Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vaux le Vicomte

On a 500-hectare estate only 45 minutes outside of Paris in Maincy, France, lies the magnifique Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte - a quintessential example of 17th-century baroque architecture and elegance. 

17th-Century Opulence
While not as widely known as Fontainebleau or Versailles, the 41,000-foot Vaux le Vicomte showcases an array of lavishly decorated apartments and bedrooms, a stunning double-height Grand Salon with embellished ceilings painted by Charles Le Brun, and its signature formal French garden with 26 ponds. Of course, there's also a moat and a carriage house full of period carriages.


A Brief History of Vaux le Vicomte
Designed in 1653 by famed architect Andre le Notre, Vaux le Vicomte was built for Nicolas Fouquet, the soon-to-be Superintendent of Finances for France. His extravagance in building his masterpiece came to the attention of politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who claimed Fouquet had embezzled his fortune. On August 17, 1661, Fouquet threw a lavish party in honor of King Louis XIV, which included spectacular fireworks. The plot worked as only 2 weeks later, Fouquet was arrested and Colbert became the finance minister.

"On 17 August, at 6 o'clock in the evening, 

Fouquet was king of France;

at 2 o’clock in the morning, he was nothing.” 

- Voltaire

After Fouquets' arrest, the entire contents of Vaux le Vicomte were auctioned off. Eventually, Vaux was abandoned for 30 years and was again auctioned off in 1875, which is initially when it's elegant restoration started. The Fouquet coat of arms is a squirrel, based on an Angers dialect translation of the word foucquet, meaning squirrel. I mention this because you'll see this little critter displayed throughout the chateau. 


Celebrating Vaux le Vicomte Today
Today visitors are welcome to step back in time to experience Vaux le Vicomte at its 1600s prime. On Saturday from May through the end of September, guests can enjoy a magical Candlelit Evening complete with a pop-up restaurant in the garden and a period character walking tour. There's also family dining and am exquisite champagne and macaron option.


How to Get to Vaux le Vicomte
From Paris, it's easy to take a 1-hour train ride on Line P from Paris Gare de L'Est while disembarking at Verneuil l’Etang. There's a cash-only shuttle available to the chateau. There are also coach tours available through Paris CityVision.  


The Ultimate Way to Visit Vaux le Vicomte
If you'd like to see the chateau in a unique way, consider taking a hot air balloon ride high above the beautiful French countryside. Or, the ultimate and most extravagant way to visit Vaux le Vicomte is by helicopter. Imagine being whisked out of Paris on a private helicopter, landing at the chateau at dusk, savoring a gourmet 3-course dinner, to be followed by a limousine transfer back to Paris. What could be more romantic??

On Sunday, June 26th, 2016, Vaux le Vicomte will once again play host to it's popular Grand Siecle luncheon and fashion show event. Visitors can join in on the fun by renting period costumes, or just enjoy watching the carriage promenades, falconry and entertainment including minuet performances.

For more information or to make your reservation, visit Vaux le Vicomte, and be sure to check out Tres Chic Little Black Dress and 6 Practical Travel Tips!

As a footnote, Vaux le Vicomte was hit this spring by the worst flooding in more than 30 years. When the water receded, the canal surrounding the property sustained major damage. There's an urgent public appeal for donations underway on the Vaux le Vicomte website.

     


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