Your day trip to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, about one hour outside of Paris, starts with a 35-minute direct train ride from Gare de L'est in the city to the Verneuil L'Etang station on RER Line P (train tickets at your own expense). When you arrive at the local station, your provided shuttle takes you through the countryside to the castle.
The grandiose and awe-inspiring Château de Vaux-de-Vicomte is one of Europe's most influential and significant architectural landmarks—the inspiration behind the Palace of Versailles. It was built between 1658 and 1661 for Nicolas Fouquet, the finance minister for King Louis XIV. Architect Louis Le Vau, landscape architect André le Nôtre, and painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on Fouquet's large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV' style, combining architecture, interior design, and landscape design, the same combination you see at Versailles.
With your admission, explore the interior of the château, lavishly decorated with gilded walls, statues, tapestries, and the era's finest furnishings throughout the private apartments and sumptuous state rooms. Outside, the gardens are the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or a golf cart ride. Complete with fountains, canals, and stone curbs, the gardens feature a fascinating optical illusion, distorting its distance depending on from where you're looking at it.
It's no surprise that the estate is a popular venue for celebrity weddings and film shoots. It was chosen by Mittal and Eva Longoria and Tony Parker for their wedding receptions; and it was used as Drax's chateau in the James Bond film Moonraker. It can also be seen as a backdrop in more than 60 other movies, such as Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.
The château is run by the fifth generation of family owners, and you just may bump into one of the family members, as they are regularly on the grounds. After your visit, the shuttle takes you back to the train station, where you'll board the RER for the return trip to Paris.