Chateau de Vincennes
Chateau de Vincennes, a spectacular medieval castle, is just a short Metro ride from the center of Paris. It's the tallest keep (donjon) in Europe and was a fortified royal residence for French kings, started in the 14th century by King Jean II, and expanded by his son Charles V. When you visit Chateau de Vincennes, kids will see how the French kings and their families lived in the Middle Ages.
Tip: Take Metro Line 1, Chateau de Vincennes stop. When you come out of the subway, the castle is right there.
Village Tower (Tour du Village)
- Enter Chateau de Vincennes through the majestic Village Tower, the original main gateway, over the wide grassy moat. Look up as you go through the gate - it was originally equipped with a drawbridge (to be raised and lowered), and portcullis (iron grate to drop in invaders).
- This is the private chapel for the royal family, founded by Charles V in 1379 and completed in the 16th century. Built in a Gothic style, the chapel has a rose window, tall stained glass windows. Check out the model of Chateau de Vincennes, and climb up the balcony under the rose window for a view of chapel below.
Tip: Visit the chapel before going over to the keep, as the chapel is closed noon to 2pm.
The Keep -
The keep (square tower) is surrounded by defensive walls with covered parapets and four watchtowers at each corner. From the parapets, soldiers could pour boiling water or lead on their enemies below. Two towers (barbican) and another deep moat also defended the keep.
Walk over the footbridge into the keep
in the Middle Ages this was the only way into the tower. The keep, 50 meters high, has 6 floors, each with a central room, and smaller rooms off to the side.
On the first floor is the Council Room is where the king and his administrators would receive visitors. Off to the side is a Chapel, originally used by the king and queen for private worship, later it was a cell for prisoners, who decorated the walls with paintings and graffiti
The second floor has the king's private apartments. The big room is the King's Bedroom, with a large fireplace, painted vaulted ceiling, and stone wall decorations of the four apostles, including the Lion of St. Mark. In the smaller surrounding rooms are the Chapel, Wardrobe (chests contained the king's clothes), Study, garderobe (latrine), and Treasury, where gold and silver, money and art were stored.
Back on the ground level is a room with stuff kids can touch - a tactile model of the keep and the whole complex (including the later king and queen's pavilions ), lion decoration in the king's study and angel sculpture in the king's bedroom.
Chateau de Vincennes is open daily (closed on a few holidays such as Christmas and New Year).