Walking around the Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie


This walk features Revolution-era prison cells, stories told in stained glass, and a boat trip from the Pont-Neuf.

Make your way to number 4 boulevard du Palais, go through the doorway, and follow signs to the Sainte-Chapelle (1); the Gothic chapel, built in just six years (1242-48) by King Louis IX, is hidden from the street amid the Courts of Justice. Climb the spiral stairs to the upper level. It consists almost entirely of stained glass, so try to come on a bright day when the sun lights up the windows. They depict Bible stories, but don’t bother trying to figure them out; just enjoy the glittering, jewel-like colors. Back on boulevard du Palais, turn left to reach the Conciergerie (2, 2 boulevard du Palais), a remnant of the medieval royal castle with impressive vaulted halls. It will appeal to children’s blood-and-guts instincts, as it was a prison during the French Revolution. Some cells have been reconstructed : communal dor the poor, individual cells with furniture and books for rich prisoners; Queen Marie Antoinette’s cell is now a chapel. Continue along boulevard du Palais to the medieval clock on the corner. Turn left onto quai de l’Horloge to reach the Pont-Neuf (meaning “new bridge” but actually the oldest bridge in Paris). Go down the steps behind the statue of Henry IV on horseback to see the funny heads carved along the side of the bridge. If you’ve planned ahead, settle in for a waterfront picnic in the square du Vert Galant (3) or consider a boat trip with the Vedette du Pont-Neuf (4). Cross the river to the Right Bank, turning right onto quai de la Mégisserie to see the animals in the pet shops along the street.

Metro Station : Châtelet (line 1, 4, 11, 14), Saint Michel (line 4), Pont Neuf (line 7)