One of our favorite day trips from Paris is a visit to Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a stunning private castle just 35 miles southeast of the French capital. Not as heavily trafficked as Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte showcases some of the finest and most opulent craftmanship of the 17th century-- from the frescoed ceilings by painter Charles Le Brun to the vast formal gardens by landscape architect André Le Nôtre.
An additional reason to visit in 2013: The chateau is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 400th birthday of Le Notre, oft considered the father of the jardin à la française. There's a new exhibition in the chateau basement, two guided walks to learn about Le Notre's genius, and special chateau openings at dawn on select dates.
Until October 5, the chateau hosts “Candlelit Evenings” on Saturdays, and the property is transformed by thousands of flickering candles placed both inside and out. A magical evening is capped with a fireworks display at 10:50 pm.
Mark your calendars for the big birthday bash on Saturday, September 14th! To fete Le Notre, dinner tables will be placed around the “Miroir d'eau.” Like the famous “Dîner en Blanc” which takes place in Paris every year in a surprise location, guests are invited to bring their dinner and table settings, while donning green and white for the occasion. Prizes will be awarded to the best tables, based on both creativity and elegance. For more information, visit www.vaux-le-vicomte.com.
Photo by Jebulon/Wikimedia Commons