26 October 2023

La colonne de Juillet, place de la Bastille

The place de la Bastille is where the famous, or notorious, château-become-prison stood from the year 1382 until the French Revolution of the late 18th century. It was stormed by the people of Paris and then demolished.The stones it was built of were sold off. Some went into the construction of the pont de la Concorde, according to the Michelin Green guidebook for Paris.

The colonne de Juillet, as the column is called, was built between 1830 and 1840 after a smaller revolution in 1830. It stands 52 meters (170 ft.) tall and is topped off by a statue of the Génie de la Liberté. I took the photos here in February 2003.

The Cadogan guidebook for Paris says that that the place de la Bastille, which now occupies the ground on which the prison once did is “the only square in town created not by kings or planners but by the people. Since they cleared the space in 1789, the place has been the symbolic centre of leftist politics, the setting for monster celebrations like the one that followed [François] Mitterrand's election [as Président de la République] in 1981.”

I remember that event vividly, but I and my Parisian friends watched it on television rather than venturing out to the place de la Bastille, where thousands had gathered to demonstrate and celebrate. The atmosphere was volatile, and who knew what might happen. In the end, the celebrations were mostly peaceful.


  1. In the sixties I was told to stay away from this area. Later on I enjoyed seeing the beautiful statue.

  2. Cities and neighborhoods evolve. Paris is pretty gentrified these days compared to 40 or 50 years ago.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?