The Conciergerie is on the island, Ile de la Cité, in the 1st arrondissement (district). It is part of the palace of the Cité along with the Sainte Chapelle.
From the 10th to the 14th centuries, the Conciergerie was the residence of the kings of France. When King Charles V abandoned it, part of the building became a State prison with a dark reputation as few left it free men. Queen Marie-Antoinette, in 1793, was one of the famous people imprisoned here.
The name Conciergerie can seem surprising as the word usually designates the lodgings for the guard (concierge) of the building. The present name comes from the guard’s home and by extension to the women’s prison for which he was in charge.
Today the Conciergerie is run by the Center of National Monuments. One can visit the jails of Marie-Antoinette and her friends. It is a high tourist attraction, rich in emotion, and has temporary exhibits too. People continue to be judged here as the law courts are within these buildings.