Costumed people in front of the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, France

The Grand Siecle Experience, an annual rendez-vous at the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte for historical costume passionates, to travel back in time to the 17th century.

The Grand Siecle Experience,  time travel at Vaux le Vicomte

It’s an annual reknowned rendez-vous. Each year, at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the chateau invites its visitors to participate in "The Grand Siecle Experience", where passionate people of history and period costumes gather for a Grand Siècle day spreading a lively sensation of 17th century.

Fancy-dressed people at the Journee Grand Siecle in Vaux-le-Vicomte chateau 

The "Journée Grand Siècle", a stunning time travel

Every year, in June, the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte opens his doors to the passionates of baroque costume and history. This year, the event took place in June 11th. Beneath a relentless sun, charming ladies and dashing men had invaded the garden in their baroque costume, about 17th,18th century period costumes.

Most of them had spent time to design and hand-stitching their own costumes, in accordance in historical trades techniques.

Journée Grand Siècle et concours d'élégance. Les lauréats dans la catégorie 'Costumes baroques fantaisie' Journée Grand Siècle et concours d'élégance. La lauréate dans la catégorie 'Costumes féminins'
Journée Grand Siècle contest of elegance. The prizewinners in "baroque fancy costume" and "women's costume" categories…

At the end of the afternoon, costumed people participated in a competition for the best costumes in many categories : male, female, children and, for the first time, baroque fancy costume. A prize was also awardedfor the best picnic installation.

 Pique nique au bord du bassin… Journée Grand Siècle à Vaux-le-Vicomte
The participants of the Journée Grand Siècle are pleased to play for photographs. Here a costumed couple from the Netherlands ...

In the meantime, they had invited to attend a fencing battle of musketeers, a demonstration of baroque dance and a baroque music concert.

French musketeersYoung woman dancing at the Grand Siecle Experience in the woods of Vaux-le-Vicomtecouple of costumed people in the woods of the chateau de Vaux-le-VicomteYoung lady with man suit 'Chevalier d'Éon' in front of the chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Many un-costumed people and photographers were also present to admire and immortalize these moments. Of course, everyone was invited to visit the interior of the castle, rooms, cellars and kitchens as well.

Dining room in the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, FranceChateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Dining-room near the kitchen in the cellar Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - The kitchen

The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a part of the french history

 The 17th-century chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is one of France’s finest Baroque chateaux and the largest private chateau in France. It's nestled in the countryside of Maincy near the town of Melun, less than one hour from Paris. Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte is more intimate than other great chateaux like Versailles. It’s less crowded and visitors haven’t to push and jostle for space. The quality of the reception is very important for the current owners, who want to welcome visitors as family members.

 Vaux-le-Vicomte - Peintures Vaux-le-Vicomte - La chambre du roi
Inside the chateau. Paintwork in the bath-room and bedroom of the King.

Constructed from 1658 to 1661 for Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the chateau was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th-century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a 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 garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of the "jardin à la française" style.

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Bedroom
Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Bedroom Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Bedroom of Louis XIV Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Bedroom
Inside the chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Bedrooms

After an infamous conspiracy, Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life and his wife exiled. Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized and confiscated tapestries, statues and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then used the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte: the palace and gardens of Versailles. That’s why it’s usually referred to Vaux-le-Vicomte as a "Litte Versailles"

Madame Fouquet recovered her property 10 years later and retired there with her eldest son. In 1705, after the death of her husband and son, she decided to put Vaux-le-Vicomte up for sale. The property was bought by the Duke of Praslin, and, in 1875, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. His descendants continue to preserve the chateau, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons: Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it's regularly open to the public since 1968.


Vaux-le-Vicomte in search of sponsors for restorations

 'Chamber of muses', Nicolas Fouquet’s chamber of ceremony Restored statue in the garden of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Few people knows that, but the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a private property owned by the De Vogüé family. The share of public subsidies does not exceed 2% at Vaux-le-Vicomte*. So the owners are looking for funding to preserve this world-class French treasure, listed as a historic monument. Vaux-le-Vicomte is not searching for the profits but the financial balance.
*vs 50% for the Louvre museum

Individuals and companies can participate to the renovations by joining the french association "Les Amis de Vaux le Vicomte*"  or, for American people, the "American Friends of Vaux-le-Vicomte".
*Friends of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Some examples of restoration funding:

The northern facade of the chateau
The north facade of the chateau, with the central gate, and the pendulum currently in restoration…

  • Re-creation of the central gate on the North facade of the chateau, faithful to the original drawing.
  • Replanting 237 lime trees and 1,200 hornbeams along the Grand Canal: “Enracinez-vous” (” Take root”) project.
  • Re-creation of the transparency in the chateau’s three North and South arcades.
  • Restoration of the roof on the main west outbuildings.
  • Restoration of the Hercule Farnese statue gilded with gold leaves*.
  • Restoration of paintworks of Charles Le Brun in "Chamber of muses", Nicolas Fouquet’s chamber of ceremony*.
    *With the contribution of American sponsors.

 Photos ©