Day Trip from Paris: 7 things you must know about the Palace of Versailles
(Reading: 6 minutes) / Photography: Andrea Ochoa
Just 20 kilometers from Paris, you will find one of the greatest legacies of the absolutist monarchy in France: the “Chateau de Versailles” or the Palace of Versailles. This jewel of French history is a symbol of the reign of Louis XIV and one of the most visited places in the country, so I’ll tell you seven things that you should know about it, I hope you like it!
- The construction of Versailles
Originally, the palace of Versailles was built by Louis XIII in 1623 as a hunting lodge. Subsequently, Louis XIV decided to extend it between 1660 and 1670.
At the moment it consists of three palaces: Versailles, Great Trianón and Small Trianón. It has 700 rooms and is surrounded by huge gardens and lakes. All the materials used in the construction were made in France, to house characters such as the kings Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, as well as the controversial Marie Antoinette.
- The Royal Palace
Louis XIV, better known as the “Sun King”, decided to move the entire court from the Louvre in Paris, to the Palace of Versailles in 1682. As Louis XIV w.as a “man of the people”, he received the audience during the hearings and allowed the access to the gardens for a walk.
- The rooms of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette
The room of Louis XIV was built especially with a view to the sunset. The ostentatious decoration of gold illuminated the room and took his “private breakfasts” and there were ceremonies of “awakening” and “lie down” of the king.
Marie Antoinette’s bedroom was separate – in her Domains – and also decorated in gold: for that reason it was almost impossible to observe the secret door through which she escaped in 1789 to Paris because of the French Revolution.
- The Chapel
In this gothic and baroque chapel of double height, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette married. He listened to mass every day from a tribune, while courtiers attended the mass on foot.
- The Gallery of Mirrors
It is perhaps the most famous room of the palace, but, why the mirrors? The corridors used to have little light to protect the ornate walls and ceilings of the smoke, hence the idea of placing mirrors: these would reflect a pair of candle lights and thus illuminate the entire palace. The 73-meter long gallery has 375 mirrors and was the place where in 1919 the World War I would end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
- The Gardens
Without a doubt, the gardens are my favorite part. Its construction took 40 years, since the land was occupied by forests and marshes. It has an extension of more than 800 hectares and has 400 sculptures and 1,400 fountains.
The Grand Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s Domain, L’Orangerie or the orange grove and Grand Canal were built along the grounds so that the kings could clear themselves of the royal activities of the palace.
- Patrimony of Humanity
Due to the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the palace ceased to function as royal headquarters and most of the decorations were moved to the Louvre. Later it became the Museum of the History of France and in 1979 UNESO declared the Palace of Versailles as Patrimony of the Humanity.
Definitely the Palace of Versailles is one of my favorite places in France. If you visit Paris, you cannot miss this place, totally recommended!
TRANSPORTATION: RER C
Although there are different tours, the easiest and cheapest way to visit Versailles is by taking the Paris RER C subway line (Gare Pont de l’Alma is the most common way to take it).
It is important to buy a one way ticket to Versailles – Rive Gauche for € 4.10 and the journey is approximately 30 minutes.
NOTE: Do not forget to buy your ticket back. Generally there are checks on the train and in case there is no ticket, a fine of 35 euros is charged.
To avoid queues, it is better to buy tickets in advance on the official website of the Palace of Versailles http://en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit
The ticket costs € 18 to € 25, depending on which areas you want to visit.
TIP: Arrive at 9 a.m. to be the first to enter and avoid the rows and crowds inside the palace.