A couple of friends and I went on a little adventure, about an hour from Paris, to visit Le Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte and to also enjoy “Le Palais du Chocolat” festival in early November. I was enchanted from the very beginning! There was room to roam to fully appreciate this gorgeous property in the late autumn warmth, both in colour and temperature!
A brief history: Nicolas Fouquet, Marquis de Belle Ile, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, and the superintendent of finances for King Louis 14th, purchased this manor in 1641. Not as beautiful as you see here now in the photos, he hired an incredibly talented team to revamp the entire property. Architect, painter and landscape gardener: Louis Le Vaux, Charles Le Brun, and Andre Le Notre transformed this property into one of the most thoughtful oeuvre d’ architecture in France. I say this because of the intention to symmetry and attention to detail executed in the 3km gardens that play on an intricate forced perspective design plan. For instance, when you stand near the back entrance of the chateau looking out into the garden, you could (in theory) see the reflection of the castle in the water basin from a kilometer away. We didn’t, the weather didn’t permit.
Unfortunately, Fouquet’s destiny changed when a jealous King Louis XIV sentenced him to life imprisonment in 1661. Why so jealous? Fouquet’s gorgeous abode, admired by many, had cast a shadow over the King’s ego. And guess who then took all he could from this lovely renovated Chateau? You got it, the dear King.
This chateau also became the blueprint for the wildly visited Chateau Versailles, also made by the genius of Fourquet’s triple threat team.
After more than a decade later of struggle, Madame Fouquet and her son started to recuperate their estate which was eventually sold in 1705. Later sold again in 1875, the estate was auctioned off where it laid dormant for 50 years until Alfred Sommier invested enormously to reinstate this once brilliant property. It is still privately owned by his family.
While visiting inside, you feel the luscious decadence filled with tapestries on the wall and classic decor. The thoughtful and easy-to-follow route wove us through rooms, narrow and large hallways reminding us about the stature of those who once lived there.
While walking around, we witnessed a class of school children learning about the chateau dressed up in period costumes! It was adorable! You too can rent costumes to wear as you tour around for increased dramatic effect if you wish!
Below: A dozen slides from the inside!
What ever happened to Fouquet, you ask? No one knows. Well, in the dungeon next to an enormous wine cellar, there was a staged presentation implying a connection between Fouquet and the man in the iron mask. Not sure how likely that is, but it is an intriguing story nonetheless!
Chocolate anyone? You could smell the strong yet pure chocolate aroma permeating from meters away when entering the foyer near the back of the Chateau featuring the best Chocolate manufacturers in France, like Des Lis Chocolat. Feeling swirly and slightly dizzy from the potent displays and shopping, we ventured through the gardens to the furthest statue and back. Finishing the loop, there was a large tent filled with chocolate yet to visit!
From chocolate truffles packaged in chic little jewelry boxes care of Jean Charles Rochous to wine pairings from Aux Caves de La Cote d’Or with Des Lis chocolates, and taste-testing divine hot chocolate and unapologetically accepting samples, there was enough to satiate any chocolate desire! A few treats made their way back home – temporarily that is. Fresh chocolate like this doesn’t last long – double entendre! I want to give a little shout out to Pascal Pineau table for delicious chocolate samples, information, and warm welcome!
Chateau Vaux le Vicomte is enchanting! The family who owns the property schedule many events throughout the year too! They have regular fireworks during the high season, Christmas and Easter events and decorations, and simple or divine dining options, for example. One event I hope to do one year happens in May. They offer a “Journee Grand Siecle”, meaning you can rent a period costume while lunching on the grass enjoying 17th and 18th-century activities in the garden (such as artistic fencing, a horse show and baroque dances) living it up ‘King’s Court style’! There are Candlelit evenings and fountain garden shows (and much more!)
Many visitors who come to Paris often make a day trip to Chateau Versailles, but if you have the time, Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte and Chateau Fontainebleau are not to be missed!
Next week I head to Italy for some adventure and family!
And from March 15 until March 28th, follow me @parismusetours where I will be their guest Instagram curator! Photos of Paris posted daily – can’t wait!
Below: Before we part ways, take a walk with me outside:
Peace, love and happiness! Thank you for reading!
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