Guide Tour of Bastille area, Paris, France

Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, a symbolic place of the French Revolution. At the time, the square was occupied by the Bastille Prison, which was a symbol of absolute power in the Ancien Régime. After the prison was destroyed after the revolution, the castle’s bricks were sent to all part of the nation. As the epicentre of the French Revolution and the birthplace of modern France, Bastille is an important location in the country’s cultural consciousness. The square is home to large cultural events such as concerts, fairs and citizen events.

The former location of the fort is currently called Place de la Bastille. It is home to the Opéra Bastille. A café and some other businesses largely occupy the location of the fort, and the Rue Saint-Antoine passes directly over it as it opens onto the roundabout of the Bastille. The large ditch (fossé) behind the fort has been transformed into a marina for pleasure boats, the Bassin de l’Arsenal, to the south, which is bordered by the Boulevard de la Bastille. To the north, a covered canal, the Canal Saint-Martin, extends north from the marina beneath the vehicular roundabout that borders the location of the fort, and then continues for about 4.4 kilometers to the Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad.

At the center of Place de la Bastille, there is the July Column, the famous “Génie de la Liberté” (Spirit of Freedom), which commemorates the events of the July Revolution (1830) stands at the center of the square. Althought the Place de la Bastille is more well known for the 1789 revolution, it should be noted that the French Revolution spanned a long period of time and the different periods should not be confused.

The iconic landmark of the district is the Opéra, designed by architect Carlos Ott, this marvel of modern architecture with transparent facades was inaugurated on the day of the bicentenary of the French Revolution. It is possible, during the day to visit the the public areas, including the auditorium with exceptional acoustics and behind-the-scenes.

Today, this great artery is home to many furniture stores and shops of all kinds. On Thursdays and Sundays, a large, open-air market occupies part of the park to the north of the Place de la Bastille, along the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. Consumers can find fresh fruit, fish, meat, cheese and bread along with clothing and typical flea market items.

This lively, trendy area is noted for its boutique shopping and fantastic dining. The north-eastern area of Bastille is busy at night with its many cafés, bars, night clubs, and concert halls. Other notable features include the Bastille subway station and a section of the Canal Saint Martin. Prior to 1984, the former Bastille railway station stood where the opera house now stands.

The square is also the starting point for a stroll on the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, where you can discover courses and picturesque passages: Passage du Chantier, Cour de l’Etoile d’Or, Cour des Trois Frères, nearby also include the workshops inside the intimate courtyard of Cour Damoye, and the Viaduc des arts via the Aligre market.

Like a secret passage in the middle of the Place de la Bastille and its hustle and bustle, the Cour Damoye, hidden between two cafés, surprises with its calm and charm. Fitted out by Pierre Antoine Damoye, an 18th century hardware storekeeper, this courtyard housed the accommodation of many ragpickers, scrap metal dealers and other craftsmen, as well as their workshops on the ground floor. On the right, a freight elevator recalls the industrial past of this former craft city.

Some undemolished remains of one tower of the fort were discovered during excavation for the Métro (rail mass-transit system) in 1899, and were moved to a park (the Square Henri-Galli) a few hundred metres away, where they are displayed today. The original outline of the fort is also marked on the pavement of streets and pathways that pass over its former location, in the form of special paving stones.

The Bastille was built between 1370 and 1383 during the reign of King Charles V as part of the defenses of Paris, the structure was converted into a state prison in the 17th century by Richelieu, who was king Louis XIII’s chief minister. At that time it primarily housed political prisoners, but also religious prisoners, “seditious” writers, and young rakes held at the request of their families. It began to acquire a poor reputation when it became the main prison for those taken under lettres de cachet issued by the King of France. Although its prisoners’ conditions were better than in many other prisons in France, popular literary accounts focused on the Bastille as a place of horror and oppression and a symbol of autocratic cruelty.

During the reign of Louis XVI France faced a major economic crisis. On 5 May 1789, the Estates-General convened to deal with this issue, but were held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the Second Estate, representing the nobility who made up less than 2% of France’s population.

