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What is the Champ de Mars?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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The Champ de Mars is a large park in Paris, France, which is open to the public and located at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Many visitors to Paris enjoy a stop at the Champ de Mars, and numerous photographs taken from the Eiffel Tower feature the sprawling grounds of the park. This site is open to anyone to wishes to visit, and it features beautifully landscaped grounds as well as open greenspace which is sometimes used for various events.

The history of the Champ de Mars began in the middle ages, when it was established as parkland by the Church, serving two abbeys which were then located on the outskirts of Paris. In the 18th century, the park was appropriated in the name of the state, along with other lands, for the purpose of constructing the École Militaire, a military school, and it acquired the name “Champ de Mars,” or “Field of Mars,” a reference to the Roman god of war.

The Champ de Mars was initially closed to the public, and used exclusively for military maneuvers ranging from training to formal parades. Shortly before the French Revolution, the Champ de Mars began to be opened to the public. In 1790, it was used to hold a huge festival to celebrate the constitutional monarchy of France, and in 1791, it was used as a rallying point for a group of Parisians who wanted to petition to remove King Louis XVI from office.

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During the 1791 rally, soldiers opened fire on the crowd, massacring a number of the attendees and sparking accusations about involvement in seditious activity among members of the government. Despite this somewhat macabre event in the park's history, the park continues to be a popular place to visit, with access from two Metro stations, the street, and public buses.

Now that the Champ de Mars is no longer utilized for military uses, it is used to host a wide variety of festivals and events. Traditionally, when the World's Fair is held in Paris, it is located on the Champ de Mars, taking advantage of the large open space and fame of the site. From the ground, the Champ de Mars is a very pleasant place to walk, picnic, and simply lounge, and many French people take advantage of this; from above, it is possible to see the distinctive and elegant layout of the park, which betrays its military origins.

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Discuss this Article

stl156
Post 5

I am planning a trip to Paris and I am wondering how much time I should devote to visiting the Champ De Mars?

I know that there is a lot to visit in Paris and considering that the Champ De Mars is a pretty centralized location in the city and that the Eiffel Tower is right there to see if it would be a good idea to start at this park and work my way to other places?

I want to visit various sites of the French Revolution and I feel like the Champ De Mars would be a great place to start if I want to see everything in Paris and make sure I mix in the various places that were important during the French Revolutions.

Izzy78
Post 4

@TreeMan - You are correct. Tourists usually do not stop and just look at the park itself to see what kind of history it has.

The most important things to world history that have occurred in the Champ De Mars revolved around the French Revolution. Besides the massacre that occurred there it was also the sight of the first be-headings during the Reign of Terror just after the French Revolution.

With the macabre aside the Champ De Mars was also the first gathering of the celebration of Bastille Day one year after people stormed the Bastille and released all the prisoners, starting the French Revolution.

This particular park has a very rich and historical history and most people do not stop to take in all that has occurred there over the last couple hundred years and it is definitely something that one should do and visit if they are planning a trip to Paris.

TreeMan
Post 3

@titans62 - You are absolutely correct. Because of the Champ De Mars's location it is almost always seen in photographs depicting Paris and people do not realize that it is a very famous park.

On one end of the park is the Eiffel Tower and it is a very very pretty sight to behold and makes for a fantastic picture opportunity.

I have always compared the Champ De Mars to the National Mall in Washington DC, because it is in the middle of everything important in the city, but most people do not stop and just look at the open space that surrounds them. Many important places and points of interest reside in the Champ De Mars or around it and most people do not stop to think that this particular park has a story of its own.

titans62
Post 2

Although this particular park was a very historic place during the French Revolution there were many other historical instances that happened in the park besides that of the most famous civil war.

The first modern air balloon was showcased and tested in the Champ De Mars in 1783 and there have been numerous world wide expositions over the years that have occurred in the park.

Although the park is very well known as being an historical place during the French Revolution, the park is a well known place throughout the world simply due to its location in the middle of Paris, even though most people may not know the name of it.

anon160674
Post 1

I think this is very accurate information and it was very interesting. Great job!

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