Most tourists, when they come to Paris, first spend their precious time to visit downtown Paris (i.e. the Eiffel Tower, l’Île de la Cité, le Marais, Montmartre, Pigalle, and the surroundings of Panthéon/Jardin du Luxembourg). Then, if they have some time left, they can go to Versailles, maybe Fontainebleau or Chantilly, or they might try to get to Vaux-le-Vicomte, which, I’m ashamed to confess, I haven’t visited yet.
When you come to think about it, that’s already quite a lot. There’s just so much to do and visit in Paris. And that may be the reason why some other places in the city, or its surroundings, dont get the attention they deserve, which is definitely a pity in my opinion.
One of these places I’m writing about is Vincennes, which used to be a small village/town located in Paris’s suburbs. Not one of these filthy and poor villages you might expect, but actually quite a rich one, since it hosts one of the most beautiful and once powerful medieval castles you can find in France, and also some lovely shopping streets bordered with white-stone buildings that give Vincennes a unique feeling in Paris.
With its tall dungeon rising up to the clouds, its massive walls surrounding its vast inner yard, and its exact copy of the Sainte-Chapelle, Vincennes’ castle is one of the monuments near Paris that is definitely worth a visit, especially if you like medieval architecture and want to go to a beautiful place, yet not that touristic, in the suburbs of Paris.
If you still have some time after the visit, you will also find some pleasure wandering in the old streets of Vincennes, which remind me of the villages I’ve visited along the Loire: white-stone facades, shop fronts that make your mouth drool, and a tiny church which seems odd in a city where almost all churches are gigantic.
Vincennes definitely is a place I would recommend to tourists who have some time to visit Paris and wander here and there in the city. Located only a few subway stations away from Paris downtown, it’s the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon visiting a place you will most certainly favourably remember.
The ceiling of Chateau de Vincennes’ chapel
Another view of the dungeon of the castel of Vincennes in the late evening
The castle’s main door, with its drawbridge