Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

FYI: Photo overload ahead- I couldn’t get over how stunning this chateau was! It was hard to pick just a few favorites for the blog so there are tons of photos below. I hope you like them as much as I do. 🙂

The Monday before Christmas, we went to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. We had heard that it was an especially nice chateau for children to visit.

The front of the estate
Where we ate lunch, near the entrance- Great experience and good food!

During the month of December, the chateau is open on the weekends and everyday during the Christmas holidays (except Christmas Day). They have a special Christmas celebration going on complete with breathtaking decorations and beautiful Christmas lights everywhere.

Even the stables were gorgeous. The bottom left photo is of the chateau entrance.

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is privately owned and tickets are a bit pricier than some other chateaus (16.50 euros per adult – but children under 6 are free!), but I do believe it’s well worth it.

For children 6 years and older, the chateau hands out a book of riddles for inside the chateau and a treasure hunt guide for outside in the gardens.

All children (and adults) can also rent era-appropriate costumes for only 4-6 euros (Yes, London and I totally dressed up as princesses together. Adeline was too small for the rental costumes – size 2 and up – so we brought a dress from home for her). London absolutely loved dressing up as a princess while we walked through the chateau and insisted that I be a princess with her. It was really neat exploring the rooms all dressed up.

Christmas trees were throughout the whole chateau and each one had a different theme.

At the end of the tour through the chateau, each child is given a souvenir. London got a princess and Adeline got a couple of fairies riding a horse. These are high quality toys that normally would have to be bought in a gift store, but here, it was all part of the experience for the children. I loved how involved the children could be in everything. London still talks about the princess chateau and still plays with her figurine.

There was a ferris wheel. Inside the chateau.
This little girl was just a bit older than London. Her mom loved how they were both dressed up and the other little girl was so nice to London and kept wanting to hold her hand and be her friend. So sweet.
The bedroom above was my favorite. The middle left photos are of what a toilet, bathtub, and bidet looked like back then. The bottom left is the dining room table and the bottom right is of one of the ceiling murals.

The chateau was originally the home of Nicolas Fouquet. He was the finance minister of France in the mid 1600’s during the reign of King Louis XIV.

Checking out their toys. Also, the restrooms here were great and even had changing tables!

 

Fouquet brought together an architect, Louis Le Vau, a painter, Charles Le Brun, and a landscape gardener, André Le Notre to create the chateau and surrounding gardens.

This created an estate so much more spectacular than ever before seen and also introduced the formal French gardens now seen at just about every chateau.

The view from the back steps looking out over the gardens.

Everything in the grounds worked together to create beautiful symmetry and guide the visitors’ eye to the appropriate area. Towards the of the formal gardens, one can look back and see the chateau seemingly rising above the entire estate. Even in December, the grounds were lovely to walk around.

Different angles of the chateau from different parts of the gardens.
Unfortunately, as soon as King Louis XIV saw the estate, he became very jealous and in August 1661 arrested Fouquet and gave him a life sentence in prison. Vaux-le-Vicomte was shut down and King Louis XIV hired the original three men who designed the estate to come create his famous Chateau in Versailles.
This part of the land was intentionally kept to look “natural” or “wild” in order to make it seem as if Fouquet’s land went on forever.

Eventually the chateau got acquired and sold a couple of times over the centuries and now the descendants of the last family, the Vogues, run the estate and open it to the public certain times of the year.

We had a wonderful day exploring the chateau and it’s gardens. Parking was right next to the entrance so we left the stroller in the car while we toured the chateau itself and went back and got it later for the gardens. Inside the chateau was beautifully decorated for the holidays. We looked around the rooms and enjoyed the decorations and history while in our costumes. London and even Adeline enjoyed looking around at everything.

You can also tour the stables right when you first enter the estate and see a collection of different carriages from throughout history.

For lunch, we ate at the restaurant on site and it was fantastic! Adeline bumped her head right as we were going inside and was rather fussy and a very nice staff member offered to save a table for us while we got our food (it was a bit crowded during the lunch hour). The food itself was delicious and we ended up having a very nice meal.

After lunch, we explored the gardens while our girls napped in the stroller. Christmas lights could be seen throughout the garden and it was all very beautiful.

We ended up spending the entire day at Vaux-le-Vicomte, from when they opened until around sunset. As we were finishing up our visit and letting the girls run around a bit before getting in the car, we could really see all the lights everywhere. There was also classical music playing near the front of the chateau so that combined with the lights and the chateau itself really created quite the magical moment.

We loved our day there and this might really be one of my favorite chateaus so far (although Chenonceau, in the Loire Valley, is also gorgeous!). I highly recommend Vaux-le-Vicomte, especially if you have children (although it’s perfect for adults too).

The view from the front gates
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