Regular readers of MOTM will be familiar with my love of French chateaux. Rich history, lavish decor and manicured grounds .. it’s not difficult to see why I’m a fan. Today marks the beginning of my Vaux-le-Vicomte series, starting with the buildings’ striking exteriors’.
Vaux-le-Vicomte has an interesting and scandalous history. The sprawling estate dates back to 1656 when, Nicolas Fouquet (the property owner and then member of Paris’ Parlement) became King Louis XIV’s Superintendent of Finances.
Fouquet hired a dream team of craftsmen to create his dream; Louis le Vau (architect), André le Nôtre (landscaper), and Charles le Brun (interior decorator and painter).
The celebrate the completion of the build, Fouquet hosted a magnificent fête complete with a fancy dinner, fireworks display and debut performance of famed Molière’s play, “Les Fâcheux”.
Fouquet definitely pulled out all of the stops to impress those in attendance, especially his guest of honour King Louis XIV.
But his plan ended up backfiring.
Fellow politician, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, wanted Fouquet’s position as Superintendent of Finances. He suggested to the King that Fouquet had built his Chateau with state money.
Unfortunately for Fouquet, the King believed Colbert. Fouquet was thrown into prison, his wife was exiled and Vaux-le-Vicomte was seized. Shocking no one, Colbert was promoted to take over Fouquet’s old position As Superintendent of Finances.
One of my favourite tidbits that I’ve learned about Vaux-le-Vicomte is that after Fouquet was imprisoned, King Louis XIV commissioned his dream team to create another French Chateau that you may have heard of called Versailles.
Ten years after her exile, Fouquet’s wife returned to the estate and lived there for many years. After her son and husband had passed on, she made the difficult decision to sell Vaux-le-Vicomte.
After passing hands a couple of times, Vaux-le-Vicomte was eventually purchased at auction in 1875 by Alfred Sommier.
Vaux-le-Vicomte has remained in the possession of Sommier’s family since – the current owner is Patrice de Vogüé, Sommier’s great-grandson.
Thankfully, for chateaux-enthusiasts such as myself, Patrice de Vogüé has opened the property to visitors since 1968.
Have you been to Vaux-le-Vicomte? I’ll be back tomorrow with a Thursday Doors post, before continuing on with this series on Friday.