We decided to take a day trip to the Château de Vincennes on the far east side of Paris. Dating back to the 12th century, a little before the Louvre, Vincennes is one of the few castles which, from the Middle Ages to our time, has consistently found itself at the center of French History. In 1178, Louis VII (1137-1180) signed a deed at Vincennes which proves that there was a royal residence there. Thus, the first major construction period probably dates back to the middle of the 12th century, that of the original manor, followed by consistent repairs and additions up to the middle of the 14th century. A few kilometers east of Paris, in a wooded estate belonging to the monarchs, Vincennes was a sort of secondary residence or hunting lodge which Saint Louis, Louis IX (1226-1270), turned into his main place of stay after the Palais de la Cité (La Conciergerie). This is how it remained through the 13th and 14th centuries. Between 1361 and 1380, the construction of the donjon (central keep and tower) and of the enceinte (enclosed outer area) of the Château of Vincennes was without a doubt one of the biggest building endeavors in Europe. Before he was King of France, from 1364 to 1380 (during the Hundred Years War), the young Charles V, born at Vincennes, was Regent during the captivity of his father, Jean II the Good, in England (1356-1360) and met with the Parisian revolt of Etienne Marcel and the Jacquerie. He had to accept the disastrous Franco-English Treaty of Brétigny (1360). With the help of Du Guesclin, he took part in the reconquest of almost all the territories relinquished to the English, managed to defeat Charles the Bad, in 1364, and pushed back the Free Companies into Spain.
Saint Sulpice has 21 small chapels all around the exterior. Most are rudimentary but three stand out as exceptional. I have already presented the Lady Chapel at the end of the choir, but the Sacred Heart Chapel (Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur) from 1748, shown above is exceptional. The Baroque woodwork is original and the statue is by Émile Thomas (1817-1882), a student of Pradier. The Sacred Heart (also known as Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known devotions, taking Jesus' physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity. It is a particularly French devotion, the feast was first approved in France in 1765 and this chapel is one of the first if not the first devoted to Sacré-Cœur. The woodwork is exquisite and it has historical significance, a definite must see.
The history museum tells the story of Saint-Malo and its famous residents. It is located in the keep and tower of Saint-Malo’s castle. Back in 1838, the town of Saint-Malo decided to create a collection of portraits of prominent townspeople, to include Jacques Cartier, Duguay-Trouin, Mahé de La Bourdonnais, Maupertuis (famous mathematician), Chateaubriand, Surcouf, and Lamennais (priest and philosopher). The original 19th century museum was destroyed in 1944 during the struggle to liberate the town, and the present collection, numbering over 8,500 items, is themed around the maritime history of Saint-Malo and the surrounding area, including deep-sea cod fishing in the seas of Newfoundland, maritime trade, maritime warfare featuring colorful corsair characters such as Duguay-Trouin and Surcouf, long-haul sea voyages, and ship building. I have already posted images from the museum concerning Chateaubriand and Jaques Cartier in my posts Saint Malo and Jacques Cartier, look there for these subjects.
The Hall of Battles is longer than the Hall of Mirrors, 394 feet, and is lined with huge paintings of French victories through the ages, including oils by Delacroix and Fragonard. Its creation was the idea of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French and it replaced apartments which had been occupied in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are literally hundreds of busts and 39 paintings, I will not present them all.
This is the interior of the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailes. Begun in 1689, construction was halted due to the War of the League of Augsburg; Jules Hardouin-Mansart resumed construction in 1699. Hardouin-Mansart continued working on the project until his death in 1708, at which time his brother-in-law, Robert de Cotte, finished the project. The marble floor is beautiful and to my eye the chapel has a very modern feel, not as much ostentatious gilt as the rest of Versailles. Dedicated to Saint Louis, patron saint of the Bourbons, the chapel was consecrated in 1710. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were married here. The chapel was de-consecrated in the 19th century and has since served as a venue for state and private events. Musical concerts are often held in the chapel of Versailles as seen to the right.