Château de Vincennes

Set all the way out on the eastern side of Paris, the Château de Vincennes was used as a royal residence since the 12th century. Given its historical significance in France, I couldn’t say no to going – so my dear friend, Connie (who has featured on other posts, and also has her own blog) and I took a little trip to check it out!

Construction began on the keep at the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War, and was finally completed circa 1370 under Charles V. The protective walls and nine towers were also built around this time, surrounding the keep and the manor.

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An extra protective measure surrounding the castle is the moat, which was, at one time, filled with water.

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Also on the site, and the first place Connie and I went into, was Sainte-Chapelle. It was modelled on the church of the same name on the Île de la Cité in the middle of Paris, and was founded by Charles V in 1379. At the moment however, the exterior, and part of the interior, is covered in a ridiculous amount of scaffolding. Fantastic. I did try to get a few shots without the steel monstrosity, but it was harder than expected.

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One part of the church that wasn’t touched by scaffolding (on the inside at least) was the rose window above the entrance. There were so many great colours in it, and fortunately there’s a staircase that takes you up onto a balcony directly below said window, allowing for dramatic angles to be captured.

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Unfortunately, works are scheduled to continue throughout the next year, and probably beyond given the apparent lack of activity on the site when we were there. So, to conclude, there is little chance of a quick update sans scaffolding.

Either way, Connie and I then meandered our way over to the keep, which is probably the main attraction on the site.

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Through some of the troubled periods in the 16th and 17th centuries, the monarchs of France would take refuge behind the walls of the castle. Louis XIV also added to the castle before moving permanently to his palace in Versailles, which meant that Vincennes lost its ‘royal residence’ status.

The square tower in the centre of the ‘keep complex’ has six floors, which all have the same layout, and stands at 50m tall.

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Around the square tower, you’ll find a terrace which was used by the kings to walk around the keep and view the site, and further afield. Now, the city of Paris has developed and the landscapes are a far cry from those of the past.

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Inside the keep, in one of the turret rooms, there was a small chapel, which was used solely by the king. The walls have been so well preserved, there is still some paintwork visible.

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But what I really loved though, were the views through the windows in the treasury room. The glass was slightly stained in a variety of colours which provided great natural filters for the view outside.

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After our trip to the castle, we wandered through the town of Vincennes, which is well worth a trip if you’re at a loss of things to do in Paris (which probably won’t happen!) It’s a great place, with open spaces, and right on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes. The forest (bois) is huge, and is home to many different attractions. On a sunny, Summer day I’ll have to return and take in the greenery.

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