Vaux-le-Vicomte – The Tragic Inspiration for Versailles

Stunning, even grandiose, French chateau and garden design didn't start with Versailles. Years earlier it was Louis XIV's finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet who had the inspiration to build a magnificent palace surrounded by magnificent gardens. He had purchased a small chateau when he was only 26 in 1641. As he rose in the ranks of the royal ministry, he began to expand.

The resulting building and grounds were lavish, refined, and dazzling to all who saw them. It became a center for arts and artists, for writers and literature, and for lavish celebrations. It was, for a period, the very center of French cultural life. Until the Sun King saw it.

Vaux-le-Vicomte & The Downfall of Fouquet

Vaux-le-Vicomte

One fateful day — August 17, 1661 — Fouqet arranged an opulent fête in honour of his king, Louis XIV. The dinner was better than ever, the entertainment was a new play by Molière, Les Fâcheux (The Annoyer).

But it was just too much. Louis couldn't stand the idea that someone other than his Royal Self could create such beauty, such sumptuousness, such perfection.

Fouqet was arrested and imprisoned for life. (Partly brought on by the conniving of his rival, Colbert.) It was tragic and completely unfair. The Sun King then seized all the statues from Vaux-le-Vicomte, the tapestries, and even 150 orange trees, and instructed his team of architects to create something even grander than Vaux-le-Vicomte. That project became the chateau and gardens of Versailles.

VIP Visit To Vaux-le-Vicomte

Visiting Vaux-le-Vicomte

Totally restored, Vaux-le-Vicomte is a near-to-Paris destination for private day trips, dinners and even a candlelight tour

Recently, we visited Vaux-le-Vicomte for a leisurely visit and a champagne-fuelled picnic lunch. A private driver met us at our apartment in a luxurious Jaguar and drove the hour out to the chateaux.

When we arrived we were whisked past the ticket line and into the garden where we were given the keys to a motorized (golf) cart to drive around the extensive gardens. After an hour of exploration we discovered that there was a picnic basket in the back of the cart, filled with champagne, glasses, macarons and a picnic blanket. We enjoyed this from the top of the hill, overlooking the entire estate.

After our lunch there was plenty of leisure time to explore the chateau and marvel at how much, indeed, it inspired the architecture at Versailles. Later our driver et us right at the entrance and drove us home, at the end of a perfect day.

Candlelight Tour of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Visiting Vaux-le-Vicomte

For a magnificent evening, plan a chauffeur-driven candle-lit visit to the chateau and grounds. Our Paris Concierge creates this customized, perfect visit for you.

It begins with your private driver picking you up at your hotel and whisking you to the chateau, about an hour from Paris. Take a leisurely walking tour of the magnificent gardens. You'll understand where the inspiration for Versailles came from.

After spending time exploring the chateau itself, your driver meets you to chauffeur you to a nearby restaurant for a romantic 3-course dinner. You visit the historic Carriage Museum and, as the evening lengthens, you return to Vaux-le-Vicomte where the gardens are now illuminated by 2000 candles. Stroll along the pathways, listen to enchanting music, while drinking champagne.

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