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Château De Vaux-Le-Vicomte: A tourist marvel near Paris

Posted by Michel on January 29, 2022

A castle with some qualities capable of rivalling the Palace of Versailles may be found in Seine-et-Marne, less than 50 kilometres from the capital. There’s a reason behind that! The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte served as a model for the construction of Versailles, which took place a few years later. Its chambers have held the most opulent and popular nights in the kingdom in its magnificent hours, to the extent that Jean de la Fontaine and Madeleine de Scudéry mention them in their writings. A look back at Vaux-le-dramatic Vicomte’s past, a one-of-a-kind mansion that should be appreciated without reservation if you get the chance.

A castle born from the greatest talents of the time

Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV’s administrator of finances, chose to construct a sumptuous mansion on his grounds in Maincy near Melun in 1656. He surrounded himself with the finest, a team that was already at the genesis of the wings of the Château de Vincennes, in order to create an architectural masterpiece that would dazzle the King and the Court.

The castle was therefore planned by the King’s first architect, Louis le Vau, then erected by the master mason Michel Villedo, adorned by Charles Le Brun, the founder of the Academy of Painting, and lastly enriched by the landscaper André le Nôtre, the King’s Buildings Controller General. The resultant castle continues to astound us today: this paragon of classicism, finished in 1661, is one of France’s most stunning gems.

Vaux-le-Vicomte attracts 300,000 visitors each year, who are directed by 75 workers. It is France’s biggest private property, and it has been recognised as a historical monument since 1939.

The sad fate of its owner

Nicolas Fouquet, bolstered by his social standing and likely seeking to maintain his power, planned a series of events at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the magnificence of which surpassed that of Louis XIV’s. However, the delight was fleeting since one does not easily compete with the King — at least not without paying the repercussions.

The monarch was invited to one of these banquets one evening in August 1661, which was intended to be the most lavish occasion conceivable. A cold dinner is served like a buffet, which was novel at the time. Molière, La Fontaine, Corneille, and the architect Le Vau were able to attend a theatrical play and fireworks among the various celebrations that evening.

This show of wealth signalled Fouquet’s departure, which harmed the King’s ego. Colbert, the Comptroller General of Finances, advised Louis XIV to be aware of this superintendent, who was a bit too strong and whose great wealth prompted concerns about the kingdom’s interests being diverted.

D’Artagnan apprehended Nicolas Fouquet on September 5, 1661. He was sentenced to exile after three years in jail, although he spent the rest of his days in the Alpine castle of Pignerol. A gesture by Louis XIV, maybe tinged with guilt. In 1680, the superintendent died here.

Vaux-le-Vicomte survives Fouquet

The arrest of Nicolas Fouquet causes the castle’s development to be halted, and seals are erected as part of the inquiry. After Louis XIV had amassed a lot of valuable things for himself, the Louvre, and the Tuileries, the furniture was auctioned off in 1665. In 1673, the estate and castle were restored to the superintendent’s wife on the condition that she could pay a considerable quantity of money within 10 years.

The palace, which was purchased by Marshal de Villars in 1705 after he had earned the title of Duke, had a period of instability in the 18th century and succeeding. Vaux-le-Villars is the new name for the domain. The castle was given to the Duke of Praslin in 1764, and his family retained it until 1875, when they sold it at public auction. Vaux-le-Vicomte is reduced to a ghost of its former self, stripped of its furnishings and interior design, as well as its exquisite gardens, which have been abandoned.

Alfred Sommier, the art collector who purchased it, began a long-term repair. His family owns the estate to this day, and his descendants, led by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé and their children now, continue their ancestor’s work.

Many riches to discover

With the goal of funding the different renovations and collecting what is needed to equip and adorn the castle, more and more essential areas of the castle are gradually opened to the public. The gardens are among the most magnificent in France, and international dignitaries, including Elizabeth II, have paid visits. They are 500 hectares in size and are encircled by a 13-kilometer-long wall that protects ponds, monuments, and other stunning tree rows. It is listed as a historical monument because it consists of 257 plane trees that create a six-meter-wide alley draped in their branches.

When the castle was opened to the public in 1968, Patrice de Vogüé decided to create a Crew Museum in the stables, which housed antique automobiles. The location has piqued the attention of the film industry, with more than 50 film and television projects shooting sequences there over the twentieth century.

Since 2005, the “Grand Siècle” day been added to the yearly calendar of events. Falconry demonstrations, on-site costumes, and a picnic lunch on the grass provide a true immersion into settings from another age. Throughout the year, a variety of different events are planned. A permanent collection, a sound trail, and a panoramic view of the estate from the lantern round out the appeal of a visit to this one-of-a-kind location.

The castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte has nothing on the magnificent structures gracing the banks of the Loire, despite its location near the Seine rather than along the Loire: aficionados of the genre will not regret devoting a day or more to it. Please keep in mind that the area will reopen on April 2 for the 2022 season. Thank you for stopping by!

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