Versailles Little Sister – Well Worth a Visit

chateauI must have been to Paris on at least ten occasions and knew there was still more to see, so while chatting to the dame in the tourism office and responding to all her suggestions with, “yes I’ve been there” I was delighted to learn of a chateau less than an hour from central Paris which did not elicit that response.

If it is your desire to avoid the crowds and hype of Versailles the key is to visit Vaud-le-Vicomte. An easy 30 minute train then 15 minute bus ride from Gare D’est from central Paris this huge chateau and gardens was built from 1656- 1661 by Nicolas Fouqet (who then only succeed in occupying this huge estate for three weeks before being arrested and imprisoned, never to return). Widely recognized as being the forerunner to Versailles and built and designed by the same three designers, the 500 hectare estate has fantastic formal gardens, complete with 20 lakes encompassing 33 hectares with the house taking up another two. Tours of the house are offered daily. Some of the rooms are a little run down but there is very much a genuine feel to this place. Now owned by the Vogue family this attraction draws 300,000 visitors a year, so compared with Versailles is a wonderful peaceful venue. Exploring the grounds on foot easily takes two hours.

I visited in late April during a weekend and witnessed few tourists. Golf carts can be rented if exploring the expansive gardens is too much. The return train/bus trip is under thirty Euros while entry to the house and gardens is fifteen.  A good cafe serves a generous array of food and there is also a designer restaurant. The estate also boasts a champagne bar in its grounds but I couldn’t find it when I visited…


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