Vincennes Things to Do

  • A letter from the Marquis de Sade to his wife
    A letter from the Marquis de Sade to his...
    by Jefie
  • Inside the Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes
    Inside the Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes
    by Jefie
  • The chapel seen from the castle of Vincennes
    The chapel seen from the castle of...
    by Jefie

Most Recent Things to Do in Vincennes

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    Parc floral de Paris at the Bois de Vincennes

    by Jefie Written Sep 1, 2014

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    Located right next to the Bois de Vincennes , the Parc floral de Paris is one of the four botanical gardens of Paris. It was created at the end of the 1960s to host an international flower competition called les Floralies internationales. It is much more moderate in size than the Bois de Vincennes and can therefore be visited in just a few hours. Different themed gardens can be explored, such as the japanese garden, the water garden, and the two bonzai gardens. If you're travelling with kids, they will love the butterfly garden, the playground and the mini-golf course. Admission to the Parc floral is free unless there is some kind of special event going on in the gardens (these are usually held on the weekend and on Wednesdays). The Paris Jazz Festival (http://www.parisjazzfestival.fr/) is also held in the gardens from the beginning of June until the end of July.

    At the Parc floral de Paris in Vincennes
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    Walking around the Bois de Vincennes

    by Jefie Written Sep 1, 2014

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    With its 995 hectares, the Bois de Vincennes is the largest nature park in the Paris area. It covers an area of 9.95 square km (by comparison, NYC's Central Park covers 3.41 sq. km and Paris's Bois de Boulogne covers 8.46 sq. km). For several centuries, the Vincennes woods were the hunting grounds of the French royalty. After the French Revolution, it became a military training ground under Napoleon III, and it was then transformed into a public park in the 1860s.

    Most of the 1900 Paris summer olympics game events were held at the Bois de Vincennes (despite its location, the Bois de Vincennes is officially owned by the City of Paris). The park features several beautiful walking and biking trails. My friend Cécile took me out on a walk around Lac des Minimes, one of the park's four beautiful lakes, I then went back the next day for a lovely 10-km run around the park, which only allowed me to see a fraction of the park so I guess I have no choice but to go back!

    Please note that while the park is very safe in the daytime, it is unforunately much less so at night, mainly because of the presence of drug dealers and prostitutes.

    Lac des Minimes in the Bois de Vincennes Canada geese hanging out in the Vincennes Woods Sun bathers at the Bois de Vincennes Refreshments near the Lac des Minimes
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    The Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes

    by Jefie Written Sep 1, 2014

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    During his reign, King Louis IX ordered the construction of a chapel within the walls of the Vincennes royal fortress to house the relics of the Passion of the Christ he had acquired in Constatinople. These included the crown of thorns that was placed on the Christ's head at the time of his crucifixion as well as a fragment of the Holy Cross. They were at first housed in the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, but the king who would later be known as Saint-Louis, wished to transfer them to a more secluded location where he could pray in peace. In 1270, he left his royal residence at Vincennes to go on his second crusade, from which he would never return.

    The construction of the flamboyant Gothic-style Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes would eventually begin in 1379, under King Charles V, and the chapel was only completed in 1552. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the chapel was entirely emptied of its contents. Perhaps its most prized possession at that time was its royal baptistry, in which several French kings were baptized, which can now be seen at the Louvre Museum. The chapel was also severly damaged during the tremendous windstorm that hit the region in December 1999, during which 200-km/h winds shattered the chapel's stained glass windows. After 10 years of restoration, the chapel was reopened to visitors (admission is included in a visit to the castle), and it now houses special exhibitions.

    Inside the Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes The chapel seen from the castle of Vincennes The castle's old dungeon bell inside the chapel Tomb of the Duke of Enghien executed at Vincennes View of the chapel from the second floor gallery
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    A visit to the Château de Vincennes

    by Jefie Updated Sep 1, 2014

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    The history of the Vincennes castle goes back to the 12th century, when King Louis VII had a hunting lodge built on the site. The lodge was then transformed into a royal residence, which soon became a royal fortress. Several French kings took up residence at Vincennes throughout the years, including King Louis IX (also known as Saint-Louis) who ordered the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle (see my next tip) to house the relics of the Passion of the Christ he had obtained in Constantinople.

