On the occasion of the European Heritage Days of September 16 and 17, France 5 is interested in the first residence of the kings of France, which has largely disappeared, the remains of which, visible or hidden, are located on the island of City, in Paris, encompassed by largely later constructions, including the courthouse.

The documentary Paris, the mystery of the missing palace, by Stéphane Jacques, is a sort of investigation in the style of the stories for adolescents from the old “Green Library” (created a hundred years ago!) adapted to digital times and video games. There is even a reference to Assassin’s Creed, which traces the siege of the Vikings around the palace in 885…

When it leaves this Game of Thrones-style atmosphere, the documentary tries to make us believe that its trio of expert investigators discover, over the course of the discussion, pieces of evidence and key documents which make it possible to reconstruct, from isolated clues or, better, “clusters of clues”, as it is often repeated, the structures of the now disappeared palace.

Thus, an illumination seems to reveal to the viewer a major discovery, even though it is found in a very well-known 15th century collection, kept in the Book Cabinet of the Condé Museum, at the Château de Chantilly (Oise): the Book of Hours The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry, considered one of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts there is. The medieval palace is represented there at its architectural peak.

3D reconstructions

The walk continues between the walls of the old Quai des Orfèvres which, deserted and stripped of their tinsel accumulated over the years, have allowed archaeological excavations: hidden structures, fragments of human bones, pigments or materials found significantly advance the Schmilblick.

Very much in its time, the documentary uses colloquial Anglicized French (“It’s quite challenging”, “The king’s panic room”) and is bathed in viscous and intrusive music whose synthesized sounds, which play an occasional medieval card, are wallow in the ordinary language of contemporary documentary soundtracks.

It remains an adventure which will allow those who are ignorant in history (including us), to discover in a lively and accessible way, the journey towards its ideal state of what was a place with immense and colorful rooms (including the one which topped the current Conciergerie, a model followed for the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles).

Finally, the 3D digital reconstructions, in which the investigators and invited specialists (curators, architects, scientists, etc.) move as if by magic, certainly have their effect, in homage to what was considered by historians to be “the Versailles of the Middle Ages.”