Château de Versailles – France’s most iconic and extravagant palace – does not need an introduction. With nearly six million visitors each year, its fame is hard to overlook. The grandiose estate was built in the mid-17th century for Louis XIV – the Ruler of the French Empire.
About 22 kilometres south-west of central Paris, you will find yourself at the opulent gate of the Château de Versailles. Louis XIV, claimed as Le Roi Soleil (the Sun King), ordered to built this baroque château to demonstrate the absolute power of the French monarchy, which was at its height at the time. After its completion in 1682, the palace became the empire’s political capital and the seat of the royal court. Its role only faded when the French Revolution broke out in 1789.
Spreading over 63,000 m², the gigantic château contains about 2300 luxuriously decorated rooms and it required about 30,000 workers to complete. The most noteworthy chambers are the King’s State Apartments, the Royal Chapel, the Royal Opera House, and the opulence reaches its peak in the Hall of Mirror.
Gardens of Versailles
The Versailles is surrounded by vast gardens covering some 800 hectares of land. Praised as the art of symmetry, the manicured garden is the masterpiece of landscape artist Andre Lé Nôtre in which terraces, flowerbeds, statues, tree-lined paths, ponds, and fountains are geometrically aligned.
Estate of Trianon
A trip to Versailles might be incomplete without a visit to the Estate of Trianon. In an attempt to gain some brief respite from the rigid etiquette of the court, the kings of Versailles built themselves more intimate spaces close to the main palace. The Estate of Trianon is the home of the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet. The estate is also called Domaine de Marie Antoinette because it is most closely associated with Queen Marie Antonette. Having trouble with adapting to life in court, the Queen retreated to Petite Trianon which she received as a gift from King Louis XVI. The estate was then become her own kingdom.
Practical Information about Versailles
- Versailles is easily accessible from Paris by public transport. RER B – Station: Versailles Château – Rive Gauche.
- A visit to Versailles requires patience. The crowd will reach its peak at noon resulting hours of waiting. Having a pre-purchase ticket only help you skip the queue at the ticket booth but it does not grant you immediate access to the palace.
- Monday is closed. Tuesday, Sunday, as well as holidays, are the busiest days.
- Some chambers, for example, the Royal Chapel, the Private Apartments of the Kings are only accessible when you join a guided tour. The tour takes around 90 minutes and costs 7€.
- The estate of Trianon is located in the north-west of the palace garden. Just head straight to the Grand Canal, then turn right at Allée de la Reine. There are many signposts en route, thus it is not difficult to find.