Be Careful if the King Comes to Dinner…
That got your attention, right? We’ve all planned and given dinner parties, but how many of us have built a castle and then invited the king for dinner to show off the new digs? Sounds “innocent” enough, right? Think again. This is what happened in the middle of the 17th century and makes one pause and rethink the guest list…something that Nicolas Fouquet never had a chance to do!
Nicolas Fouquet (the finance minister of Louis XIV) built a wonderful castle called Château Vaux le Vicomte, located an hour south of Paris. Louis Le Vau was the architect and the landscaper was none other than André Le Nôtre (who also did the gorgeous Tuileries Gardens in Paris, as well as the gardens in Fontainebleau, Chantilly, and more) and the interior decorator (painter) of the castle was Charles Le Brun. Château Vaux le Vicomte was and is a treasure -- grandiose, opulent, lavish, flashy…sensational in every way.
To celebrate the completion of Château Vaux le Vicomte, Monsieur Fouquet gave a party on August 17, 1661 and invited the king (of course, we all invite kings to celebrate when we build a castle!). However, King Louis XIV was so jealous, so stunned at the magnificence of this fabulous place, and well, I suppose there was some question about how it was financed (seeing as the owner was France’s finance minister…oopsie!), he imprisoned Nicolas Fouquet, hired the wondrous architect Charles Le Brun and snagged the gardener André Le Nôtre (one would not have declined the King!) and build Versailles!
Fouquet remained the rest of his life in prison and his wife was exiled. She later returned to the castle and eventually sold the property.
Today, it’s privately owned and preserved par excellence. It’s a jewel to visit and on Saturdays from May 4th to October 6th, “An Evening at Vaux-le-Vicomte” is a very special way to put yourself back in history, enjoy a lovely dinner, and learn some great history!
I’m so happy that the Vaux le Vicomte Castle is now open (as of March 9th) and will remain open for the season to November 11th. The hours are 10 AM to 6 PM. Don’t miss it!