Although I could easily spend every day wandering the streets of Paris, one of my very favorite things to do is to take day trips to explore the surrounding areas. Last time I was in Paris, we explored Loire Valley, a gorgeous stretch of France filled with the cutest towns and beautiful castles. This time around, we headed out to see Fountainebleu and Vaux Le Vicomte, located approximately 45 min Southeast of Paris.
Visiting these places feels like you’re going back in time. You can literally feel the history around you and can truly envision how life was like — it will give you the chills! We started off our day at Chateau de Fontainebleau, one of the largest medieval castles in all of France. This castle is known as the home of Kings, and raised French Monarchs from Louis XII to Napolean III. Besides the vast size of Fontainebleau, the most iconic feature is the famous horseshoe-shaped staircase which dates from the reign of Louis XIII. You will be in awe as you tour the opulence of the royal apartments.
After exploring Fountainbleau, we made the quick 30 min drive over to Vaux Le Vicomte, which was truly a masterpiece. Although it’s nowhere near the scale of Fontainebleau, Vaux Le Vicomte is even more opulent and has the most beautiful sprawling French gardens. This chateau was home to Nicolas Fouquet and the collaboration between the architect, Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect, Andre le Notre, and the painter, Charles Le Brun marked the beginning of the “Louis XIV style.”
Vaux Le Vicomte is where the French Formal Garden was founded and the initial inspiration for Versailles! Fouquet threw many lavish parties within the great halls and gardens and ultimately was arrested by Louis XIV for them. The parties were too impressive and the home was too opulent and diminished Louis XIV popularity and power. Who knew being so lavish could be your downfall.
If you’re tight on time and can only fit in a half day trip, I would hands down recommend Vaux Le Vicomte. I was truly left speechless for it’s beauty and loved learning it’s fascinating history. Keep scrolling for more photos from these two incredible French chateaus!