- It all starts at the church gate
- Failed duel
- On the way to the Louvre
- Saint-Germain-des-Prés: street by street
- Old New Bridge
- Meeting with the author
Who among us in our youth has not read the novel "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas? Brave heroes, exciting adventures, battles with swords, beautiful ladies - all this fascinated and did not allow one to break away from the book for a minute. Dumas-father managed to turn the boring pages of history into a unique detective story with elements of romance and even mysticism.
Monument to Alexander Dumas
A bit of history: the novel "The Three Musketeers" first appeared in print in 1844 on the pages of a French magazine, while the publication went through chapters that ended at the most interesting place. Every week, loyal readers patiently waited for the next issue to find out what happened next to their favorite characters. Thus, reading was more like watching a modern action-packed series.
The novel tells the story of the adventures of four young nobles - the royal musketeers. Four friends, whose names are known all over the world - Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the main character, d'Artagnan - are involved in the conflict between the French king Louis XIII and his first minister, the cunning Cardinal Richelieu. Musketeers fight in duels, save the good Queen Anne from shame, sacrifice themselves for the sake of the king and France …
Despite the short "voyage" of the musketeers to England, the main scene of the novel is Paris, the mysterious Paris of the 17th century, not yet touched by numerous revolutions and wars. What was he like? Where did the royal musketeers live? Where did their famous clashes with the cardinal's treacherous guards take place? All these secluded streets still exist.
It all starts at the church gate
Church of Saint-Sulpice
The Church of Saint-Sulpice, located in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris, is the ideal starting point of the route in the footsteps of the Three Musketeers. This stunning temple is surrounded by a network of picturesque streets with mansions where d'Artagnan and his friends lived.
The first stone of the modern building of the temple was laid in 1646 by Queen Anne of Austria, often the most appearing on the pages of The Three Musketeers. The construction took more than one hundred years. The monumental facade of the church, consisting of a splendid pediment with columns, a small dome and two towers, was made by the Italian architect Giovanni Servandoni.
This building of the era of classicism was never completed - one of the towers remained unfinished. Work on the construction of the Church of Saint-Sulpice was completed only in 1870, on the eve of the Franco-Prussian war.
- It is believed that the model for the construction of the temple served as St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
- The Church of Saint-Sulpice is the second largest church in the city after the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.
- The modern temple was erected on the site of an old Romanesque church, but recent archaeological work has proven the existence of an older chapel here, dating back to the 10th century.
- The interior of the temple is made mainly in the Baroque style. Ancient luxurious stucco moldings, marble sculptures and even curious shell-shaped reservoirs for holy water have been preserved here. And one chapel was painted by the famous French artist Eugene Delacroix.
- The Church of Saint-Sulpice is associated with another great French writer - it was here in 1822 that the wedding of Victor Hugo and his future wife Adele took place.
- On the floor of the temple you can see the mark of the Paris meridian, which until 1884 was considered "zero" along with Greenwich. Also worth paying attention to is a huge obelisk with a gnomon - an ancient astronomical instrument that acts like a sundial.
So where did the Musketeers live? The famous d'Artagnan is believed to have rented a room in a house on Rue Servandoni, facing the south façade of the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Moreover, there are even several pretty 17th century mansions with graceful wooden entrance doors decorated with carvings. Now this street is named after the architect of this temple, Giovanni Servandoni, and in the days of the Musketeers it was known under a rather frightening name - the street of gravediggers.
And Athos lived next door to d'Artagnan, who rented two neat rooms on Rue Ferou, which runs parallel to Servandoni and also overlooks the Saint-Sulpice church. The pearl of this street is the luxurious mansion at number six with an 18th century facade. The great writer Ernest Hemingway lived here in 1929, and one of the modern art galleries now houses the masterpieces of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
Old Dovecote Street
From the main facade of the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the famous Rue du Vieux Colombier stretches, named after the ancient dovecotes that belonged to the powerful abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés located nearby. According to Alexandre Dumas, it was here that the merry fellow Porthos lived, and in one of the neighboring houses was the reception of the captain of the royal musketeers, de Treville. Unfortunately, no outstanding mansions of that era have survived on this street.
