Archive for January 1st, 2023

January 1, 2023

The magical Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte !!!

Ah this is awesome, the beauty of my belle France in all its splendeurs! A must to visit indeed ; another wonderful castle in the dept 77 Seine et Marne east of Paris; another wonderful memory of my dear late wife Martine, and I traveling in her native department the beauty is amazing here and so close to Paris. We came here the second year after marriage in 1992 and have been coming here regularly in our visits from the USA, and then while living in France. This is a wonderful story and a beautiful castle still in private hands ! As I have plenty of posts on it will do this one as an introduction in my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy it as I. I will tell you a lot more about the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte.  This is worth the detour from the big City , ok by train better by car ; it is ,also ,not far from Disneyland and Fontainebleau in the same department of Seine et Marne no. 77. Region of Ïle de France.

This is the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, located in Maincy, yes  a very small village in the Seine et Marne about 50 km or 30 miles from Paris near the town of Melun. The Castle was built in the 17C between 1658 and 1661 by ordered of the finance minister of king Louis XIV ,Nicolas Fouquet.  This finance minister had called upon the best builders of the times such as architect Louis Le Vau, first architect of the King 1656, the painter Charles Le Brun founder of the painting academy in 1648, the gardener André Le Nôtre, general building controller of the king 1657, and the master builder Michel Villedo. Their talent was already used by the king to built the Chateau de Vincennes between 1651 and 1653 and later used to build the Chateau de Versailles as the Vaux le Vicomte served as a model.

Ok will go long on the history of Vaux le Vicomte, wonderful, all worth it me think:

On February 1, 1641, thanks to the dowry of his wife Louise Fourché, Nicolas Fouquet buys the lordship lands of Vaux to an adviser in the Parliament of Paris, François Nicolas Lotin de Charny, he chooses the castle due to the strategic position halfway between the Château de Vincennes and the Château de Fontainebleau, two royal residences, and because it gives it the title of viscount of Vaux. When Fouquet acquired it, this area was divided into two parts: a modest 14C Chastel and a farmhouse. The Chastel is surrounded by walls and ditches filled with whitewater. It is connected to the path between Vaux-le-Pénil and Sivry-Courtry by a drawbridge. The farm called Ferme de la Ronce is located behind the Logis, on the current town of Moisenay, to which it is connected by another drawbridge. It consists of two parts: in the northern part there is a press, a stable and a barn; The southern part includes the housing, a barn and a shepherd’s house.  The farm and the castle were not located at the site of the present castle. The territory where the present castle will be built is crossed by two rivers that intersect at right angles. One of them is the Anqueuil sung by La Fontaine and whose bed is located the Grand Canal today. The terrain was little wooded, unlike today.

.On 10 July 1660, the King Louis XIV, and his wife Queen Maria Theresa of Austria stopped there. The Mr. Fouquet liked to received the greatest thinkers of his time such as Madeleine de Scudéry, Paul Pelisson or Jean de La Fontaine.  On July 12, 1661, Fouquet gave a feast in honor of the Queen Mother of England Henriette of France and, on August 17, another in honor of Louis XIV. This festival organized by François Vatel (the great chef of Chantilly) was of great splendour: performances using the most advanced techniques of the moment, representations of plays (including the Unfortunates or Les Fâcheux of Molière) and fireworks, were in particular the programme of entertainement.  On September 5, 1661, the king arrested the minister Fouquet by D’Artagnan at the end of a council held in Nantes. On the site of Vaux-le-Vicomte, all works were interrupted.  Before the claims of the minister’s creditors and while his wife, then exiled to Limoges ; the auction of his property was ordered; The sale of the furniture of Vaux and the residence of Saint-Mandé took place from 1665 to September 1666, after king Louis XIV had taken for himself many precious objects, tapestries, brocade fabrics, marble tables, vases of ruddy, etc. Paving tiles in white and black marble were transported to the Louvre, oranges in crates and thousands of shrubs to Versailles and the Tuileries.

