Monday, January 27, 2014

Vaux le Vicomte- Inspiration for Versailles

Nicholas Fouquet

The chateau de Vaux le Vicomte is recognized to have been the inspiration for Versailles but his original owner, Louis XIV's finance minister,  Nicholas Fouquet (born January 27, 1615) enjoyed it for only a brief time.  In fact, upon staging a fete on a August day in 1661 to show off his newly completed castle, Nicholas Fouquet was arrested and sent to the fortress prison of Pignerol where he died in 1680.  

Vaux le vicomte is located outside of Paris, in the commune of Maincy near Melun.  It took  three  years to complete its construction (from 1658 to 1661)  and the result was splendid.  For the job, the profligate minister, hired the best architect (Le Vau); painter/interior designer ( Le Brun) and landscape designer, (Le Nôtre).  In all, more than 20,000 artisans worked on the project.  

Fouquet’s spared no expenses for the grand fête as Chef Vatel prepared the feast served in gold and silver plates, Moliere wrote a comedy-ballet for the occasion, Lully composed music and fireworks illuminated the sky as 1200 jets of water danced from the fountains. This was meant to dazzle everyone in attendance, especially the king.  However, young Louis the XIV was not amused as Vaux le Vicomte’s splendor exceeded his own palace at the Tuileries and Versailles was a mere hunting lodge.  Less than a month  after the party Fouquet was arrested, sent to jail never to return and his castle confiscated. Furthermore, Louis XIV shamelessly appropriated the castle’s furnishings, paintings and hired its creators, Le Vau, Le Brun and le Nôtre to design Versailles.

Vaux le Vicomte is about 25 miles southest of Paris and is opened for public visits.  The castle and gardens have been restored by the family of current owner Comte P. de Vogüe. On Friday and Saturday nights in season, candlelight visits recreate the ambience of the festivities held in 1661 in honor of Louis XIV---two thousand candles illuminate the house and gardens at dusk, classical music is played in the garden and a Champagne bar is available. 

Our spring tour to Paris and Ile de France tour will be visiting the castle of Vaux le Vicomte.  So join us!!

tags: chateau de Vaux le Vicomte, Nicholas Fouquet

Visit for your next vacation in France

No comments: