Nov 11th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

The Chateau, Vaux-le-Vicomte

I was a student in Paris years ago. A classmate of mine decided to stay in France after our year abroad at the Sorbonne to become a national guide.  Today Alexis is one of a few guides who have earned the privilege of being a guide at Vaux-le-Vicomte. This chateau has a rich history and is comparable to Versailles itself. Google takes us there via satellite for a birds-eye view.

The chateau is located south of Paris and is known as the chateau that Louis XIV discovered after being invited there for a social gathering. After being there he imprisoned his finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, who built the incredible chateau requiring 18,000 laborers.  The king found it to be just too glorious to match his own plans at Versailles.   Fouquet paid the price of life imprisonment, for embezzlement and some royal jealousy.

Chateau Building and Royal Jealousy

Fouquet relocated three entire villages just to accommodate the landscaping.  The three main architects were Louis Le Vau for the architecture, Charles Le Brun as the painter-decorator and André le Nôtre as the garden designer and builder.  After the visit, King Louis XIV took the three-man creative team and had them design and construct his own palace called Versailles.

Louis decided that his finance minister had absconded and embezzled royal funds to build this chateau.  The house-warming party at Vaux on the night of August 17, 1661 with fireworks, orchestrated music and a premiere play by Molière was too much for the king to handle.  His highness smelled a rat and after three weeks Fouquet was taken into custody by Lt. Charles d’Artignan of the king’s musketeers.

He was tossed into prison alongside Eustache Dauger, aka the Man in the Iron Mask.  Fouquet never returned to his domicile and Louis hired the threesome to build him an even more glorious chateau. He even took most of the furniture, tapestries and sculptures home with him to the new royal chateau.  Fouquet had a super collection of exotic trees that Louis had replanted at Versailles in gardens. Do spend some time here and walk through the garden.  jeb

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