The oldest public clock in Paris

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If you can see Paris’s oldest tree, it is also possible to contemplate its oldest public clock

To gaze at this Parisian gem, just raise your eyes at the level of the Conciergerie, in the Île de la Cité.

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Hundreds of people, even thousands, cross it daily. However, most of them do not even see it, for lack of not looking up enough while walking. Do they only know that this clock has been giving time to Parisians since 1371 !

Restored in 2012, it is obviously not the one that have been ordered by King Charles V in 1370, when he left the Palais de la Cité for the Louvre. Only public clock in Paris for several centuries, it had been picked up by kings, each sovereign adding its own design.


An unusual detail

Among these changes, the most important works were made by King Henry II, Henry III and Henry IV, besides the French Revolution, which unfortunately largely damaged the monument.

The dial was rebuilt in 1849, according to plans of how the clock looked like in 1686, (under Louis XIV). Under the small roof that houses the dial are intertwined initial letters (see photo). The “H” and “C” are for Henri II and Catherine de Medici, and “H” and “M” for Henry and Marguerite de Valois (called Queen Margot).

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The story says that the “H” and “C” secretly shape the « D » of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II. Others attribute this D to the emblem of the house of Orléans, a crescent moon, which Heni II belonged to. Make your own interpretation…

The other decorations

The dial is surrounded by two allegorical figures representing the law (left) and justice (right). Above, a Latin inscription meaning ” The one who has already given him two crowns will give him a third one”, topped by crowns of France and Poland, kingdoms of Henri III.

Finally, you can see the corners of the clock the restoration dates (1852, 1952).

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