This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Strong axis lines, stately symmetry and grand embellishments distinguish the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte as a significant baroque French chateau. Located in Maincy, France the chateau is approximately 54 kilometers southeast of Paris and the estate consists of nearly 500 hectares of land.
Vaux-le-Vicomte was envisioned by Nicolas Fouquet who was the Superintendent of Finance for King Louis XIV. Born to a family of wealthy parliamentarians, Fouquet was known to be intelligent, bold and deeply devoted to the monarchy.
Fouquet elected Louis Le Vau to be the principal architect. Le Vau was entrusted because he had previously erected numerous mansions for wealthy Parisians and would later be the architect to design Versailles. Construction on the chateau took place from 1658 to 1661.
To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate estate, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed 18,000 workers and cost a kingly sum.
Along with architect Louis Le Vau, Fouquet also employed the landscape architect Andre le Notre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun. It was the first time the three creators had worked together on a large-scale project. The collaboration marked the beginning of the famous “Louis XIV style” that became popular throughout France in the 17th century.
The grand estate of Vaux-le-Vicomte caused jealousy among Fouquet’s peers. In 1661, Jean-Baptist Colbert who had worked closely with Fouquet decided to accuse the Superintendent of Finance of embezzling millions. In reality, Fouquet had not stolen the money, yet Colbert was still able to convince Louis XIV of the crime and Fouquet was ultimately tried and imprisoned for life.
The chateau’s interiors are still decorated and furnished as if Fouquet was still living there. The four floors of the incredible estate, along with the gardens are now open to the public. Vaux-le-Vicomte has been recognized as a “monument historique” by the state, and continues to be one of the most lavish estates in France.
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