1. Fontainebleau & Vaux-le-Vicomte Châteaux Day Tour from Paris
This full-day trip from Paris takes you to the Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau châteaux for guided tours of the castles and a chance to explore their gardens. Set off from Paris at 09:15 on the hour-long drive to Vaux-le-Vicomte, the château that inspired King Louis XIV to build his Versailles Palace. A masterpiece of mid-17th century classical architecture, the château and its grounds were created by 3 talented artists working for Nicolas Fouquet, a rich, high-ranking French official and Louis XIV's Superintendent of Finance. The 3 artists were the painter and decorator Charles Le Brun, the architect Louis Le Vau, and the landscape gardener André Le Nôtre. With an audio guide you’ll explore Nicolas Fouquet's private apartments, the state rooms, and the château's great kitchens and vaulted cellars. Enjoy a stroll through the stunning French-style formal gardens on the estate’s 86-acre grounds, featuring sculpted bushes, lakes, and multicolored flower beds. If you like you can eat lunch on the lawn or in the Vaux-le-Vicomte restaurant. You’ll leave Vaux-le-Vicomte at 13:30 for the second part of the tour, heading to the heart of the forest of Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau is the only royal château to have been continuously inhabited for 7 centuries. Dating back to the 12th century, it was one of the residences of French rulers from Francis I to Napoleon III. During your audio-guided visit, you’ll explore the richly furnished château, admiring its unique collections and key pieces such as the throne of Napoleon I and the famous horseshoe-shaped staircase. You’ll also see the spacious private apartments. After the tour, you’ll have time to explore the vast grounds surrounding the château, as well as its 3 lovely gardens. Departure from Fontainebleau is scheduled for 17:00, with arrival back in central Paris at around 18:15.