Travel Diary-The Palace of Versailles

On our recent vacation, a few of us went a few days early and visited Paris.  One of our first stops was The Palace of Versailles.  It was absolutely amazing and enormous, and one of the most fantastic places I've ever visited.  The palace was the last home of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette was originally built as a modest hunting lodge for Louis XIII.  Can you believe it??   It's hard to believe that it was a hunting lodge when the palace is full of decadent furnishings, a sparkling hall of mirrors, grand fountains, colorful gardens. 

In 1624, inspired by fond memories of hunting trips to the area, Louis XIII decided to build a small lodge near the country village of Versailles. The building was immediately ridiculed, so the King ordered his architect to undertake reconstruction. A significantly bigger residence emerged, but it was still far from being regal. The architect continued to make modifications, but the lodge remained largely unchanged until the King’s death in 1643. It wasn’t until Louis XIV was named King, that Versailles was transformed into the luxurious palace we know today.

Getting to and from Versailles

Versailles is located just 12 miles from the center of France and is visited by over 5 million people every year. Visiting Versailles is pretty easy.  We took an Uber from our hotel for about 30€ which took about 60 minutes.  We purchased our tickets before ever leaving on our trip. Our ticket was great.  We had "Skip the Line" access, which is a must all over Paris. You aren't able to skip the security line, but it moves really fast.  We did a lot of research and all of the blogs and websites that we read advised us to get there early--that is excellent advise.  The line was obscenely long the later it got in the day.  Our reservation was for 9:30 and it was perfect.  When we left Versailles we decided to take the train back into the city.  We left from the Versailles-Rive Droite station, which was about a 10-minute walk from the Palace and quite lovely.

We bought our tickets at the palace's official website.  We bought the ticket "Passport with Timed Entry" which gave us priority access within half an hour of the time of our ticket.  We had access to the Palace with audioguide, the gardens, the Estate of Trianon, and the Coach Gallery.  The cost of this ticket was 27€.  We also decided to rent a golf cart for touring the gardens which were 34€, and completely worth it. 

Touring the Palace of Versailles

If you can get past the crowds, the Palace of Versailles is as regal and lavish as you could imagine. There’s enormous canopied beds, exquisite artwork, marbled walls, and gold in every direction you look. It’s easy to see why the French felt resentful of the privilege enjoyed by the aristocracy, passionately beginning a revolution.

The Royal Chapel

The Hall of Mirrors 

The hall is made up of  seventeen mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors with a total complement of 357 used in the decoration of the galerie des glaces. The arches themselves are fixed between marble pilasters whose capitals depict the symbols of France including the fleur-de-lys and the Gallic cockerel or rooster.

The Bed Chambers

The King's Bedroom

 Paintings and Decorative Accents

A marble panel in The War Room
A statue of Louis XIV in the Diana Room

Touring the Gardens and Outer Buildings

The Estate of Trianon

The Orangery
Work on the gardens was started at the same time as the work on the palace and lasted for 40 or so years. This garden boasted orange trees from Portugal, Spain and Italy, lemon trees, oleander, palm and pomegranate trees.

We absolutely loved touring Versailles and can't wait to visit again.  We spent about 4 hours, but could have stayed all day long.



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