Melun Things to Do Tips by Dabs
Melun Things to Do: 12 reviews and 57 photos
Vaux le Vicomte was the home of Nicolas Fouquet, that is until the nefarious machinations of Colbert who whispered into the ear of King Louis XIV that Fouquet was guilty of theft to cover up his complicity in the accumulation of wealth amassed, mostly by unscurpulous means, by Cardinal Mazarin to whom he served as a personal servent. After Mazarin's death, Colbert needed to cover his tracks and Fouquet was the target. The King was already envious of Fouquet's popularity and of the lavish chateau he built so it was probably not too hard to convince him of Fouquet's guilt. To add insult to injury, in August 1661 they arranged for Fouquet to throw a party for the King at Vaux le Vicomte where they had him arrested. Colbert lobbied for death but the jury voted for banishment. Fouquet was imprisoned for until his death in March 1680. Although I don't remember it being mentioned at the chateau, from the history of the chateau, Fouquet started building the chateau in 1645 but it wasn't finished until 1661, the same year he was arrested. Didn't really give him much time to enjoy the fully completed chateau...
What I really liked about this chateau compared to the others we saw on this visit was that they did a really good job of displaying the history of the chateau in rooms with audio and visual presentations. And unlike Versailles and Fontainebleau, the chateau still sits in a setting not in a city but surrounded by trees and some of the original grounds.
The 1st stop on your tour will likely be the carriage house which has a display of 18th and 19th century horse drawn carriages in the old stables. The carriage house is included with any ticket to the grounds or to the chateau.
We arrived at Vaux le Vicomte shortly before it opened on a Wednesday morning and we practically had the chateau to ourselves and during the visit we only saw a handful of people. We opted for the complete visit for 16€ which includes the chateau, the gardens and the carriage museum, the simple visit for 14€ did not include the private apartments or the dome which gives a stunning view over the gardens. You can also just visit the gardens and carriage museum but it would be a shame to miss out on the chateau. Audio guides are extra so we just self toured, there was enough information without an audio guide.
A note on the website indicates that the dome will be closed until July 2012, luckily for us it was open for our visit.
On Saturdays the chateau has special things happening during the warmer months, the fountain show on the 2nd and last Saturday of the month, fireworks on the 1st and the 3rd Saturdays and Candlelight visits. It also looks like the deck the halls for the holiday season. Check the website for current information
After visiting the chateau, we spent a bit of time wandering around in the gardens, French formal gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, the landscape designer for Fontainebleau and Versailles. The gardens here are noted as the 1st formal French garden and the 1st major project for Le Nôtre.
Most of the gardens are walkable, however, you can rent an electric golf cart to get around. The grand canal would take a bit of time to get around on foot so we stopped when we reached it. The best view of the garden is from above in dome which you can access if you purchase the full pass to the chateau.
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