A 17th century masterpiece, Vaux-le-Vicomte was the backdrop to many major historical events and witnessed the tragic eviction of its creator, Nicolas Fouquet, who was imprisoned following an extraordinary trial.
The architect Louis Le Vau was already enjoying widespread recognition when Fouquet called on his services in 1653. As Principal Architect of the King, he had already erected many Parisian mansions including the Hôtel Lambert. Considered the greatest ambassador of the Italian style in France, Le Vau also drew inspiration from antiquity. These various sources would enable him to create a powerful new style of his own, starting with le Vicomte; a style that would lay the foundation of French architecture for the century-and-a-half to come.
Although he had already experimented with this layout, it was at Vaux le Vicomte that the architect would break away from the rigid principles of home design that had prevailed until then. Before, buildings were constructed as
simple structures, made up of rooms with two façades, one overlooking the courtyard and one overlooking the gardens. This layout made it necessary to arrange the rooms in an immutable row, limiting privacy. The ground floor
was dedicated to utility rooms, and the first floor or piano nobile was used for ceremonial purposes.
However, in the early 1650s, Le Vau introduced a brand new concept: instead of placing the rooms on top of each other, he placed them next to each other, doubling the building’s thickness, which of course led to other changes, too. To start with, a French-style roof (that is, a high, straight roof) was out of the question, because the size of the framework made it impossible. He therefore chose to use a hipped roof, which the architect routinely introduced into his projects. In his opinion, the ovoid dome was one of the most significant technical and aesthetic feats of the Château de Vaux le Vicomte.
The corner pavilions nonetheless retain their high roofs, although this feature was “outdated”, like the moats and drawbridges, elements that were once purely defensive but here sit alongside terraces, wide bays and gardens adorned with abundant fountains.
This new juxtaposition would also offer greater freedom in room layout. On the ground floor, the Salon d’Hercule acted as an antechamber with two apartments in staggered rows. Upstairs, four separate apartments branched out from a central corridor, thus enjoying a previously unheard of level of privacy. This layout would be copied in mansions the world over. The ground floor thus became the ceremonial floor and the first floor
became more intimate, containing the private apartments.
The Vaux le Vicomte French Formal Garden have been drawn around a 3kms length perspective. Creating a setting for the château and outbuildings out of a wild area of around 100 acres ( 40 hectares),Le Notre and Le Vau created for the first and only time in the seventeenth century, a perfect harmony between architecture and its environment.
Every Saturday evening from May through to October, Vaux-le-Vicomte can be visited under the glow of 2,000 lit candles within the castle and its gardens.
If you can, please visit and understand Vaux la Vicomte, before you go to Versailles.
One of the most Romantic site to go to, and spend time.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
77950 MAINCY – FRANCE
Tél : +33 (0)22.214.171.124.90