Actually in the neighborhood where my daughter is living at present, so we really didn't visit the place like we would a typical tourist attraction, but more accurately, took a stroll through the grounds and a chilly December Saturday. There were circus tents set up in the compound, and lots of people in cheesy Renaissance costumes, including two horses pulling Santa in a sleigh retrofitted with wheels.
Most of what I know about the place is from the previous YELP review. That said, the chapel is, indeed, gorgeous (requires admission charge) and the structure of the entire fortress with mots and drawbridges is impressive. One side backs up to a huge park; the other drops you right in the city of Vincennes. Admitting that we didn't actually buy a ticket to see the exhibits (e.g. inside of the structures) I would say this this all felt a bit less manufactured than Versailles. Worth a visit if you have another compelling reason to be out on the east side of Paris.
The royal history of Vincennes stretches back over 800 years, which is fairly interesting in itself to history buffs.
That said, I suppose it will sound jaded to admit that I was not overly impressed by my visit here. The medieval Donjon seems more or less stripped to its walls, which makes it hard to imagine the lives of the people who lived or visited here centuries ago.
I did really enjoy the Sainte-Chapelle -- not quite as impressive as the famous one in Paris, but on the other hand it is much less touristy. No lines. No metal detectors. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves. And you can go up into a balcony for a different perspective on the chapel.
There is a strong military history around the Chateau. It was a French military HQ during WWII and subsequently was occupied by the Germans, who destroyed parts of it when they blew up their ammunition depots before the end of the war. French Military archives are kept at the Chateau, and restoration work here is ongoing.
ps - My amazing wife discovered that there would be special military demonstrations - horsemanship, military bands, etc. - the day we were visiting. It was a lot of fun to be able to join the local community (no other foreign tourists that I saw) in viewing these impressive displays! You may be able to find information about such events at the Gendarmerie website - gendarmerie.interieur.go… Our experience viewing these horses and riders performing (to anachronistic techno music) leads me to boost the overall experience to 4-stars, even though they are not technically part of the chateau.
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