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Leaving Paris for the Palace of Versailles

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Photo Credit: By Eric Pouhier (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: By Eric Pouhier (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

It was once the grand home of France’s kings and a very infamous queen. Today, the Palace of Versailles is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year. If you’re going to be in Paris, you should definitely plan to spend a day exploring the royal château. Not only are the gardens and buildings stunning to see in person, but the rich and colorful history of this palatial estate is certainly worth learning more about.

History of the Palace

Versailles began as a royal hunting lodge, built in 1624. When Louis XIV assumed the throne years later, he expanded the buildings and moved his entire court out of Paris and onto the property. The Palace of Versailles that we see today is considered one of the greatest achievements in French art from the 18th century.

Visiting Versailles

Many travelers depart from Paris to tour Versailles. It’s easy enough to get there, as there are a variety of cheap transportation options available. The trip only takes about 30 minutes, at most. You can choose to arrive by commuter train, where a roundtrip ticket will cost you less than 10 Euros, or you can take a bus. In any case, you should not have trouble making your way there.

A trip to the Palace of Versailles requires plenty of time so that you can explore all that is open to the public. Guided tours are given of the king’s private apartments, the Royal Chapel, and the Royal Opera, but you need to book in advance because guides take visitors in groups. Wander around the world-famous gardens at your own pace, taking in the all of the breathtaking beauty that it has to offer.

There’s a lot to see, so if you’re traveling independently, you may want to plan on spending an entire day. There are different admission options, allowing you to select which areas you want to tour. An all-inclusive ticket will typically run you less than 25 Euros, which really isn’t too bad to walk in the footsteps of royalty! Ticket prices increase during special events, so it’s best to check in advance.

The Hall of Mirrors

La Grande Galerie, or The Hall of Mirrors, is one of the most iconic features of the palace. Search for an image of Versailles, and photos of this particular spot are likely to show up. As you walk through, you are surrounded by ornate golden mirrors, crystal chandeliers, and stunning statues. The Hall of Mirrors is where King Louis XIV would greet arriving guests. At the end of the First World War in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in this grand hall.

Marie Antoinette’s Estate

One of the most intriguing characters in France’s history, Marie Antoinette inspired both awe and ire in people. Today, we are able to take a peek into her private life at Versailles by touring her estate. It consists of several buildings, including a theater, her hamlet, and hamlet houses for guests, as well as gardens. Marie Antoinette’s private retreat was given to her as a gift by Louis XVI. It was here that she could escape from the confines of palace life and all of the pomp and circumstance that accompanied it.

The Palace of Versailles is truly an architectural and historical treasure. Guided tours provide insight into each area of the property. It’s a pretty affordable excursion out of Paris. So, if you’re staying in the city of lights, be sure to take an afternoon to visit the royal château.

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