Chateau de Versailles

Chateau de Versailles or The Palace of Versailles is a royal château in Versailles.  The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution.

From Paris, take the RER C Line (yellow line) train to Versailles-Rive Gauche station.  Train ride took about 45 minutes.  The palace is a 5 – 10 minute walk from the station.

I bought the passport ticket that cost €18.  This ticket covers admission to the main Palace, the Garden, Trianon palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate as well as the musical fountain show.

As we wanted to avoid the crowd, we bought the ticket online and started the day early.  But as we reached the palace, we were greeted by a long queue that snaked along the main gate of the palace waiting to clear security check.  It took us close to 30 minutes to get in.

We decided to start our visit to the palace by touring a small part of the 800 hectare landscaped and well manicured garden.

The Orangery of the Garden of Versailles

View of the Gardens of Versailles from the main Palace building

From the garden, we made our way to the Trianon palaces.  The estate consists of The Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon.  The one floor Grand Trianon was constructed in 1687 – 1688 with a total of 17 rooms spread over 2 wings.  It was used by Louis IV and his family as a recreational residence.

The Mirror Room in the Grand Trianon which is a private room in Louis XIV’s second apartment

A jade vase displayed on a beautifully carved display cabinet in one of the rooms

Next stop, Petit Trianon which is just a short walk away.  Petit Trianon is a smallish 2-storey building built between 1762 – 1768 in Neo Classical style.  It was originally built for the private use by Louis XV and his mistress, Madame de Pompadour.

It’s most famous inhabitant has to be Queen Marie-Antoinette.  Petit Trianon became her favourite place to stay and led a more private and personal life away from the rigours of court etiquette.  Her feminine touch can be seen throughout the building.

A portrait of Austrian-born French Queen Marie-Antoinette in the Billiard Room

Sitting-room or “Salon de compagnie”

We left Petit Trianon and headed to the Queen’s Hamlet.  On our way, we passed by this neo-classical Temple of Love in the gardens of the Petit Trianon.  Built in 1778 to celebrate the love of the king and the queen for each other and the consummation of their marriage.

My favourite place of the chateau had to be Queen’s Hamlet.  This charming, rustic country village was constructed in 1783 under the order of Marie-Antoinette.  There are a total of 11 houses built around the lake – 5 are for the Queen’s and her guests’ use while the rest are for the farmers and peasants who worked on the farm.

The Queen’s House or La maison de la reine and the Malborough Tower or Tour de Malborough (left) in the hamlet

The Queen’s House, the largest of the houses found in the hamlet

Finally we made our way back to the main Palace.  The brick and stone chateau was built by Louis XIII and enlarged by his son Louis XIV who reigned over France for over 72 years.

The Palace has two wings housing State Apartments of the King and Queen, Hall of Mirrors, King’s Bedchambers, Museum of French History and the Apartments of the Dauphin and Dauphine.

The building is full of elaborate carving and sculptures.

A portrait of King Louis XIV, the man responsible in expanding The Palace of Versailles to what we see today during his 72-year reign

Beautifully painted ceiling is one of the main features of the palace.

Intricate sculptures are another feature of the palace which are found throughout the palace.

Sculptures found in The War Room

The Hall of Mirrors is the biggest room in the Palace of Versailles. It is also one of the most famous rooms in the world. The name of the room is due to the seventeen mirrors facing seventeen windows overlooking the gardens. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors with a total of 357 used in the decoration of the Hall of Mirrors.

The moment one walked into the room, the opulence and grandeur of the room is really awe-inspiring.

Louis XIV’s bedchamber is richly decorated with gilded woodwork and heavy brocade embroidered in gold and also paintings by the finest artists.

The Queen’s bedchamber still looks today as it did when Marie-Antoinette left Versailles during the French Revolution in 1789.

Napoleon’s throne for the French Senate is on display in the Museum of French History section of the palace.

We ended the tour of the palace in the Apartments of the Dauphin and Dauphine.  These ground-floor apartments were always reserved for the leading members of the royal family.  The fixtures and furnishing here not as richly decorated and less elaborate.

Central Court of the Palace of Versailles

Though we spent close to 8 hours at the palace, we still didn’t manage to cover the whole palace grounds, especially the palace’s garden and the gardens in Marie-Antoinette’s Estate.  To really do justice to this magnificent palace, one needs at least 2 days to fully explore every corner of this massive palace and its grounds.

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One response to “Chateau de Versailles

  1. Pingback: This Day in the Yesteryear: Louis XIV of France Moves His Court to Versailles (1682) | euzicasa·

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