These crumbling stone arches are virtually all that is left in Paris of the Palais de Tuileries, built by Catherine de Medici after the death of her husband French king Henri II in the mid 1500s. It was a royal residence for Louis XIV and Louis XV, and it’s where the Paris mob brought Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette after forcing them to leave Versailles in 1789. Later it was the home of Napoleon and Josephine, and under the Second Empire, Napoleon III. It was finally burnt to the ground during the 1871 civil war known as the Commune, one of the darkest hours in French history.
The building stood in what are still today the Tuileries Gardens, closing off the big open U created by the Louvre. (While the Orangerie and Jeu de Paume, today among Paris’s best loved small museums, were a part of the palace complex, these arches are from the palace itself.) Since 2003, there has been a movement afoot to rebuild it. Perhaps that effort will go somewhere, perhaps not. In the meantime, you can find these remnants of the past in the Trocadero Gardens, well west of where they originally stood. If you stand with your back to the Eiffel Tower, walk to the left of the fountain, and you’ll find these, still smoke scarred, amid the grottos and greenery that flank the south side of the park.