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Versailles, a city forever bound to ultimate beauty, elegance and majesty; but also to the ultimate decline of the royal blood. If you’re planning on travelling to Paris, why not take the opportunity to visit Versailles too? Within 17 kilometres from Paris, the city of Versailles once was the unofficial capital of France. King Louis XIV, a palace that was a bit too luxurious, a decapitation and a Revolution that marked Europe’s history; all this and a lot more happened in Versailles. Historical heritage, natural beauty, luxurious architecture and unique atmosphere, Versailles is a top travel destination in France. Organise your trip and accommodation in Versailles now!
Louis XIV, King of France, converted his hunting lodge in Versailles into a most elegant palace and took with him the noblest aristocracy of French, following the saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.
The wealthy, upper classes of society then moved to Versailles, forgetting all about the poorer ones, all about the rest of France. As it was natural, the social and economic gap between the two classes became wider and wider.
Louis XIV’s death was followed by a succession of other Kings with the name Louis, of whom Louis XVI was to be immortalised due to his own death. Although himself a rather low profile person, his wife, the legendary Marie Antoinette whose provocative and glamorous lifestyle soon had her hated by everyone.
The phrase "Let them eat cake" is often attributed to Marie Antoinette. Truth is nobody is sure when and if she actually said it!
Trust to the royal family was dead; so was trust to society. New ideas were born, the early roots of the French Enlightenment became apparent, the French Revolution was about to begin and the royal couple was arrested and executed.
This short recap of the French history was needed, to get you understand the value and importance of the Château de Versailles, apart from its evident beauty!
Paris’s airport (Aéroport de Paris-Orly) is the nearest airport to Versailles, accessible by the railway network RER (Réseau Express Régional).
Getting around Versailles
You can get around Versailles by bus and train. Fares start at 3.25€ and minimum taxi fare costs 6.40€.
As you reach the Palace of Versailles, you’ll come across the chapel where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette got married in 1770.
The palace’s main rooms are located on the first floor, the so-called “Grands Appartements”. Each of them is named after the allegorical murals decorating their roofs!
The Hall of Mirrors is the most popular of the royal apartments. Built in 1768 by Mansart it is decorated by Le Brun with 17 arched, mirror-clad windows. This is the hall that housed some of the French history’s most significant events; like the declaration of the German Empire in 1871 and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which put an end to World War II, in 1919.
If can be said that 50% of the Palace’s beauty is represented by the building itself, than the other 50% can be traced all over the surrounding lush gardens – both of which are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The legendary Gardens of Versailles cover an area of 400,000 sq.m. surrounding the palace and were designed by André Le Nôtre, who added lakes, canals, statues and 1,400 fountains.
Near the Palace, two more royal buildings can be seen; the Grand and the Petit Trianon, built in 1687 and 1768 respectively, followed by the construction of nearby “Le Hameau”, a village with 12 traditional houses.
When you’ve finished with the Palace, you can take a walk around the city of Versailles. Some of the sights you’ll come across are the following:
- The Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Louis) was built in 1679 by Louis XIV and was finally complete after a whole century
- The neoclassical Église Notre-Dame de Versailles, the traditional place for the royal weddings, baptisms and other religious events
- The Lambinet Museum, housed in a 18th century house, exhibits furniture, ceramics, sculptures and painting dating back to the 18th century, as well as many memorabilia of Versailles’s history.