Vaux le Vicomte, not confiscated, was abandoned by the creditors to Madame Fouquet in 1673 with the lordships of Melun and Belle-Île (Morbihan dept 56 ) against the payment under ten years of 1 250 000 pounds of privileged debts. Exiled to Moulins, he was forbidden to return to Vaux, where his eldest son, Louis-Nicolas, officer, titled Count of Vaux, was able to settle down.  The latter received on July 15, 1676 the Marquise de Sévigné, who lived there with all the silent fountains and without a drop of water, because they were confiscated.  In 1684, four years after her husband’s death, Madame Fouquet gave the lordships of Vaux and Melun to her son, who from 1683, short of money, had sold to the King white marble slabs attributed to Poussin (at Versailles), then in 1699 antique and modern statues ,70 wholesale chestnut trees for Trianon and quantity of large carps for the basins of Marly.  In 1687, at 32 years old, he had married the 14-year-old daughter of the famous Madame Guyon, doctrinaire of Quietism, who came to live with the couple in Vaux two and a half years. In 1705, the second and last Fouquet holder of Vaux died without heirs in Paris. Peace returned, the castle received and gave feasts to Queen Marie Leszczyńska, in October 1728, then king Louis XV in July 1731, from Fontainebleau, came to visit the gardens and their fountains. Voltaire, very diligent with the young and seductive Duchess Jeanne Angélique Roque de Varengeville, 30 years her husband’s younger ,staged tragedies and comedies where she was performing with her guests in a theatre then set up. The famous Adrienne Lecouvreur stayed there in November 1724. There were, as in the Duchess of Maine with seals, sleepless nights to observe, the terrace or the beds, the constellations and the shooting stars! The estate was not declared national property in the French revolution, but in accordance with the laws of the Convention, the village of Maincy and the Management board of the District of Melun ordered the intendant to hammered out  the arms of the pediment and its lions, as they were animals contrary to the laws, to burn of several painted portraits of the kings of France and tapestries bearing royal emblems, and breaking up busts of Roman emperors. In November 1793, before the notification to remove all the furniture from the front of the castle under eight days so that nothing opposes its demolition, the Citizen Praslin had the idea of donating to the Republic paintings and decorations of the castle, which made suspends the demolition, and the two Commissioners appointed to recognize and remove what would be deemed worthy of retention, felt that he deserved to be kept in recognition of those which it was saved. Lucky castle!!!

Fast forward to June 15, 1875, Alfred Sommier, a sugar refiner and art lover, after having visited it with his friend Bibliophile Gustave Guyot de Villeneuve, royalist prefect of Seine-et-Marne since 1873, impressed by the good state of conservation of Interior decorations of two centuries old, decided to preserve this global work of art, whose apparent bad general condition could cause fear of demolition. The only buyer auctioned by candle on the 6th of July, he then became owner in three lots: the castle and its park, its important villages and dependencies, and three farms, an area of nearly 1 000 hectares. General restoration of buildings was ordered from 1875 to 1893 as well as the gardens, and from July 1877 the Sommier family will stayed there every year from June to December.  On 30 June 1918, Georges Clemenceau, President of the Council and Minister of War, stopped on the way to the grand headquarters of the armies at the castle of Bombon, with the chief of his military office general Mordacq to see the Auxiliary Military Hospital No 23 created at the beginning of the war in the common by Germaine Sommier, born Casimir-Perier, with an exemplary X-ray installation, and where 1 115 wounded were treated. He had lunch at the castle and is photographed with the hospital team and general Mordacq on the porch overlooking the gardens. The estate then belonged to Count Patrice de Vogüé, who received it from his father Jean de Vogüé, nephew of Edme’s spring (died 1945 without heirs), during his marriage in 1967. It is Patrice de Vogüé who opens the entire estate, park and chateau, to public visits: inauguration is made on 22 March 1968.

A bit on the description in and out of Vaux le Vicomte !!

The castle comprises a hundred rooms for a surface of 2 500 m2, spread over three levels under a roof of 3 500 meters. The Vaux le Vicomte Castle preserved from the traditional French feudal plan the rectangular platform surrounded by large moats of water, of which it occupies the south side. Two doors connected the dwelling to the rest of the garden. There are four pavilions, two rectangular-shaped, garden-side, and two other square-sided courtyards, which, seen laterally, still seem twins, a tradition of French architecture. In Vaux, the architect demonstrates innovation by arranging the interior space with a double row of parallel rooms with aligned doors or double body. This type of organization of a building has already been used by Louis Le Vau at the hotel Tambonneau in 1640 and by François Mansart at the Hotel de Jars in 1648, but is here applied for the first time to a castle.

