October 19, 2007

Chateau de Vincennes and Parc Floral de Paris

Posted in Exploring tagged , , , , at 2:37 pm by Lauren

Let me continue the certain-to-be-annoying trend of posting things out of order and tell you about Sunday’s excursion to the outskirts of Paris. After several weeks of talking about it, Allen and I finally got out of the house on a weekend to visit the Chateau de Vincennes. This castle is at the end of the metro line that Allen usually takes to work, and it was a short ride from our house. It sits at the edge of the Forest of Vincennes, so we made a day out of exploring the area (with the help of one of our City Walks cards).

When you exit the metro, the castle rears up in front of you. It is a surreal experience to walk up the metro stairs and be faced with a medieval castle. The building is a patchwork of construction dating back to the 12th century. It has a 12th century keep, a 14th century wall and moat around that, and then several buildings added by Louis the Umpteenth. We walked through and took some pictures of the spectacular cathedral. Unfortunately the pictures we took are not nearly as spectacular as the actual site; it was difficult to capture the effect of the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows on both sides.

Upon exiting the far side of the castle, we wandered into the Parc Floral de Paris. Normally there is a charge to visit this botanical garden, but the booths were empty and the gates open, so we walked right in. The park had an interesting layout, with an aquatic garden, an ampitheater, several small restaurants, two bonsai pavillions, a playground, and a few more traditional arrangements of flowers grown in neatly tended beds. I particularly enjoyed the bonsai area and several beds of wildly blooming flowers whose name I unfortunately do not recall.

After the Parc Floral (once we found our way out!), we walked on a wooded (but paved) bike path towards a lake in the Bois de Vincennes. At the lake, we responded to our growling stomachs with “saucisse frites” which roughly translates to “two floppy hot dogs sitting on top of an order of fries.” We also enjoyed a Coca Cola, for just 2 euros and 50 centimes. For those of you quick with the math, you’ve already figured out that this is about $3.50 for a can of coke. (A CAN.) We shared.

The lake sported a black swan, several peaceful ducks and geese, the one overpriced food stand (but it’s all overpriced when you’re converting from dollars), and rental rowboats. We had been walking for several hours by this point and weren’t up to renting a rowboat but may return in the future. We took another wooded path back to the metro, looking out for bikers, and headed home. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a tourist excursion, but as a lazy Sunday afternoon walk, it was very nice.

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