Candlelit Evenings at Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte
by Youliana Veltcheva
January 15, 2020
There could hardly be a more romantic place to visit on a warm summer night. With sweeping views of over 100 acres of geometrically shaped French gardens and the magnificent 17th century chateau, illuminated by more than 2000 candle lights, you will be enthralled by the sight. The castle is richly decorated and brings you back to the 17th century and the lavish life-style of nobility. The stunning view from the dome is not be missed. With classical music and a wonderful selection of fine dining, you can let your senses win over your heart. The candle-lit evening at the chateau ends with a majestic fireworks display.
The candle-lit evenings take place every Saturday on May 2nd through October 3rd, 2020 from 7pm to midnight. You never see big crowds here, like in some of Paris’s main sites, even at its busiest time. A person feels at peace, contemplating and soaking in the beauty of the chateau. Not only are you avoiding the tourist crowds, but you will be giving yourself a special treat for all your senses. If you’ve been on a frantic schedule, waited in long lines, stressed over seeing as much as you can, this is where you can take a break and truly enjoy the peace and quiet of the French countryside.
Only about 60 kilometers southeast of Paris, the chateau is accessible by car, shuttle and public transportation. The train leaves from Gare de l'Est in Paris and takes about 35 minutes to get to gare Verneuil l'Etang, from where there are shuttles to take you to the chateau. Alternatively you can book a day trip to Vaux-le-Vicomte
from Paris. This is the preferable way to go if you want to be completely stress free. And also, you will not have to worry about driving after having a few glasses of champagne.
You can sit down for a great food at the restaurant, enjoy a glass of champagne and simply admire the flickering lights, serenity and the magical feel of this chateau.
You can choose from the semi-formal open-air restaurant Les Charmilles
overlooking the gardens, which is often booked in advance,offering a three course meals for 64.5 euro, the cafeteria-style restaurant Le Relais de l'Ecureuil
, located in a wing of the château, or the lovely bar Songe de Vaux
, featuring baroque music, champagne, fruit cocktails and macarons . If you are on a budget, you can bring your own picnic, which is allowed in the designated areas near the canal.
It is very possible that you can see the actual owners of Vaux-le-Vicomte - the De Vogüé family
. Alexandre, who co-manages the château with his brother Jean-Charle are always out and about helping and making sure everything is running smoothly and the guests are having a good time.
Designed by the legendary French landscape architect André Le Nôtre
the 100 acres of formal gardens are elegantly arranged, with a multitude of fountains and immaculate geometrical design, organized on a central axis. The harmonious lines, permeated with the sounds of birds, has become later the inspiration for creating the French garden at Chateau de Versaille
. There are two itineraries that you can follow to explore the gardens. A treasure hunt is organized to amuse the children, following the “Little Squirrel” path.
Events at Vaux-le-Vicomte
Besides the Candle-lit Evenings, the Chateau is home to several other events.
Dîner des Muses takes place on September 14th and guests dress up in white and green to celebrate the gardens and have a picnic out in the open. Tables and chairs are dispersed around the gardens and the guests are encouraged to bring their picnic and table decor, as prizes are given for the best set-up.
- The Palace of Chocolate event takes place on November 9-11, with chocolate tastings, workshops and artworks designed by master pastry chefs. It is a fun activity for families as kids will especially enjoy the yummy treats.
- Easter is also a special event in the chateau, which celebrates with a giant Easter egg hunt.
- The Water Show features fountains in the garden, which are all turned on in a beautiful water display. I takes place on every second and last Saturday of the month from 3pm to 6pm.
- The Grand Siecle is a period costumed day,taking place on June, 2nd, offered to celebrate the XVIIth century traditions with costumes dress up and skits, performed by musketeers and carriage rides.
For the Kids
The Chateaux owners are especially mindful about children, making sure they also have fun.
Period costume rental allows kids to dress up and feel like musketeers or princesses.
- A fun game booklet is given to every child at the entrance.
- Electric buggies for 4 people are provided for the family to make it even more convenient to explore the vast French gardens.
The guided children visits allow the little ones to learn the curtesy and games of their counterparts from XVIIth century.
- The Styx, river of the underworld takes place from April 13th till Nov 3rd. This is a fun and interactive trip of the underworld, which takes the kids along the underground river. Equipped with high boots and head lamps, the little ones are taken in an adventure tour and act, performed by professional actors
- Christmas is also a fun time for kids as the chateau is beautifully illuminated and adorned with holiday decor and kids are offered fun carriage rides.
Inside Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte
There are four levels to explore once inside the chateau, all beautifully furnished and lavishly decorated in the style of XVIIth century:
The First floor, where the apartments of Madame and Monsieur Fouquet are located,
- The Ground floor is where the ceremonial salons were located,
- The Basement is where the kitchen and the stuff living quarters were, and presently there is the Andre-le-Notre permanent audio-visual exhibition.
- The Dome is 25 meters high and you can enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of the whole estate.
The Carriage Museum
, close to the ticket office, is also a great place to see a rare collection of antique carriages and their equipment.
History of the Chateau
In 1656 Fouquet, the finance superintendent of Louis XIV, commissioned three exceptional artists and architects to oversee the building of the chateau of his dreams. Louis le Vau
was the architect, Andre le Notre was the person behind the magnificent garden design and Le Brun
was the artist who created the interior design and decoration of the estate. Fauquet was rich and ambitious and his need to dazzle everyone with his lavish life-style brought up the jealousy of the King’s finance minister's assistant Colbert, who manipulated and stirred up envy and resentment in Louis XIV. Despite the warnings of his friends, in August of 1661 Fouquet invited the king and his entourage to a luxurious and sumptuous reception in his honor. Shortly after the reception, he was judged and sentenced on charges of treason. The trial continued for three years and ended up with the sentence of banishment from France. But even that sentence was not good enough for the king, so he commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Thus, Foquet spent his last 19 years of his life in prison. A lot of his art and possessions were confiscated by the king and it was not until 1875, that Vaux-le-Vicomte was restored to its original glamour by a rich industrial - Alfred Sommelier.
One of the best Chateau visits in the vicinity of Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte is an authentic, family-owned-and-operated French country château, that inspired Versailles and will surpass your expectations. Don’t hesitate and treat yourself to this unforgettable experience!