Whether she be perceived as a foreign traitor, a martyr of the French revolution, a fashion icon or, more recently, a pop queen, Queen Marie Antoinette has always unleashed many passions.
From 16 October 2019 to 26 January 2020, the Conciergerie de Paris is devoting a blockbuster exhibition to Marie-Antoinette, one of the most famous and represented historical figures in the world. To coincide with this, the Centre des Monuments Nationaux has created a Marie Antoinette Pass and invites the public to discover places closely associated with France’s famous queen such as the Château de Rambouillet, the Chapelle Expiatoire and the Basilique de Saint-Denis.
Château de Rambouillet
The famous Château de Rambouillet was in turn a royal, imperial and finally a presidential residence. At the end of the 18th century, King Louis XVI, a hunting enthusiast, moved with Marie-Antoinette into this newly acquired residence on the edge of the forest and commissioned several fashionable renovations to be made to the Queen's apartments. He also had a dairy built in secret in the middle of the 150 hectares of gardens so that Marie-Antoinette could spend time there with her friends and enjoy dairy products and other desserts in a delightful bucolic setting.
More info : Château de Rambouillet
An integral part of the former Palais de la Cité and a magnificent Gothic building on the banks of the Seine, the Conciergerie was the seat of power of Kings. It later became a sadly famous prison where Marie-Antoinette spent the last weeks of her life. The queen was judged just a few feet from her cell at the Revolutionary Court and it was there that she wrote her last letter.
Ironically, it is in the place where she spent the last moments of her life that she is celebrated today. This winter, the Conciergerie is staging the exhibition ‘Marie-Antoinette, metamorphoses of an Image’, in which the most famous queen of France is scrutinized from every angle. The opportunity to learn a little more about the daily life of the court in the 18th century and to discover objects from collections or historical archives. And that is not all! Centuries later, Marie-Antoinette continues to inspire artists, fashion designers and directors and has become a pop icon. She can be seen portrayed as a Japanese manga heroine or as the main character in Sofia Coppola's famous eponymous film, as well as in video games, advertisements, novels ... And her hair and wardrobe are copied ad infinitum in fashion shows and the work of contemporary artists. Three hundred years later, she is still at the forefront of fashion.
More info : La Conciergerie
Located close to the Saint-Lazare train station, this expiatory chapel was commissioned by Louis XVIII to pay tribute to his brother and sister-in-law who died 24 years earlier. It stands at the exact place where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were buried in a mass grave during the French Revolution. This chapel in the neoclassical style features several rows of white roses and is a site of historical significance in terms of the Ancien Régime. Inside are two magnificent statues of the royal couple. A true haven of peace in the heart of Paris.
More info : Chapelle Expiatoire
Basilique de Saint-Denis
Finally, it is in the Basilica of Saint-Denis that Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette are buried for all eternity. This magnificent Gothic monument is the necropolis of the Kings of France and houses the tombs of 43 kings and 32 queens from the 7th to the 19th century. On 21 January 1815, a funeral ceremony was held to transfer the ashes of the royal couple, 23 years after their death. An area in the Saint-Louis chapel now houses two white marble statues of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, where an extract from the Queen's last letter has been engraved. A few minutes from Paris, the Basilica of Saint-Denis is a major French historical site.
More info : Basilique Cathedrale de Saint-Denis