The Luxembourg Gardens is one of the main locations in the novel The Three Musketeers. In its center rises a sumptuous Renaissance palace, and its hidden corners are ideal for a romantic date, a meeting of conspirators or even a duel. Remember how d'Artagnan's acquaintance with Athos, Porthos and Aramis, his future best friends, began? All three challenged the arrogant Gascon to a duel, which did not take place only "thanks" to the attack of the cardinal's guards. And the place for the duel was the Luxembourg Gardens, located a couple of steps from the Old Dovecote Street and the houses of the Musketeers themselves.
Once the Luxembourg Gardens was considered a suburb of Paris. It was equipped in 1611-1612 by order of Marie de Medici, mother of the young King Louis XIII, who is often found on the pages of the Three Musketeers. The garden is unique in that its northern, more ancient part is made in austere French style - with perfect geometric lines of alleys and terraces. And further to the south, the layout of the garden becomes more and more simplified, and it turns into a cozy landscape park, where figured flower beds are replaced by picturesque reservoirs.
Now the Luxembourg Gardens is a favorite vacation spot for Parisians and tourists. The huge fountain in front of the palace deserves special attention, where you can launch your own boats. However, if you walk deeper into the park, you can find elegant marble sculptures and other romantic fountains in the shady alleys. And also in the Luxembourg Gardens there are ball games, a funny puppet theater, the famous children's carousel and one of the variants of the world famous Statue of Liberty.
On the territory of the Luxembourg Gardens, there are also amazing historical monuments that have survived since the 16th-17th centuries. First of all, this is the stunning Luxembourg Palace, which served as the residence of Queen Mother Marie de Medici. Born Italian, she wanted to build a luxurious mansion that resembled her own Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Subsequently, the closest relatives of the French king lived here, especially the extravagant Duchess of Berry, under whom the Luxembourg Palace turned into a temple of luxury, is worth noting. She arranged colorful masquerades, and in 1717 she received the Russian Tsar Peter I here.
Now the French Senate is sitting in the Luxembourg Palace. The appearance of the building, however, remained unchanged and corresponds to the canons of Renaissance architecture.
And to the west of it is a charming 1550 mansion, called the Little Luxembourg. In 1627, Marie de Medici solemnly handed it over to the cunning Cardinal Richelieu, who arranged many intrigues of the four Musketeers. By the way, Alexandre Dumas deliberately distorted the image of this outstanding politician, turning him into a negative character.
The President of the French Senate lives in Lesser Luxembourg, but some of his rooms are open to tourists. The stunning setting of the early 18th century has been preserved here - the interiors are made in the popular Rococo style at that time. Tourists are invited to look at antique furniture, exquisite stucco moldings, gilded chandeliers, ceiling paintings and many other decorative elements. It is also worth visiting the tiny chapel, richly furnished in the transition between Renaissance and Baroque Mannerism.
And in the pretty building of the former greenhouse of the palace, located at number 19 along rue Vaugirard, the first public art museum in Paris opened in 1750 - long before the famous Louvre. Then here you could see the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci and Titian, who later took their place of honor in the halls of the Louvre. Now this Luxembourg Museum also hosts amusing exhibitions and expositions.
On the way to the Louvre
Musketeers were often summoned to an audience at the royal palace of the Louvre, located on the other side of the river Seine. The nearest path passed through the pretty old quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, known since the early Middle Ages.
Until the 17th century, there were swampy meadows, which were often flooded when the Seine flooded. However, since the 12th century, a cheerful fair has been held every year near the walls of the abbey, which has become famous throughout the country. The quarter soon became a center for art and science. At the end of the 17th century, the "Comedie Francaise" theater was located here, and the first cafe in Paris, which received the unusual name Prokop, was opened nearby. His menu included standard drinks - tea, coffee, hot chocolate, fruit juices, liqueur, wine, and ice cream was considered a real delicacy of that era. Philosophers and revolutionaries often gathered here: Diderot, Rousseau, Robespierre …
Subsequently, many other curious cafes were opened in this area - De Mago, De Flore and the Lipp brasserie. Writers of the early 20th century, representatives of the so-called "lost generation" and existentialists often gathered here. Among their outstanding visitors are Sartre, Saint-Exupery and many others.
