Inspiration for the VERSAILLES CASTLE,the castle of VAUX-LE-VICOMTE is a real gem. Although less well known than its neighbour in the south-west of Paris, this castle has no less assets. And it offers the advantage of being less frequented. Which makes his visit even more enjoyable.
The Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle was born from the dreams of greatness of Nicolas Fouquet, superintendent of finance of Louis XIV. To build this masterpiece of classical architecture, he joins the services of the greatest artists of their time. Thus, Louis le Vau, the king’s first architect, the landscape designer André le Nôtre and the painter Charles le Brun. All three had already worked together on the Château de Vincennes and Louis XIV will reunite them again for the Palace of Versailles.
A sumptuous castle, but too ostentatious for Louis XIV
The castle of Vaux the Vicomte was completed in the late 1650s. Fouquet, however, had little time to enjoy it. A few weeks after a lavish party in honour of Louis XIV with Vatel in the kitchen, the king had his finance superintendent arrested for embezzlement of public funds. The little story is that Louis XIV had him arrested out of jealousy in front of the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte. This is not true because the decision to arrest him was made several weeks before. However, the display of so much pomp did not have to plead in favour of Nicolas Fouquet who was imprisoned for life. Louis XIV decided to offer himself his architectural jewel with Versailles, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was not confiscated. As a result, it remained privately owned. It is now the largest private monument in France.
A model of gardens à la française
When you visit the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a few kilometres from Melun, you first discover its sumptuous à la française gardens that stretch in front of its moat. These gardens designed by Le Nôtre are indeed the founding work and one of the models of à la françaisegenre. These gardens elegantly integrate the castle in a 3-kilometres long perspective, consisting of carved flowerbeds, water basins or statues. During the summer, every Saturday evening, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte offers night tours of its gardens lightened by candlelight. The park is then illuminated by 2000 candles. A magical moment not to be missed if you stay on a Saturday night on one of our campsites around the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte.
The model of à la française architecture
When Fouquet called on Louis Le Vau to build the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the latter enjoyed a very good reputation. He was then considered as the Italian-style ambassador to France. Drawing its sources from antiquity, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte allowed it to develop its own style which would become à la française architecture and influenced all of Europe for the following decades.
From the outside, the castle imposes its spectacular dimensions and perfectly balanced volumes. At its centre is the ovoid dome, an architectural feat, emblematic of the monument. Once inside the castle, the tour takes you through 4 levels. The latter are still furnished and decorated as if Nicolas Fouquet still lived there, making it one of the few monuments in France whose decoration has changed very little since the 17th century. The most beautiful rooms are located on the ground floor with a superb baroque decoration. You are offered a supplement to access the dome. Its round path at 25 meters from the ground offers a magnificent view of the whole estate that is well worth the 3 euros that you will be asked for extra.
In addition to the rooms of the castle, a permanent exhibition allows you to learn more about andré le Nôtre’s work with the various stages of the creation of the à la française garden of Vaux-le-Vicomte.
Original family visits and events throughout the year
The castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte can be visited with the family. Playful formulas are provided for children with costume rentals, playbooksor guided tours costumed to learn all the secrets of life in a 17th century castle. Younger guests will also enjoy the egg hunt that takes place in the park during the Easter weekend or the magical Christmas decorations.
To prepare your visit, you can check the timetables, rates and booking conditions on the site of the Château de Vaux le Vicomte.