Another originality is the living room called in Rotunda. The ensemble, formed by the vestibule and this large space, forms like a central span. This provision, also called Lantern, allows the visitor to have a traversing view in the axis Cour d’honneur vestibule driveway in perspective of the gardens located on the other side, around which gravitate two autonomous parts endowed each of a staircase. In the ground floor, on the garden side, there are two apartments; one, destined to the king, is located to the left while the other, to the right, is that of Nicolas Fouquet.  The rooms on the ground floor on the courtyard are, in 1661, bedrooms supplementing the two apartments on the garden side, There is a room serving as a dining room, a piece that appeared in France in the mid 17C. The basement is partly buried, allowing the establishment of a mound plan. A longitudinal corridor crosses the basement, occupied by galleys, offices and officers ‘ chambers. The kitchen is the opposite of the dining room, but communicates with the buffet on the ground floor thanks to the longitudinal corridor. Two lateral corridors were added in 1659 on orders from Vatel, then maître de hôtel by Nicolas Fouquet.  On the first floor there is also a longitudinal corridor. At the place that corresponds to the vestibule was at the time of Nicolas Fouquet a chapel, side courtyard.  To the left are, on the courtyard side, the apartment of Fouquet, and the garden side, that of his wife, composed on a thickness of 12 meters of an antechamber, of a bedroom (main room of an apartment where the pets have free access, this is the place of the sociability where one sleeps, one receives and one takes meals there) and a work office bureau. Presently Madame Fouquet’s room is divided into two rooms, a Louis XV cabinet and a Louis XV room. The central lounge, called the Hall of the Guards from the 17-19C, is a unique piece in the history of French architecture: its originality comes from its oval shape, unusual at the time for a reception room.  The dome is supported by a series of 16 great terms sculpted by François Girardin, 12 bear the signs of the zodiac and 4, the symbols of the Four seasons. The floor consists of white stone and slate with a sundial in the center. The piece is decorated with 4 busts from the time of Fouquet representing Roman characters: Octavia, sister of Augustus, Britannicus, Octavia, wife of Nero, and Hadrian. The 12 other Roman busts carved in Florence in the 17C from the Villa Pompeian (destroyed) of Prince Napoleon, Avenue Montaigne in Paris.

The exhibition of Hercules,the antechamber of the apartment of Fouquet, is adorned with a painted ceiling of a scene representing a Hercules greeted by Olympus. The medallions and panels adorning the vaulted represent the 12 works of Hercules by Le Brun.  The Chambre des Muses or Chambre de Fouquet is decorated with a ceiling and a vaulted of Le Brun. This set represents the triumph of fidelity, a reference to the fidelity of Nicolas Fouquetto the king during the sling.  8 muses are divided into the four corners of the vault, with figures between the Muses representing the poetic genres. In the middle of the sides are the figures of the nobility and peace, as well as a victory of the Muses over the satyrs. The vaulted evokes the patronage of Nicolas Fouquet. The walls are covered by a support paneling and by 5 tapestries that make up the drapery of Diane’s story. The room also includes an alcove with a Le Brun ceiling representing the night. There is a chimney called “La Romaine” which, unlike the French chimneys, does not spring from the wall.

