Friday, May 1, 2009
CHATEAUX VAUX LE VICOMTE
Friday, May 1, 2009 Chateaux Vaux Le Vicomte
We arrived in the city of Mellun and easily found the Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte located several miles north east of town. The road to the Chateau was lined with very old and large trees for the last several miles; a beautiful entrance for a seventeenth century chateau located in a huge forest, with magnificent gardens that was the inspiration for the Palace of Versailles and set the standard for future European chateaux.
Louis XIV was so jealous of the owner and builder, Nicolas Fouquet, his finance minister, that he put him in jail and tried to have him sentenced to death. He felt that he must have stolen funds from the government to have built such a grand chateau. His family and fortune ruined; he lost this home and all his possessions. Over the centuries the property has been threatened with destruction for various reason the most recent that they wanted to build the A5 Autoroute through the property. But, good sense and people with the means to preserve this important piece of French history have prevailed and it is a part of the French National Heritage Preservation Society since 2004 when they wanted to put the Autoroute through the property. Louis XIV went on to take his hunting lodge at Versailles and create a palace using the same architects, builders and gardeners that Fouquet had employed to built Vaux Le Vicomte.
We spent two hours touring the Chateau and then the Carriage Museum located in the outer buildings. They have staged the house well and use mannequins in several of the rooms to portray historical scenes. One was so life like we think he was a real person pretending to be a mannequin. If not, it was able to move the eyes and wrinkle the forehead extremely well. In the basement there is a man with an iron mask in a cell representing the fact that the story of Nicolas Fouquet is featured prominently in the third Musketeer book by Alexandre Dumas and there were two versions of “The Man in the Iron Mask” filmed in this Chateau.
It was a fun morning and a great way to end our tour of the Chateaux of France. Tomorrow we turn the car in at Orly Airport and catch public transportation into Paris for our final few days.