A day in Paris by Esprit de France #25

A day in Paris | Exhibitions
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Strolling along the Seine

La conciergerie par Esprit de France

In the heart of Paris, the Conciergerie is the oldest remnants of the Palais de la Cité, a medieval residence of the Kings of France, which later became a prison during the French Revolution. The place can be visited very easily, without having to take the long line that leads to the Palais de Justice and the Sainte Chapelle. The entrance is near the Clock Tower which owes its name to the fact that it supported, as early as the 14th century, the first public clock in Paris. The visit is to be done in two stages. The revolutionary rooms, on the one hand, devoted to the history of the Revolutionary Courts that settled in these walls from 1793 to 1795 and decided the fate of more than 4000 people; many of them were sent to the guillotine, the most famous one being Queen Marie Antoinette, whose cell can also be visited here. The medieval rooms on the other hand, since, from Hugues Capet in the Xth century to Charles V in the 14th century, this place was both the king’s residence, the seat of the royal administration and even that of Parliament. You will walk through the splendid Salle des Gens d'Armes which was the refectory of the king’s staff and guard, with adjoining kitchens. Currently, the artist Stéphane Thidet has been invited to invest the place by diverting a part of the river Seine into the building to twist around the Gothic columns in the majestic Salle des Gens d'Armes before returning it to the river via a waterfall by the bank, between the Tour d'Argent (in reference to the treasure of the state that was kept there) and the Tower of Caesar (in memory of the ancient constructions built by the Romans on this island). The mark left on the monument by the 1910 floods inspired the artist to let the water flow through in a different, more controlled fashion offering visitors a truly unusual spectacle!

You will most certainly be tempted to extend your walk along the Seine. Why not stroll along the right bank quay, below the bookstalls, and reach the Grand Palais? There, 300 works celebrate František Kupka’retrospective. The Czech artist who built his career in France was one of the pioneers of the abstract art adventure. Trained during turn-of-the-century Vienna and under the Parisian avant-garde, Kupka was first a symbolist before discovering the power of color. Then, he experimented with Fauvism, Expressionism and even Futurist dynamism before opting for pure abstract art based on circles and sections of colour. The change can be clearly seen in Madame Kupka dans les verticales, a superb 1911 painting of the silhouette of his wife disappearing under richly coloured lines and hatchings of a lush color - a masterpiece!