The Storming of the Bastille was an event that occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789, when revolutionaries stormed and seized control of the medieval armory, fortress, and political prison known as the Bastille. At the time, the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. The prison contained only seven inmates at the time of its storming, but was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy’s abuse of power; its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

A crowd of around 600 people gathered outside around mid-morning, calling for the surrender of the prison, the removal of the guns and the release of the arms and gunpowder. Two people chosen to represent those gathered were invited into the fortress and slow negotiations began.

In the early afternoon, the crowd broke into the undefended outer courtyard and the chains on the drawbridge to the inner courtyard were cut. A spasmodic exchange of gunfire began; in mid-afternoon the crowd was reinforced by mutinous Gardes Françaises of the Royal Army and two cannons. De Launay ordered a ceasefire; despite his surrender demands being refused, he capitulated and the victors swept in to liberate the fortress at around 5:30.

Immediately after the violence of 14 July members of the nobility started to flee the country as émigrés. The news of the successful insurrection at Paris spread throughout France. In accord with principles of popular sovereignty and with complete disregard for claims of royal authority, the people established parallel structures of municipalities for civic government and militias for civic protection.

Although there were arguments that the Bastille should be preserved as a monument to liberation or as a depot for the new National Guard, the Permanent Committee of Municipal Electors at the Paris Town Hall gave the construction entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy the commission of disassembling the building. Palloy commenced work immediately, employing about 1,000 workers. The demolition of the fortress itself, the melting down of its clock portraying chained prisoners, and the breaking up of four statues were all carried out within five months.

Palloy also took bricks from the Bastille and had them carved into replicas of the fortress, which he sold, along with medals allegedly made from the chains of prisoners. Pieces of stone from the structure were sent to every district in France, and some have been located. Various other pieces of the Bastille also survive, including stones used to build the Pont de la Concorde bridge over the Seine, and one of the towers, which was found buried in 1899 and is now at Square Henri-Galli in Paris, as well as the clock bells and pulley system, which are now in the Musée d’Art Campanaire. The building itself is outlined in brick on the location where it once stood, as is the moat in the Paris Metro stop below it, where a piece of the foundation is also on display.

In 1808, as part of several urban improvement projects for Paris, Napoléon planned to have a monument in the shape of an elephant built here, the Elephant of the Bastille. It was designed to be 24 m (78 ft) in height, and to be cast from the bronze of cannons taken from the Spanish. Access to the top was to be achieved by a stairway set in one of the legs. However, only a full-scale plaster model was built. Victor Hugo immortalized the monument in the novel Les Misérables where it is used as a shelter by Gavroche. This monument was demolished in 1846, only the circular base of the fountain remains.

In 1833, Louis-Philippe decided to build the July Column to commemorate the Trois Glorieuses revolution. A royal decree of6 juillet 1831prescribed the erection of a funerary monument in honor of the victims of the three days. The first stone was laid by King Louis-Philippe I on the 27th of the same month. The column of July is of Corinthian order; inscriptions, palms, crowns of immortelles, oak branches, the arms of the City, the Gallic rooster and the lion, astronomical symbol of the month of July, adorn the pedestal.. It was inaugurated in 1840.

Main Attractions
The Place de la Bastille is 215 metres long and 150 metres wide. And in the Paris of the present time, the Place de la Bastille is one of the central traffic junctions in the centre of the city. The July Column at the center of Place de la Bastille, reaches a height of 51 metres. Its top is adorned by the golden sculpture “La Genie de la Liberte”, symbolizing the spirit of the freedom won at that time. It is a gilded sculpture, balancing on one leg, of an angel holding a flaming torch aloft in one hand.

Moreover, at this place, there is the Opera Bastille that was inaugurated in the year 1989 and is one of the two important big operas in Paris. Architecturally, the interior of the Opera Bastille is held in the style of the neo-baroque, the facade, however, is designed in the style of modernity. Underneath of the Place de la Bastille, there is a tunnel in which the Canal Saint-Martin runs underground for more than 2 kilometres that is used by many yachts.

The July Column
The July Column is a column erected in the Place de la Bastille in Paris, between 1835 and 1840 in commemoration of the three days of the July Revolution which occurred in 1830, known as Les Trois Glorieuses, which brought about the fall of Charles X and the regime. of the Restoration, then the establishment of the July Monarchy, with the reign of Louis-Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, who became King of the French.

