A festive outing to a fairytale French château: a day at Vaux-le-Vicomte

Like Versailles but more manageable, this château turns into a winter wonderland at Christmas – perfect for a family day trip from Paris

For most of its long and inglorious history, Vaux-le-Vicomte has been ignored. Shunned by the royal court after a jealous and vengeful king left its owner to rot in jail, overshadowed by its neighbour Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte has hidden for centuries in plain sight, less than an hour by car or train from Paris.

Many of those driving south en route to the Burgundy vineyards, Alps or winter warmth of the Côte d’Azur won’t even know it’s there. This is a pity at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas when for five weeks the 17th-century baroque château is transformed into something of an enchanted palace.

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