It is also worth taking a stroll along the picturesque Boulevard Saint-Germain with its luxurious mansions, built in strict accordance with the plans of the famous Baron Haussmann. The house at number 184, which houses the French Geographical Society, stands out especially. On the facade of the building there are two statues - caryatids, symbolizing land and sea. And on this boulevard there is an amazing church of St. Vladimir of Kiev, which belongs to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
The boulevard intersects with the curious Rue du Bac, leading towards the Seine and the famous Orsay Museum. In the middle of the 17th century, lived in a stunning mansion near the embankment in the middle of the 17th century … the same d'Artagnan, a real Gascon nobleman and captain of the royal musketeers, who was killed in the Battle of Maastricht in 1673. It was he who served as the prototype for the protagonist of the novel by Alexandre Dumas. A little further away, in houses 15-17, the musketeers' barracks were also located, the buildings of which, unfortunately, have not survived.
Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Since ancient times, the abbey of the same name has been the cultural center of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. It was founded back in 558 by the Frankish king Childebert I. A stunning Romanesque church of the 11th-12th centuries, considered the oldest in all of Paris, has survived to this day. At the same time, the monastery was "renamed" - a new church was consecrated in honor of the holy Bishop Herman of Paris, who was buried in this church.
Another curious relic is kept in the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés - the tunic of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, an early Christian martyr who was killed at the beginning of the 4th century. This shrine was brought to Paris by the same King Childebert I.
A powerful bell tower crowned with a spire stands out in the exterior of the temple. The interior decoration, carefully restored at the beginning of the 21st century, is distinguished by its severity and solemnity.
Unfortunately, the rest of the monastery buildings of the ancient abbey have not survived - some of them were destroyed during the Great French Revolution, and the prison at the monastery had to be demolished during the restructuring of the area by Baron Haussmann at the end of the 19th century.
By the way, it was the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés that became the first Parisian royal necropolis - rulers from the Merovingian dynasty found their last resting place here, including the founder of the abbey Childebert I. The great French scientist Rene Descartes is also buried here.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés: street by street
The most popular street in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés is Rue de Seine. Here, completely incompatible plots of French history are intertwined in a unique way.
On this street, for example, lived Vincent de Paul, a local priest, later canonized by the Catholic Church. His small house of the 17th century has survived, but the neighboring luxurious mansion of Queen Margot - the same fateful heroine of the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, unfortunately, has not survived to this day. Abandoned by her unfaithful husband Henry IV, Margaret moved to the outskirts of Paris and surrounded herself with prominent figures of the Renaissance.
The nice mansion at number 25 deserves special attention. At one time there lived Count d'Artagnan, the famous Gascon Musketeer who actually existed, who later moved to Bac Street. And on the neighboring side of the street there is an old cabaret "At the Little Moor", known since the end of the 16th century. Its bright façade has survived to this day.
Overall, rue Seine is a charming neighborhood dotted with curious art galleries housed in picturesque 18th-century buildings. Many cultural and artistic figures lived here - Charles Baudelaire, Georges Sand, Adam Mickiewicz and even Marcello Mastroianni.
You can also have a tasty snack on this street. Café La Palette, occupying house number 43, was considered a favorite institution of young artists, Picasso and Cézanne visited it. Inside, stunning ceramic jewelry from the early 20th century has been preserved.
Rue Seine smoothly flows into Rue de Tournon, which was considered an elite quarter. Here lived the closest relatives of the powerful dukes de Guise, influential nobles of the 16th century, also featured in the novel "Queen Margot". By the way, another Margarita Valois, the aunt of the famous queen, lived next door to Giza. The building of this street is made in approximately the same style - these are austere four-story mansions with large windows and picturesque attics.
Rue de Vaugirard, the longest in Paris, runs perpendicular to Rue Tournon. Its length is almost four and a half kilometers. Once it connected the outskirts of the city with the neighboring village of the same name, but by the middle of the 19th century, Paris had grown so much that the tiny settlement of Vaugirard became part of his fifteenth Arrondismane.
