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Places (POIs) visited during this tour

Place #1
Distance: 0.34mi , Attraction : Velib Metropole Bike Sharing Station 40001
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Bastille, Paris, France
POI 1 Tour Image
Vive le Revolution!
Once again, welcome to Historic America & UCPlaces’ audio biking tour of revolutionary Paris. We’re glad you could join us! I’m Aaron, your guide (but I also respond to professional history nerd). This is the part of the tour where I fit in my shameless plug for our websites (.historicamerica.org &.ucplaces.com) and invite you to use #historicamericatours on social media while traveling alongside us today. Let’s begin the journey. 

First thing’s first – unless you brought a bike with you, you’re gonna have to rent one at this Velib station. Don’t worry. It’s super easy because there are only a couple of steps in the rental process. First, you need to choose and purchase an access pass using the multilingual interactive panel on site OR utilize the downloadable Velib app on your smartphone. Then select the bike you want to ride, key in your code, and … you’re off! 

You’ll likely have the choice between a regular OR electric bike. It’s up to you. 

I suggest you get an all day or multi-day pass. During the course of our tour, this pass will give you the flexibility to dock your bike at any of the many stations along our route. You are free at any time to explore the sites more thoroughly on foot - or maybe you’d like to take a break to grab an espresso or snack. Then – whenever you're ready – your day pass allows you to unlock another bike and continue our tour. In essence you can make this ride as long or short as you like. I’m here to guide you from point to point and give you some great stories along the way.  

Now that I’ve explained myself, get a bike in hand, and proceed to the northern edge of the Place de la Bastille to trigger the first true point of interest on tour.  

Oh – one final note – don’t worry if there aren’t enough bikes available at this Velib station. There are other stations nearby. Just use your phone to locate them.


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Place #2
Distance: 0.09mi , Attraction : Place de la Bastille
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Bastille, Paris, France
POI 2 Tour Image
Beginning of the Revolution
You are now in the Place de la Bastille – the Parisian plaza where the infamous Bastille Prison once stood – that is, until it was destroyed during the first French Revolution of 1789. If you’d like to know the spot, just locate the massive pillar dominating the square. This is the July Column and it was erected decades later atop the former location of the Bastille. The column commemorates ANOTHER French Revolution which took place in 1830 and saw Louis Phillipe’s so called ‘July Monarchy’ overthrow the last Bourbon king of France – Charles X. 

The column is over 150 feet high and topped with the shining, gilded representation of liberty. The names of those who died during the Revolution of 1830 are engraved on the column in gold lettering. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How many revolutions has France had, anyway?”

Well first, let’s define our terms. In the context of this tour, a revolution is when a country’s sitting government is forcibly overthrown and a new governmental system is implemented. The generally accepted answer to the “how many revolutions in France" question is 3; a trio of major revolutions in 1789, 1830, and 1848 interspersed with a number of uprisings and violent seizures of power which occurred throughout the 1800s. The saga of revolutionary France is fascinating, interconnected and very complex. Honestly, if we were to visit every revolution-related site in Paris, it’d take days – and your legs would give out from all the peddling. On this tour, we’ll stick to the highlights and give you a good overview. Let’s start at the beginning with the storming of the Bastille. 

On July 14th, 1789 long simmering tensions boiled over in a fit violence as hundreds of French civilians – fed up with the rule of the Bourbon monarchy — became revolutionaries and stormed the Bastille fortress which stood on this very spot. The event was the beginning of the revolutionary era of French history.  

Although originally built to protect the city of Paris from foreign invasion, by the time of Louis XVI the Bastille was a prison for political dissidents and a symbol of the French monarchy’s oppression. It was an imposing building — see if you can envision it. 

Eight rugged stone towers linked by curtain walls created a stout castle approximately 220 feet long, 120 feet thick, and 80 feet high. Now envision that same castle being overwhelmed by a churning mob of angry Parisians wielding muskets, swords and an assortment of cruel, makeshift weapons. Swarming the fortress’s outer courtyard, the rioters forced open the prison drawbridge amidst a hail of bullets fired at them from the defending garrison. Eventually the revolutionaries compelled the defenders to surrender. Shortly thereafter, they cut off the head of the garrison’s commander and paraded it around the city on a stick. Over a hundred Frenchmen died. Their eyes stung by smoke, their ears ringing with gunfire and the sound of angry men, the smell of powder in their nostrils and the metallic taste of blood in their mouths. 

And this is just the first stop on our tour! 

The storming of the Bastille is generally regarded as the beginning of the Revolution of 1789 – the granddaddy of French Revolutions – and the date, July 14th 1789 – has ever after been commemorated as a national holiday, Bastille Day. 

To get to our next stop, take the Rue de Rivoli westward toward the Hotel DeVille. I’ll join you along the way. 


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