Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Le chateau de Vincennes

We had visited several of Paris' great parks over the preceding weeks and thought we might finish our stay with the largest of these, the Bois de Vincennes, on the edge of the city. Vincennes, now a suburb that appears as densely populated as the rest of Paris, is the home also of the Chateau de Vincennes, another royal chateau, one of the greatest of still-intact Medieval fortresses, featuring the highest donjon in all of Europe. Alas, we spent most of our time at the chateau and at the royal chapel, making only a brief excursion to the nearby Parc Floral. We'll have to see the rest of the Bois de Vincennes itself next time.
Main exterior wall and entry tower--17th century; the chateau
is within these walls

Another side of the wall--about a kilometer all around

The entry tower, impressive enough by itself
if not Medieval

Plan of the chateau

Helpful model; the Medieval chateau is the big walled
structure center right

Thus; as I said, donjon is the tallest in Europe


Along the battlements

The Chateau de Vincennes has the usual royal chateau
history...first a royal hunting lodge, then a royal fortress,
then a prison, then a factory, then a warehouse...now a
historical site and military museum...some of the 18th
century prisoners were artistically-gifted

King's private personal chapel

Vaulting in one of the towers

Up closer on one of the capitals

Prisoner? empoyee? tourist?

Architectural ornament

During the centuries of royal residence and comings and
goings, the interior was entirely paneled; little remains but
nails that held the paneling to the stone walls

The Chateau is the site of much history: three French kings
died there, and one English king, Henry V (who was sieging
and pressing his claim to be king of France too); as a prison,
it held the Marquis de Sade (I'm standing in his cell),
Enlightenment types Mirabeau and Cordorcet; Louis XVIII
was executed there; so was Mata Hari; and of course Germans
killed people here as everywhere else

One of the Marquis de Sade's letters to his wife, written at
Chateau de Vincennes: "please forgive me, honey..."

One of Condorcet's books, ditto

Fascinating place...probably not high on most
tourists' must-see lists, but very easy to get
to...at the eastern end of Metro line #1

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