Vaux le Vicomte is a 17th century castle built by Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's financial secretary, who was arrested and imprisoned after Louis XIV became jealous of the splendour of Vaux. Vaux then served as a template for Versailles.
The castle itself is quite small, with a few rooms to visit, but the beauty of Vaux is in its gardens "a la Francaise", designed by Andre Le Notre. They are absolutely breathtaking, and well worth the detour if you are in Paris. The history behind Vaux is also incredible (mainly Fouquet's demise following his construction of Vaux).
Vaux also hosts specular candle-lit evenings in the summer, when the castle and gardens are illuminated with over 2,000 candles.
To access Vaux, you take the train (Grandes Lignes) from Gare de Lyon to Melun (journey 25min) or the RER D from Le Chatelet to Melun. From there, there is a Chateaubus that can take you to Vaux. Please check the website for details of openings, etc.
Please note that Vaux is not very accessible to people in wheel chairs (mainly with regards to the Castle itself).
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