Here's some info. from Wikipedia. I'm too lazy to paraphrase it for you.
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French chateau located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne département of France. It was built from 1658 to 1661 for Nicolas Fouquet, Marquis de Belle-Isle (Belle-Ile-en-Mer), Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV.
Vaux-le-Vicomte was in many ways the most influential work built in Europe in the mid-17th century, the most elaborate and grand house built in France after the Château de Maisons. Here, 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 a new order: the magnificent manner that is associated with the "Louis XIV style" involving a system of collective work, which could be applied to the structure, its interiors and works of art and the creation of an entire landscape. The garden's use of a baroque axis that extends to infinity is an example of this style.
Well, we enjoyed a leisurely picnic in the gardens (leisurely, even though I wore Amy's Pink bag like a backpack in the Catacombs and ended up spilling carrot salad vinaigrette all over everything...), with a lovely view of the castle (and the scaffoldng that covered the 1/4 of it whwere they were re-roofing and gilding the roof decorations) and the outbuildings.
After our lunch, we decided to tour the inside first. Maybe my pictures don't do it justice, but it is beautiful. And served as a model for the at-the-moment-still-a-hunting-lodge Versailles. If you've ever been to Versailles, you will definitely see the resemblance.
Fête and Arrest
The château was lavish, refined, and dazzling to behold, but these characteristics proved tragic to its owner. Indeed, the King had Fouquet arrested shortly after a famous fête that took place on 17 August 1661, with Molière's play 'Les Fâcheux'. The celebration had been too impressive and the superintendent's home too luxurious. Jean-Baptiste Colbert had led the king to believe that his minister's magnificence was funded by the misappropriation of public funds. Colbert, who then replaced Fouquet as superintendent of finances, arrested him.  Later, Voltaire was to sum up the famous fête thus: "On 17 August, at six in the evening Fouquet was the King of France: at two in the morning he was nobody." La Fontaine wrote describing the fête, and shortly afterwards penned his Elégie aux nymphes de Vaux.
After Nicolas Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration (sequestration (law)). The King seized, confiscated, and occasionally purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux Le Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux Le Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.
Madame Fouquet recovered her property ten 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.
And last but not least (be still my beating heart)...
Oh, and lest I forget...
The room next to the library was specifically decorated in a more elegant and elaborate fashion so the king could stay there if he dropped in to say hello. (Or, "You're arrested, because your house is cooler than mine." Whichever.)
What makes this room extra special, though, is the creepy life-size manneqins. One of them "talks," as well, which is creepy in and of itself, but it's (his?) mouth actually moves correctly so the shape of his lips reflects what it would look like if an actual person was talking. And frankly, that just creeped me right out.
So, here's a little video to give you a feel for the ambience of the room...
And here's a video to show you how creepy his face is when he talks. Maybe it's because none of the rest of his face moves--his cheeks, his eyes, even his eyebrows... Nope, he's got a Botox face with moveable lips.
After touring the main floor, we went up past the second floor, up this teensy staircase,
walked around the bell tower,
and enjoyed a great view of the grounds.
Can you see the influence on Versailles?No?
Let me help you...
We decided to hang out in the gardens for a while. I read, Ames took a nap. It was so nice to bask in the sunlight for a while.
Then we had a taxi called, I grabbed some cookbooks from the chateau gift shop, and we made our way back to Paris.
If you are in Paris for the first time, this might not be the thing for you because there are so many other wonderful things right in town. But for returning visitors, I would definitely recommend Vaux-le-Vicomte. Bit pricey to get there, get in, and get back, but to me it was totally worth it.