Gee, what a gorgeous building! I wondered what it was...
When I heard the cabbie tell me it was, "La Conciergerie," I imagined centuries of eager French students attending what must have been an exclusive school for hospitality, butlering, food service or other lovely French profession created to provide luxurious service to visitors. I was wrong. I was batshit crazy wrong.
This glorious, castle-like structure on the banks of the Seine instead was for centuries an abysmal prison, where thousands upon thousands of prisoners were held, and too many doomed souls were tortured beyond the imagination of any serial killer.
Almost 2,800 people were guillotined here, including Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI. Their 10-year-old son died alone in a prison cell here shortly after his parents were executed.
A tower on one end of the building was called, "The Babbler" because the screams from victims being tortured could be heard all over that end of the Seine.
As I mentioned, at one time the French were a bunch of vengeful, crazed sadists who'd chop off the head of someone even if they "weren't considered liberal enough."
I guess any culture that has survived as many centuries as the French has had its share of historical bloodshed, but compared to the French, we Americans are a bunch of namby pambies with a couple of rifles, a few hand grenades and a bomb or two.
Seriously, when we Americans students studied French history for two weeks back in 7th grade, they left out a whole lot of gruesome details.
What amazes me most is how the French are so enamored with architectural beauty, even their shithole prisons look like castles nestled elegantly beside the shimmering Seine.
If someone told me this building was an elegant hotel where I'd be staying while visiting Paris, I'd be sending postcards to people in America whom I didn't even like, just to be a show-off.
The Conciergerie is just one more example of dark, mysterious Paris.
You know how the place got its name?
The head torturer used to enjoy recommending great places to eat to tourists who happened by his place of business. Yep, I guess he'd remove his blood stained leather gloves, wipe the guts off his forehead and say with a jaunty smile, "Mais oui, zere iss zees great crepe place just up zee reever from here. Tell zem Pierre Le Sangre sent you."