the story of the grandfather of Versailles on France 5

By Benjamin Puech

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Experts reconstruct in 3D the Palais de la Cité, seat of power of the kings of France from the 10th to the 14th centuries. © Five-a-side movies

This documentary brings life, during an archaeological treasure hunt, to the forgotten home of the Capétiens, in Paris. The mystery of the vanished palace, a film not to be missed this Thursday, September 7 at 9:05 p.m. on France 5.

The lawyers, all in their files, do they even pay attention to it? A statue of Saint Louis sits in a gallery of courthouse . In addition to its symbolic significance, it recalls the illustrious past of this 19th century building which dominates Island of the City. It was erected above the remains of buildings which, few Parisians know, have shaped the history of France.

Ancient Roman fortifications

It is on this island, on ancient Roman fortifications, that the Capetians established their seat of power from the 10th century. The City Palace, that was its name, even became under the reign of Philippe le Bel the most impressive royal residence in Europe. The Conciergerie, which watches over the Seine, and the superb Sainte-Chapelle still remain today. About it, we learn that the building is standing thanks to an iron archway that continues to arouse the admiration of engineers.
Curious to bring this ghost of history back to life, France 5 commissioned archaeologists to take stock of its remains and reconstruct the possible form of the buildings of yesteryear. The team uses photogrammetry, a technique which makes it possible to create, after painstaking work and from photographs of the ruins, a three-dimensional representation. The specialists, headlamps on their foreheads, then descend into damp bats, meet other experts. They carry out the investigation during an archaeological treasure hunt which would have benefited from leaving more room for the historical narrative. The channel will have wanted to integrate viewers by having them follow what it presents as an enigma to be solved.

Royal splendor

The highlight of the show was still worth these detours. It is therefore a 3D reproduction of the sumptuous residence made of white stones, which overlooked the Seine. Impressive images of a palace which was deserted by the court in 1360, who left out of prudence to live in Senlis. Two years earlier, the provost of the merchants, Étienne Marcel, had entered the royal apartments with armed men in order to bend the Dauphin, taking advantage of the absence of King Jean II le Bon, captured by the English.
In a France weakened by the Hundred Years’ War, the claims of the nobility and a precarious economic situation, the influential bourgeois of Paris wanted to impose their views on the future Charles V. When he succeeded in restoring order, he would continue to make the Palais de la Cité a place of expression of royal pomp, before his successors set up the headquarters of the main institutions of the kingdom of France there.

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