Wed. Aug 10th, 2022
    Le Rhone - Statue of the Parterre d'Eau (bassin du Midi) of the Château de Versailles in France

    Palace of Versailles – Chateau de Versailles

    Treat yourself to a day with the family in the disproportionate universe of the Palace of Versailles, it is to do at least once in your life.

    The Palace of Versailles in 1623 was very far from being the Baroque architectural work that we know today, with its more than 800 hectares and 2,300 rooms. Before settling in the Yvelines, kings resided in the Louvre Palace, now the Louvre Museum. Louis XIV’s former child’s bedroom was then one of the museum rooms there.

    Architectural ensemble retracing the development of 17th century architecture and the 18th century. With the gardens, the national domain constitutes one of the most famous monuments of the world heritage: the royal apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapel, the Royal Opera and the Museum of the History of France. Park adorned with statues, fountains and waterbeds and exceptional buildings: Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Temple of Love, Hamlet of Queen Marie-Antoinette. After the restoration of the Royal Grille and the complete restoration of the Petit Trianon, the Royal Opera opened its doors in 2009 after two years of renovation work: it now welcomes the public with an exceptional program.

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    Description of Palace of Versailles – Palace, Trianon, Queen’s Hamlet

    Treat yourself to a day with the family in the oversized universe of the Palace of Versailles, it is to do at least once in your life! The famous madness of Louis XIV will dazzle children, provided you follow a simple advice: do not want to do everything! Because it’s huge, and the distances like the crowd will tire them. Between Château, Grand and Petit Trianon, Queen’s Hamlet, Coach Museum, Gardens and forest, we will have to make choices. In the meantime, here are the main family visits:

    The Castle

    The fabulous Grand Apartments of the King and Queen, their rooms, the Hall of Mirrors completely restored.

    The Petit, Grand Trianon and The Queen’s Hamlet

    These “small” palaces served as refuges for the monarchs, the Grand for Louis XIV, the Petit for Marie-Antoinette, who came to find a little peace away from the Court. Please note, from the castle to the Domaine de Trianon, allow 25 minutes on foot. Possibility to take the little train at the North Terrace of the castle.

    Not far from the Château, Louis XIV gave free rein to his love of architecture and gardens by creating an area reserved for his personal use. Laid out on the site of an old village, the place naturally retained its name: Trianon. Louis XV then Queen Marie-Antoinette fell in turn under the spell of the place and contributed to its development and embellishment.

    Little Trianon

    In 1758, Louis XV envisaged the construction of a new small castle in the middle of the gardens which he developed and embellished over the past ten years or so. He ordered from Ange-Jacques Gabriel, his first architect, a pavilion of sufficient size to live there and accommodate part of his suite. Gabriel signs here a true manifesto of neoclassical architecture, a perfect example of the “Greek” fashion which was then spreading in Europe.

    Petit Trianon and Hameau de la Reine (Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet) situated in the middle of the gardens of the Palace of Versailles

    The Queen Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet

    Around the Great Lake, Queen Marie-Antoinette made her dream of a perfectly bucolic village come true. The lake, the mill, the dovecote, the dairy, the farm, the small theater are an enchantment which inevitably seduces children.

    Grand Trianon

    The Grand Trianon was erected by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1687 on the site of the “Porcelain Trianon”, which Louis XIV had built in 1670 to escape the pomp of the Court and shelter his love affair with Madame de Montespan. The Grand Trianon is undoubtedly the most refined group of buildings in the entire area of Versailles.

    The Coach Museum

    Installed in the large stable of the castle, it exhibits cars dating mainly from the 19th century, fully restored.

    The Gardens and the Forest

    Grandiose and magnificently maintained. A sumptuous green setting for the Palace of the Sun King: this is how we can define the magnificent gardens designed by Le Nôtre around the Palace of Versailles.

    Built by order of Louis XIV in 1661 and designed by the famous landscape painter André Le Nôtre, the gardens were considered to be just as important as the castle and it took over 40 years to complete them. A monumental task, the swamps and meadows were cleared and large quantities of land had to be moved to develop the flowerbeds, the ponds, the Orangery and the canals. Trees were brought in from all over France and thousands of people worked together to bring the gardens to life.

    Marked by alleys, ponds, sculptures, flowerbeds and groves, the gardens bear witness to 17th century French sense of detail and offer spectacular views.

