Angel and I arrived in Paris Friday mid day and fortunately John met us at the Customs exit - I was so glad to see him  and also so happy to have his help with my "way too much" luggage.

This Paris day was hot and muggy and the metro ride to the Chatelet station was oppressively crowded and steamy.  The hotel's location is perfect, especially its close proximity to the metro station.

We napped for several hours then took a nice walk by Notre Dame, Isle Saint Louis, and to the Bastille.  Afterward we had dinner on Avenue Beaumarchais at a delightful seafood restaurant.  Great oysters from Brittany and Normandy and then a nice light Dourade fish.  At 11 pm we ambled through the Marais with its little alleyways.  There were quite a few Hasidic Jewish men and boys hurrying home from the synagogue.  Back to the hotel for a good night's sleep and I awoke in the morning feeling fresh and jet lag free.

It is a beautiful sunny Saturday morning so we decide to explore a park.  We ascend into the sunshine from the stuffy subway air at the end of the line at the Vincennes station.  A welcoming soft breeze greets us.  Ahead lies the verdant  park with curving pedestrian paths lined with oak trees.  We amble along looking for the Chateau that is supposed to be directly across from the metro station but it is nowhere to be seen.  A middle aged man in a business suit carrying briefcase comes running past us, obviously late for something.  We walk into the woods a bit further and decide that we must be heading away from the Chateau.  We walk back to where we started at the metro station.

“Ou le Chateau?” we ask the man with the briefcase as he boards a taxi.  He directs us straight ahead and to the right “You can’t miss it.”  He is right, there it is just ahead and it is gigantic and consists of many buildings, several obviously very old castle, newer ornate structures that resemble apartment buildings, and crumbling forts from long ago.  The assemblage of buildings seems more like a town than a single chateau.  A tall wall and empty moat encircle it.  We enter over a drawbridge past an unmanned ticket office.

Inside there are large grounds and booths are set up in preparation for the end of a marathon run.  We proceed through the entrance to what appears to be the central building which looks older than most of the others and has turrets on top.  The woman at the entrance explains that entrance is free to day due to the marathon event.

This building was the original seat of power for the French kings.  Originally it was a hunting lodge for the King in 1100.  Later it was a castle and then eventually a more modern chateau.   It was well located quite some distance from Paris as it was easier to defend than it would have been within the City.  There are four stories to this castle, many rooms including the King’s closet, latrine, and bedroom.   There is also a prison that held many famous political prisoners.

After the Chateau we want to visit the “Park Floral”.  There is also a zoo here but it is closed for a major renovation (I wonder where they sent the animals).  Its manicured gardens are filled with bright blooming flowers purple, red, pink, white, yellow, and blue.  My favorites, peonies, are in full blossom.

Being Sunday, the park is crowded with families picnicking in the sunshine.  Some are napping on their blankets.  A young couple practice gymnastics.  Children sail their small boats on the lake.  The scene reminds me of a painting by Seurat which I think is titled “Sunday in the Park.”  Maybe it was painted here.

Later there is a concert which we listened to briefly but it was rather “new age” jazz and quickly put us to sleep.  The afternoon is hot and muggy.  We need to head back to the hotel as we are meeting our friend Marielle and her friends for a picnic on the Seine this evening.

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