The French Revolution of 1789. A period of time when cell phones, Facebook and selfies weren't 'a thing,' I suppose you could say life was pretty dull. What's the point of living when you can't update what you've had for breakfast or post the latest morning selfie on Instagram #nomakeupselfie. But I do have to say, there was much more going on during the year of 1789 than that of our futuristic selfie (or self obsessed more like it) twenty nineteen.
For all of you who are reading this and have no idea about this French Revolution nonsense, then I suggest you go to the nearest library and pick up a book and start reading, or seeing as though we are technological crazed beings living in the 21st century, perhaps just Google it.
Anyway, it was a time of political pornography, cannibalism, King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette (FYI she never said "Let them Eat Cake"), and ultimately the Reign of TERROR (the guillotine). Hopefully that summed it up for you.
Let me take you back to the year 2014. A young, exuberant, history nerd had just finished high school and embarked on a gap year around Europe. It was there in Paris, with her mum, that she made it her goal to visit every place of significant importance to the French Revolution. I guess you could say this was my very own journée.
You see eating crepes by the ruins of the Bastille, was my 'eating a baguette and drinking wine by the Eiffel Tower.' To me, it couldn't get more French than that. It was that afternoon, walking back to our hotel, I was led to the smell of fresh coffee beans roasting in the air, hitting my nostrils with a sense of euphoria. What stood in front of my eyes was no ordinary cafe. I recall my history teacher mentioning to me that Cafe Procope was one of the oldest cafes in Paris where the philosophe, Voltaire, drank his thirty cups of coffee per day. He mentioned that it was very difficult for a tourist to find. Yet here it stood, without even a glance at the map. I had encountered the first site that would act as the starting point for my quest.
By the third day, mum and I travelled by train to the Palace of Versailles. Making our way to the golden gates I marched demanding economic reform and more bread, pretending to carry a pitchfork in my right hand. At this stage my mum was watching on, probably as you are reading this, quite confused and distressed but I was living in the moment, just like those 7000 hungry women were back in October 1789.
Together we spent hours wandering the palace and the magnificent gardens (which never seemed to end). I continued looking at the map, making sure we were visiting all the important sites; from Marie Antoinette's faux farmhouses to Napoleon's Grand Trianon Palace. But there was still one thing we had not come across on the map and it was something I was dying to see - the Tennis Court Room. What is so significant about this tennis court you ask? Let me tell you, this tennis court is no ordinary tennis court, in fact it provided the setting for the historic Tennis Court Oath to take place on the 20th June, 1789. This was one of the most pivotal moments of the French Revolution; where a group of deputies gathered in a nearby tennis court, vowing to meet until they had established a new constitution for France, ultimately standing in allegiance against the old regime.
This was a place I had to see. An itch I had to scratch. Despite it being clearly drawn on the map, we could not find the building anywhere. We looked high and low, asking the locals and guides, but no one seemed to understand our horrendous French/Australian accents. That's when we took the courageous step, as we, mother and daughter duo, always do, and decided to leave the comfort of the palace to find it ourselves. We walked through cobblestone streets trying to understand the French signage but still nothing came to us. Our feet were sore and blisters were beginning to form. It was at this stage that we made the vital decision to stop looking and head back to the train station. Hanging my head low, as though ready for the chopping block, deeply disappointed.
It wasn't until I glanced up and saw a building down a hidden side street. An unusually old building but still intact. The high ceiling windows looked extremely familiar, similar to something I had seen or read from a textbook. I stormed towards it, now knowing where I was. Opening the tall, wooden doors, David's painting hung before me. I had made it, after all this time. Just when we had given up, there it was right under our noses. The sculptures of Abbe Sieyes on display; my mind longing to know 'what is the third estate?' To which he replied, 'everything.' I was consumed in a surreal dream, which was eventually cut short when an old woman told me to "Get Out! We are shooting a documentary." Walking away from the Tennis Court Room I felt enlightened and now knew that I could progress with my adventure with a smile on my face.
So there you have it. Perhaps you read this and were bored out of your brains or didn't quite understand the references, but I suppose the real meaning behind this is to just keep on wandering. No matter where you may find yourself, you will find the answers eventually, when you least expect them.
Check out my One Week in Paris Guide