By: NormaK

Last Saturday Dario and I went to the
fabulous Vaux le Vicomte Château. Outside of France little is known about this
beautiful chateau which was the inspiration and model for the Chateau de

In the warmer months every
Saturday, between May and October, as evening falls, over 2,000 candles are lit
throughout the château and gardens. 

The chateau is closed between 5.30 – 8.00
pm in preparation. And what a site it is! Just beautiful,

The sparkling
lights of the candles is complemented by classical music in the background,
looking out onto a section of the garden, stretched out in a chair, sipping
champagne (of course),

The rest of the world seems so very far away. You feel
almost like being trapped in time. 

Arriving before 5.30 pm while it’s still
light is a must as from the top of the castle from the roof top dome you have a
panoramic view over the castle grounds. Quite spectacular!

It’s worth mentioning a brief history of
this extraordinary castle. Vaux was the tragic setting for the downfall of
Nicolas Fouquet,
who was a faithful minister in the court of Louis XIVth who paid the price of
life imprisonment, because of an embezzlement he did not commit, the jealousy
of others and also because he went a little too far in his lavish hospitality,
making the King quite overawed and envious. Vaux was also a haven for leading
French artists, writers, poets, painters 
and sculptors who gave the best of their talents to the glory of Vaux.

In the early seventeenth century, between
the royal residences of Vincennes and Fontainebleau, a small castle stood at
the confluence of two small rivers. The domain was called Vaux-le-Vicomte. In
1641 a 26 year-old parliamentarian, Nicolas Fouquet, purchased the estate.
Fifteen years later the first stone of a unique masterpiece was laid; it was to
be the finest château and garden in France. 

This achievement was brought about
through the collaboration of three men of genius whom Fouquet had chosen for
the task: the architect Le Vau, the painter-decorator Le Brun and the landscape
gardener Le Nôtre. They were not alone; the poet La Fontaine, and the
playwright and actor, Molière, were amongst the celebrities who were part of
the social circuit at the Château.

Today the visitor sees a castle completely furnished
and open entirely to the public. Unlike other castles, where many of the rooms
are out of bounds, you can see just about every room at Vaux le Vicomte. You
will see the state apartments, private cabinets, the dining room, the kitchens
and cellars in the basement.

But the most jaw dropping were the rooms:
the furniture from the 17th century, the ceilings, the walls, the
colour, the magnitude of the expense and the detailing was really amazing! Each
room, one more beautiful than the next. No expense has been spared.  AND taking of photographs with a flash was

The most fascinating room of all was
certainly the ballroom. It had that WOW factor. In front of our eyes we were
watching the setting of a seventeenth century court dance. I won’t give too
much away, but the room seemed to have been extended and that people from
another century were dancing in the room. It worked very well and captured
everyone’s attention, we were all transfixed. 

There are plenty of other things worth
seeing like the Horse Carriage Museum, a unique and private collection of 18th
and 19th century carriages; the Fountain Show where the fountains are still
gravity fed, the same way as they were in the seventeenth century and even a
Molière play performed under the stars.

And lastly, it’s a great place for kids and
grown ups wanting to dress up. Children’s activities are organised like Easter
egg hunts, riddles, treasure hunts, costume tours, and children’s theatre. 

Everything is designed to enable them to discover this page of French history.

Famed French NBA star Tony Parker and American star Eva Longoria celebrated their nuptuals, in attendance Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Nicolette Sheridan, Sheryl Crow, Jessica Alba, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones…

If you are lucky, you may even bump into a Hollywood star!

Monsieur Jean-Charles descendent of the Marquis de Vogüé, Dario and I.

It was a terrific afternoon and evening
spent at Château Vaux Le Vicomte. Highly recommended!

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