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Vaux le Vicomte is one of France’s more beautiful and most historical chateaux. In recent years, the estate has introduced new programs, events and attractions to provide a totally immersive experience for their guests. Visiting the chateau is like taking a trip back in time. With its several of rooms furnished with original decorations and furniture, and its gardens which still maintain their original 17th century design, Vaux le Vicomte is a wonder to behold. In 2019, the chateau aims to become even more accessible with plans to introduce France’s first 3D surround-sound visit, specially designed for visually-impaired guests. The chateau will also showcase newly-acquired artworks and present a fresh calendar of events. Read the complete INSIDR guide to visiting Vaux le Vicomte to discover all this amazing chateau has to offer. From the enchanting Renaissance garden to the romantic Candlelit Evenings, there is so much to see and do at Vaux le Vicomte!
Top Reasons to visit Vaux le Vicomte
#1 Its rich history
In 1641, the 26 year old parlimentarian Nicolas Fouquet, purchased the Vaux-le-Vicomte estate. Over twenty years, Fouquet along with a team of designers and architects transformed the property into the splendid château we see today. André Le Notre, one of France’s most notable landscape architects, designed the gardens. King Louis XIV later commissioned him to design the gardens at Versailles. Unfortunately, things did not end well for Fouquet who was thrown in jail. In 1875, industrialist Alfred Sommier purchased Vaux le Vicomte and launched the restoration of the abandoned estate. At present, the chateau is privately owned and run by the De Vogüé family, descendants of Sommier, who have been responsible for maintaining the chateau’s splendour as one of France’s Historic Monuments.
#2 Its attractions
The interior of the chateau has been almost perfectly preserved in its 17th century state. Complete with stately furnishings and ornamental decorations, the château is an opulent symbol of the wealth of France’s pre-revolution artistocracy. The estate uniquely features a carriage museum where most of the family’s hand-crafted carriages are on display. In the central dome of the château, you can take in a 360° view of the entire chateau and its extensive gardens. Stepping inside Château Vaux le Vicomte is like entering into a different time!
#3 Its gardens
The gardens at Château de Vaux le Vicomte are a pristine example of the Jardin à la française. The gardens were carved from the estate’s 100 acre grounds and feature multiple fountains and flower beds which all serve to compliment the chateau itself. It’s important to note that the gardens at Vaux le Vicomte were the inspiration behind Versailles’. This 2019, the designer Patrick Hourcade has been commissioned to add his art installation in the gardens entitled “Ephemeral Ribbons”—390 angled aluminum plaques that are laid down on the gardens and reflect the sky!
#4 Its proximity to Paris
Unlike the castles of the Loire Valley, Vaux le Vicomte is just under an hour away from Paris. It’s incredibly easy to access from Gare de l’Est in Paris. If you prefer going there by car, the drive isn’t too bad either. The château is only 50km from Paris and takes about an 50 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Keep on reading to find our complete transport guide.
#5 Its amazing events
There are many great events put on annually at Vaux le Vicomte. The château is a particularly great place to spend a day with your whole family. Vaux le Vicomte makes the tour of the chateau even more special for children where they can pick out a period costume to really play up their imagination of 17th century life. The chateau also offers a variety of seasonal events such as the Candlelit Evenings and the Grand Siècle Day. At Christmas, the chateau comes alive as the entire estate is decorated for the holiday season. These events are detailed down below!
#6 Its range of dining options
Unlike many other chateaux outside of Paris, Vaux le Vicomte offers many dining options to its guests. Restaurants located at the estate include the family-friendly Relais de l’Écureuil, the sophisticated Les Charmilles for fine dining, and the more casual Songe de Vaux for drinks and appetizers. At the same time, guests at Vaux le Vicomte are also welcome to bring their own food and enjoy a picnic in the beautiful gardens for free. There’s something for every budget and taste at the chateau.
#7 Its convenient services
While Vaux le Vicomte is certainly an example of opulence and luxury, visiting the estate is remarkably affordable. Standard tickets are just 16€ and children under 6 are always free. There are also reduced ticket prices for those with disabilities. The chateau provides its guests with free audioguides with a 3D immersive sound experience so you get the most out of your visit. Costume rentals are also very affordable at 4-6€ each. On-site, there are washrooms equipped with changing tables and toilets for persons with reduced mobility. Parking is also free!
Top Events at Vaux le Vicomte
Every Saturday evening in 2019 from May to October, Vaux le Vicomte presents Candlelit Evenings. On these special nights, the grounds of the estate are illuminated by more than 2000 candles. It’s a unique evening full of romantic ambiance and absolutely the perfect spot for your next date. Tickets to Candlelit Evenings are 19.90€ for adults and 14€ for children ages 7-17. They include access to the château. On Candlelit Evenings, the estate closes at midnight with last admission at 11:30pm and there is also a direct shuttle service from Vaux le Vicomte and back to Paris Gare de Lyon.
Grand Siècle Day
Any French history fan will not want to miss Grand Siècle Day on June 2, 2019. Every year, hundreds of people come to participate in this day long festival at Vaux le Vicomte. Visitors come dressed in their best period costumes to spend the day living like 17th century aristocrats. Baroque dancers, musketeer shows, carriage rides and a costume contest make the day complete. It’s an unmissable, one day only event!
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own set of period costumes. You can always rent one at the chateau for only 6€ for adults and 4€ for kids! But if you really impress at the festival, you can also rent much more elaborate period costumes. More info on that is available on Vaux le Vicomte’s website. Full rate tickets to the Grand Siècle Day are 17.90€, reduced rate at 15.90€ and kids under 6 enter for free.
