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French tours: ‘Beware Madame la Guillotine!’

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When My French Life™ asked me to review Time Traveler Tours new ‘Beware Madame la Guillotine’ iPhone app, I eagerly agreed. I was not going to pass up a chance to learn some history while having fun, outdoors, on the go.

The app is not quite a self-guided walking tour and not quite a book on tape. It’s something in between and at the same time something more. It’s jam-packed with history and interesting tidbits. It’s interactive. It’s easy to use. I had never owned an iPhone until about 15 hours before I embarked on the app-guided tour, but I still found it easy to navigate.

The app even comes complete with ‘Tips’ at the start to help you maximise your experience. The app provides wonderful visuals – from maps to historical portraits to photos – which make this learning experience truly come alive.

If touring around alone, you can listen to the narration and music with headphones. But if you are two or three people, you could turn the speaker on and listen along together or just read the text on the screen of your iPhone (though I do not think this would be as much fun). The audio and text are provided in both French and English.

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Time Traveler Tours recommends that you allow yourself a full day to fully appreciate the tour. The estimated time includes a recommended stop for lunch. It would be possible, however, to do the tour in two or three different sections over the course of several days.

You start the tour in the Palais Royal, in the 1st arrondissement. There’s not much walking in this first part, but a lot of exploring. Your narrator is 24 year-old Charlotte Corday, legendary murderess of Jacobin revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat. Charlotte stays with you through the entire tour, leading you through the most important events of the French Revolution.

The historical dialogue is frequently interrupted by “challenges” or treasure hunts that encourage you to investigate every corner of the Palais Royal gardens. The French Revolution is not the easiest topic for youth to grasp, but these sidebars are an especially great way to get kids involved and excited about the tour.

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After approximately two hours in the Palais Royal, the app gives you easy-to-follow directions over the River Seine and to the historic Café Procope in the 6th arrondissement, with a few recommended stops along the way. A treasure hunt in this café that dates from 1686, still following the revolutionary theme, will earn you 10% off your lunch there and may have the added benefit of giving parents a restful lunch while providing entertainment for the younger set.

After lunch, the app once again provides detailed instructions for making your way to Charlotte Corday’s final accommodations, the prison la Conciergerie, most famous for its royal prisoner, Marie-Antoinette. Adults (18+) will need to pay the entrance fee for the Conciergerie. (A quick tip: purchase the double-entry ticket that also gets you into nearby Sainte-Chappelle. This will allow you to skip the much longer line for Sainte-Chapelle.)

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To purchase the app and try it out yourself, visit the App Store on your device, or find more details on Time Traveler Tours’ site. And congratulations to Time Traveler Tours as ‘Beware Madame la Guillotine’ was just named a Top 10 2012 Educational Travel App by the World Youth and Student Travel Conference!

Off you go – let Charlotte take you back to 1793 Paris!

Image credits: All images ©Abby Gordon.


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4 Comments




  1. Rosemary Kneipp
    7 years ago

    I’ve already tried out this app and really enjoyed it. It was initially conceived for young people, but it works for all ages. And it starts on my very doorstep! A wonderful way to get to know Paris and its revolutionary history.


  2. Abby Gordon
    7 years ago

    I’m glad you enjoyed the app too, Rosemary! It’s really a unique experience.


  3. sarah towle
    7 years ago

    Thanks so much for the super review, Abby! And thanks for including the tip on the double-entry ticket to La St. Chappelle. That is one Paris monument not to be missed!


  4. Abby Gordon
    7 years ago

    Thanks to YOU for giving me the opportunity to explore Paris in a new way! And learn something!