Versailles is one of the most infamous estates in the world. Touring its huge palace painted in gold pretty much explains why it’s synonymous to extravagance and luxurious living. Walking through the royal gardens and chambers of Versailles is like walking through a visual wonderland, an old yet beautiful Renaissance painting. It’s a breathtaking time warp back to the years of kings and queens. Everything is picturesque. It was winter/spring when I visited Versailles for the first time. It was cold winter’s day in France so we did a quick tour of the gardens first and spent most of the day in Versailles touring the palace. Versailles itself is now one of the wealthiest cities near Paris. With only 45 minutes away from Paris city center by train, a day trip to Versailles is definitely something to look forward to when in Paris.
Versailles’ sprawling, stunning palace is matched by the splendor of the gardens in which it is situated. A day trip to Versailles can be spent simply perusing paths and admiring fountains and flowers without setting foot inside the palace or Versailles’ other notable buildings. There are several different admission tickets to the Palace of Versailles. For €15, the Palace ticket lets you tour the palace and grounds. The Passport gives you admission to the palace, grounds, Trianon Palaces and the Queen’s Hamlet. The musical fountain show (April-October) is also included.
Stopover at McDonald’s for a quick brunch while on our way to the palace grounds (even the menu here is very ‘Versailles’!)
The Gardens of Versailles
We went to see the gardens first and it was a surreal experience despite the short visit. Since winter was about to end and spring season was about to come in when we visited Versailles, we saw flowers starting to bloom, fountains spouting water, and lush green hedges are beginning to grow. Take note that the entrance and the ticket to the gardens is different from that of the palace. Once you exit the palace to see the gardens, you would need to fall in line the long queue again if you want to go back. What we did was to check out the gardens first and then spent most of the day touring the royal palace.
Encompassing 230 acres, the gardens of Versailles are designed to show the power and prestige of the kings of France. As much as I liked the palace, I also enjoyed wandering around the gardens of Versailles. This French garden was nothing like I have ever seen – all the bushes were perfectly manicured, marble statues were tastefully displayed around each corner, and light classical music played from mysterious places behind the hedges. Not to mention the beautiful fountains scattered all over the garden! I will surely bring along a picnic basket with cheese and champagne the next time I explore the gardens of Versailles during summer.
Château de Versailles
The Château de Versailles and its magnificently landscaped gardens were built by King Louis XIV, often referred to as the “Sun King” because he wanted everyone to know that he was the center of things, which is evident throughout the entire place – even his bedroom was right in the middle of the palace! Versailles was home for three generations of French kings and queens from 16th century until the beginning of the French Revolution. Each one made the palace more lavish and beautiful over time. As a result, the Palace of Versailles is considered one of the most beautiful achievements of 18th-century French art.
The Chateau’s fame and status as a UNESCO world heritage site also means large crowds and long queues that may take hours of waiting to get inside the palace are guaranteed. Still, the 7 million annual visitors should not discourage anyone from going. After all, Château de Versailles is the grandest palace to see in Europe and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. f you overlook the crowds, the Château de Versailles is as regal and lavish as you could imagine. While touring the palace, I kept on seeing enormous canopied beds, exquisite artwork, marbled walls, and gold in every direction I looked. The palace is filled with rooms for every possible occasion – waiting rooms, waiting rooms for waiting rooms, ball rooms, libraries and dining rooms. It’s easy to see why the French felt resentful of the privilege enjoyed by the aristocracy, passionately beginning a revolution.
While Marie Antoinette was living in the Queen’s Chamber, she redecorated them in the opulent style of the time—you can even still see her initials monogrammed in the upper corners. There are feathers, pastel florals and strikingly light colors. It was a departure from all of the other rooms in the palace, which contain dark monotone colors and patterns. The Nobles Salon is also adjacent to the queen’s bedchamber and was used as a reception area for courtiers who had appointments with the queen. Marie Antoinette chose shades of mint green (her favorite color) and commissioned all new furniture to make the room appear brighter and cheerier. All the chandeliers in this room are originals from her redesign, but have been outfitted with electric candles.
The highlight of my visit to the Palace was when I was walking along the Hall of Mirrors. Probably the most well-known room in Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors (or the Grande Galerie) is the central gallery of the palace connecting the private apartments to the royal chapel. A grand hall with a stretch of mirror clad arches reflecting the window overlooking the luscious garden was commissioned by Louis XIV as a waiting area where the king could put on his most ostentatious display of royal power in order to impress visitors. Fun fact: There are 578 mirrors in the hall!
How to get to Versailles:
Versailles is easily reached by train from Paris. Take the RER line C5 to Versailles Rive Gauche station (the end of the line).
It’s about a 30-minute ride and then a short 5-minute walk to the palace.
I followed this step-by-step guide by Mikestravelguide, which helped me in getting to Versailles the cheapest and easiest way 🙂