The small cabinet of the games, which was that of Nicolas Fouquet, features a ceiling of Le Brun representing sleep. The vault and the paneling are decorated with a set of various animals. The King’s Antechamber (current library) is unfinished; It is marked by the alternation of paintings and bas-reliefs: The central oval of the ceiling includes an 18C painting, because the project of Brown, unknown, has not been realized. In the center of the covings are 4 paintings: Diane stripping after the hunt, love and lightning, Achilles imploring Venus to return to him the shield that love stole from her, love and a Vine. The Mahogany library body dates back to the 18C. The angles of the covings include the figure of Fouquet.  The King’s Chamber (the tradition of arranging such a room when the royal Court was itinerant) is also unfinished: even if it is the most lavishly decorated room in the castle, Louis XIV never slept there. On the ceiling is a painting of truth backed by time, and in glasses are represented gods symbolizing the genie of Fouquet: Bacchus for Abundance, Mars for value, Mercury for Vigilance and Jupiter for power. Leda, Diane, fighter riders, and Fates are present in octagonal medallions. The alcove of the room is not finished, as the ceiling is not painted, as is the Cabinet of the King: framed by convenient, a large Regency-style bed features an embroidered tapestry depicting the history of psyche. The dining room has a coffered ceiling, characteristic of French architecture. Each box receives a table; with four, enrolled in rectangular compartments and represent Apollo (fire), Diane (air), Flora or Ceres (the Earth) and Tritons and Naiads (water). In the octagonal compartments of the ceiling is each of the seasons. In the center of the ceiling is peace bringing back the abundance of Charles le Brun, referring to the peace of the Pyrenees (1659 France and Spain borders still today), The 8 circular or octagonal medallions above the doors tell the story of Io. The arcade overlooking the buffet includes trophies of war and peace. The balcony does not date from Fouquet.  The square room would have belonged to Fouquet’s apartment. In 1661, 6 tapestries from Le Brun were hanged under a painting showing the siege of Fribourg commanded by Marshal de Villars.  The 1st floor (2fl US)  The room of the apartment of Fouquet is the only room on the first floor to have preserved its original decor. The ceilings of the room and the balcony are decorated with a dome-shaped sham. Mrs. Fouquet’s apartment was entirely composed of mirrors and included an antichamber, a bedroom and a cabinet. The room and the Antichamber were completely renovated in the 18C. The cabinet contains on the ceiling an oval with a painting representing the sky; Mrs. Fouquet’s coat of arms appears in the angles.

The Vaux le Vicomte castle gardens are gorgeous, with a maximum length of the gardens (from the Gate of honour to the Hercules room) of 1 500 meters and an average width of 200 to 250 meters, the park makes a total surface of 500 hectares and is enclosed by a wall of 13 km of ramparts. The arrival to the castle is done by a bilateral alignment of 257 plantain trees. The two lines of trees are very close to the pavement since they are only six meters away. With the size of the barrels of the trees, this causes an impressive tunnel effect; This 1 500 meters long alignment is a beauty to walk under it. The garden consists of three parts: The first includes a court and a front yard; the second part of the castle and stops at the small canals; and the third part consists of what is located beyond the small canals.

The official Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte:

If you are really interested,I am a member since 2008, more so since this is a private castle, see the Friends of the castle or Les Amis de Vaux-le-Vicomte :

The Seine et Marne dept 77 tourist office on the castle:

The Île de France region tourist board on the castle :

There you go folks, another gorgeous castle at MaincyVaux-le-Vicomte;  indeed and very much worth a detour if around France.  Do browse and marvel for the history and architecture of it. Hope you enjoy the post as I

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all !!!

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January 1, 2023

Personal curiosities of Fontainebleau !!!

This is difficult to write as many wonderful moments with my dear late wife Martine visiting the castle and town of Fontainebleau in her region and becoming Friends of the Castle since 2008. However, I like to bring them to life for memories’ sake. This is new text using older personal pictures from my vault, Hope you enjoy the post, and do visit the castle is a must while in France. See my several posts in my blog.

The Galerie des Assiettes or Gallery of Plates was created during the reign of Louis-Philippe I in 1840, on the site of a former terrace. A tribute to the artistic and historical heritage of the château, its ceiling is adorned with 21 fragments of oil paintings on plaster from the vault of the former Galerie de Diane, created by Ambroise Dubois. 128 Sèvres porcelain plates are set in neo-Renaissance style wooden paneling, presenting some of the key events from the reigns of the greatest sovereigns, as well as different views of the castle and the forest of Fontainebleau.

