Whenever France is mentioned, no one ever thinks of Vaux-le-Vicomte. Vaux-le-what? Exactly. No one has heard of it. No one even bothers to research about it. I mean, it is not Versailles anyway, so why the effort, right? Wrong.
A gorgeous estate in the chateau region itself – the Loire Valley – Vaux-le-Vicomte is one of France’s hidden gems with a gem of a story to tell. I will not bore you with historical facts but the summary is this: if not for this castle, there would be no Versailles.
This castle owes its magnificence to Nicolas Fouquet, a patron of the arts and Louix XIV’s financial superintendent. Like his boss, he wanted his home to reflect his refined taste and become a center for everything beautiful in this world. This ultimately resulted in an estate that heralded the beginning of what we know of today as “Louix XIV” style – ornate, grand, intricate, manicured.
This was, indeed, the chateau to rule them all.
Such was the awe that it inspired during its time that it not only became the venue for many feasts and art gatherings but was said to have incited jealousy in Louis XIV himself when he once visited that he vowed to one-up it.
And one-up he did. We know what he ended up calling it.
Having seen the Versailles many, many years ago, it was really interesting to see its back story through this castle in the middle of the Loire.
Admittedly, the style was very Versailles but the overall expanse was smaller (in castle terms) and less imposing (Louis XIV really went above and beyond).
What I liked most about it though was the fact that it was all lit up with candles as soon as evening fell. Candles here, there, everywhere. The way it was when Fouquet still lived here.
And roam around like Fouquet we did – weaving through rooms and hallways, up and down staircases, stumbling upon secret corners and moments, going out into and around the massive courtyard and catching our breath by the garden steps, only for it to be taken away again with an amazing display of fire lanterns being released into the sky. Like fireflies congregating at the chateau. Wow.
I think Fouquet finally just one-upped Louis XIV.
Photos, Rio Jorolan.
PS. Apologies for the crappy photo sizing/layout. I can’t seem to figure out how to make them all the same size. WordPress changed its user interface and I’m suddenly feeling really tech-handicapped.