This beautiful building is Hotel de Sens, one of the few remaining medieval residences left in the city of Paris. What was once the home of the powerful archbishops of Sens is now a public building, and today it is home to the Bibliothèque Forney. While many people come to Hotel de Sens to marvel at the architecture, relax in the garden, or browse the thousands of books in its library, many others come to see some remains of the French Revolution. But which revolution do they find?
Over the years I’ve discovered that most people think the French Revolution was just one event. Parisians stormed the Bastille, they cut off the King’s head, et voilà! Democracy in France! In actuality, however, the French Revolution was a series of uprisings spanning many decades, and one of those uprisings occurred over three days in July of 1830. In fact, this event is now known as the Trois Glorieuses, or the Three Glorious Days. From July 27th – 29th, 1830, protests broke out across Paris in reaction to King Charles X’s July Ordinances. What began as a simple protest quickly devolved into rioting and warfare, and thousands of barricades were erected throughout the city. When the dust had settled three days later, King Charles X had abdicated, and Louis Philippe, the last King of France, had come to power.
So what does all this have to do with Hotel de Sens? Well, in the midst of the violence, on July 28th, a cannonball was fired at this building. It didn’t do much damage though, and instead got lodged in the facade. It’s still there to this day, with the date of July 28th, 1830 inscribed underneath. It’s easy to miss, but it’s a reminder of a time when the will of the people was enough to topple a King. Now that’s a powerful cannonball.
FIND ME HINT
The cannonball of Hotel de Sens is not the size you’d expect. It’s actually visible in the photo above. Can you see it?
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Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.