Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Robespierre was a French lawyer and statesman who campaigned for universal manhood suffrage. He was a follower of many of Rousseau’s beliefs, and fought for the abolition both of celibacy for the clergy, and slavery. In 1791, Robespierre became an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a political voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry arms in self-defence. He played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy on 10 August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention. He also coined the famous motto "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" by adding the word fraternity on the flags of the National Guard. This remains the motto of today’s France.

Robespierre did not feel that he owed anything to the bureaucracy and his goal was to create a united and indivisible France, equality before the law, to abolish prerogatives and to defend the principles of direct democracy. Robespierre was eventually undone by his obsession with the vision of an ideal republic and his indifference to the human costs of installing it, which turned both members of the Convention and the French public against him. At the peak of his power, he famously said in a speech that marked the name of this time period:

“If the basis of popular government in peacetime is virtue, the basis of popular government during a revolution is both virtue and terror; virtue, without which terror is baneful; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; it is less a principle in itself, than a consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing needs of the patrie [homeland, fatherland].”

- Robespierre 1794

In order to understand Robespierre’s fidelity to his ideals, we should understand where they came from.Like said before, one of his major influences was Rousseau's Social Contract, which argued that each person was born with rights, and they would come together to form a government that would then protect those rights. Under the social contract, the government was required to act for the general will, which represented the interests of everyone rather than a few factions.

Drawing from the idea of a general will, Robespierre felt that the French Revolution could result in a Republic built for the general will but only once those who fought this ideal were expelled. Other sources that laid the foundation to the Reign of Terror’s ideas came from many Enlightenment thinkers. Enlightenment thought emphasized the importance of rational thinking and began challenging legal and moral foundations of society, providing the leaders of the Reign of Terror with new ideas about the role and structure of government.

His post-revolution ideas were so radical that the y decided to start a new Calendar, marketing as year 1, renaming all the months and extending the week from 7 days to 10. French Revolutionary calendar (calendrier révolutionnaire français), was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune (another revolution) in 1871. Immediately following 14 July 1789, papers and pamphlets started calling 1789 year I of Liberty and the following years II and III.

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Updated: Jul 30, 2020

July 24 of 1802, prolific French author Alexandre Dumas was born.

Best known for writing The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, all of his published works total beyond 100,000 pages and have been adapted to more than 150 films!

Although there are very few recorded anecdotes about the obstacles Dumas must have endured in time of ruthless racism, crucial evidence stands in the memory of his father. Dumas' father was born a slave and became the first black general in French history, and so is widely believed to have been a major inspiration in his son's historical novels.

General Dumas was born in modern-day Haiti. His father was a white French nobleman, Marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, and his mother an enslaved woman of African descent, Marie-Cessette Dumas. He was born into slavery because of his mother's status, but his father took the boy with him to France in 1776 and had him educated. Slavery had been illegal in metropolitan France since 1315 and thus any slave would be freed de facto by being in the country. Although social status was more important than skin color in French society at the time, there is a lot of meaning behind Dumas’ choice to enlist under his mother’s name instead of his father’s when he joined the military at 24 years of age. He went on to quickly rise through the ranks and play an important role in the French Revolutionary Wars.

Dumas served as commander of the French cavalry forces on the Expédition d’Égypte, a failed French attempt to conquer Egypt in 1798. On the march from Alexandria to Cairo, he clashed verbally with the Expedition's supreme commander Napoleon Bonaparte. When Dumas fell into enemy hands on the return from the Egyptian expedition, the French high command left him to rot for two years in the enemy’s fortress. The new Emperor Napoleon, meanwhile, had expelled black officers from the armed forces and reinstituted slavery in France's overseas possessions.

This war story may sound familiar to readers of Alexandre Dumas as it clearly inspired his many novels of patriotic sons who valiantly keep faith with slighted fathers, who were victims of gross injustice and chase vengeance and vindication. At the start of The Three Musketeers, d'Artagnan's father tells his son, "never submit quietly to the slightest indignity", for "it is by his courage alone that a gentleman makes his way nowadays… Have no fear of many imbroglios, and look about for adventures". He, and his creator, did exactly that.

Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d'Artagnan (who only formally joins them at the end of The Three Musketeers) are gentlemen at arms in the strife-ridden France – and England – of the early 17th century. They dedicate their swords to an ideal of their homeland more than to the scheming statesmen and wayward monarchs who really govern it. This self-fashioned patriotism, immune to the misdeeds of the powerful, feels very close in spirit to the career of the author's father. He was a man betrayed by his superiors, but not by his idealised patrie.

