ShareIn 2013, over 300,000 visitors graced the gilded halls and magnificently designed gardens of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte; it was a record-breaking year for the estate, which has become one of France's must-see destinations since it was first opened to the public in 1968. A Day at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, written by the brothers Alexandere, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé, is an exceptionally intimate at the culturally significant Vaux-le-Vicomte estate, which has a compelling history.The château's origins are anything but humble. Nicolas Fouquet, the (in)famous finance minister of Louis XIV, purchased the original estate in 1641 and spared no expense--the king's expense, that is--over the next ten years as he designed a château and gardens that boasted the glory of France to all who viewed it. And it was for glory of France that Fouquet racked up bill after bill and employed such talented (and expensive) artists as the architect Louis le Vau and decorator Charles le Brun, both masters of their craft. After all, if Fouquet could grant such expenditures to build a splendid estate, then the kingdom could surely afford to pay back any debtors as well. Keeping up appearances, in Fouquet's case, meant designing, building and furnishing an estate that could rival a king.
It is very appropriate that Nicolas Fouquet once wrote that "Vaux ... is an estate that I considered my primary seat ... and where I wanted to leave a mark of the status I had." Even today, the estate is a testament to the truly stunning amount of grandeur (so stunning that 'Vaux' is considered the precursor to Versailles) that Fouquet incorporated into both the palace and the gardens surrounding them. This grandeur was not just literal, but artistic as well, for the estate is above all things a triumph of design and experience. (Read more.)