    Gardens of Palace of Versailles
    It is here, better than anywhere else, that you will appreciate the beauty of a French garden at the Palace of Versailles! Inserting into the majestic layout of large alleys lined with dazzling white marble statues, one discovers unexpectedly charming groves, marvelous lounges of greenery and havens of peace. Pleasure places, often shaded, their gushing fountains of a variety of astonishing shapes are a delight for the walker! Poto credit: Cleverly Smart

    Location Palace of Versailles – Palace, Trianon, Queen’s Hamlet

    Address
    Parade
    78000, Versailles,
    Yvelines, Ile de France

    Click here to see the route on GoogleMap

    Access information
    RER C: “Versailles Château Rive Gauche” station
    SNCF trains: arrival at Versailles Chantiers station from Paris Montparnasse – Arrival at Versailles Right bank station from Paris Saint Lazare
    By car: A13 motorway, Versailles Center exit – Car parking (paid parking)

    Palace of Versailles tickets

    One of the most beautiful testimonies of 17th century French culture and architecture, the Palace of Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must-see in the French landscape. Located just 40 minutes from Paris in the city of Versailles, the grand chateau was once the epicenter of French royal power and the seat of the French monarchy. Today, it serves as a national museum dedicated to the history of France.

    With your Versailles tickets, explore the 2,300 intricately decorated rooms, including the famous Hall of Mirrors, the Gallery of Battles and the King’s and Queen’s Grand Apartments. Admire the remarkable works of art found in the castle, and stroll through the magnificent gardens of Versailles.

    There are several ticket options to choose from to visit the Palace of Versailles. Official website of Chateau de Versailles.

    History

    The Palace of Versailles in 1623 was very far from being the Baroque architectural work that we know today, with its more than 800 hectares and 2,300 rooms. Before settling in the Yvelines, kings resided in the Louvre Palace, now the Louvre Museum. Louis XIV’s former child’s bedroom was then one of the museum rooms there.

    Before the castle: a place dedicated to hunting

    It was the father of the Sun King, Louis XIII, who was behind the installation of royalty in Versailles. Forest and marshy area, the young king hunted there with his father Henri IV. Later, seized with agoraphobia and wishing to get away from his mother Marie de Medici who ensured the regency after the king’s assassination by Ravaillac, Louis XIII preferred to spend his time in Versailles. A first castle was then built in 1623 on the estate of Versailles to accommodate the king when he wanted to hunt. It will be enlarged in 1631 to be adorned at that time with formal gardens and arrangements for the royal promenade. Unfortunately when the reign of Louis XIV began, Anne of Austria advised by Cardinal Jules Mazarin left Versailles which remained uninhabited until the works ordered by the young king in 1660. This building is kept by the Sun King as a base for his own castle . Today is the part that surrounds the main courtyard.

    Ghosts of Petit Trianon | Versailles 1901 | Paranormal Activity

    The construction of a jewel of French architecture

    During the reigns of Kings Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Palace of Versailles was a royal residence constantly under construction. The gardens benefit from annexations, and the park is perfected. In addition, work inside the castle itself continues to be carried out, sometimes to redo a decoration to please a new queen, sometimes to complete major projects such as the Royal Opera or the Royal Chapel.

    However, the estate hosts other buildings which cannot be detached from the history of the castle.

    Thus, the marble Grand Trianon was laid out in 1687 to provide a second residence for the Sun King and where Louis XV and Queen Marie Leczinska settled. As for the Petit Trianon, built from 1761 to 1768, it was built for King Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson’s favorite, also called Madame de Pompadour. Queen Marie-Antoinette later settled there in order to get away from the splendor of the court of King Louis XVI. She also installed a theater and the Queen’s hamlet there, reminiscent of a Norman-inspired farming village.

    Marble court and facades Palace of Versailles
    Marble court and facades Palace of Versailles. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Hall of Mirrors Versailles

    Symbol of the splendor of the Palace of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors has made France famous throughout the world, baroque style located in the Palace of Versailles, of which it is one of the emblematic rooms. The masterpiece, designed and built from 1678 to 1684 by architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart and painter Charles Le Brun to the glory of Louis XIV has regained its original shine. Enter the privacy of one of the most beautiful French treasures.

    Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces) | Symbol of the splendor at the Palace of Versailles

    The turning point of 1789

    The French Revolution amputated the domain of 7000 hectares of park. He was not neglected, however. Indeed, Napoleon I took up residence at the Grand Trianon and for a time wanted to make the castle an imperial residence, but this project ended at the end of the Empire itself. During the restoration, Louis XVIII, brother of Louis XVI, planned to make Versailles his summer residence. This idea was aborted but it allowed restoration work to begin. Napoleon III, under the leadership of Empress Eugenie, in turn made it a place of reception.

