The owners of a 17th-century French castle were tied up as their opulent home was ransacked by robbers who fled with a haul worth €2m (£1.8m), authorities have said.
The Vaux-le-Vicomte palace, set amid sumptuous gardens about 30 miles south-east of Paris, has been owned by the same family since 1875. Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé opened the estate to the public in 1968, and run it with their three sons.
Béatrice Angelelli-Lamotte, a prosecutor, said there were six thieves and they did not appear to be armed.
The chateau was built by Louis XIV’s finance minister Nicolas Fouquet, who according to legend fell from grace in 1661, shortly after the building work was finished, when he staged an elaborate party there and aroused the Sun King’s envy.
Fouquet spent the rest of his life in jail. The monarch then seized the castle and moved its most precious artworks and other objects to Versailles.
It is the largest privately-owned heritage site in France, sprawled over 500 hectares (1,200 acres), and gets about 250,000 visitors each year.
The chateau often stands in for Versailles for movie and television productions, including the Roger Moore James Bond film Moonraker and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
It has also become a prize spot for celebrity wedding parties, such as the 2007 wedding of the French basketball star Tony Parker and the Desperate Housewives actor Eva Longoria. They later divorced.