Wednesday, 7 May 2014

007 Travel story: Paris (FRANCE) 2013, Day 3/7: Château Vaux le Vicomte & Palace of Fontainebleau

In order to read this 007 travel story from day 1, please click here

Monday 14th of October 2013

We went for breakfast to the Gare du Nord station, where was a small station cafe named Malongo Gare Nord. After that we left our luggage to Mercure Paris Terminus Nord, (12 Boulevard de Denain, 129,00 EUR / 1 night, no breakfast included, booked via hotel's storage and checked out. After the metro trip, we searched Metro Cityrama office, at 2 Rue de Pyramides. We signed up on a journey which included visits to the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte and Palace of Fontainebleau by bus. Price for this package was 159,00 euros / three persons.

We arrived in Maincy (which is close to the city of Melun) at Vaux-le-Vicomte château.

"Once a small château located between the royal residences of Vincennes and Fontainebleau, the estate of Vaux-le-Vicomte was purchased by Nicolas Fouquet in 1641. At that time he was an ambitious twenty-six year-old member of the Parlement of Paris. Fouquet was an avid patron of the arts, attracting many artists with his generosity.

When Fouquet became King Louis XIV's superintendent of finances (Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry (France)) in 1657, he commissioned Le Vau, Le Brun and Le Nôtre to renovate his estate and garden to match his grand ambition. Fouquet’s artistic and cultivated personality subsequently brought out the best in the three." (Wikipedia)

Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Bond villain Hugo Drax has a château in there in Roger Moore's film "Moonraker"


"To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as sixteen million livres.
The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show." (Wikipedia)

Drax's astronauts training in front of the château
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

We went to château yard, which can be seen in the film when Bond and Corinne Dufour arrive there by helicopter. We also walked around the interiors of the château and took some pictures.

Pirita & Mika. This photo by: 7 -year-old daughter

Bond and Corinne Dufour (Corinne Cléry) arrive in Drax's château
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Then we rented a Bond-style golf cart. The price for 45 minutes ride was 15 euros and deposit of it 200 euros, which had to be paid in cash. Driver's license was needed as well. Mika was the driver. We had a map with some suggested routes and especially daughter considered this as one of the best experiences of the trip, after Disneyland Paris, of course.

Pirita in golf cart

Corinne Dufour in "Moonraker", just before Drax's dobermans attack
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

We drove near the statue of Hercules. From there Mika had to run up top of the hill to be able to find the exact spot where Bond and Drax shoot pheasants in the film and also Corinne Dufour meets her end when she runs into the woods and Drax lets his dobermans loose to kill her.

Statue of Hercules

Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) and Bond near statue of Hercules
Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Then we were already in a hurry to return the golf cart and go to the souvenir shop to buy some souvenirs. We also had lunch in Restaurant L'Ecureuil. After meal, we went back to the bus and it transported us to the city of Fontainebleau, where was the Palace of Fontainebleau. Also this château had stunning rooms and halls.

                                                   Château de Fontainebleau

"Revolution and Empire
By the late 18th century, the château had fallen into disrepair; during the French Revolution many of the original furnishings were sold, in the long Revolutionary sales of the contents of all the royal châteaux, intended as a way of raising money for the nation and ensuring that the Bourbons could not return to their comforts. Nevertheless, within a decade Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte began to transform the Château de Fontainebleau into a symbol of his grandeur, as an alternative to the empty Palace of Versailles, with its Bourbon connotations. Napoleon hosted Pope Pius VII there in 1804, when he came to consecrate the emperor, and again in 1812–1814, when he was Napoleon's prisoner. With modifications of the château's structure, including the cobblestone entrance wide enough for his carriage, Napoleon helped make the château the place that visitors see today. At Fontainebleau Napoleon bade farewell to his Old Guard and went into exile in 1814. Fontainebleau was also the setting of the Second Empire court of his nephew Napoleon III.

The château is now home to the Écoles d'Art Américaines, a school of art, architecture, and music for students from the United States. The school was founded by General Pershing when his men were stationed there during the First World War." (Wikipedia)

It started to rain, so we went to castle's own cafeteria and then we went looking for our bus. Our driver was not there, so we moved to nearby Magenta cafe and found our driver as well! We slept on the bus while heading back to Paris and then looked for some dinner restaurant.

After a quite long search, we found restaurant Le Petit Machon, which is mentioned in the Raymond Benson Bond book "Never Dream of Dying", but restaurant was closed. We did not have to leave with empty stomachs, because we went to Pizza / Grill Casa Festa, which is located on the same street. There was a nice aquarium right next to our table, so at least daughter had a nice time watching fishes while we waited for our food to arrive.

"He escorted her to Rue St. Honoré and further east until they came to a café called Le Petit Mâchon. It was a charming, quiet place painted yellow and brown. The day’s specials were listed on a blackboard that stood on the sidewalk with the small square tables. Tylyn and Bond were greeted warmly by the hostess, who allowed them to pick a table at the end, away from the other parties."

Raymond Benson: "Never Dream of Dying"

Then we went to enjoy desserts in Cafe Le Nemours, which can be seen in the beginning of Timothy Dalton movie "The Tourist". A toilet visit and one beer in Pub Comedien, which was across the street.

We went to pick up our luggage from Terminus Nord and moved to EST hôtel Paris. (49 Boulevard Magenta, 400.00 euros / 4 nights, no breakfast included, reserved via This hotel charged a city tax of 1 EUR / person / night.) We got a room 501 from the 5th floor. Fortunately, Mika's bag was found during the day and it was delivered to the hotel. Nothing was lost, so everything was fine on that area as well.

Daughter has delighted the locals. She already knows basic courtesies like "merci" and "bon jour" in French. EST hotel's receptionist Paul has been extremely helpful by organizing airport taxi rides in advance and early breakfast on our departure day for instance. Real French hospitality.

This 007 travel story continues here

See the list of 007 LOCATIONS (visited), excluding 007 HOTELS (visited) and
007 RESTAURANTS (visited), which have sections of their own, please follow the links.

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