The shaft of the column bears the names of the victims of the Revolutionary Days of July 1830 and the top is adorned with a gilded bronze sculpture by Auguste Dumont: Le Génie de la Liberté. Finally, the column is built above a necropolis accommodating the bodies of revolutionaries who fell during the July Days.

Opéra Bastille
The Opéra Bastille a is a modern opera hall located on the Place de la Bastille in Paris. It was designed by Carlos Ott and inaugurated in 1989 on the occasion of the festivities of the bicentenary of the Revolution as part of the major works for Paris. It is with the Opéra Garnier one of the two rooms constituting the Opéra de Paris, a French public institution whose mission is to implement the representation of lyrical or ballet performances, of high artistic quality. With its 2,745 seats, the great hall of the Opéra Bastille is one of the largest in the world in terms of capacity.

French Cinematheque
The Cinémathèque française is a private French organization co-founded by Henri Langlois, located since 2005 at 51, rue de Bercy, a building built by Frank Gehry in the Parc de Bercy in 1994 for the American Center. The missions of the Cinémathèque française are the preservation, restoration and dissemination of film heritage. With more than 40,000 films and thousands of documents and objects related to cinema, it constitutes one of the world’s largest databases on the seventh art.

In celebration of the Centennial of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum and the City Center of Music and Drama in New York co-sponsored “Cinémathèque at the Metropolitan Museum.” The exhibition showed seventy films dating from the medium’s first seventy-five years on thirty-five consecutive evenings from July 29 to September 3, 1970. The films were selected by Henri Langlois for their significance and contributions to the history of filmmaking, including work from official film industries as well as current and early avant garde directors. The program was the most diverse film exhibition held in the United States to date, and was the Museum’s first major undertaking in film.

Lyon station
The Gare de Lyon is one of the six large mainline railway stations in Paris, France. The station is located in the 12th arrondissement, on the right bank of the river Seine, in the east of Paris. The main entrance, on Place Louis-Armand, opens onto Rue de Lyon, which leads to Place de la Bastille, and Boulevard Diderot. Opened in 1849, it is the northern terminus of the Paris–Marseille railway. It is named after the city of Lyon, a stop for many long-distance trains departing here, most en route to the South of France.

This station is distinguished by its belfry, a square tower 67 meters high and bearing clock faces on its four faces. In the SNCF station, at the top of the columns, are the coats of arms of the cities served. In the ticket office room, the large fresco (in fact, canvases mounted on the walls) by Jean-Baptiste Olive, a Provençal painter, stretches over a hundred meters parallel to the letter lanes, showing, in a continuous way, the main destinations accessible by train from the station, to the Côte d’Azur and the city of Menton.

On the first floor, via the grand staircase, is the mythical Second Empire style restaurant, Le Train bleu, as well as its bar Le Big Ben. It has been classified as a historical monument since September 28, 1972, which makes the Paris-Lyon station the only station in operation in France to be subject to such protection.

Port of Arsenal
The Port de l’Arsenal, located in Paris, connects the Canal Saint-Martin to the Seine, between the Quai de la Rapée and the Place de la Bastille. It was created by bringing water to fill the moat of the Bastille after its destruction. Contains a small garden where students and local employees come to lie down, a rather chic restaurant on the terrace and it is also from here that some of the river boats leave. It was formerly a cargo port which, since 1983, has become a marina. It is part of the network of Parisian canals and constitutes the border between the 4th and 12th arrondissements of Paris.

From the 16th century until the 19th, an arsenal existed at this location. The arsenal accounts for the name of the basin and the name of the neighborhood, Arsenal, bordering the westerly (4th arrondissement) side of the basin. After the destruction of the Bastille fortress in November 1789 (during the French Revolution), the Bassin de l’Arsenal was excavated to replace the ditch that had been in place to draw water from the Seine to fill the moat at the fortress.

During the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth, the Bassin de l’Arsenal was a commercial port where goods were loaded and unloaded. Separated from the Seine by the Morland lockgate, the port was converted into a leisure port in 1983 by a decision of the Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and it is now run by the Association for the Leisure Port of Paris-Arsenal.

Court of Bel-air
Covered with vines, this beautiful paved courtyard probably housed a mansion at the end of the 18th century. Buildings were added and rented to boilermakers. Step into this picturesque alley where furniture makers and upholsterers occupy every window. This colorful passage is punctuated with street art works and frescoes as well as pretty display windows and courtyards.

