There’s more to France than just the castle of the Loire! The Castle of Vincennes is an excellent example. Close to Paris, this charming place makes for a wonderful visit. Let’s find out more about what to see and do at the Castle of Vincennes, as well as all the information you need to plan your visit.
Castle of Vincennes: a treasure trove of history in Val-de-Marne
Established in the 12th century as a simple hunting lodge in the Vincennes Forest, the Castle of Vincennes has gradually metamorphosed into one of France’s largest royal residences.
Under the reign of Louis IX, also known as Saint-Louis, a veritable fortress began to take shape. It was also at this time that the Sainte-Chapelle was built, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture that housed relics from the Passion of Christ.
The castle reached its apogee in the 14th century, during the reign of Charles V. He transformed the hunting lodge into a royal residence worthy of the name, adding the keep – still the tallest in Europe – and fortifications. This erudite king liked to retire to Vincennes to be away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Later, under Louis XIV, the castle lost its importance as a royal residence to Versailles. However, it retained a strategic role as a state prison, with famous prisoners such as the Marquis de Sade and Mirabeau.
What can you see at Castle of Vincennes?
Castle of Vincennes is a journey through time. The site is brimming with architectural, historical and cultural treasures.
Among the things to see, I can mention:
- The dungeon: The Dungeon at the caste of Vincennes is a true architectural feat. At over 50 meters, it is the tallest keep in Europe. A visit here will give you an insight into royal life in the Middle Ages. Be sure to climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the capital.
- La Sainte-Chapelle: This masterpiece of Gothic architecture was commissioned by Saint-Louis to house the relics of Christ’s Passion. The chapel is especially remarkable for its stained-glass windows, which depict the great episodes of the Bible.
- The King’s and Queen’s Pavilions: Built in the 17th century, they are an eloquent example of the architecture of Louis XIV’s era. Inside, the royal apartments have been restored.
- Le Châtelet: This is the oldest part of the castle and was the residence of the castle’s governor. Inside, you can still see the king’s bedroom and the dining room.
- La Tour du Village: This defensive tower offers a spectacular view of the castle and its surroundings. It is particularly impressive from the outside, with its massive stone walls.
Every nook and cranny of the Castle of Vincennes tells a story, every stone has the echo of a rich and tumultuous past. A visit here is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of France.
How much does admission to the Castle of Vincennes cost?
Admission to the Castle of Vincennes is €9.50.
Other, more expensive formats are also available, such as
- a guided tour of the upper parts of the keep
- a visit to the Sainte-Chapelle
- a conference tour.
How long does a visit to the Castle of Vincennes last?
The visit does not require a reservation. It’s short. Allow between 1h and 1h30.
Where is the Castle of Vincennes?
The exact address of the Castle of Vincennes is avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes.
How do I get to Castle of Vincennes?
To get there by car, the castle is easily accessible via the N34 trunk road.
Alternatively, by public transport, take metro line 1 and get off at the castle of Vincennes station.
What are the opening hours of the Castle of Vincennes?
Vincennes Castle opening times are
- Mid-May to mid-September: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Mid-September to mid-May: 10a.m. to 5p.m.
My opinion on the Castle of de Vincennes: is it a good visit?
As soon as I arrived at the castle, I was transported back in time. The ancient stone walls have an undeniable charm, and you can feel the historical importance of this place at every turn.
My favorite part, without hesitation, was the dungeon. And with good reason: it’s the highest in Europe! There’s something vertiginous about climbing the time-worn steps, and imagining all the people who’ve been there before us. You feel so small in the face of history’s grandeur. And what about the view from the top! A breathtaking panorama.
The Sainte-Chapelle is another jewel in the castle’s crown. Although not as beautiful as the one in the Castle of Fontainebleau, the chapel is still a place I adore. The beauty of the stained-glass windows literally left me speechless. As always in this type of setting, there’s a sense of calm.
To be honest, I wasn’t so keen on the gardens. Don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty and well kept, but after the visual shock of the Sainte-Chapelle and the dungeon, they seemed a little bland.
Amélie and I stayed just over an hour. We took our time with the tour. It was early April, so there weren’t many visitors.
What else can you do at the Castle of Vincennes?
After visiting the magnificent Castle of Vincennes, I invite you to take advantage of the region’s other attractions:
- Bois de Vincennes: This park is the largest green space in Paris. Perfect for a stroll, a picnic or even a boat trip on the lake.
- Parc Floral de Paris: Located in the Bois de Vincennes, this Floral Park is the ideal place to admire an impressive variety of flowers and plants.
- Parc Zoologique de Paris: Meet animals from all over the world at this modern zoo, ideal for a family outing.
- Hippodrome de Vincennes: Why not try your luck at the races or simply enjoy the electrifying atmosphere of this racecourse?
- Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Dorée: Explore the underwater world in this institution’s 84 aquariums, home to over 5,000 animals.
- Théâtre de la Tempête: Located in the Cartoucherie du Bois de Vincennes, this theater offers innovative shows in a unique setting.
- Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration: Discover the history of immigration to France through a collection of objects, documents, and personal accounts.
- Lac Daumesnil: A stroll by the lake, a boat ride or a pedal-boat tour, a serene break after your visit to the castle.