D Day Beaches and Bayeux)
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THE PLACE DE LA CONCORDE is described as follows in Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopaedia:

"It is the largest public square in Paris. Situated along the Seine in the 8th arrondissement, it separates the Tuileries Gardens from the Boulevard Champs-Elysées.

"Originally named Place Louis XV, the square was designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel, Louis XV's architect, for the purpose of showcasing an equestrian statue of the King which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris and sculpted by Edmé Bouchardon.

"Construction of the square began in 1754 and was completed in 1763. It is actually in the shape of an octagon, and was once bordered by large moats which no longer exist. The square marks an intersection of two axes: The major axis is that of the Voie Triomphale (Triumphal Way) which extends east-to-west in a perfectly straight line from the former royal palace (now the Louvre Museum), past the Arc du Carrousel and through the Tuileries Gardens, up the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe and beyond, now culminating at the Grande Arche in the Paris suburb of La Défense. The second (minor) axis is formed by the line between Place de la Madeleine, down rue Royale through the square and across the Pont de la Concorde, culminating at the Palais Bourbon.

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"Several decades after its construction the square was to serve as a focal point for the bloodiest political upheaval in the history of France: the French Revolution. When the hordes of revolutionaries seized power, they renamed the square Place de la Révolution, tore down the statue of Louis XV and replaced it with a guillotine. Between 1793 and 1795, more than 1300 people were beheaded in public executions, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Danton and Robespierre. It is said that the scent of blood was so strong here that a herd of cattle once refused to cross the grounds.

"Following the Revolution, the square suffered a series of transformations and several changes of name: Place de la Concorde, Place Louis XV (again), Place Louis XVI, Place de la Chartre and, once again, Place de la Concorde — symbolizing the end of a troubled era and the hope for a better future."

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Today, the appearance of the square remains similar to that of the 1700s, except that the ground now consists of tarmac and cement. Supplanting the guillotine is the Obelisk of Luxor, a pink granite monolith that was given to the French in 1829 by the viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali.

The structure once marked the entrance to the Amon temple at Luxor and is more than 3,300 years old. It is decorated with hieroglyphics describing the reigns of the pharaohs Ramses II and Ramses III.

Gilded images on the pedestal portray the means by which the monolith was transported by sea to Paris and the process of erecting it at the square. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of the Place de la Concorde in 1833.

The obelisk, weighing 230 tons and standing 22.83 metres (75 ft) high, is flanked on both sides by two fountains (one of which is pictured above) that were constructed during the same period. Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, the government of France added, in 1998, a gold-leafed pyramidal cap to the top of the obelisk. The obelisk has suffered significant damage during the past half-century by air pollution from industry and motor vehicles.

In 2000 a French climber, Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and without safety harness, scaled the obelisk to its summit.

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The Tuilerie Gardens are accessed from the east side of La Place de la Concorde.

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Pleasure gardens with roundabouts....

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....and small outdoor cafes.

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