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the 19C galleries

Fontainebleau galerie des Assiettes kids 15dec07

Within the Grands Appartements, the main modification was the transformation of the former King’s Chamber into the Throne Room in 1808. It is today the only Napoleonic throne room still existing with its furniture. Napoleon’s interior apartment was completely refurbished from 1804. The most spectacular room remains the Emperor’s bedroom, which was then the bedroom of all the sovereigns until 1870.  

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the palace of Napoléon

Fontainebleau throne room remi and pedro dec07

In 1979, following a major donation from Prince Napoleon and Princess Marie-Clotilde, a redistribution of the Napoleonic collections took place within the national museums. A Napoleon I museum was then created with the aim of presenting the Emperor and his family. The museum is housed in the Louis XV wing itself restored in 1810 by Napoleon after having been from 1803 to 1808 the headquarters of the Special Military School, the future Saint-Cyr School. The museum program successively presents the Emperor and Josephine with an evocation of the splendor surrounding the imperial power, Marie-Louise, the King of Rome, Madame Mère as well as the brothers and sisters who played a role during this period. To integrate portraits, personal memories, weapons, pieces of porcelain, goldsmithery and clothing into a palatial decor, particular attention was paid to the choice of fabrics for the walls and seats.

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the museum


The Salle des Gardes or guard room was that of the king’s guards, watching over the entrance to the sovereign’s apartment. All that remains today is the French ceiling and, at the top of the walls, a frieze of trophies of arms and armor painted in oil. In the 19C, under the reign of Louis-Philippe, this initially dilapidated room was transformed into a majestic reception hall with an overload of figures, ornaments, emblems and mottos paying homage to the sovereigns of the past. Decorated with a marble fireplace presenting the bust of Henri IV, and a parquet floor in marquetry reflecting the layout of the ceiling, the room ended up becoming a ceremonial dining room for Napoleon III.

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the royal apartments:

Fontainebleau salle des gardes sévres et MF dec07

The construction of a grand ceremonial staircase, leading directly to the Francis I Gallery and the Royal Apartments, turned the “White Horse Courtyard” into a main courtyard in direct competition with the very old Cour Ovale. Replacing the first horseshoe staircase built in 1550 by the French architect Philibert Delorme, the current staircase was built in 1632-1634. It was one of the few building projects commissioned by Louis XIII at Fontainebleau, as can be seen from his emblem, the caduceus, punctuating his curved double staircase. This monumental sandstone staircase composed of two monumental parallel fretted flights of 46 steps with an intermediate landing, it breaks with the medieval spiral staircase. It was at the foot of this symbol of royal pomp and ceremony, and following a memorable descent down its stairs, that Napoleon I made his famous farewell speech to the Imperial guard, on 20 April 1814. 

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the courtyards and gardens:


The Cour d’Honneur, (see post) closed on three sides and facing west towards the town since the fourth wing was demolished and a gate was created in 1809-1810. Known as “White Horse Courtyard” since it was built, after a horse statue at its center, it is bordered to the east by the iconic Horseshoe staircase wing punctuated by five pavilions which were built between the 16C and 19C. In the north, the Ministers’ wing, built in the 1530s bears the initials of Francis I and his salamander. Facing it, the Louis XV wing, which is taller and boasts brick and stone façades maintains the harmonious colour palette of the courtyard. Construction of the Louis XV wing started in 1739 on the ruins of the Ulysses gallery to house accommodation for the court, and it was only completed in 1773-1774. Since Napoleon I bid farewell to his Old Guard, on 20 April 1814, this courtyard which became the most famous view of the Château de Fontainebleau, was also known as the “Cour des adieux” or goodbye courtyard.

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the courtyards and gardens:

Fontainebleau pedro entrance to chateau Fontainebleau FRA sep1990

The Chapelle Royale de la Trinité or The Royal Chapel of the Trinity ,was in the reign of François Ist, the church of the former convent of Trinitaires  that was rebuilt and connected to the Gallery François Ist wing. It was not until the reign of ’Henri IV that it got its vault we see today. To house God in dignity, the management of the interior was entrusted to painter Martin Fréminet, who endowed the vault with a series of rich segments framed by thick stucco mouldings. Its exceptional decor is characteristic of what would later be called the second school of Fontainebleau dedicated to religious salvation.. It pre-dated the Baroque style and would not be finished until the reign of Louis XIII in 1633. This impressive royal chapel, celebrated the marriage of Louis XV to Marie Leczinska in September 1725 and Napoléon III was baptised on the knees of his uncle Napoléon Ier in 1810. It is dominated by a tribute dedicated to the king.

