The château de Vincennes

Château de Vincennes ©Jacques Robert

Since its construction in the 14th century on the orders of Charles V, the château de Vincennes is, with the Louvre, one of the most important castles in French history. Vincennes is also one of the largest and best conserved fortified castles in Europe.

The château de Vincennes is an exceptional historic site: initially it served as a Capetian manor before becoming a royal residence from the 12th to 17th centuries and then being used as a State prison in the 18th century; during the 19th and 20th centuries it was transformed into a major military establishment. Its geographical location is no a coincidence: the King demanded that it be located within close proximity to the French capital, so that he and the government could be protected and maintained in times of trouble.

Here is the plan of the château de Vincennes, Click on the arrows for more information...
Today, this site represents a rare collection of monuments: the dungeon of Charles V, the Sainte-Chapelle and the King's and Queen's pavilions are proof of the castle's important role in French history. The castle is owned by the State, specifically the ministries of defence and culture. It has suffered from the passing of time and from human destruction. In 1986, the State realised the importance of restoring the site and the leadership of a study was entrusted to Jean-Philippe Lecat, a former culture minister, who would publish its findings in 1988 in a report entitled 'Vincennes, memory and creation'.
This analysis set in train a vast restoration campaign which continues today. An interministerial defence/culutre commission (CICV) was also created to coordinate restoration and to ensure that the monument is promoted appropriately along with various other partners (defence, culture - in charge of managing the project), the town of Vincennes and the city of Paris, and with different services (Bâtiments de France, Monum, etc.). Since 1988, more than ?40m has been invested in the castle by the two ministries, the main areas being the Sainte-Chapelle, the dungeon and surrounding wall. When work began these structures revealed an unexpected technical complexity both in terms of restoration and archeological excavations. The work also revealed the intellectual bases underlying the construction of the monument.
This project has been carried out in an exemplary fashion thanks to the effective long-term cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and its various departments (Management of National Heritage, National Works Department) and the Ministry of Defence which has continually provided the means required. A CNRS research team (ERCUBE) brings together researchers and professionals. This makes it one of Europe's most important restoration projects and one that is clearly of significant cultural and tourist value.
This building has been entrusted to the Ministry of Defence. France's Defence and Culture ministries signed an agreement to restore it, on 17 September 2005.
Château de Vincennes Main entrance Avenue de Paris 94300 Vincennes Tel/Fax: 33 / (0)1 48 08 31 20 ou Fax: 33 / (0)1 58 64 23 95 Open: From 1 September to 30 April From 10:00-12:00 and from 13:15-17:00 From 2 May to 31 August From 10:00-12:00 and from 13:15-18:00 Please note! The castle is closed on 1 January, 1 May, 1 November, 11 November, and 25 December. Getting there By road: By the East ringroad: exit 'Porte de Vincennes' (Route Nationale N34: avenue de Paris), or Porte Dorée From south of Val-de-Marne: motorway A86, take the East ringroad at the level of 'Porte de Bercy'. Free parking (near the Saint Louis Esplanade) From Orly airport: By car, motorway A6 and East ringroad From Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport: By car, motorway A1 and East ringroad By underground and RER: Line no. 1: station 'Château de Vincennes' or RER A station 'Vincennes' By bus: Château de Vincennes Bus Station: Line 46 Saint-Mandé Demi-lune --> Gare du Nord. Departures for Château de Vincennes from Monday to Friday in the afternoon during the summer, every Wednesday afternoon from 1 May to 30 September, every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday afternoon throughout the year. Line 56 --> Porte de Clignancourt Line 112 --> Joinville / La Varenne-Chennevières Line 114 --> Villemomble / Le Raincy Line 115 --> Porte des Lilas Line 118 --> Rosny-sous-Bois Line 124 --> Val de Fontenay Line 210 --> Villiers-sur-Marne Line 318 --> Romainville-les-Chantaloups Line 325 --> Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand

  • View of the Châtelet of the dungeon. Photos: JP le Padellec 

  • The 'Sainte-Chapelle'. Photos: JP le Padellec 

  • Restoration work.

  • The 'Tour du Village' tower, main entrance. Photos: JP le Padellec 

  • The Queen's pavilion. Photos: JP le Padellec 

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    Practical information


    Avenue de Paris 94300
    01 48 08 31 20 ou 01 58 64 23 95


    Plein tarif : 8 € - Tarif réduit : 5 € - Groupe adultes : 6 € (à partir de 20 personnes). Audioguide : Plein tarif : + 4,50 €* - Couple (2 appareils) : + 6 €* - Groupe adulte, - de 18 ans : + 2 €* *en supplément du droit d’entrée Gratuit : Moins de 18 ans (en famille) - 18-25 ans (ressortissants de l’Union Européenne et résidents réguliers sur le territoire français) - Personne handicapée et son accompagnateur - Demandeur d’emploi

    Weekly opening hours

    Du 2 mai au 31 août : de 10h à 18h Du 1er septembre au 30 avril : de 10h à 17h

    Fermetures annuelles

    Fermé les 1er janvier, 1er mai, 1er novembre, 11 novembre, et 25 décembre.