Court of the Burgundians
This set is typical of the large industrial courtyards and building-workshops that appeared in the second half of the 19th century. Here, the workshops were powered by a steam engine, of which the chimney which culminates at 32 meters remains today. Plaques in the entrance hall recall the successes of the large Krieger house, a furniture manufacturer, which was established there and employed up to 600 workers.

Passage Lhomme
This Parisian passage hides many surprises. In the middle of its vegetation hides a large toy store as well as old workshops, in particular that still open of the varnisher Hollard. Do not hesitate to push open the doors, you will discover authentic traces of the artisanal past of the workshops. Then go back to avenue Ledru-Rollin and discover another place that delights children, in the Passage de la Bonne Graine. In the workshop of the same name, puppets are built and shows are given for young audiences (Atelier de la Bonne Graine, 16 Passage de la Bonne Graine)

Rue Crémieux
Rue Crémieux with charming, cobblestoned streets in Paris, but Rue Crémieux might stand out among the lot. The iconic street can be seen in many Instagram shots due to the brightly coloured façades of the buildings and the trompe l’oeil paintings sprinkled across the street.

Aligre Market
The Aligre market, one of the oldest markets in Paris, located at the Place d’Aligre and the covered market of the Halle Beauvau. is the soul of this traditionally popular district. Flea markets, vegetarian butchers, cheese shops, greengrocers and stalls of all kinds. A symbol of the market, it is reminiscent of the grocery stores of yesteryear with its sweets, Dijon gingerbread, aromatic plants and seeds…

The market located at Aligre square as well as in the rue d’Aligre, the Aligre market takes place every day except Monday. The second-hand goods dealers are gathered outside, in the semi-circle located on the eastern half of the square. The market is buzzing and the best time to visit is on a weekend morning. This is when locals from surrounding neighborhoods come to do their shopping and since prices here are much lower than in other parts of town.

The Beauvau market, covered market, is in the western half of the square, rectangular. It was traced in 1778, during the construction of the market by the architect Nicolas Lenoir, on buildings of the Saint-Antoine-des-Champs abbey.

The Arts Viaduct
Viaduc des Arts is an old abandoned railway line was redeveloped into a planted promenade in 2000. Beneath its vaults are the workshops and shops of around fifty outstanding designers and craftsmen from the capital. These addresses are very popular with decorators, entertainment and fashion professionals, but also quite simply amateurs and enthusiasts. Cabinet makers, feather makers, luthiers, glassblowers… All perpetuate the tradition of craftsmanship in the district and show the public behind the scenes of their know-how. Wecandoo offers you the opportunity to meet these craftsmen and participate in a workshop by making a unique object alongside them. Go to the Arche located at n°5.

Not hesitating to support innovation and young creators, the Viaduc des Arts also houses an incubator welcoming 5 young creators as well as a “relay” vault rented for 24 months to a young creator. Seven of them have been rewarded by the City and bear the “Made in Paris” label, L’Atelier C, chocolate factory; the Parisian Jam, jam factory; Maison Fey, upholstery, gilding on leather, La Fabrique Nomade, an association that promotes migrant craftsmen; Aisthésis, cabinetmaker; Hervé Ebéniste, cabinetmaker and Julien Vermeulen, plumassier and Junior Fritz Jacquet, paper sculptor and designer.

Paris Workshops
This structure dedicated to crafts, design and fashion, is a business incubator. It accompanies young creators in their approach, offers an exhibition space and organizes numerous events promoting Made in Paris craftsmanship ! It is the Ateliers de Paris that are at the origin of the label “Made in Paris”, which can be found in certain windows during this walk, in particular in the Viaduc des arts. Enter to discover this atypical place or to visit the gallery.

Bastille has plenty of eccentric boutique shops to browse. Merci, a concept store created by Bonpoint founders Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, donates profits to a foundation supporting women and children in Madagascar. Within the 1,500sqm (16,000sqft) space, you can find furniture, accessories and clothing from designers like Isabel Marant and Stella McCartney.

