Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Behind the Scene" at Vaux-le-Vicompte

Some 50+ Kilometres outside of Paris is a very lovely Chateau which was built around the middle of the 17th century. It is out in the country to the north-east of the city and by the time one arrives there, it is almost as if he has been transported to a completely different world.

The lane leading to the chateau is quite impressive in itself, lined with 200+ year old Sycamore trees. (Imported to France by soldiers returning from the American wars at of the late 18th and early 19th century they are now all over Europe.) The Chateau itself is behind several stables and other utility buildings and one could easily miss seeing it if they were zipping down the road unawares, (though the large car-park across the road, full of cars, caravans and motor coaches would make that rather difficult to do) but once you enter the premise, the view is quite spectacular.

View of the main residence of the chateau and surrounding moat

Model of the roof structure of the residence

I mainly visited this chateau to see the furniture and interior, but was delighted to learn that for an extra 5 Euros (I think) one can enter a private door, go up a flight of stairs and then a very narrow spiral star which leads to the central tower in the roof. From there you are greeted with a breathtaking aerial view of the chateau and the surrounding countryside. The chance to get up close to some 17th century carpentry work made it worth whatever the price was, and this diversion was a highlight of the trip.

Even utilitarian stair balusters are not completely void of ornamental
detail; note the cast escutcheons at the base of each spindle.

The iron straps were installed in a late 19th century restoration programme

Some details of the woodwork. Note that each beam was sawn and then planed
smooth before being worked into the structure

I was guessing this beam to be about 40cm so I took a picture of my hand
against it to use as a gauge. Based on the hand, it is about 36-37cm square.

View from the tower; there is another similar, but larger wing on the left

The second unexpected surprise to this side trip was a case full of 17th century woodworking tools.

Since I like, use, and make hand-tools, I was particularly happy to find this little collection.

Very large timbers require very large compases

Frame saw

Assorted tools, including a couple moulding planes and a marking gauge
for laying out timber joinery

Gouges, hatchet, and "pinch dogs" used to temporarily hold pieces in place

A saw wrest for setting the teeth of six different saws

Adze heads

Compass, calipers, folding ruler, and a plane

Another view of the plane, as well as an additional one. Also an axe, and a
line real


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