Court intrigues, conspiracies, murders, decline and rebirth – 360 years of history of the private Parisian estate of Vaux-le-Vicomte, open to the public just half a century ago
In March 2018, the Palace of Vaux-le-Vicomte (Château de Vaux-le- Vicomte) celebrates 50 years since the opening of the estate to the public. The estate is the largest private property in France, a recognized historical monument available to the public.
Construction of the Vaux-le-Vicomte palace began 360 years ago in 1658 and lasted only three years. Initially, a young official, Nicolas Fouquet, bought a piece of land 55 km southeast of Paris. And 15 years later, the construction of the estate was ordered by one of the most powerful and richest people in the country, the superintendent of finance in France.
The history of the construction and existence of the palace is replete with significant names. The project was headed by Louis Levo, one of the founders of French classicism and part-time the royal architect of Louis XIV. Landscaping was taken up by the court gardener André Le Nôtre, the son of the Tuileries chief gardener. And the venerable French artist and art theorist Charles Lebrun was responsible for the design of the interior spaces.
So, on August 17, 1661, the happy Nicolas Fouquet celebrated a housewarming in a luxurious castle, and the event was overshadowed by creative geniuses Moliere and La Fontaine. However, Fouquet did not have long to enjoy life in the new palace. It was naive to believe that Louis XIV would not envy such a luxurious residence of a truly royal scale.
Less than a month from the day of the celebration, as a result of traditional intrigues and conspiracies of the French court, the financial quartermaster was arrested by Count D'Artagne we shouldn't have mentioned a long list of famous names in the history of Vaux-le-Viscount!) and sent to prison, where he later died. And the eminent trio of architect, landscape designer and interior designer was sent to a construction site in Versailles to replicate and exceed their success.
The estate currently attracts tourists from all over the world and for good reason. The entire furnishings were carefully preserved by descendants – from the grand living rooms and lush bedrooms to the rough rooms: the kitchen and the cellar. Due to its unique historical appearance, Vaux-le-Vicomte was chosen in 1998 as the location for filming The Man in the Iron Mask with Leonardo DiCaprio.
In 2018, the castle has prepared a varied program of events to mark the memorable date. The grand opening is slated for March 17, and all guests born in 1968 can visit Vaux-le-Vicomte free of charge until the end of the month.
Visitors will see the restored central dome by Charles Lebrun, go on specialized excursions, and take part in costume festivals. Also in the summer season from May 5 to October 6, incredible romantic evenings await guests: two thousand candles are lit in the palace and park, music is played, the fountains of Vaux-le-Vicomte dance, and the facades are illuminated with fireworks.
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