The beautiful 17th Century Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte in the Ile de France is where you will find the noted gardens designed by France’s most famous gardener André le Nôtre.
He was commissioned by Nicolas Fouquet, the minister of economy for Louis XIV, the Sun King, to transform the ordinary gardens of a small chateau into an extraordinary park.
The gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte were his first design on a truly magnificent scale and led to his fame reaching far and wide. The formal gardens are considered a masterpiece and rightly so. 33 hectares of park land planned to perfection and in fact he left his signed plans behind at the Chateau where they remain to this day. A fortuitous event since the castle fell into ruin at one stage but has since been meticulously restored to the original plans.
Le Nôtre’s garden stretches almost a mile and a half – a geometric structure of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres, all created to give maximum viewing pleasure. Like a great painting but one painted in nature which had been bent to the human will to make the most magnificent landscape tapestry.
It was designed to be viewed from the house with the intention that the perspective would enhance the viewer’s pleasure. Descending from the top of the Chateau’s staircase is a view designed to take in the whole garden – or at least to give that impression. Not just from the house though, where ever you are in the garden – the view is staggering in its beauty.
Grand avenues, fountains, water basins, flowers and shrubs all come into view and create an impression of opulence and magnificence which in Le Nôtre;s day was outrageously different.
The style he employed at Vaux-le-Vicomte was to have stunning repercussions for landscaping in France and across Europe and led to his commission at Versailles years later as well as the gardens of St Cloud and Chantilly.
In 2013 Vaux-le-Vicomte celebrated 400 years since the birth of Andre le Nôtre with this lovely poster:
You can rent a golf cart to visit the 33 hectares of garden
There is a picnic area and two restaurants, one of which is only open for the Chateau’s candlelit tours.
How to get to Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte
By Train from Paris – Melun (taxi, or shuttle bus at weekends, bank holidays)
By Bus with Cityrama-Paris Vision – daily except Tuesday. From 2 Rue des Pyramides, Paris (1st Arrondissement) departs 9.15 returns 18.15.
Click here for more information about Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte and its history with fabulous photographs.
More about Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte.
See the Vaux-le-Vicomte website for opening times, travel details, exhibitions and reservations, booking online for some ticket options carries a discounted price.