While a visit to Versailles may be an obligatory rite of passage when in France, a visit to the château Vaux-le-Vicomte on the outskirts of Paris is infinitely more pleasurable. This 17th century gem was built by Nicolas Fouquet, the Superintendant of Finances for Louis XIV. On August 17, 1661, Fouquet threw a lavish ball to inaugurate his château. Naturally, the king was there. According to the traditional version of the tale, the king was so jealous at the sight of this magnificent château when France was essentially bankrupt that he had Fouquet arrested. Fouquet spent the rest of his life in jail and lost all of his possessions. Louis XIV then used Fouquet’s team of designer, architect, and landscaper to build Versailles.
Vaux is particularly lovely at night illuminated by candlelight. This is much as it would have looked on the night of that fateful party that cost Fouquet everything he cared for. You can see it this way every Saturday evening from early May to early October.
Today’s expression, avoir les dents longues (avwahr lay dehn lonG) literally means “to have long teeth.” Figuratively, however, it means to be very ambitious. Unfortunately, it was Fouquet’s ambition that caused his difficulties. Fortunately for us, however, it resulted in an absolutely gorgeous chateau that we can enjoy today – day and night.
- Hidden Château of France (homesfrance.wordpress.com)
- Castles in the Wind: The Other Versailles (artificeparis.com)
- Headed to France This Summer? Don’t Miss The ‘Other’ Versailles (forbes.com)
- Avoir pignon sur rue (onequalitythefinest.com)