Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bercy and Le Chateau de Vincennes

One of the best things about living in Paris is being a tourist here, yet being able to sleep in my own bed every night.

I had been wanting to go to Bercy for a while.  It is billed as being a village within Paris and has a rich history of wine warehouses dating back to the 15th century.  Also, there is a big stadium there.  But the idea of a village with a rich history was what got me.

It got me alright.

We got there and it was crap.  Utter crap!

Yes, the old stone wine houses were well-preserved, but now they house chain stores and gross restaurants with nouns like "Frog" in their names.  The whole thing was bunk.  I felt misled!  I am all about reuse, but this just felt so new and lacking of character.  I didn't even take any pictures in protest.  Hurumph!

The saving grace of Bercy (for me) was its brilliant park.

There were ducks (and even some turtles) galore, and interesting paths to wander and places to sit and sculpture that was well-integrated.  It was such a charmer!  We spent a good hour just sitting around there.

After the bust of Bercy, we went to the Chateau de Vincennes, another piece of ancient history within the city of Paris.

The original settlement was built here in the 13th century, as it was Louis XII's favorite hunting lodge.  From there, Charles V expanded the settlement and it was fortified and walled and moated and became the royal residence for some time.

See, it's still got that "walled city" feel.

This shows part of where the Sun King left his mark, building separate king's and queen's residences that are bigger than most city halls.

Here is the Sainte Chapelle, which is inside the walls.  It had an installation of hundreds of painted ducks, which gave it a whole different feeling.  It was virtually empty when we were there, so we sorta had the run of the joint.  It's pretty cool to be relatively alone in a church where French kings worshipped for hundreds of years.  Oh, and the stained glass windows depict the apocalypse, so that was trippy.  Did you know they will give out white robes?  I didn't either, but it was on the window.  At least we'll go out in style!

Church friends.

 Ceiling paintings.

These guys overtook the joint.

The ducks made it right up on the altar.

Saint Louis.

Where the moat used to be around the donjon.   I guess years and years of being a moat makes for some green grass.

Fer arrow shootin'!

But really my favorite thing about the donjon, and all of the Chateau de Vincennes, in fact, was the graffiti.

OK, this is pretty fancy for "graffiti", but these paintings were done by prisoners hundreds of years ago.  Famous prisoners included the writer/philosopher Denis Diderot, the finance minister/master embezzler Nicolas Fouquet (see also Vaux-le-Vicomte, his dirty-money hizz-ouse), and the gentleman/utterly conventional Marquis de Sade.  (I'm not linking for him;  you know what he was up to!)

Those paintings are incredible, but my favorites throughout were the name etchings.  Here are some shots of my new obsession.

Hey, you with the Sharpie, these guys from a hundred years ago+ are making you look like a lazy bum!

Afterward, we had a glass and ran into this guy.
Is there anything as blissful as a big dog sleeping?  <3