Top French Revolution Sites in Paris
The French Revolution started in 1789, when King Louis XVI and the French monarchy were overthrown. Here’s where to go to learn about and see the infamous locations of major events from that time of political turmoil in Paris.
Place de la Concorde
One of the largest squares in the city, Place de la Concorde sits between Avenue des Champs-Elysées and Tuileries Garden. During the Revolution, King Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette, and other members of the French aristocracy were executed here by guillotine.
How to Visit: Most city tours pass by Place de la Concorde, whose main feature is an Egyptian obelisk. The best way to see the square, however, is on foot during a walk along the Right Bank of the Seine. Consider a private walking tour for a customizable experience.
Once a palace during the Middle Ages, the Conciergerie was used as a prison during the French Revolution. Hundreds of prisoners were kept here, including Marie Antoinette, before being taken to the guillotine.
How to Visit: Set on Île de la Cité, the same island on the Seine where Notre-Dame Cathedral sits, the Conciergerie is easy to visit with a Paris attraction pass. For a more dedicated experience, opt for skip-the-line tickets or a combo tour that includes both a river cruise and a Conciergerie visit.
The Storming of the Bastille took place on July 14, 1789, when the now-gone medieval Bastille fortress was attacked by an angry mob. This surprise jump-started the revolution. Although the building itself no longer stands, its location is marked by Place de la Bastille, a square that straddles the 4th, 11th, and 12th arrondissements.
How to Visit: Discover what is now the Bastille neighborhood on a food walking tour, or opt for a bike tour that also stops at less-visited sights.
A collection of museums relating to France's military history, Les Invalides is best known for housing the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. The gold Dôme des Invalides is a recognizable part of the Paris skyline.
How to Visit: Les Invalides is set near the Eiffel Tower, so a combo tour or Segway tour can be great ways to check out both sites. To explore the compound and see Napoleon’s tomb, book skip-the-line tickets or a private tour to the onsite Army Museum (Musee de l'Armee).
Palace of Versailles
Although located just outside Paris, Versailles deserves a mention here. The Revolution started in part because of the way French aristocrats lived in excess while many of their citizens starved, and this lavish lifestyle is on full display at the Palace of Versailles, where the king and queen lived.
How to Visit: Several half-day and full-day trips are available from Paris, with transportation and entrance fees included for your convenience. Add-on options include a trip to Giverny, a bike tour, and a nighttime visit, which may include the summertime garden and fountain shows.