Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Brocante and Vincennes Finally

On my ride the day before to Vincennes we passed a Brocante. In France a Brocante is an antique or trash & treasure fair. This one went over the Easter period and I thought that Sue might find it of interest as we’d been to several in rural France. A Brocante in Paris didn't have the same atmosphere the one's we experienced in rural villages. The items ranged from classic to junk but all at classic prices. Interesting just the same - and some of the most interesting pieces on show were the customers. People watching in Paris is a past-time in itself. The Brocante took in the distance from one Metro station to the next. There were a few items I would like to have purchased, however I might try Ebay when I get home.

Thinking of our luggage weight, we didn't make any purchases but it was fun looking.

Cutlery, postcards and crockery.

Some great Citroen Traction Avant miniatures but at 40 euro - no thanks

This particular card appealed to me. I've never had my bottom groped before, how sad is that?

So we caught the Metro to Vincennes - but first a little story for my cycling friends back home.
Just recently a young Australian sprint track cyclist came second in the World Championships to a Frenchman in Copenhagen. His name is Shane Perkins. I rode with his father Daryl many times and before I came to France, Daryl did ssome work on my bike to bring with me. He told me of his experiences racing in Belgium and France. He would train at the Velodrome and in the parklands of Vincennes before his World Title attempts.

As we arrive via Metro, there was the entrance drawbridge to the grounds but we thought lunch might be in order beforehand. It was a great decision as we lucked upon a great restaurant just across the road. How boring are we, both ordering the Confit de Canard, AGAIN. But the wine, superb. It was a 10 year old Bordeaux. For 19 euro. Now tell me where in Melbourne, you can buy a year 2000 Bordeaux for $27.00?

If you ever get the chance to visit Paris and Vincennes, then lunch at "A Table des Troys" is a must. A great menu and superb wine list at good value prices.

On our past visits to Paris, I’ve ridden many times pass the Castle of Vincennes on the way to train in the parkland which house the Cipale (Jacques Anquetil) Velodrome.

The parklands were the hunting forests of the Capetian monarchs of France in the 12 century. Today as you ride through the parklands you can imagine Royalty on their horses with hunting dogs in the name of sport. That is until you see the homeless amongst the forest in their small tent cities. One must wonder how they survived the harsh recent winter.

The entrance to Vincennes. A moat surrounds the outer grounds.

The castle grounds today contain the Keep, the Holy Chapel, and the classical pavilions built during the 1600s. About 250 metres apart, these huge buildings were the separate abodes for the King and Queen. Sue said that we need such a situation where she could leave her shoes where she felt and the same with me concerning my Cds and bike stuff.
The earlier castle and Donjon dating from the 11th century.

As well as being overawed by the big picture, certain details took my interest. Graffiti is carved into the dungeons by the prisoners, including the Marquis de Sade, Diderot and Mirabeau. Later prisoners were transferred to the Bastille.

Another moat surrounded the castle. Entering by the drawbridge, you needed to climb to an upper level to enter the castle by another drawbridge. You can see why this castle was "almost" safe.

Graffiti by the prisoners in 1871.

In the mid 1600s King Louis spent time there before moving to Versailles. During the 1800s Napoleon used it as a military base.

The Chapel founded in 1379 by Charles V and completed in the 1500s

Surrounding the courtyard of the latter bulidings (mid 1600s) were all these classic sculptures. The male nude figures seemed to be without their penis as each stature had this part of their anatomy broken away - I know it was a harsh winter in Paris, but I don't think this was the cause.. I'm sure there was some historic point to this but I've totally forgotten why. Maybe some one can make a comment on the subject please.

This picture gives the extent of the moat that surrounded the property, keeping in mind that there was a further moat that surrounded the actual castle within the grounds.

Its difficult to not stop taking photos in the surroundings of where the kings and queens of France lived their lives more than 800 years ago. There are so many images you see.

It had been a long day with a lot of walking and so the end of the day came early with a night of left overs, reading and a little French TV. Well afterall, we are now old folk. I hear from another room, Sue saying, "talk for yourself".
Tomorrow is an exciting day for me. I get to spend time with my Paris friends Leigh and Michel at the Paris Velodrome and doing a little training. Possibly I will meet some of Michel's friends.
My penance will be to take Sue shopping in the Arvo....
I'll let you know tomorrow


  1. Looking at the moat, it makes one wonder how cold and dank the castle would have been to live in, 400 years ago. I can barely imagine! Give me ducted heating any day ;-)

  2. Just chuck on an old stag skin and light a roaring fire,then gather all the hunting dogs around you and you'll be fine.

  3. Leon what year were glass windows introduced.

  4. You certainly enjoy a nice Turps Leon. Your photography is just fantastic and very interesting following your travels. I reckon your gonna need a bigger skin suite for the Nationals.

  5. Michael Goldie - you are definately not a nice person, and as for glass windows, I'm not telling you.
    I really don't know or care you silly bugga.
    Can you order that larger size skin suit, I think you might be right.

  6. Leon,

    Great reading your blog from France again. Enjoy the time there.


    Ben Schofield


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