Celebrating Christmas in Baroque style at Le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

For anyone planning to be in or near Paris over the next few weeks, le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte in all its Christmas glory is definitely worth a visit. The Château is located in Maincy near the town of Melun, about 50 km southeast of Paris. And, from 19 December to 3 January* the castle is celebrating Christmas in style.

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The path leading up to the main entrance of the castle is lined with white Christmas trees, and various stately rooms on the tour have been appropriately decorated. There is also something special for children. They get to walk through an ‘enchanted forest’ and each child receives a gift. Perhaps the French Baroque and classical Christmas is a tad anachronistic, but for those who enjoy Christmas and all its finery, and if you are visiting Paris during this time – its does make for a different visitor experience.

If you are not visiting Paris until later in 2010 the castle puts on other ‘shows’. From March until October, for example, there is the ‘fountain show’ – the fountains are still gravity fed from rain water. From May until October visitors are able to visit the castle and its stunning grounds at dusk – both lit up by over 200 candles. They have some wonderful activities for children all through the year, so adults are free to wonder around at leisure without bored children.

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Most people have heard of Versailles, but few have heard of let alone visited le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. The estate was bought by Nicolas Fouquet, a 26 year old ambitious member of the French parliament, in 1641 and the castle was built during 1658 and 1661. The castle was one of the most influential to be built in Europe in the 17th Century. To satisfy Fouquet’s social-climbing ambitions three villages were demolished. The building of Le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was the first time a leading architect, Louis Le Vau, landscape architect, André le Nôtre, and painter-decorator, Charles Le Brun, collaborated on such grand scale to produce the building, its interiors and works of art and an entire landscaped garden. This collaboration set the standard for what was to become the ‘Louis XIV style’.

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About Thomas Dowson

Hello, I am Thomas Dowson - a freelance writer and archaeologist living in Normandy, France. My field of expertise is prehistoric art - such as the cave paintings in the Dordogne and South Africa. But I am becoming passionately interested in France more generally, and Normandy in particular, and what this country and one of its very well known regions has to offer people with all sorts of tastes and desires. In 2005 I exchanged a university archaeology lecture room for a Bed & Breakfast in Normandy. More recently I started the Archaeology Travel website; sharing my expertise and love of archaeology and travel with others who also want to explore the many different pasts around the World.