Sunday, August 10, 2014

Vaux le Vicomte

Several things recommend Paris City Vision Tours.  I signed up for a "small group" tour to Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau, because there are places I want to see, but getting out of Paris is beyond me.  The van picked me up and dropped me off at my hotel.   The other three people (a retired American couple and a retired gentleman from Belgium) were very companionable.  The tour guide talked to us about history en route, then dropped us off and we did our own thing. Liked it.

Lunch and a bottle of wine in our own dining room at Vaux le Vicomte

Visiting Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau is a lovely way to spend the day simply because the crowds flock to Versailles (No kidding, there are hundreds of people in line at Versailles by 10:00 a.m. and the rooms for the general public are packed.) leaving other chateau gems, less glitzy, but still spectacular, practically devoid of people.  That's not to say Versailles isn't the best. The fact that it has the Trianons and the Hameau make it a must, but it's a different kind of experience than the lesser known chateaus.

I've written about Vaux le Vicomte in a previous post, so I won't go into the history of the man who built it nor the family who lived in it subsequently.  If you care to know to what I refer here, read the original post.

This is the ceiling to the ballroom sized entry in which Nicolas Fouquet hosted his extravagant party for Louis XIV.  Shortly thereafter, before the ceiling artist even had time to complete the ceiling work, the King had Fouquet sent to prison for life for having the audacity to build such an impressive home.  That'll teach him.  Well, there was that accusation about embezzling from the royal treasury, but from current French spin, it seems that few people believe that to be true.

This is the Louis XVI room.  I'm not sure why it's named that unless maybe the furniture is Louis XVI style.  The man in the portrait is the duc de Praslin, but not the duc that killed his wife - his father or grandfather, I'd guess.  The literature at the chateau barely even acknowledged the Praslin residents and, even less so, the Praslin murder.  I wanted to know where the governess' and children's quarters were, but no such luck.

I've wanted an alcove bed since I saw one in my cousin Marion's home in Mobile.  I'm a cubby hole kind of person.  Car interiors, small spaces are my comfort zones.

The chateau was used as a hospital during WWI.

Parts of the movie Man in the Iron Mask were filmed at Vaux le Vicomte.  I'd love to learn more of that story.  Will start with the movie.

Kitchen.  I bet you knew that.

Sadly, the heirs to Vaux le Vicomte have to make do with living in these quarters which are across from the stable and separate from the main chateau...  I took this picture from the entry of the main chateau.  The stable complex is on the left outside the range of the photograph.

The view from inside the stable courtyard to the owner's private home.  Main chateau, out of view, to the right.

The left side of the u-shaped stable complex.

PETA would object to some of those bits.

This carriage is basically hung on poles between two horses.  I hope they're trustworthy.  Not that wheels would deter them if they weren't.

Eighteenth Century mail carrier

This may be similar to the type carriage in which the Duchesse de Praslin traveled to her death at the Duc's hands.  Same era and it seems like the type, but what do I know?  Nothing, really - just a guess.  I do know that they were traveling to a holiday at the beach, in different carriages, I believe, from their home at Vaux le Vicomte.  They stopped to spend the night at her father's home in Paris, and she was murdered before the sun rose the next morning.  Another road trip gone awry.

It's more difficult to find joy in smart remarks at the expense of tragedy when I consider that their descendants exist.  I know that they do, because Fersen's descendant, Fabian, mentioned that a Praslin descendent is a friend of his.  Of course, when I mentioned the Praslin murder to Fabian, I mispronounced "Praslin" because, through absolutely through no fault of my own, despite my best efforts, I have no one to discuss these people with and no opportunity for my pronunciation to be set straight.  Anyway, I'd hope my flippant remarks about an 1847 murder wouldn't offend any descendants.  My intent is laden with inexplicable affection for everyone in the surrounding century, so obviously,  I don't mean any harm!

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