7 December 2019

A Christmas castle: Vaux-le-Vicomte

Due to ongoing train and public transportation strikes I am re-posting this w/an edit of getting there by car (below)

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.... - Jean de la Fontaine, French poet and writer, on the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte (1661)

(click photos to enlarge)

A unique experience of Christmas. An awe-inspiring setting.

Though closed in winter, as it does each Christmas, spectacular Château De Vaux-le-Vicomte has opened its doors from November 23, 2019 til January 5, 2020, transformed into a glittering Land of Enchantment. This year’s theme: thousands of colors and lights, including a magical evening light show set to music on the castle’s façade that rivals Paris’ Atelier des Lumières.

Master Interior Designer Eric Naudin and one of the chateau’s owners and current resident Count Patrice de Voguë explained to our small group that planning and executing an extravaganza of this scope can easily take up half a year.

Room after room elicited gasps: sparkles, glitter, twinkles, lights, garlands, baubles and bows. Around almost every corner a crackling fire contributed to the warmth and ambiance. There were whiffs of spices and chocolate (in the Cabinet des Jeux a Christmas tree decorated with unique pieces made of chocolate by the Comptoir du Cacao). Vintage toys, Christmas trees galore, enormous gingerbread cookies that appear as if they will spring to life and, on a rack in the front foyer, costumes for hire for children (and young-at-heart adults) who can, for a day, pretend they are princes and princesses, free to roam the castle and grounds.

This year's masterpiece is undoubtedly the main room of the chateau, the Grand Salon. Upon entering, we were stopped in our tracks as we beheld the gilded multi-level nativity scene, and every level had moving parts.

A charming touch of horse-drawn carriages in the sumptuous gardens signed André Le Nôtre adds to the festivities, and walking the grounds and pathways of the castle’s adjoining wood is a journey into Wonderland. - BPJ

Book online:
Château De Vaux-le-Vicomte

- Driving (from Paris): 54 minutes via A4 and N104
- By train (from Paris): 35 minutes from Gare de l’Est to Verneuil-l’Étang where (free) shuttles await to transport you back in time

- Carriage rides (small charge)
- Carriage Museum
- Walks in the decorated gardens (weather permitting)
- Surprise gift to children under 6; ages 7-17 a gingerbread cookie by Maison Fossier
- Costume rental for adults / children. Free of charge on weekdays from November 27 to December 21
- Each child who brings a book to the Red Cross stall at the estate’s entrance gets a ribbon to tie on a Christmas tree and make a wish. Books are collected by the French Red Cross and are wrapped and given to underprivileged children and their families who will be invited to the castle

Every day from January 2 to 5, 2020, celebration of Les Rois (Three Kings Day): a galette des rois made by the château pastry chef will be awarded to whoever finds the giant squirrel charm hidden in the gardens.... (écureuil is French for squirrel; Relais de l'Écureuil is the name of the château's wonderful outdoor restaurant)

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