Last weekend, I visited Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte with my friends Chloe and Sandeep to see the famous holiday decorations. The stable, castle, and estate are all beautifully decorated. The first thing we noticed aside from all the pretty lights was that each room had a distinct scent–gingerbread, chocolate, peppermint, and apple cider. What a thoughtful touch to the whole place.
Outside of Christmastime, the Vaux le Vicomte castle is known for its romantic candlelit dinners, garden fireworks, and fountain shows. The castle was acquired by 26-year-old Nicolas Fouquet, a wealthy man who quickly climbed the social laddar, resulting in jealousy so severe that someone decided to set Fouquet up. Fouquet was accused of embezzling millions and thrown into prison after a long trial. Eventually, his wife and son reclaimed the property after 10 years. The estate then ends up in the hands of Alfred Sommier, whose descendants have now opened the property to the public.
To reach the castle, you can certainly drive from Paris, but here is some advice regarding public transit…
- The timetable for the train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Verneuil L’etang (the stop closest to the castle) listed on the Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte’s website was incorrect at the time I looked. Here are the up-to-date departure and arrival times right now (December 2017). The train only leaves once every hour, so make sure you check the schedule and plan accordingly.
- There is a ~15 minute shuttle (10 EUR round trip) that is supposedly timed with the train to and from the castle. While it was loyally waiting for us when we arrived, it was 7 minutes late leaving the castle. Due to this, we missed the train by seconds and had to wait an hour for the next one. Luckily, there’s a decent pizzaria next to the station.
- There are no taxis in the area, so you’re really dependant on the above transit… we complained to their customer support, but in case things haven’t improved, bring plenty of warm clothes to wait in.
Now, for the castle itself–yes, the decorations were beautiful, but again, their Project Manager needs some logistics 101 training. The queue was divided into two: those who purchased tickets online, and those who didn’t. However, for some reason, everyone was in the already-have-tickets line (even though that wasn’t true), which reduced any hope for efficiency. After waiting 30 minutes in the ticket line, we were free to roam around the castle grounds.
To actually get inside the castle, believe it or not, there was another line! This took another 30 minutes, but towards sunset (when the Christmas lights turned on), the line probably took closer to an hour. Again, bring warm clothes! There were some volunteers handing out candy to children throughout the castle grounds and even some cups of hot chocolate to those freezing in line.
My favorite section was the arctic animal room, which consisted of plush polar bears, arctic seals, snowy owls, and other creatures. I want a polar bear tree in my future house!
I hope you get to enjoy the Vaux le Vicomte estate and have better luck with public transportation 🙂 Happy Christmas, everyone.