When I was in Paris last fall, I was always on the hunt for the perfect daytrip: locations that wouldn’t be too taxing or too far flung to reach over an all-too-quick weekend, but that would still take me to cool, new-to-me locations. When my mom mentioned hearing – via Rick Steves – that Vaux-le-Vicomte was one of the best French chateaus to visit from Paris, I was sold. To the countryside I went!
Vaux-le-Vicomte was constructed in the 17th century by all the bigwigs of the day: architect Louis Le Vau (who worked on another little palace you maybe have heard of, Versailles), landscape architect André le Nôtre (who also worked on Versailles), and painter Charles Le Brun (I bet you can’t guess where some of his greatest masterpieces are). Needless to say, the place was conceived by the best of the best, and its gorgeous rooms and immaculate gardens are evidence of that.
While I enjoyed perusing the interior, the gardens were really my jam. Perfectly manicured and symmetrical, they seemed to stretch on forever, and every time I turned around and looked behind me at the château, there was yet another beautiful view.
At the end of the day, Vaux-le-Vicomte feels somewhat like the little brother of Versailles, sharing similar landscaping, architectural, and decorative details, albeit on a smaller scale. While it’s not as impressive, it does have one great thing going for it: it is utterly, blissfully crowd-free. As someone who has grown increasingly exhausted by the literal tourist crush at Versailles with each subsequent visit, I cannot think of a better reason to explore Vaux-le-Vicomte than that.