Category: Nicolas Fouquet

I thought it would be fun to dissect a 17th century French country mansion. For those who have read AWAKENED BY A KISS and THE PRINCESS IN HIS BED, know I’m the odd one on the block.

Yes, it’s true! When other new authors have landed on the scene with historical romances set in England or Scotland—I picked 17th century France.

“Ah, why on earth would you do that, Lila? What’s wrong with Regency England as a setting?” you ask?

My response, “Absolutely nothing! I LOVE regency-set historical romances. In fact, it’s because I love historical romances set in the Regency period, that I fell in love with 17th century France.  It was just as refined as Regency England. I kid you not! Full of decadence, you had distinguished lords and lovely ladies who lived in city mansions and sprawling palatial country estates. There were spectacular ballrooms and elaborate masquerade balls. Theater—and plenty of scandalous behavior. All those elements you love about the Regency period are found in the time and place when the genre of fairy tales was born!

They said it couldn’t be done.  That I couldn’t sell a historical romance set in 17th century France, have a New York house want to publish it.  And have readers love it.

Well, I’m delighted to say, I’ve sold THREE BOOKS such books to Berkley and, thanks to you, dearest readers, I receive a steady stream of emails from fans who not only have fallen in love with my hot historical bad boys, and strong smart heroines—but the very time period itself.

I’m flattered, and ever so honored by it!  The lessons here:  1. Chase your dream, relentlessly.  2. Why blend if you have the chance to stand out?  :)  I’ve delivered something familiar, yet fresh and new.  And fairy tale.

So, let’s take a look at the “ton” in France, shall we?

Over the next few posts, I’m going to dissect my favorite 17th c. French country mansion. Vaux-le-Vicomte. And expose some tantalizing details!  At the end of this series of posts I have a *really* cool SECRET to reveal about this spectacular chateau!!!  Stay tuned!

Why have I chosen Vaux?  Well, Vaux-le-Vicomte represents the decadence and elegance of the time so well!  This is very much the kind of world Charles Perrault lived in when he first brought the world Cinderella et al.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was built by Nicolas Fouquet, Marquis of Belle-Île, and Viscount of Vaux and Melun, the 3rd most powerful man in all of Europe—until his fall from grace, that is.  He was the Finance Minister of Louis XIV. Handsome, charismatic….oh, and ultimately convicted of embezzlement of funds.  (Some say Fouquet was innocent.  More on this totally fascinating man in another post!) ).

So without further ado……

The Beautiful VAUX-LE-VICOMTE. 
(Translated it means, “Like a Viscount”.)  

Does Vaux look familiar?  It should. The movie, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, where Leonardo DiCaprio played a yummy Louis XIV, was filmed at Vaux.  Why?  It’s a lot cheaper than actually renting the palace of Versailles!  Vaux is certainly opulent enough to fool the viewer. 
Incidentally, after seeing Vaux-le-Vicomte, King Louis XIV was inspired to build Versailles and hired the very same designers to create his magnificent palace—fit for the most powerful monarch in all of Christendom. 
So, Vaux still doesn’t ring a bell?  How about this little tidbit: Vaux-le-Vicomte was the very place where Eva Longoria and Tony Parker held their elegant fairy tale wedding reception.  Yup, I know… That didn’t end well, did it? As Nicolas Fouquet would likely attest, NEVER throw a party at Vaux.  It’s rather unlucky for both the host and hostess (more on Fouquet’s famous party next time *winks*).
With rumors of Tony Parker’s infidelity in the news, Mrs. Fouquet would certainly understand how Eva must feel. 

Here she is.  (Click on image on the left for a larger view) This painting hangs in the sitting room of Mrs. Fouquet’s private apartments in Vaux.  It depicts her clipping the wings off Cupid—so that love would never leave her but be hers forever. Unfortunately, Fouquet was terribly unfaithful to his very young, most enamored wife.

Her private apartments overlook the gorgeous gardens (these gardens are breathtaking!  Oh, if the trees could talk. . .they would tell a scandalous tale or two! ).  Her private apartments consisted of her bedchamber, her sitting room, and her private bathroom. 

The Lap of 17th c. Luxury
Starting from the bottom left hand corner, moving around clockwise, you have a bidet, a copper bathtub, and of course the toilet.  Imaging being the lucky servant whose job it was to empty that everyday.  :)  Why is the room so small, you may wonder?  The answer is: no heating.  It was pretty cold, especially in the winter.  Making the room small and giving it its own fireplace kept you warm as you bathed.  Kept you from catching a chill. (Note: the bidet is circa 18th c. — not of Mrs. Fouquet’s time. Oh, and neither is the wig they placed in the room. :D )
I’m going to leave you with this awesome LAYOUT of Vaux.  Click on anything that has the blue Q (Quicktime symbol) for a lovely panoramic view of that room!  On Friday I’ll tell you about entertainment and parties at Vaux.  Including Fouquet’s famous FINAL party. One that has yet to be matched hundreds of years later….even by Eva and Tony.  I’ll also show you the original floor plan of this beautiful home…including the secret passages.
And speaking of secrets—don’t forget to return for the reveal of *my* secret!
Did any of you see THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK?  I can’t be the only one who drooled over Leonardo DiCaprio!  *smiles*