Christmas at the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte combines a historic, stunning castle with a fairy-tale-like festive display. In 1661, the famous French writer and poet Jean de la Fontaine wrote of the Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte:
The stage was set with green so lush, and by a hundred torches lit; Once curtain raised, all Vaux was hushed. All strove to please this King of ours: Music, cascades, lanterns and stars…
More than 350 years later, those guests who strove to please the King would certainly recognise the castle. And, de la Fontaine’s description would be unchanged other than that it is not a King who will thrill to the sight but visitors who will relish the music, cascades, lanterns and stars on show at Vaux at Christmas.
The fairy tale castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte at Christmas
Just 35 minutes by train from Gare de l’Est in the centre of Paris brings you to the train station Verneuil l’Etang from where a shuttle bus whisks you to the historic 17th century Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte. It is an extraordinary castle, the blueprint for Versailles (in fact it was the start of the TV series Versailles) and drove a king mad with jealousy. Read the full history of the Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte.
At Christmas it takes on an extra layer of glitter and air of enchantment. The rooms are decorated with thousands of lights, garlands and baubles and this captivating castle presents a unique festive show.
Sparkles, twinkles, the smell of Christmas spices and chocolate, traditional carol songs and glowing lights will bring out your inner Santa. But this is no Disney castle, Vaux-le-Vicomte’s Christmas coat is traditional, classic, elegant and just a little kitsch, as the best Christmas’s should be.
Rooms are adorned with lights, Christmas trees and vintage toys, scented with cinnamon and chocolate, spices and sweet smells. It’s a unique presentation of Christmas in an incredible setting.
As you walk up the path to the chateau, it’s a wow moment. Glittering Christmas trees line the route to the grand doors that leads into the largest private domaine in France.
50 years of visitors
Incredibly the chateau was a wedding present to the current resident, Count Patrice de Voguë, in 1967. He has made it his life’s work to protect the castle for future generations. A chateau of this size isn’t easy or cheap to maintain. So, he opened the doors to the public in 1968, inspired by the British National Trust (which is entrusted with opening buildings of major interest to the public), and in particular by Highgrove House, home to Prince Charles.
The Count’s son Alexandre, who together with his brothers Ascanio and Jean-Charles now runs the estate, says that his father began the Christmas at the Chateau event in 2005. Again, he was inspired by Highgrove House. The event has become more and more popular over the years.
Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte Christmas 2022
What began as just a weekend event now attracts thousands of visitors. The Christmas festivities run from 19 November until 31 December, 2022.
The most amazing Christmas decorations
The castle has been decorated in style by interior designer Eric Naudin. He’s assisted by everyone at the Chateau, from the ladies who work in the gorgeous gift shop to the family themselves. Every year is a different theme. In 2018 vintage toys were borrowed from a specialist museum in Colmar, Alsace. In 2019 the theme is colour, every room a different shade, bright blues, soft whites and shades of pastel.
There are 150 Christmas trees, more than a mile of garlands and around 15,000 decorations and lights. The trees are hung with the most beautiful baubles, soft teddies and snow white owls. By the way, if you like them pop to the gift shop where they have some for sale plus fabulous souvenirs that you’ll want to bring out for Christmas for years to come. Tables are laid for a festive feast with trees and ornaments, sparkling crystal and colourful macarons and extraordinary automatons. In the kitchen there’s a sugarplum fairy vibe with huge gingerbread cakes, giant rabbit footmen, dolls and fairies.
In the carriage museum Christmas carols play. And, there are tableaux of yesteryear’s Christmases with train sets, lights and Santa seated in an ancient carriage.
Every year the salon has a different, breathtaking presentation. It could be a giant teddy in a full sized balloon basket and balloon, a Ferris wheel or monumental revolving manger scene (2019).
Christmas at the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte
And as dusk falls, the magic continues in the garden where you can take a carriage ride and enjoy thousands of twinkling lights. Take a walk in the enchanted wood and admire the gorgeous landscape that has wowed visitors for 350 years. It was originally designed by Louis XIV’s favourite gardener André Le Nôtre.
It’s not Disney but it is magical, authentic and exquisitely enchanting. Vaux-le-Vicomte at Christmas is where you’ll find a bucket load of festive charm.
Details: www.vaux-le-vicomte.com including how to get there and shuttle bus times from the local station to and from the Chateau.