The official Château de Fontainebleau on the Royal chapels:

Fontainebleau chapelle de la trinite et PF dec07

There you go folks, this is special, a must to visit while in Francethe Château de Fontainebleau that is. So much history of France and Europe , and the World is here, as well as loving architecture. For me is sublime and a friend of the castle since 2007 !!  Hope you enjoy this personal curiosities of Fontainebleau post as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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January 1, 2023

WordPress ,you and me 2022 !!!

Right off the bat, I thank you very much for reading my blog, Paris1972-Versailles2003. This blog kept me busy and has been uplifting and deeply appreciate all comments and likes over the years since 26 November 2010! There has been some old virtual friends gone and some new ones I see, all welcome and glad you made my day in time. I started on WordPress after advice from an American friend living in Madrid for over 30 years who told me it was easy to work for the non technical guy in me and it has been a blast ,in part thanks to you. Of course, as you know, will do this post in my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Many good well wishes for 2023.  It cannot be worse than 2022 so may all your hopes and dreams come true in good health. We stay home as in the last wishing you all a very very Happy New Year and best wishes to all. Another year goes by, and I am now on retirement or it is here pre retirement on a deal with my last employer, The sensations are weird, glad to finally make it and spent more time at home ,but also sad that my travels will be cut in half as no more business trips to far away lands. I was hoping to do more consulting work but the covid virus and my father illness kept me home.

I like to give out some statistics that nicely WordPress give us and I look at it every year at least. Again thank you all for your kind comments and likes, really appreciated.

As of 31 December, 2022 , I had records all over!!! first  54 851 views,  26 911 visits, 27 386 likes! ,and 793 comments (this came down). I had written 1 119 posts! Also, the most! And have so far 1 029 followers which has gone beyond my wildest expectations! Thank you again, I have deleted some who do not share or partake on the blog no need to follow just to look, Behold I have DCMA copyright warnings on all my pictures,(see page),

My Top 10 articles view for 2022 were:(many were surprises !! )

The Somport Pass/Tunnel

WordPress you and me, 2021 !!!

Windjammers Barefoot Cruise

Plaza de Toros of Aranjuez

My Personal Life in Perth Amboy NJ USA

The Ceilings of Versailles (palace)

Notre Dame Cathedral Update Dec21

Paris : Avenue of New York

Some streets of Versailles

The Greenbelts of Manila (mall/museums)

Top 10 countries followers were: (ok me think)

USA , France, UK; Belgium, Spain, Indonesia, Canada, Australia, India, and Finland.

My top search engines were: WordPress reader, Google search, Bing, WordPress Android App, Duckduckgo, Yahoo search, Facebook, Baidu, AOL, and Dockpile. There are a total of 6 pages on front page, 15 categories of posts and 15 tags with 7 favorite outside links in the blogroll . There are over 53 000 photos already here wow!!! 53,3% of memory space taken ! My best viewing day is Monday…. and the best time is 15h or 3 pm!! The best day viewed still is December 10, 2012! with 972 views!!! A record hard to beat ! There are about 7 steady commentators and ,you know who you are , and my wish is to have more comments, constructive comments that is.

My New Year 2023 is at home not so good, my father has become sick bedridden and on his last days so tell me the doctors. He is on what is call here HAD or hospital at home with a team of nurses that takes care of him until his last day, do not know when. He is 87 years old and saw the world with me always tagged him along ,so at least he lived a full life ,cannot say the same of my dear mom and wife who went out at 72 and 59. I will missed him as I missed the women of my life but life needs to go on for the boys and the good intentions they taught me.

There you go folks just for you, fully transparent as always. Hope you have enjoy the travel posts done with care and love to share with all and maybe helpful in your trips. Thank you ,again, my followers and do share with me your adventures , it has been a pleasure. Take care, best of luck, best wishes, stay safe !

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all !!!

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