Last weekend some friends and I ventured southeast of Paris to the fanciful estate at Vaux le Vicomte. Built in the mid-17th century for Louix XIV's finance minister Nicolas Fouquet, the château has a pretty colorful history that I'm only learning now via Wikipedia, since all of the on-site literature is in French. Basically, Fouquet built himself a house (demolishing three villages in the process) to match his huge political ambitions. It was all well and good for a few years, until a particularly elaborate fête that led to Fouquet's arrest and subsequent life imprisonment. The king had been falsely tipped off that Fouquet bankrolled the château by embezzling state funds, but really Louis XIV was just jealous...and two decades later moved into his own version of Vaux le Vicomte - Versailles.
If you've ever been to Versailles, or pretty much any other castle in Europe, the château itself is pretty underwhelming. However it's still worth going to see the sweeping gardens designed by André le Nôtre; especially on Saturday nights during the spring and summer when the grounds are lit by thousands of candles.
A brief firework display kicks off around 11pm, and while you wait for it to start you can enjoy snacks and beverages at the garden's café.