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The history of the town is, of course, linked to its castle which, initially, was not part of it.

The castle:
In the 12th century the King of France Louis Le Jeune chose the forest of Vilcena as a hunting ground and had a hunting lodge built there (in 1170, completed in 1178) It became a royal residence in 1180 with Philip 2 who also encircle the wood with a wall in 1183 to make a warren.

This residence was very popular with monarchs: St Louis, of course, Philippe 3 Le Hardi who married there, Louis 10 Le Hutin and Charles 4 Le Bel who died there. The crown of thorns was kept there until it was transferred to the Ste Chapelle.

Philippe 6 decides to build a keep there and to reinforce the whole from 1336, but it is Charles 5 who carries out his projects completed in 1380. The monarch wanted to make it the seat of his government (Charles de Gaulle there strongly considered also in 1958).

Louis 11 made it his residence and built new buildings. After the assassination of Henri 4, his son, the young Louis 13, moved to Vincennes in the former pavilion of Louis 11 and spent part of his youth there.;

The keep was converted into a state prison for high-born prisoners from the 17th century. Following the days of February 1848, many Republicans such as Barbès, Blanqui and Raspail would stay there.

In the 18th century, it also housed the Vincennes factory, specializing in the production of porcelain, which later became that of Sèvres.

Louis-Antoine de Bourbon-Condé, Duke of Enghien, was executed in the castle moat on March 21st, 1804 (“Worse than a crime, a fault” as Talleyrand would say), as well as on October 15th, 1917, Mata Hari


During the construction of the castle by Charles 5, a farmyard was built nearby for the accommodation of the royal servants. At the foot of it developed the hamlet of Pissotte, a small village located at the level of the current rue de Fontenay. In 1667, Basse-cour and Pissotte were united in the same parish which took the name of La Pissotte.

In 1787, this hamlet became the very small Municipality of Vincennes, and it was not until 1791 that Vincennes was granted the 238 hectares comprising the castle and its garden.

Urban development with the opening of the railway line in 1859 and the development of part of the woods into a public park favored the population growth of the town, which rose from 4,800 to 31,400 inhabitants between 1851 and 1901. (Nearly 50,000 today). The demographic expansion continues with the transport network which is enriched (tramways, omnibus then bus, the arrival of the metro in 1934, and the transformation of the railway into the RER A line in 1969).

Two buildings are noteworthy:

The town hall: the result of two distinct construction operations carried out 44 years apart, the town hall illustrates both the neo-Renaissance style inspired by the model constituted by the Paris town hall in the beginning of the Third Republic, and the Art Deco style, remarkable for the monumental staircase and the glass dome 12.20 meters in diameter and weighing 30 tons, both classified as historical monuments.

The Saint-Louis church: designed in 1912, the Saint-Louis church presents an original architecture of neo-Byzantine style

In addition to its famous castle, its town hall and the Saint-Louis church, the city also offers buildings which, from one district to another of the city, deserve that we linger there. Facades from the 19th century or with an Art Deco trend, many architectural curiosities rub shoulders in the streets of the city