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Paris Sightseeing

Château de Vincennes almost ready for its close-up

The Château de Vincennes isn’t one of the city’s "must see" monuments. It’s usually not even in most visitors’ top 20. But as soon as the renovations are complete (supposedly by January 2007), I have a feeling that will change.

The 14th-century keep.

You can go visit now, but the 14th-century keep (or donjon, in French), the tallest in Europe (50 meters), is still closed off.

From the enceinte wall, the 17th-century Queen’s pavilion (right) and the 16th-century Sainte-Chapelle (left).


The guided tours get you into the chapel, the dry moat where prisoners used to exercise, the royal Sainte-Chapelle, and the keep enceinte (main enclosure surrounding the tower).

Construction at the base of the keep.

Located at the end of the metro line 1 (station Château de Vincennes, bien sûr) on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes, the château was a royal residence from the 12th century until the 18th century.

The keep enceinte, and in the back to the right, the edge of the outer wall where it was bombed in 1944.


It still has two of its original medieval towers, moat, gatehouse, outer wall (except where the Nazis bombed a hole), and the royal chapel with 16th-century stained glass windows.


The bridge to the keep.


The17th-century apartments of the king and queen and the block houses from the 19th century now house the Ministry of Defense history department.


The day I was there, a very hot day, an official fireman’s ceremony was taking place in the main courtyard.


The château is open daily 10am-noon and 1:15pm-6pm. Guided tours are organised every day (enceinte of the keep, moat, Sainte-Chapelle), lasting 1 hr 15 min. In English at 3pm, € 6.50 (full rate), € 4.50 (reduced rate), free for under 18s.


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