Day Trips from Paris: Château de Vaux le Vicomte
Although guidebooks like TimeOut Paris and Lonely Planet’s Paris City Guide are useful, it’s important to do your own research on places you want to visit. The guidebooks aren’t always accurate or they omit things you might be able to do. I find researching the website of the attraction is the best way to double-check the guidebook text and to find out more.
Never is this more in evidence than in the information in the guidebooks about Château de Vaux le Vicomte. On reading them I was disappointed to find that the Château de Vaux le Vicomte would be closed from November to March. Despite that, inspired by Ina Cato’s book, Paris to the Past, ch 16, I read about the château on the official website: www.vaux-le-vicomte.com (there is an English version of the site) and discovered that the château is open during December and early January for special Christmas festivities. Today I used their internet site to very painlessly book a ticket (undated) for the Vaux le Vicomte fête Noël! (€16 adult)
(Photo of the fountains playing in front of the chateau is by Acroterion, Wikimedia Commons)
From 17 March to 11 November 2012, from 10 am to 6 pm, last admission at 5.45 pm.
During this time period the estate is open every day (open on 1, 8 May, 14 July, 15 August and 11 November). The estate will be closed from 12 November to December 21 2012, except on the weekends of 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 December.
Every Saturday from 5 May to 6 October from 8 pm to midnight (last admission at 11 pm). It’s possible to enter the estate before 8 pm. There are fireworks displays every Saturday around 10.30 pm.
Christmas at Vaux le Vicomte
There areChristmas decorations and illuminations at the château and in the gardens. The château opens on 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 December. Then it opens every day from 22 December to 6 January 2013, from 11 am to 6 pm (closing at 5 pm on 24, 31 December). The estate will be closed on 25 December 2012 and 1 January 2013.
How to get there from Paris
The château is 55 km by road (45 minutes) from Paris. From Paris, take the highway A4 or A6 and then follow the direction of Troyes via the A5. Take the first exit Saint Germain Laxis on the A5. Vaux le Vicomte is just 1km away.
Take the direct train from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Melun (Grandes Lignes) (28 minutes) OR take the RER Line D (48 minutes). The château is six kilometres from the station at Melun so it’s necessary to walk!, take a taxi, or go on the shuttlebus (which only runs on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays). The website has the shuttlebus timetable.
There’s apparently a taxi phone box outside the station where if you press a button a taxi will appear (thank you, Ina Caro). The château website gives the taxi phone number as 01.64.52.51.50.
Other ways to get there:
What to see and do
The château is fully furnished and it’s possible to visit the public apartments and rooms, the dining room, kitchen and cellars, the gardens designed by the famous André Le Nôtre and the carriage museum. At most times (not at Christmas) the bedrooms and private apartments are open. There are two restaurants, L’Ecureuil and Les Charmilles (refer to website for details).
The gardens cover 40 hectares and can be accessed by golf cart if you want to see them easily.
There are special activities for children (like Easter egg hunts, treasure hunts and the wearing of costumes — prince, princess and Musketeer — on weekends and in the school holidays).
You can buy tickets online or at the gate.
Visit (without private apartments)
Concession (Children 6-16, Over 60s, disabled, students) €11
Family (Two adults, two children) €44
Visit (with private apartments)
Concession (Children 6-16, Over 60s, disabled, students) €13
Family (Two adults, two children) €52
Golfcart (for riding around gardens)
€15 (for 45 minutes)