Friday, April 16, 2010
Chateau de Vincennes
This painting, depicting the month of December, comes from the famous book of hours commissioned by Jean de Berry, brother of French king Charles V. It was painted by the Limbourg brothers around 1412. And okay while the attack of hunting dogs on a wild boar is probably not the most poetic subject matter, you've got to admit it's beautiful, especially the contrast between the oh so blue sky and those gleaming white towers.
Not a bad comparison to what I saw yesterday (captured during the fleeting hours when the sky was actually a marvelous shade of blue):
It's the keep, the most impressive part of what remains of the Chateau de Vincennes, clearly identifiable as the middle structure in the illuminated manuscript.
Anyone who's spent any time in Paris knows the name of the chateau; it is, after all, the end of line 1, the most traveled line of the Paris métro. But my guess is that only a fraction of those folks have actually visited it. There's not a ton to see; Napoleon tore down eight of the towers that once crowned the fortifications and the Germans did their bit in damaging what had long been a military base. But the keep and the royal chapel remain, both impressively restored after works that lasted some 12 years. Particularly cool is the use of special technology (kind of like a Game Boy console) that allows you to stand in Charles V's study and see how it looked back in the day, lavishly painted ceilings, intricately carved wooden cabinetry, and roaring fire in the fireplace.
Hint: The chateau is one of the sites open for free the first Sunday of the month and the lines are much shorter than those at the Louvre or the Musee d'Orsay.