The Rue de la Roquette, home to clothing shops, vintage stores and boutiques selling local specialities, is an ideal place to spend some cash. At Miss Jeanne, grab good-quality, everyday womenswear, or scope out bolder pieces like printed blouses and graphic tees at Comptoir du Désert. Men and women alike can peruse the shelves at Adöm, a well-organised, second-hand store bursting with vintage gems, particularly when it comes to denim. For gifts and souvenirs that capture the flavours of France, be sure to pop by the fine-food store Paris-Provence for spices, oils, confections and more.

Café and Bars
The Bastille area is home to incredible nightlife and some of the best bars in Paris.

Café des Anges
Café des Anges is reminiscent of a 1960s diner with its kitschy, blue-and-red facade. Find yourself a seat on the theatre-style, street-side terrace on rue de la Roquette or inside amid the poster-lined walls and red banquet seating. Menu options range from a typically French breakfast (a croissant, orange juice and coffee) to a brunch menu that includes a little bit of everything (salads, eggs, pastries, desserts and more).

Ten Belles Bread
Ten Belles Bread with revolutionising the French bakery with modern takes on the crispy, chewy French bread everyone knows and loves. Enjoy one of the daily sandwiches which include fillings such as salted beef on focaccia or smoked salmon on rye – amid the modern café or seated in one of the multi-coloured chairs on the courtyard terrace.

L’Atelier de Torréfaction
Cour Damoye with wandering down the picturesque, visit L’Atelier de Torréfaction (The Roasting Workshop), a charming coffee shop that roasts its beans on site and handcrafts each cup, one by one, on a stovetop in a Moka pot.

Moonshiner was the original secret bar. The entrance through Pizzeria Da Vito and walk into the ‘freezer’ where you’ll find the hidden door. Inside, you’ll find a hushed atmosphere filled with upbeat jazz and relaxed, friendly bar staff. As befits a bar of this ilk, in true American fashion, there are more than 80 whiskies on the menu, as well as a range of beers and cocktails.

Septime La Cave
Septime La Cave is a standout place with cool, slate-grey space is unpretentious yet refined, allowing the top-quality wines to take centre stage. Septime La Cave particularly embraces the French ritual of l’apéro; there are no big dishes here but a variety of smaller plates to share among friends. The toast with smoked butter and black truffle is particularly good, as is the leek with Nanina ricotta and crushed pecans.

Le Calbar
Le Calbar seem like a gimmicky theme makes for an unforgettable night on the town when combined with the artful cocktail menu, and it’s the little unexpected twists that take Le Calbar from novelty to mainstay. Le Calbar’s Tiki Tiki Face to Fesse is a particular standout, at once fruity and spicy with rum, pineapple, vanilla liqueur, lemon, passionfruit juice and ylang-ylang honey, though a little less sophisticated than the Miss Suenos (Silver Patrón infused with kaffir lime leaves, peach liqueur, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and Japanese sansho pepper).

Bluebird is inspired by 1950s California (complete with a smoking room), with subdued lighting occasionally interrupted by a beam of neon streaming from the fish tank, which takes centre stage. It’s cosy, with candlelight adding to the intimate mood that the Moonshiner team does so well. The cocktail menu, which looks like a prop straight out of Mad Men, is an ode to gin.

The nautical-themed Medusa bar is dedicated to high-quality alcohol at a low price, and this focus has proven to be a success. The interior is part tavern, part pirate ship, and it’s easy to get caught up in the quirky vibe. Raw wood and white walls form a perfect backdrop for the amber-tinted exposed light bulbs, which create a warm glow that, coupled with the wooden rocking chairs, make this little bar one of the most comfortable spots near the Bastille. The cocktails are simple but executed well, but eating is cheating at Medusa – there’s no food on the menu at all. Plan to dine beforehand, or make this your rendezvous point before dinner.

Lone Palm
Lone Palm’s interiors transport visitors to 1950s Miami. The jade-glass, mosaic-tiled bar channels classic American style, which is enhanced by the old-school cocktail menu of pisco sours and dirty martinis. It’s charmingly, unapologetically retro, from the lampshades covered in palm-tree prints to the abstract shapes framed and mounted on the walls. The Lone Palm is not the cheapest bar in the area, but it’s still very reasonably priced, and with Elvis and Sinatra gracing the radio waves, expect a good time to be had by all.