Follow the winding driveway all the way to the end and you’ll reach Sizergh Castle. Well, you’ll reach the National Trust gift shop first, and then the castle, but you know what I mean! Despite being owned by the National Trust, Sizergh is still the home of the Strickland family, and they still pop back on occasion I’m told. It hasn’t always been in the hands of the Stricklands though. Sizergh Castle began life with the Deincourt family and remained that way until 1239 when Sir William de Strickland married Elizabeth Deincourt. And that, they say, was that.
I cannot remember the last time I visited Carlisle Castle; it was most likely a primary school trip, and I probably wasn’t paying attention, so it was about time I stopped by again and found out more.
So after a slight hiatus following an incredibly busy week for me, I am returning to France. Sadly, I’m not actually physically going back to France, but my blog is. I’ve got so much still to share from my year away that I haven’t got round to yet, so there’s lots to look forward too!
This time, it’s the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution! I’m lumping this in with one other museum around the Jardin des Plantes, so there’s a bit of variety in this one! The Grande Galerie is home to a huge collection of taxidermied animals from all corners of the world. I’ve never really seen anything quite like it! The collection is split over four floors, starting with underwater/marine life, and a massive whale skeleton.
I’m now convinced there is nothing quite as stunning as Paris at night. A few weeks ago, we stayed out past our bedtimes to walk along the Seine, and boy, was it worth it! This isn’t going to be a long post, like last time, but just a humble collection of photos that can’t do the sights justice.
There is no prettier site, I think, than Paris when the sun is setting, and this time I witnessed it from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc itself is smack-bang in the middle of the Etoile roundabout, and at the end of the world famous Champs-Élysées.
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.
An extra protective measure surrounding the castle is the moat, which was, at one time, filled with water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Even though Spring officially began a little while ago, it’s really started to feel like it in Maisons-Laffitte. Walking around the park is beautiful. The trees are getting their leaves back and the sun in the sky- life never felt so good.
During my Easter holidays, I managed to get back to my home town and out into the Lake District, one of the most beautiful national parks in the country (I’m not biased…) to take a few photos. A lot of them were not taken with my camera, but with my iPhone SE. The camera on my phone isn’t as great as my Canon, but it does a job, so please forgive the reduced quality of the following pictures.