We are interested in the beginning of the Rue Vaugirard, built up just at the time of the Musketeers. And now you can see here old mansions, the façade of which has darkened over the course of the centuries, as well as lighter buildings with funny shutters that adorn each of the many windows. House number 25 was home to Aramis, the most romantic character in Dumas' novel. By the way, nearby, on Rennes Street, there is a luxurious modern hotel named after Aramis. And the streets where the houses of other musketeers are located - Ferou and Servandoni - can be called a kind of alleyways coming out of the Rue Vaugirard like rays.
Among other things, here you can see the church of St. Joseph from 1620, which is distinguished by its austere façade; curious ruins from the times of Charlemagne, as well as a pretty mansion where Emil Zola spent his childhood. Directly on rue Vaugirard is the entrance to the famous Luxembourg Gardens.
Old New Bridge
In order to get from home to the royal palace of the Louvre, d'Artagnan and company would certainly have to cross the Seine. And the most conveniently located bridge was the Pont Neuf, the "New" bridge. It is worth noting that this bridge was really new for Paris in the 17th century - it was solemnly opened back in 1607 and is now considered the oldest surviving city bridges.
The pretty arched bridge of Pont Neuf was unique for that era. Its dimensions were considered gigantic - 22 meters wide, it was wider than not only ordinary bridges, but also some Parisian streets. However, soon all of its territory was occupied by a covered market, which was traditional for Paris.
The Pont-Neuf bridge connects the Louvre with the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, where the main characters of the novel The Three Musketeers lived. The bridge crosses the famous Isle of Cité, where the Royal Conciergerie Palace and the famous Notre Dame Cathedral are located.
In 1618, an equestrian statue of Henry IV, who had been killed eight years earlier, appeared in the very center of the bridge. It was the first monument to any French king to be erected in a public place. Unfortunately, the old sculpture has not survived - it was destroyed during the Great French Revolution. The monument was restored only in 1818, and a cozy park was laid out around it.
From the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, the Pont-Neuf bridge connected to the pretty Rue Dauphine. It was named after King Louis XIII, who was served by d'Artagnan and other musketeers.
King Henry IV was already fifty when he finally had a long-awaited son, Louis, heir to the French throne, who received the title of Dauphin, traditional for France. A new street was named in his honor, as well as a luxurious square on the island of Site, located opposite the equestrian monument to Henry IV. It has preserved amazing old buildings from the early 17th century with bright facades and charming dormer windows.
Meeting with the author
If you walk along the Pont Neuf, you can find yourself at the walls of the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral or in the luxurious gardens of the Louvre. And if you stay on the same bank of the Seine and move further away from the embankment, you can reach the monumental Pantheon, where the great writer Alexander Dumas, father, author of The Three Musketeers, found his last resting place.
Initially, this place was one of the most important shrines of Paris - the Church of Saint Genevieve, the patroness of the city. Here was buried Clovis, the first Frankish king to convert to Christianity. However, the old building had long been dilapidated by the 18th century, and King Louis XV in 1764 laid the foundation stone for a new church.
Construction work, however, dragged on, as the architects were guided by the Roman Pantheon, but they could not erect strong enough walls to withstand the weight of a powerful dome.
In 1789, the Great French Revolution began, and the newly erected church was secularized. It was decided to bury prominent revolutionaries here. But since the mood in the country changed extremely quickly, the remains of some of them, despite the solemn funeral that had taken place a couple of years before, were carried out under cover of night. So, for example, it happened with Marat, and the ashes of the great philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau remained untouched.
During the turbulent 19th century, the new church of Saint Genevieve acquired and again lost its sacred function. Ultimately, it was transformed into the Pantheon - a kind of necropolis where the great French are buried.
The appearance of the Pantheon especially stands out for its luxurious portal, decorated with powerful columns and a frieze with elaborate reliefs. Inside, amazing paintings of the 18th-19th centuries have been preserved. It is also worth paying attention to the elaborate decoration of individual sarcophagi and tombstones.
As for Alexandre Dumas, his grave was moved to the Pantheon just a few years ago - the solemn ceremony took place in 2002, 132 years after his death.
By the way, behind the Pantheon is the cozy Place de la Contrescarpe, dotted with numerous cafes and restaurants. It was here that the famous "Pine Cone" tavern, a favorite drinking establishment of the Musketeers, was located. You should also pay attention to the picturesque facades of old houses and enjoy the silence sitting by the fountain in the very center of the square.