Rendez-vous at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
The splendid Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a listed historic monument, is located in the 1200 acre park of the same name, bounded by an 8 mile outer wall. 300,000 people visit every year to discover this classic architectural masterpiece, just 35 miles from Paris.
A sought-after château
After 20 years of building, in 1661 the château was given to Nicolas Fouquet, who was the superintendent of finances under the reign of Louis XIV.
The estate did not belong to him for very long, since he was condemned to life in prison by Louis XIV, before having had the chance to enjoy it.
Vaux-le-Vicomte actually inspired Louis XIV to design the Palace of Versailles.
In 1875, the estate was completely abandoned (trees that had fallen in ornamental lakes, damaged roofs, missing furniture ...) and was then purchased at public auction by Alfred Sommier.
This sugar industry entrepreneur fell in love Vaux-le-Vicomte, and so put 29 million Euros towards its restoration. By the time of his death in 1908, the castle had returned to its former glory.
Opened to the public in 1968, it is now owned by his direct descendants who continue to look after the château alongside their 75 employees.
A dignified design
Symbolic of the extravagant grand siècle (great century, 17th), Vaux-le-Vicomte is the artistic creation of three great men at that time: Louis Le Vau (architect), Charles Lebrun (painter and decorator) and André Le Nôtre (landscaper).
In the basement, discover the "backstage" of the castle: the kitchen, the vaulted cellar and the salle des gens (servants’ room).
On the ground floor is the ceremonial floor, with an outstanding Baroque interior: the Great Square room, Muses’ Room, Games Parlor, and lastly the King's Bedroom, flaunting a magnificent golden-decorated ceiling. Not to mention the central lounge with its beautiful Italian dome that really stands out against the typical French architecture.
Meanwhile, the first floor houses the private apartments of Mr. and Mrs. Fouquet, formed by the antechamber, the consulting room, and the bedroom, which have all kept their original decor.
A jardin à la française designed by Le Nôtre
Complimenting the architecture, nearly 100 acres of land are dedicated to the majestic gardens designed by André Le Nôtre.
It was here that the famous garden designer could fully exert his expertise, creating what is now known as the jardin à la française (French formal garden).
High quality drawings, statues, prospects, sham and multiple water features are all elements that make up its majesty: a perfect mastery of nature.
A permanent exhibition and audiovisual mock-up detail all the stages of the estate coming to life, complemented outside by two walking routes.
Le Nôtre became Louis XIV’s favourite gardener, for whom he also designed the majestic gardens of the Palace of Versailles.