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Here the new France started
This square in Paris is where the prison La Bastille originally stood until the Storming of the Bastille and the physical destruction between 1789 and 1790 during the Revolution, nothing remains of the building.
The column that's in the square now (Colonne de Julliet) commemorates the events of the July Revolution back in year 1830, the column stands in the square centre.
Gone but not forgotten!
I suspect that few buildings demolished 200 years ago would remain as well known as the Bastille. As probably everyone knows, the capture of the Bastille prison marked the start of the French Revolution: the dismantling of the building followed later. All that now remains are a few stones inlaid in the footpaths to mark where the walls once stood – and an enormous open area known as Place de la Bastille, the central theme of this tip.
Centred in the Place de la Bastille is the very substantial “July Column” seen in the main photo. It was erected in 1840 as a memorial to those killed in the uprising of July 1830 and, in due course, extended recognition to the subsequent events of February 1848. Now, of course, the column is the centrepiece in the huge traffic roundabout filling the Place: there are no line markings and everyone takes their chances. I’d be nervous driving there, but no way would you find me wobbling through on a treadly! (Photo 2) Far safer to arrive by Métro at the Bastille station, taking time to inspect the appropriate murals seen in photo 3 then continue your visit on foot, as I did.
I didn’t visit the Opera, but the Opéra Paris Bastille is the large modern round-fronted building seen behind the July Column in photo 4. It opened in 1989 to celebrate the bicentenary of the Revolution and apparently is most impressive to visit for a performance. If opera excites you, I’d strongly recommend that you visit the Paris page of my VT friend Nemorino who has far more detail.
Further around the Place de la Bastille, you may notice that the Bde Richard Lenoir has a particularly wide median area between its carriageways: that is because the Canal St Martin passes beneath the centre of the road (and under the July Column). In this area on Saturdays (every week?) you will find the very pleasant street market in photo 5. Yes, it tempted even me to do some shopping!
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Open Thursdays and Sundays (even Easter Sunday to my surprise), this open air market located amidst the Place de la Bastille hosts several boulangers, bouchers and everything in between. You'll find every cheese imaginable alongside every cured meat possibleall within the confines of this thriving market. Taste regional wines, sample organic fruits, buy handcrafted toys, watch entertainers juggling while buying freshly roasted rabbit. Absolutely the best way to experience the Parisian pace.
My suggestion: buy a great baguette, some meat, cheese and a great bottle of wine. Then walk the few blocks to Place des Vosges and have a picnic. Fun!
See the Other Attractions In the Place (2)
The new Opera Bastille (1989) occupies the East side of the Place and seats 2700. There is an amphitheater for 500 and a workshop theater for 250. Many restaurants and brasseries look out into the square. (We ate in one called the Cafe-Francais on one of our visits; 3 pl. Bastille) and Parisian people watching is active at all of them at appropriate hours. As mentioned in a previous Tip, the St. Martin Canal runs under the Place in a tunnel. It enters from the South side. (I think there is a canal boat trip boarding site there; it runs up to La Villette). The tunnel goes under the 11th Arr. to emerge in the 10th and then runs on into the 19th Arr. (This is one of the rare Parisian adventures that we have missed and I can find no accounts of it in VT!). We got a glimpse of the Canal from the Bastille Metro Station, which is an above ground stop.
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The July Column (1)
The symbolic but already minimally used prison-fortress La Bastille (of 1370) was totally demolished at the start of the Revolution (1789). Yet the Place has remained one of the focal points of the West Bank. It is located on the boundary of the western edge of the 12th Arr. with the 4th. In the square is the July Column erected by Louis-Philippe (1831-40; architects Alavoine and Duc) upon an earlier base started by Napoleon I. The column consists of 21 hollow cylindrical bronze drums joined by perforated bands that allow light to enter to illuminate a spiral stair at the center. The figure on the top is "The Genius of Liberty" (Dumont). The tunnel of the St. Martin Canal (1860) runs under a crypt in the base of the column where bodies of the "heroes" of the 1830 and 1848 revolutions are interred. Their names are inscribed on the column.
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Place de la Bastille
A major intersection and roundabout where traffic goes around, this was once the place of the Bastille, which was a famous French prison. On July 14, 1789 the storming of the Bastille occurred which was said to be the beginning of the French Revolution. Many prisoners who were mostly political were released after the storming. Shortly after the Revolution it was destroyed and replaced by a monument in commemoration of this event. July 14th today is a national holiday in France. Despites it being just a monument and it is symbolic of the beginning of Modern day France replacing the old monarchy system with a republic system of government.
Place de la Bastille & the July Column
The Bastille was to begin with a fortress erected to protect Eastern Paris and as time went by it lost its importance on the defense of the capital of France and became a prison. Taking over the Bastille is considered the first step on the French Revolution of 1789 and it was eventually demolished. Today Place de la Bastille is located where the prison was.
The July Column is a memorial to those who died on the Revolution of 1830, whose names are engraved in the Column. It stands in the center of the Square, is about 51 meters high and has a weight of over 160,000 pounds. At the top of the Column there's a golden figure representing the "Génie de la Liberté".
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Once, at the centre of this great big roundabout, stood the Bastille, the Palace that was once home to royalty and was stormed by french civilians during the most famous revolution against the monarchy. Now stands a tall monument commemorating this Palace, constructed over some of the ruins.
Bastille is surrounded by many bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as a few shops and an Opera House. A night out near the Bastille is guaranteed to be fun-filled whether you intend to dance the night away or just eat in one of the many restaurants!!!
This is definately something I recommend as there is something to cater for all age groups (children during the day of course) and is centrally located. I myself have had many fantastic nights out around this area!
