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Vaux Le Vicomte, Maincy

France 77950
Tel: 33 1 64 14 41 90's insider take:

If you don't have time to visit the Loire Valley châteaux, this gorgeous palace an hour from Paris by commuter train will give you a sumptuous taste of the genre (take the RER D train from the Gare de Lyon to Melun, then a taxi or the Châteaubus shuttle to the château). In its day, the beauty of Vaux le Vicomte, owned by French finance minister Nicolas Fouquet, was so talked about that it got under King Louis XIV's collar and propelled him to massively remodel Versailles, previously a much more modest hunting lodge. Although the castle is lovely, what's really magnificent are the surrounding gardens, a masterpiece of French formal landscaping by André Le Nôtre, who also designed those at Versailles.

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March through November only.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.