Place de la Bastille is known as the place where the French Revolution began on the 14th of July 1789.
The Bastille was used as a jail and it was a symbol of the arbitrary nature of royal power, (some rivals of the king were put into jail for no reason) the poor inhabitant of Faubourg Saint-Antoine street decided to storme the jail to protest about the public's dissatisfaction towards Louis XVI carelessness about inflation of food prices.
To put you in the context of 1789, you have to know that lots of storms destroyed the crops during summers of 1787 and 1788.
With its consequences to increase the cereal prices used to make flour for bread, one of the cheapest and basic foods produced by the farmers.
Poor people like hand workers and farmers were completely starving, unable to afford to buy breads to eat.
At the same time, taxes for the church and taxes for the landowners were getting higher and higher.
Aware that the situation was becoming worse in his country, the French King Louis XVI ordered to record the "cahiers de doléances".
The "cahiers de doléances" was a kind of survey or guestbook where the population could write down their main preoccupations.
It's supposed to see what's going right and what's going wrong to help the government to take actions and decisions for the population.
But using this cahier de doléances was more a political tactic than improving people's situations.
Louis XVI only thought that people would think that they would be listened to by the government and it would calm them down and make them happy. It was just to give a good impression and distract the people's attention from the starving issue.
In fact Louis XVI didn't take the record seriously and didn't make any improvement for the people's economic situation.
When the population realized that the king didn't listen and cheated on them ….
- Because the Queen Marie-Antoinette was spending all the money from the taxes for her own pleasure by buying expensive jewellery, shoes, dresses…
- Because she didn't give a shit about the people starving over there and disrespected them when she answered them "if they don't have bread, let them eat cake!"
- Because Louis XVI was having the power to freeze the inflation of the cost of the bread but didn't use it (at this time the cost of bread wasn't regulate only by offer and demand, the king could fix the maximum price to sell for all the country)
… people became furious and started to protest about Louis XVI government.
This is how the French Revolution started on July 14th 1789.
Now at the place of the destroyed Bastille jail you can see in the centre the column of July.
This column was made to commemorate all the French citizens who fought for the public's right in the 2nd revolution of July 1830 (27-28-29 of July 1830).
I know it's a bit complicated to understand that we have a different date for revolutions but the French Revolution of 1789 didn't solve all the political problems in one day.
After the French revolution of 1789 the political system had been changing all the time going thoughout:
- The Anarchy during the French Revolution
- The Republic
- The Empire during Napoleon
- A Constitutional Monarchy …
Fights for citizen's rights took time and continued after the French Revolution.
Due to that Revolution period during the history of France, Bastille is a popular place for the French strikes during those days.
Bastille is also a big French student's meeting point to hang out at night.
A sample of Place de la Bastille Paris:
How to get to Bastille: Place de la Bastille, 75004 Paris
- M1-5-8 Bastille
Vélib' (City Bike) : 4007 Bourdon – 4101 Bastille – 11001 Richard Lenoir
Noctilien (Night Bus): N01-N02-N11-N16 Bastille