Visit to the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte France

Written by on April 23, 2018 in Museums and Châteaux

The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte lies in the lush countryside of Maincy, department Seine et Marne, Ile de France. The famous tapestry makers Gobelins were once based here before being ordered to set up shop in Paris by Louis XIV. They remain in Paris, creating their extraordinary designs to this day. They were not alone in being ordered to Paris.

The Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte 

The Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte was commissioned by Louis XIV’s finance Minister Nicholas Fouquet. He lavished money on the design, employing the best artisans of the day. It took 20 years to build and Fouquet intended it to be good enough to house a King and invited Louis XIV to stay when it was complete. The deadline was 17  August 1661 but delays meant it wasn’t quiet finished on the day. Nevertheless Fouquet and his team prepared to receive their King and hastily readied the chateau.

However, the painters who had put away their brushes out of sight of the party guess never returned. Some of the walls of Vaux le Vicomte remain unpainted (you’ll see this in the apartment of the King’s chamber). There are plain plaster cherubs and nudes in some rooms lacking the colour of the finished pieces in other rooms. Two major ceilings have temporary paintings, added in 1875 to cover their bareness. Some statues are not quite as elegant as others, as you stand with your back to the Chateau looking at the grand entrance gate lined with statues, you’ll see some have rather square heads, the sculptor hadn’t finished chipping them out.

 

The King arrived but he didn’t stay as intended. Jealous of the beauty of the chateau, listening to the sly whispers of his advisors who said Fouquet must have pilfered the royal coffers to pay for it, he left in a fit of pique never to return. Two weeks later Fouquet was arrested and the King ordered that the fabulous furnishing, tapestries and anything that could be moved be brought to Paris, he even took the orange trees in pots from the garden. The chateau fell into neglect, unloved, unfinished and unappreciated.

In 1875 the chateau was bought by the de Voguë family. Their descendants live in it still, the largest privately owned home in France.

Read more about the history of Vaux-le-Vicomte

What to see at Vaux-le-Vicomte

The de Voguë family have over the past 150 years and more, devoted themselves to restoring and maintaining the chateau, forging ties with universities and schools, they aim to make sure Vaux le Vicomte’s legacy is protected for future generations to enjoy. They bought furniture and ornaments of the right period, piece by piece and returned the garden to its original design.

Despite its grandeur and captivating loveliness, this place is nevertheless still a home. Alexander de Voguë, son of the Count and Countess who live there and are often spotted wandering around, recalls playing in the rooms as a child, hurrying to hide his toys behind the curtains before chateau visitors arrived. These days his parents live in a wing of the chateau, and, with 300,000 visitors a year things are run more professionally.

Vaux le Vicomte today retains an air of the past. In winter fires are lit to warm the rooms, at Christmas this stunning palace comes alive and, by the way the gift shop is perfect for finding a gift to impress, the countess personally chooses the merchandise, how’s that for a wow factor present!

Look out for squirrels, a nod to the past and Fouquet. His name means squirrel in French and he had the furry red creature depicted in paintings on the walls, ceilings and shutters over the grand windows. Check out the squirrel tapestry in the gorgeous library, it looks out of place and it is. The tapestry is original and had a squirrel centre but Fouquet’s enemies cut it out. A de Vogue family member had a replacement created.

Rent a costume from 3 euros for kids and adults and make like a king or queen.

Go on a Saturday night in summer months and enjoy the spellbinding sight of 2000 candles in the gardens and some of the rooms – it really makes the place feel special, and sends shivers down your spine at the thought that this is how it would have looked that fateful night in 1661.

Out in the gardens you can’t help but be awed by the cleverness of Le Notre’s design. Gardener Patrick boug?? explains that everything was designed for perspective. Hidden canals, topiary designs that look different from the top of the steps than they do from the bottom of the steps. There are follies, statues, fountains, ornamental planting, even a waterfall. The gardens are exquisite and if you don’t want to miss anything, you can rent a buggy to get round it all, and it’s also a lot of fun.

As you stand in the garden looking back at the chateau with its wedding cake style dome, its marvellous symmetry you can understand that the compelling splendour of this place would drive a king insane with jealousy – it really is a breath-takingly beautiful chateau.

How to get to the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte

It’s a fairly easy visit from Paris. From Gare de l’Est, take a train to Verneuil l’Etang and there is a shuttle bus service to and from the station. (Note: do check return times for the train, especially on weekends)

The Chateau is open daily (including bank holidays) from April 1 to November 2, 2016 (but check the website in case of exceptional closings) and weekends all year round.

There is a restaurant on site as well as picnic areas and on Saturday nights a bar and restaurant are available for candlelit soirees – Champagne and macarons in the gardens of this fabulous palace – yes please!

Website: www.vaux-le-vicomte

Related Articles

Museums, Monuments and Arts Venues of Lille

Lille in northern France is one of the most cultural cities in the country. There are more than a dozen museums and art venues in the city and every three years or so Lille goes arty-party mad with a major several-months-long art festival known as Lille3000 in public buildings and the streets. Palais des Beaux […]

Continue Reading

The Halle de la Machine in Toulouse

When I was a kid I was entranced by stories of mythical beasts. My favourite tale was of a Minotaur who roamed a labyrinth on the Greek island of Crete. Small me believed that Minotaurs, a species which had the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man, really lived, much […]

Continue Reading

Potager du Roi – The kings vegetable garden at Versailles

A short walk from the Palace of Versailles you’ll find the “King’s Vegetable Garden” – the Potager du Roi. It was built between 1678 and 1683 by French gardening genius Jean-Baptiste La Quintinie, at the request of Louis XIV. Open to the public, gardeners will love its beautiful paths, raised beds, statues and fabulous planting… […]

Continue Reading

There are loads of Free Museums in Paris

In Paris (and indeed the rest of France), many museums are free year-round. And, if you’re thinking that the free museums are only for hanging out in when its raining and you need a place to shelter, you couldn’t be more wrong. We’re talking top museums that you’d want to go to anyway including the […]

Continue Reading

The Musee de Compagnonnage Tours, Loire Valley

I stood on a balcony at the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. My eyes travelled over thousands of thin, black slate tiles that cascaded down spires in stark contrast to sculpted contours of ivory coloured stone. There were endless details that drew my eye from one piece of artistry to the next. I […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top