Built in 1645, Vaux Le Vicomte was home to one of the most intriguing stories in French history. Nicolas Fouquet, owner of the château and treasurer to the country’s most grandiose king in Louis XIV, threw an enormous gala celebration for the sovereign on this estate back in 1661.
Soon after the party, fueled by castle envy (and likely ongoing suspicions) the young king ordered Fouquet to be arrested by the captain of his Musketeers, D’Artagnan. After a corrupt trial the court ordered Fouquet to be banished from the land. Still not satisfied, the angry king stepped in to overrule the sentence by condemning Fouquet to life imprisonment. Meanwhile the castle was gutted out and its contents moved to Louis XIV’s answer to Vaux Le Vicomte: the château at Versailles. The crack team of architect, painter and gardener who’d built Fouquet’s home were also plucked to work on the king’s new project to ensure it would be unrivaled.
Not that you need to know any of that to enjoy this place however — the garden and architecture alone are revelations in their own right. Be a prudent tourist and visit Versailles of course, but for a truly well-rounded package of 17th century French aristocracy, take a day trip out to this place.