    A central place for diplomacy

    The Palace of Versailles ultimately failed to become a royal residence again after the reign of Louis XVI. However this place which demonstrated the greatness of France remained a symbol exploited by the leaders who succeeded one another. This made it a high place of diplomacy where the events which took place there marked turning points in Europe as was the case with the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. In addition, General de Gaulle made use of the Grand Trianon as a residence for foreign heads of state visiting France, and also arranged a presidential space which was returned to the castle.

    Since 1995, the Palace of Versailles and its estate have become the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and Estate of Versailles. The public can visit it on their own or with a guide in order to gain access to this historical heritage. Events such as the Musical Fountains Show or the Royal Opera performances are organized to relive Versailles as in the days of kings.

    Another testimony to the history of the place, which cannot be visited with the estate: the stables of Versailles, which bear witness to a long equestrian tradition and a know-how aimed at excellence.

    The Palace of Versailles puts its queens in the spotlight

    Marie Therese of Austria, The mystery the erased French Queen

    Marie-Thérèse queen, erased and silent in the face of the infidelities of her royal husband. Marie-Thérèse of Austria, far from the mundane life of the court, devoted herself to the needy.

    Marie Therese of Austria, The mystery the erased French Queen (Wife of Louis XIV)

    Madame de Maintenon, the “almost queen”

    At court, she was nicknamed “Madame de now”. Born poor in Niort, Françoise d’Aubigné (1635-1719), who will become Madame de Maintenon in 1675, will gradually conquer the power and the favors of the most powerful king in Europe: after having made her his mistress, Louis XIV married her in secret in 1663.

    Madame de Maintenon, the “almost queen” secret wife of Louis XIV

    To evoke this gradual conquest of power, Versailles opened for the first time the apartments of the favorite, located near the king’s bedroom, completely reupholstered as in 1680. A chronologically narrated journey through many paintings, of the king but especially of his “almost queen”, but also rare documents, such as these two letters from the Bishop of Chartres, testifying to her marriage to the king. An opportunity to get a bit of the personality of this woman that Catherine Pégard describes as a “fascinating mystery”.

    Marie Leszczynska, the unknown (wife of Louis XV)

    His reign lasted more than 42 years in Versailles but his name, certainly not easy to pronounce, did not mark the spirits. Daughter of a deposed king of Poland, Marie Leszczynska (1703-1768) married Louis XV in 1725. She was then a discreet queen, pious and subject to etiquette. But also a lover of the arts. In its private apartments, reopened today but not restored, an exhibition evokes this passion through numerous paintings, including a series of Chinese inspiration, but also porcelain.

    Marie Leszczynska, the unknown (wife of Louis XV)

    “She really marked the life of the castle by her commissions to artists but also in the development: she is the first to have asked for private apartments for the queen”. We even discover her as a painter, copying with talent a rustic canvas by Baptiste Oudry, one of her favorite artists.

    Marie Antoinette, public figure woman (wife of Louis XVI)

    Her brother, Emperor Joseph II, describes her as “kind and honest”: Marie-Antoinette, Austrian princess and wife of Louis XVI, remains one of the most emblematic figures in the history of Versailles. She arrived at the French court when she was only fifteen years old. From her marriage to the Dauphin Louis, heir to the throne, she showed difficulties in adapting to French customs and, having become queen, she multiplied, most often unconsciously, the blunders which gradually alienated public opinion and contribute to tarnish its image in a disastrous way.

    Marie Antoinette, public figure woman and the last Queen of France | The Wife of Louis XVI

    History describes her as frivolous, carefree, often fleeing the court to take refuge in the Petit Trianon, the estate her husband had built for her, among her sheep. Certainly. But Marie-Antoinette (1774-1792) was Queen of France and had to comply with her obligations.

    The large apartment was the very place of this public life. Almost nothing private in this row of four rooms, even in the bedroom, with a monumental bed topped with gilding and peacock feathers. “Of course, the Queen’s rising and setting ceremonies took place there. But even the deliveries, those of Marie-Antoinette like those of the other queens, took place in public. It was necessary to ensure that there could not be an exchange of babies…”.

    Sources: Pinterpandai, Britannica, UNESCO

    Photo credit (main photo): private photo of Cleverly Smart

    Photo explanation (main photo): Le Rhone – Statue of the Parterre d’Eau (bassin du Midi) of the Château de Versailles in France.