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Émilie Badel, archaeologist

Passionate about archaeology from an early age, Emilie Badel offers ExploreParis.com tours of the archaeological heritage of Greater Paris. She tells us about her fascination with history and archaeology, her encounters with local players, and her desire to raise public awareness of the destruction of a precious heritage.

Hello Emilie, where does your pronounced taste for archaeology come from? Can you tell us about your background?

Emilie Badel in Arabia, during an archaeological dig © L.G. MarcucciI'm an archaeologist associated with the CNRS (UMR 7041, Vepmo team, at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Mondes de Nanterre). In 2018, I obtained a PhD in archaeology at the end of a long academic career. During my studies, I took part in numerous excavations in France, Italy and the Sultanate of Oman. I was lucky enough to be trained by a very good teacher, Serge Cleuziou.

Archaeology has been a passion of mine since childhood. For example, I lived in Tunisia when I was 9-12 years old. In those days, my parents and I would go on many trips to magnificent archaeological sites such as Carthage, Bulla Regia and Dougga. Later, I moved to Turkey, where I discovered other majestic sites such as Ephesus, Aphrodisias and Hattusa. So it was natural that I turned to archaeology during my studies.

At the end of my PhD, I decided to train to become a national tour guide specializing in archaeology. My wish was to be able to organize visits to museums and historic monuments, and to share my fascination for the societies of the past with anyone with a passion for history and archaeology.

Your visits are available on ExploreParis.com what does this partnership bring to you? 

I've been working with ExploreParis and more specifically Seine-Saint-Denis Tourisme since 2020. In the context of the health crisis, we first set up virtual tours. It's a format that has a number of advantages in archaeology, as I can show visitors, for example, 3D reconstructions of ancient sites and monuments of which only a few remains today, thanks to a wealth of documentation. Several chronological periods were covered: Prehistory in Neuilly-sur-Marne, the Bronze Age in Aubervilliers, the Iron Age in Nanterre and Bobigny, Gallo-Roman antiquity in Tremblay-en-France, the Merovingian era in Saint-Denis and, through the story of Saint Geneviève, the Carolingian era with the Viking invasions of the Paris region, and finally the Capetian era with the Templars and their commandery in Clichy-sous-Bois.

I've met many history buffs thanks to these virtual tours, and I'd like to thank them warmly for their kindness, their support and all the exchanges and sharing, as well as the whole Seine-Saint-Denis Tourisme team, who are always ready to suggest new subjects for tours and for their commitment to developing the department's tourism offering. It's always a great pleasure for me to continue this adventure alongside them.

Brochure for the Villemomble archaeological exhibition at the Château Seigneurial (©Gilbert Robert Delahaye and Philippe Valet)The aim is to showcase the entire heritage of Greater Paris, not just the major tourist sites, but also cultural sites that are not part of the usual itinerary. In the field, I've organized visits to Aubervilliers (Notre-Dame-des-Vertus church), Neuilly-sur-Marne (Saint-Baudile church), Villemomble (the Château Seigneurial archaeological exhibition) and Montfermeil (a guided walk).

Villemomble is an extraordinary place, as it is unusual for a commune to have its own permanent exhibition dedicated to local archaeology. The credit for this goes to the associations that bring together all history buffs, some of which have been around for a very long time, such as the Société Historique du Raincy et du Pays d'Aulnoye (Eric Guichard), and the Société d'Etudes Historiques de Tremblay-en-France (Hervé Revel). These associations continue to keep cultural heritage alive on a local, departmental and regional scale. They are fundamental players. In Villemomble, archaeologists Gilbert Robert Delahaye and Philippe Valet have done a tremendous job. I was lucky enough to meet and work with them.

The brochure for the Villemomble archaeological exhibition at the Château Seigneurial is available online (in french).

Among the tours you have designed, is there one that you enjoy more than others? Do you have an anecdote to share with us?

I particularly like the tour of Nanterre, which shows the Gallic way of life. Archaeological discoveries have enabled us to reconstruct the daily life of the Parisii in the region.

On another subject, the virtual visit to the Vikings had an unexpected spin-off, as I was asked to take part in a documentary for the Planète + channel, directed by Julien Balestier. This documentary is part of a 4-part cycle on legendary battles. Part of the filming took place in the Galerie des Batailles at the Château de Versailles. The documentary is available online (in french).

Filming the documentary on the Vikings in Paris near the Ile de la Cité (©Julien Balestier).
Filming the documentary on the Vikings in Paris near the Ile de la Cité (©Julien Balestier).

Finally, I also wrote an article on Vikings with Guillaume Hyvernat for Rueil Magazine n°3, published in May/June 2022 (in french).

Thank you a lot Emilie !

Stay in touch with Emilie and her work on her Facebook page.

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