"Site of a Great Medieval Castle in a Woods (Park)." Bois de Vincennes by hquittner

Bois de Vincennes Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 56 photos

Where is Vincennes?

The suburb Commune (banlieu) of Vincennes is barely out of Paris to the SE, just beyond the Peripherique. It is a dense bedroom community hugging the Bois of the same name which it ceded to Paris in 1929. The The Bois benefits from access to both the Metro and the RER (12 metro stops from the Cite). The Bois has several attractions: the Castle complex, the Parc Floral de Paris, a Hippodrome for trotting enthusiasts, a Velodrome and a Zoo. The park is a delight with access to cycling equipment and special playgrounds and other attractions for children (and it is not overcrowded except for the races and large musical events). We planned and executed a day's visit there with our 10 yr old grandson as part of a week of Paris exposure. He enjoyed every minute of it. There are only a few Tips on the Vincennes attractions in the mass of Paris materials. They appear under such headings as "Off the Beaten Path" and others (findable by special search technics). Our trip was over a decade ago. In recent years I have learned about Time-shares and hotel accomodations in this suburb of Paris that would make it a good base from which to explore the Ile de France and other places just beyond Paris.

The History of the Chateau

The first chateau was built as a 200 ft. square in the northwest portion of the larger present enclosure destroying a hunting lodge. It was finished in 1369 by the Valois. St. Louis added the chapel in which to store his relics (temporarily) and this was expanded by Charles V and Henri II using Ste. Chapelle as a model. Marie de Medici added the first pavillon (the King's) and Louis XIV (in 1658) the other (the Queen's). Le Vau designed these and the porticos. Shortly after finishing the works, Versailles became of greater interest and this complex became a prison (sometimes of very famous people; it was here that the Marquis de Sade was kept off the streets).Napoleon had the outer wall towers amputated (except the North one, Tour du Village, through which one enters). The Keep was the ancient living quarters and a tour of it is available. Time has further degraded it and the Germans ill-used it in WWII. Recovery is slowly proceeding.

More to Do

The chateau is only on reason for visiting the Bois , even more so if you are entertaining children. There is the vast acreage itself with other attractions. How you visit them is up to you, but they are at some distance so plan before you start your visit. On retrospect the use of bikes (See Tip) may be a good idea (I do not know if you can return them to a different renting place than where you started). If you visit the chateau first, it is about 2.5km to the bicycle rental area near the Parc Floral (I think). You follow the Esplanade South of the Chateau going East.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A Good Day of Adventure Especially for Children
  • Cons:Takes Planning
  • In a nutshell:Consider the Possibility of Staying Nearby
  • Last visit to Bois de Vincennes: Jul 1992
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (10)

Comments (1)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2008 at 4:42 PM

    Interesting tips from your 1992 visit. I don't think I've ever seen a four-wheel bike like that where four people can pedal at the same time. Good idea! Thanks for finding my Bois de Vincennes tip in the depths of my Paris page.


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