    In 1715, the castle was abandonned by the royal court, and it more or less reverted to its humble origins as a hunting lodge used by King Charles XV from time to time. It was then successively used as a porcelain factory, a military school, and finally the castle's dungeon was transformed into a state prison. It was designed to hold no more than 14 prisonners, most of which from the French nobility, in cells that were spacious and relatively comfortable. Several well-known figures spent some jail time at Vincennes, including French philosopher Denis Diderot and the notorious Marquis de Sade. For me, visiting Sade's cell and reading some of the letters he wrote to his wife during his incarceration was one of the hightlights of my visit to Vincennes castle :o)

    Ch��teau de Vincennes near Paris, France In the Marquis de Sade's cell Main entrance to the castle of Vincennes A letter from the Marquis de Sade to his wife
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    Visit the Parc Floral de Paris

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 16, 2014

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    When city traffic and city crowds become too much for you, take Metro Line #1 in the direction of Vincennes and get off at the very last stop, the Chateau de Vincennes. Facing the chateau, skirt around to the left and take your first right, the Cours de Maréchaux along the side of the Chateau. It's a lovely shady walk and brings you right to the Parc Floral de Paris across the street from the back of the chateau.

    It is part of the greater Bois de Vincennes. The Parc Floral is 35 acres and has activities for children and adults, concerts, botanical displays and hosts various shows. It is a very pretty and peaceful place to escape mass tourism for an afternoon.

    If you enjoy mass tourism, there are concerts and jazz festivals that bring large crowds. The park is free except for notable shows and concerts and then there is a fee. Check the park web site for dates and fees. Most of the time it's free.

    Parc Floral de Paris

    Parc Floral entrance Concert venue Parc Floral Maison Nature Small garden
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    Visit the Medieval Chateau

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 16, 2014

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    Many people don't realize there is a wonderful medieval chateau right in the Paris area. You can get there on one carnet ticket. It's the last stop on Metro line 1 that runs past many of the major tourist stops in Paris. Somehow, though, most people never quite get to the end of the line.

    However, we love medieval architecture and were delighted to discover this huge, ancient castle right at the end of the #1 Metro line. You get off at the last stop, walk up the stairs and are right at the chateau entrance. It is somewhat overwhelming.

    Vincennes was a hunting lodge in the 12th century and has the tallest medieval Keep in France. You can wander the castle, climb the bell tower and then cross to La Ste. Chapelle. The Holy Chapel was built in 1379 and was based on Ste. Chapelle in Paris. You can see the resemblance architecturally, but the windows are not the stunning stained glass of Ste., Chapelle in Paris. The use the chapel for visiting art exhibits and many are very nice.

    When you have finished touring the castle, chapel and grounds, you can walk around it and visit the town with lots of very nice restaurants or continue around to the Parc Floral of Paris and enjoy the huge and lovely park on the outskirts of Paris.

    When ready to return to Paris, get back on the #1 Metro and you are guaranteed a seat because it is the starting point. It's a great day trip and you can spend your evening back in Paris.

    The Chateau is located in the Bois de Vincennes Park in the southeast corner of Paris. The entrance is directly outside the last stop on the #1 Metro line and the actual address is Avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes.

    If the museum you wanted to see is closed for the day, the chances are good the Chateau de Vincennes will be open. It is only closed on the 1st of January, 1st of May, 1st of November, 11th of November and 25th of December.

    Chateau de Vincennes Chateau de Vincennes View from the Campanile Chateau de Vincennes from the Parc Floral
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    Saint Louis Statue

    by mike-tango Updated Sep 17, 2005

    The castle of Vincennes was the favorite residence of the king Louis IX (also known as Saint Louis). Although he was not born here, he often staid there to dispense justice.

    This statue can be seen in front of the castle.

    Saint Louis
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    Visit the Castle

    by mike-tango Updated Sep 15, 2005

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    Relatively unknown this is the biggest medieval french castle.

    It is really worth going there. 20 minutes by metro Line 1.

    Free entrance everyday to the courtyard.

    Tour du Bois (
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