This summer we had the chance to go back for my second visit to the Château de Vaux le Vicomte located just southeast of Paris. It had been so many years ago when I first visited, that I was anxious to return.
The history of the château centers around its builder Nicolas Fouquet, who at the age of 26 was the superintendent of finances under Louis XIV.
The day we visited, there were several children's groups all dressed up as princes, princesses, and musketeers. Made me want to play dress-up again!
The baroque château was built at an incredible pace, using 18,000 workers during 1658-1661. Fouquet used an amazing trio of artists to build his home, including
Louis le Vau, the architect,
Le Nôtre, as the gardener,
and Charles le Brun as the decorator
and painter. It was a masterpiece of design intended to impress his boss, Louis XIV,
who was invited along with many illustrious guests to the "party of the century" so that Fouquet could show off the finest design of the time.
His plan, however, backfired, because Louis XIV was led to believe that Fouquet had only managed such an accomplishment by misappropriating funds, so he had Fouquet arrested, and he was sentenced to life in prison. Louis XIV was extremely impressed with the beauty of Vaux le Vicomte, and subsequently hired the same trio of artists to create his own palace of Versailles, along with removing many of the tapestries and statues to use in his own home.
A tour through the castle gives you some idea of just why Louis XIV was a bit jealous and desired all the beauty for himself.
I fell in love with this child's chair in the Duchesse de Villars' room. She was the wife of the second owner of the castle,
and her bathroom, modern for the time, adjoins her room.
One can only imagine the excitement in the kitchens down in the basement,
the night the King came to visit.
Vaux le Vicomte website
Today, Vaux le Vicomte is the largest castle in France owned by a private citizen. In addition to special events and parties, it is sometimes used for wedding receptions and filming. Eva Longoria and Tony Parker had their wedding reception here, and parts of Sofia Coppola's movie "Marie Antoinette" were filmed here.
Often when I leave a place, I wonder if I'll ever come back, or if I'm seeing a place or a location for the last time. Having seen it twice, I really thought this would be the last time I would want to go, but then I was reminded when I visited, that Candlelight Evening events are held on Saturday evenings during the spring-fall. Two thousand candles illuminate the castle on those nights, giving the château a completely different atmosphere.
Wouldn't that be a magical way to experience the story of Vaux le Vicomte?
I'm thinking now that my "bucket list" just got a little longer.
I'll be back....