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Palace of Versailles - Garden View

"So beautiful"

  • April 2016

reviewed by Lise from France

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Palace of Versailles


World's most famous palace

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Who is it for?

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Why you will love it?

It is said that Louis XIV built the Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles), Louis XV enjoyed it and Louis XVI paid for it… with his life. When it comes to understanding the power of the French Monarchy during the 17th and 18th centuries, with such beauty, grandeur and refinement, there is no better way than to spend a full day discovering the wonders of the Palace of Versailles and its gardens.

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About this place

Place d'Armes - Versailles
Line C - Versailles Rive Gauche

Thursday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm
more less
Monday : Closed Tuesday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm Wednesday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm Thursday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm Friday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm Saturday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm Sunday : 9:00 am - 18:30 pm
1 January 1 May 25 December

Our Insiders' Article

Palace of Versailles: a palace in the glory of the French monarchy

If there is one monument outside of Paris that should be on your to-do list, it would be the Palace of Versailles.
The Palace of Versailles was built to glorify the French monarchy in the 17th century. Its ultimate luxury made it so inaccessible to ordinary people that it would render the kings God-like.
Other areas such as the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon and the Hameau de Marie-Antoinette (Queen Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet) are all located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and should not be left out of the visit.

Making the Most of It: 45 minutes to get there, a full day of pleasure

Versailles is a town located 16km southeast of Paris and is easily accessible by public transport. Take the RER C to the terminal station “Versailles Rive Gauche / Château de Versailles” and then walk to the entrance of the palace (5 minute walk, directions are clearly indicated).
We recommend the following full day route:
9 am to noon: Park + Grand Canal + lunch in the park (bringing your sandwich for a picnic is great)
1 pm to 3 pm: Grand Trianon + Petit Trianon + Hameaux de Marie-Antoinette
After 3:30 pm: Palace of Versailles

The Palace: the iconic hall of mirrors and the king's appartments

The Palace of Versailles is the most iconic monument on the Versailles grounds. Decorated by the finest 17th and 18th century architects, this palace has over 2,300 rooms! The highlights here include:
The Hall of Mirrors, a magnificent alignment of mirrors, windows and chandeliers.
The King’s and Queen’s apartments
The Opera house (only visible with an official guided tour)
The Chapel of the Palace (also only visible with an official guided tour)
The Palace of Versailles was a window of luxury and beauty for the world to see, and still is today.

The Gardens: the Orangerie and the Grand Canal

The huge 800ha (1,977acres) domain is divided into several areas.
On the southwest side is the Orangerie, used to store exotic plants in winter (Louis XIV amazed his guests by offering fresh oranges even in winter).
Directly facing the Hall of Mirrors is the French garden, with many different small parks and fountains.
In a distance is the Grand Canal, where gondolas would bring the King to the other side so he could enjoy an outside meal. These gondolas have now been replaced by rowboats for the visitors to rent.

Other Palaces: Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and the hamlet

The Grand Trianon, built in 1687, first served as Louis XIV’s private residence. 
Louis XV only used it as a hunting lodge and it was almost abandoned by Louis XVI.
It is sometimes used today to welcome very distinguished guests, such as the Queen of England.
The Petit Trianon was built by Louis XV in 1769 and originally intended for the king’s mistress.
Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI’s wife, lived here. She ordered the construction of a hamlet, including a farm, a barn and a windmill, still visible today.

History: from Louis XIII to Louis XV

In the early 17th century, Louis XIII bought this plot and ordered the construction of a hunting lodge.
His son, Louis XIV ordered the construction of a new royal palace outside Paris, a city he feared, monopolizing 36,000 workers.
In May 1682, the court settled in the Palace of Versailles.
His great grandson, Louis XV, was a bit blasé when it came to politics and preferred enjoying the life at the Château, throwing parties on a regular basis. He added the Opera House.

History: from Louis XVI to Napoleon

During the 19 years of Louis XVI’s reign, there was little money left to spend on embellishing the Palace of Versailles. Almost all the money went to the modification of the Petit Trianon and Queen’s hamlet.
As a symbol of Absolute Monarchy, it was looted by the people and abandoned during the French Revolution (1789-99). Part of the furniture even went to England (Buckingham Palace, Windsor…).
Napoleon gave back the glory of the Palace of Versailles when he decided to make it his residence in 1809 (the Emperor’s apartments can be visited). 

Conclusion: a day trip through 4 centuries of history

French 18th century philosopher Voltaire once said about the Palace of Versailles: “Its façade facing the garden is the most beautiful thing in the world, but the other façade is of the worst gaudiness.”
While some might say it’s a bit too much and too overwhelming, its magnificence and daunting size can only leave the visitors amazed. But to be able to have an opinion, one must leave Paris and head to Versailles.
Chances are, you too will use the words of French historian Pierre de Nolhac: “the most beautiful thing in Paris is… Versailles.”

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