Dive deep into history with the Styx Tour at Vaux le Vicomte. This family-friendly program takes you into the underground river that lays below the castle. Equipped with front lamps and wading boots, you and your team will go through a series of challenges designed to test your agility and problem solving skills. Styx Tours cost 60€ per session and accommodates up to 6 people. This activity is only available in French so make sure at least one person on your team is fluent. It’s a great way to learn about history while having a new adventure with your friends and family.
Christmas as Vaux le Vicomte
Christmas is one of the best times to visit Vaux le Vicomte. During the holiday season (November 23, 2019, to January 5, 2020) the entire chateau is decorated festively. Each year has a new theme that tries to outdo itself from the previous year. Fires in the hearths and carriage rides through the gardens make the magic of this event come alive in full effect! Tickets to Christmas at Vaux le Vicomte are 19.90€ for adults, 14€ for kids 7-17 and free for children under 6.
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter at Vaux le Vicomte is the chateau’s most popular event during the year. On Easter weekend, families are invited to participate in one of the biggest and best egg hunts in the country. Taking place in the estate gardens, the egg hunt is so popular that tickets always sell out in advance. There is also face-painting, pony rides and an animated tour of the chateau available for the whole family to enjoy. It’s a day you and your kids will never forget!
How to get to Vaux le Vicomte
Accessing Vaux le Vicomte by train
– From Gare de l’Est, board train Line P bound for Provins and get off at the Verneuil l’Etang station. A direct train leaves Gare de l’Est every 60 minutes and travel time takes about 35 minutes.
– From the Verneuil l’Etang train station, board the “Châteaubus”, Vaux le Vicomte’s official shuttle to the château. The shuttle is in front of the train station exit and comes every hour. The ride to the estate takes approximately 20 minutes. A roundtrip shuttle ticket costs €10.
INSIDR Tip: you can use the Navigo Pass to take the Line P train to Vaux le Vicomte.
Accessing Vaux le Vicomte by car
Driving to Vaux le Vicomte takes an average of 55 minutes. You can reach the chateau by taking the A4 or the A6 motorway from Paris. Enter the A5 and follow signs to Troyes. Take Exit No.15 signposted to Saint Germain Laxis. The entrance to the chateau is marked by a sign. Parking is free of charge. You can also read our guide to driving in France and renting a car during your visit.
A full day itinerary from Paris to Vaux le Vicomte
In the morning
Take the 9:45am train from gare de l’Est to get an early start! When you arrive at the chateau, grab a free audioguide available in 9 languages including English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish and take your time exploring the château. For an immersive experience, rent a period costume (4€ for kids, 6€ for adults) and explore the grand estate while learning about its history and discover what it was like to live there during the French Renaissance. While the sun is still high, climb up the dome to get a 360° view of the estate and its gardens. Tickets are 16.90€ for adults and 14.90€ for kids age 7-17. Children under 6 are free.
Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch ‘en plein air’ in the chateau’s stunning gardens. Guests are welcome to bring their own food and eat outside. Otherwise, there’s Le Relais de L’Ecureuil, a self-service restaurant in a wing of the château’s outbuildings (just to the right of the ticket office). Le Relais de L’Ecureuil is family-friendly and offers a wide range of choices. Prices average between 20€ and 25€ for a three course meal that includes a starter, main course and dessert. High chairs are available for children and there’s a spacious patio where you can enjoy the weather.
In the afternoon
After you’re done eating, take a leisurely tour through the gardens either by foot or on a golf cart which are available for rent. When you’re done, make your way over to the carriage museum. You’ll find the chateau’s impressive collection of hand-made carriages. The museum is very popular among children and offers a rare look at what was once considered the most luxurious means of travel. Don’t miss the gift shop where you’ll find a great assortment of souvenirs and the famous Countess Cristina de Vogüé’s dessert recipe book.
At night during Candlelit Evenings
For the evening, make a reservation at the château’s fine dining restaurant Les Charmilles. Here you can dine under the stars and enjoy a seasonal menu of gourmet cooking. Les Charmilles is only open on Saturdays from May to October so make sure you book ahead and make a reservation. You can also spend an hour or two relaxing at the chateau’s signature bar Le Songe de Vaux. The bar overlooks the gardens and is the perfect spot to take in the light show while enjoying a nice glass of champagne.
You can take the direct shuttle bus to Gare de Lyon that leaves at 11:30pm. Please note that the shuttle bus is about a 20 minute walk from the chateau so don’t stay too long!
Combine your visit to Vaux le Vicomte
Château de Fontainebleu
If you’re traveling by car, you can also visit another grand estate in Île-de-France. Château de Fontainebleau is only a 30-minute drive from Vaux le Vicomte. It is a lovely, historic French castle with gardens designed by André Le Notre, the same landscape architect who designed the gardens at Vaux le Vicomte and Versailles.
Fontainebleu National Forest
Heading to Fontainebleau National Forest is also a great activity to combine your Vaux le Vicomte visit with. It is the second-largest national forest in France at 22,000 hectares in size. There are a number of activities for the whole family to try including carriage rides, story walks, a high ropes course and bike rentals. There is also a golf course on site and designated bouldering areas. It’s a fun way to integrate some physical activity into your day!
Provins is a fascinating medieval town just a 45-minute drive from Vaux le Vicomte. You can also take the same train on Line P from Gare de l’Est to get there. People love visiting this place because of the medieval architecture that still stands. On June 15th and 16th, 2019, Provins will host Europe’s biggest and best medieval fair where you can see throngs of costumed tourists and locals take over the city for a weekend of revelry and fun.
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