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The Column of July and La Bastille
Nothing is left of La Bastille, a prison that is still remembered for the events that started the 1789 French Revolution. In the years that led to the Revolution, La Bastille had become known as the prison where people arrested under a "lettre du cachet", an arbitrary order given by the King of France, were sent. Controversial French writer Marquis de Sade was among such prisoners, and he stayed there for nearly 5 years until he shouted from his cell window that prisoners were getting killed, which resulted in a small riot. He was transferred to another facility on July 2, 1789, only 12 days before La Prise de la Bastille (Storming of the Bastille), during which French revolutionarists gained control of the prison. Although stories quickly spread out that several hundreds of unjustly arrested prisoners had been liberated, there were actually only 7 prisoners left in the prison when it was taken over. But still, la Prise de la Bastille was perceived as a major symbolic act - by November 1789, the Bastille had been almost completely demolished.
The area where the Bastille once stood is now called Place de la Bastille. In the middle of the roundaboud, you can see the Column of July (La colonne de Juillet). The column is over 50 m tall and on top of it sits the angel of liberty. Another comparatively new feature around Place de la Bastille is the Opera Bastille, inaugurated on the 200th anniversay of the Prise de la Bastille (July 14, 1989). It is a round, modern-looking building which I didn't find that attractive, but I did enjoy sitting on the steps of the Opera to eat a baguette. There are quite a few good bakeries on the nearby rue de la Roquette (which leads to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery) where you can buy a good lunch at a very reasonable price.
- Historical Travel
Genie de la Liberte
Bastille has been built in 1370-1382. King Louis XIV has maintained bastille as " luxury prison ". Bastille has been destroyed as symbol of oppression by people of Paris at 14th of July 1789. The Bridge of Agreement was built from stones of bastille (Pont de la Concorde)Concorde. King Louis Philip in 1840 called to build on this square " Genie de la Liberte, who holds in hand burst chain and in second hand torch of civilization. Some manifestations and 1st of May parades commence here.
Nice to see
Am glad i went here but it is probably over-rated.
Suggest visit as one of the last things, stop for a drinkie in a cafe (they are busy) and then get a metro to any other out-of-the-way sights before going home
Place de la Bastille
Little remains of the historic Bastille prison that gives this public 'square' its name. 14 July 1798 and the storming of the Bastille is the celebrated beginning of the French revolution. The prison was demolished a week later, but there is an outline of the building in the square. Nowadays, the Place is dominated by the Opera de la Bastille - a megolithic building and one of Mitterand's 'grand projets' for the city. It was one of the most controversial of all his plans, with the building referred by many as the world's largest toilet.
In the centre of the square is the July Column, built not in commemoration of the Revolution but for the Parisians killed in the riots of 1830 and 1848.
But the building of the Opera certainly rejuvenated the area (a traditionally working class stronghold) and with its cafes, clubs etc, this extremely busy intersection is now one of the trendiest parts of Paris.
Colonne de Juillet
My journey around Paris started off at the Colonne de Juillet, located on the Place de la Bastille. My hotel was located in this area, and this was one of the first views of Paris I got. The long column, almost 52 metres high, with the gold statue on top was towering high above anything else in the area. And like everything in Paris this column has a long history to it.
The Colonne de Juillet is located in the middle of the square and is surrounded by a rather busy roundabout. The square and its surroundings are often referred to as the 'Bastille', which is a lively and popular area in Paris, with lots of cafes and bars. But, hahaha, I guess I am getting on a side-track here; back to the column and why it is placed here....
The column dates back to July 28, 1840, and was build in order of King Louis-Philippe (1773 – 1850) who wanted a monument to commemorate both the French revolution of 1789 (also known as the storming of the Bastille) and the "three glorious days" of the July revolt in 1830. The column is located roughly where the medieval Porte Sainte-Antoine once stood.
On a sunny day the glistering gold-leafed bronze statue on top will certainly draw your attention. This is the Génie de la Liberté (the Spirit of Freedom) and was designed by sculptor Augustin-Alexandre Dumont.
Interested in reading more about the history of the Place the La Bastille and the July revolution? Then these two external links might be something for you:
- Historical Travel
Opéra National de Paris Bastille
Also located on the Place de la Bastille is the interesting building of the Opéra National de Paris Bastille. It is hard not to notice this building as it is in such a sharp contrast with the more historical surroundings. But I can't say it is ugly, or out of tone with the rest, I actually found the architecture rather interesting and fascinating to look at. Unfortunately with the busy square in front of it, it wasn't so easy to get a good view (especially with the camera) of the whole building.
I haven't been inside, although I wouldn't mind taking a peek there! The design on the outside is quite impressive and it made me wonder how the inside would be like. The Opera building was inaugurated on July 13, 1989, on the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.
When talking about opera, one name here on VT comes to mind right away: VT member Nemorino. He has been to Paris recently and saw no less then 8 operas during his stay. So if you are interested in seeing an opera, do drop by on his pages, he has a wealth of information about the opera on them.
For many years, the Opéra Garnier was the only large opera building of Paris. The performances in this theater was fantastic, but so were the prices to come in. For a long time ideas were brought up to build a theater for the normal people. President Mitterand was the one who finally decided that this theater had to come at the Place the la Bastille: a place that historically belonged to the people.
The Canadien architect Carlos Ott was the one whose design was selected out of 700 applications. His idea didn't only included an opera house for 2700 people, but also a library and a cinema. The design is very modern for a classic place like the Place de la Bastille. Steel, glass and concrete are the main materials used both inside and outside. In 1989, right before the memorial celebration of the French Revolution, the building was officially opened.
The prices for the Opéra Bastille are as low as they wanted them to be where it was built. Check out opera-de-paris.fr if you want to visit a performance. It is also possible to get a guided tour through the building.
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