Last week while walking with a British family past Place de la Bastille (after stocking up on gourmet chocolate Easter eggs from Alain Ducasse’s Le Chocolat atelier on Rue de la Roquette), a French gentleman of a certain age hearing us speaking English asked if we’d seen the Timescope. I has heard of this new contraption that lets you “look back in time at the Bastille fortress”, so we decided to check it out. “It’s just two euros!” called the Parisian as he ambled towards the food market. So we were digging for loose change as we crossed the Boulevard Richard Lenoir (the Timescope is between it and the Boulevard Beaumarchais), only to find that it doesn’t take cash. I suppose that’s a security issue, even parking meters haven’t taken cash for over a decade.
The little screen on the Timescope indicated that you needed to enter the code purchased online with a credit card. So another few minutes of finding the website and paying on my smartphone, we finally got a minute of time to look. We started out in the 15th century, but it was just grassy fields and the city wall. Then in 1789 century we could see what the fortress looked like just before the Revolution tore it down as you pan the Timescope across the Place de la Bastille. You can get an idea from this video (use your cursor to move the view on the video). It’s supposed to be an “immersive virtual reality experience”. Hmmm. See more images on the City of Paris website.
It’s interesting…but I’m not sure it’s worth the two euros and the fuss of having to pay online and enter the code. It would be easier if it had the simple credit card swipe capabilities like some snack machines in the metro. If you understand French, you can see the Timescope creators being interviewed about it and their plans on expanding to other monuments. Note that the English version doesn’t seem to be working yet, so you’ll have to follow the directions in French. Needless to say, I’m more enthusiastic about Le Chocolat than this gimmicky time machine. 😉