Despite all of the wonders and delights of Paris that I’ve discovered in my 18 years of living here, even I have to begrudgingly admit that when it comes to “must see sights”, the reality can often be a huge let down compared to the fairy tale image many visitors imagined. Crowds, lines, noise, confusing signage, no restrooms, years of scaffolding for renovations, a lack of any helpful information in English, Artful Dodgers making off with your wallet…it seems there’s always something that ruins the “moment.”
But not at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte.
Recently I went to check out the Candlelit Evening with my wingman for the evening, Brian Spence (who many of you will recognize as the owner of the Abbey Book Shop in the Latin Quarter). Both of us had visited Vaux-le-Vicomte several times during the past 15 years. I had very much enjoyed the decor at Christmas time when each room of the château is elaborately decorated and the gardens were blanketed in snow. Brian has attended several of the historic costumed events like Journée Grand Siècle, when the 17th-century atmosphere is recreated for the day.
Two years ago I even attended one of the candlelit evenings when I brought a group of gardening aficionados from South Africa for a private tour with the head gardener. It’s always a bit hard to relax and enjoy the “moment” when you’re working (and as much as I love being a tour guide, it’s still work…if you’re doing it right). But that’s not why Vaux-le-Vicomte often slipped my mind when thinking of places to recommend to my clients. It’s because it had always been a bit of a challenge to get there without your own car or as part of a group tour.
And when I wasn’t looking — oops! — that all changed. Along with a few other interesting improvements that now make Vaux-le-Vicomte a serious contender for Best Château Visit from Paris. And if you’ve been a longtime reader of the Secrets of Paris, you know I rarely throw the word “best” around lightly.