But even in his fame, Dumas experienced racism and was constantly referred to as ‘the negro’ even when the critics and the French society preferred his book to those of his contemporaries. He lacked the financial education and backing of banks as he had fame of spending his wealth as fast as he published his novels. He famously purchased a mansion country-house on the outskirts of Paris and named it Château de Monte Cristo. Another hint at the gray area between his life’s experiences and the imagination of his novels.

In 2002, for the bicentennial of Dumas's birth, French President Jacques Chirac had a ceremony honouring the author by having his ashes re-interred at the mausoleum of the Panthéon of Paris, where many French luminaries were buried. Chirac acknowledged the racism that had existed in France and said that the re-interment in the Pantheon had been a way of correcting that wrong, as Alexandre Dumas was enshrined alongside fellow great authors Victor Hugo and Émile Zola

For your next visit to France you may want to read one of Dumas’ masterworks on the way, and visit the island fortress prison Château d’If near Marseille (which was the inspiration for the novel The Count of Monte Cristo) and learn about the prisoners incarcerated here and get amazing views of the Vieux Port! You can reserve your priority tickets HERE

And if you are in Paris and you want to pay a visit to his to his iconic resting place you can get your flexible-entry tickets to the great Panthéon HERE

"All for one and one for all!"

#adayliketoday #revolution #anniversary #arcdutriomphe #paristoday #parisnews #parisfrance #happeninginparis #parisianvibes#paristyle #parishistory #paris_tourisme #parisprivateguide #privateguide #parisiloveyou #parisfan #parisaddict #travelparis #pariscity #parissecret #bestofparis #visitparis #lovingparis #parisculture #alexandredumas #pantheondeparis #pantheonparis #threemusketeers #parisliterature #frenchliterature #grandshommesdelapatrie #grandshommesdefrance #frenchwriter

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The original architects of the medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité had a mission to build a monument to stand the test of time. As much as they envisioned the passing of the centuries, they probably never imagined all the events and the symbolism that would make Notre-Dame de Paris one of the most emblematic and recognizable buildings in the 21st century world. The cathedral's construction began in 1160 as its first cornerstone was set in the presence of King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III, (characters so historical that seem almost mythical now). The main aspects of the cathedral were largely complete by 1260, but Notre-Dame as we know was majorly restored by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1864.

Viollet-le-Duc’s restoration began in 1844, ten years after the publication of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre-Dame de Paris (a.k.a. The Hunchback of Notre Dame), which he wrote in part to raise awareness of the cathedral’s decaying state. After the Napoleonic Wars, Notre-Dame was in such a state of disrepair that Paris officials actually considered its demolition. Can you imagine? It is strange to think city officials of their times wanted to strip Paris of their most emblematic monuments (the Eiffel tower was supposed to be taken down after its display at the 1889 world fair).

Approximately 12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually (meaning an average of 30,000 people every day), making it the most visited monument in Paris. Until the roof caught fire in 2019. It is important to mention this damage came about during a period of renovations. A renovation program proposed in late 2010 with an estimated cost of €100 million, including a €6 million budget for the cathedral's spire. These renovations began in late 2018. In the evening of April 15 2019 the cathedral sustained serious damage after burning for about 14 hours, including the destruction of the flèche (the timber spirelet over the crossing) and most of the lead-covered wooden roof above the stone vaulted ceiling. President Emmanuel Macron said approximately 400 firefighters helped to battle the fire in the same speech where he promised to restore the damages. A short time later, the idea of an international design competition for restoration proposals was mentioned by fire brigade official, Philippe Demay.

Restoration proposals came as fast as the internet allowed architects from several countries to submit all types of proposals. From a rooftop deck, to an ultra-light beam to be projected as replacement of the old spire, to a new colorful full stained-glass cover, even to a metallic structure representing a flame. You will find our selection of modern proposals below.

Which one would you have chosen and why?

(You can write your answer in the comment section below)

1- Proposal by Designer Mathieu Lehanneur

2- Clément Willemin, of French design company BASE Paris

3- Proposal by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut

4- Proposal by Alexandre Fantozzi, of Brazil’s AJ6 I Arch Properties Design

5 - Proposal by Vizum Atelier, a Slovakian-based design company

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