Vaux-le-Vicomte is the greatest!

Friday, June 11 – Paris: Well, everything averages out after all! We left Dani’s at 10am for a day trip to Vaux-le-Vicomte arriving at 11am in full glorious sun.

Excuse my enthusiasm, but V-le-V is, by a significant amount, the best tourist site I’ve ever visited (second place goes to Abu Simbel) and today was just about a perfect visit. You may remember that V-le-V was built in the 1660s by Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV’s finance minister, and was in effect the warm-up project for Versailles with the same team: Le Vau (architect), Le Notre (gardens), and Le Brun (painter).

For some unknown reason, there were very few adults visiting — perhaps 150 all day. But this was offset by the number of very young schoolchildren who had been bussed in for a field trip. From the point of view of the children, the trip was to an outdoor place where running and screaming was beyond the teachers’ control. In the end, it was easy enough to avoid them.

We were greatly amused to see that the gardeners used modern tools to trim the hedges and that they could take the necessary electricity with them:

Since we didn’t leave until 4pm, we had an extremely thorough visit. We started by renting a golf cart to tour the gardens for an hour and a half.

There was a good exhibit later in the chateau which answered my question about how much earth had to be moved to create the perfect symmetry of the nearly-mile-long vista from the far end of garden back towards the chateau.

After a poor cafeteria-style lunch, we toured the chateau itself where the rooms are in fabulous shape and a significant amount of labeling has been done since my last visit. One thing neither of us had done before was to climb to the top of the dome to look out over the grounds. Even better than the view was the chance to see the timber construction of the dome closeup.

We then returned to Paris having decided to try one of the restaurants within a two block radius of Dani’s. Each of these is an admirable example of the type, and we wanted to go away with warm feelings about eating in an unpretentious and unheralded Paris restaurant. No such luck. We selected La Belisaire:

and had a “raviole” of young leeks (really a sformato) with lobster (here with the pasta pulled back to display the interior):

The best part was the “chip” of fried julienned leek:

Then some badly overcooked salmon:

And ill-trimmed faux filet with marrow bone:

Definitely not a meal to write home about!

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