Whether you’re a history buff or simply a lover of the finer things in life then a day trip to Versailles in the perfect way to complete your tour of Paris. From its impressive golden gates to Queen Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, everything about Versailles oozes opulence and extravagance. The luxury and wealth of this history-soaked French royal residence must be seen to be truly believed. Oh, how we wish the walls of Versailles could talk, to recant the tales of the notorious and history-changing characters that once called this residence home. But with the walls destined for a lifetime in silence, we take a look at what treasures visitors to the palace can uncover and what makes them so remarkable.
1. The Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors, located in the heart of the Palace of Versailles, was once a busy passageway and area to socialize, connecting the King and Queen’s private apartments. The hall is adorned by over 350 mirrors and 17 mirror-detailed arches which reflect the 17 gilded and arcade windows that decorate the hall’s opposing wall. 43 impressive chandeliers drop form the hall’s arched roof. The combination of mirrors, natural light and enchanting crystals unit to create a dazzling effect of shimmering gold. This Hall is truly fit for a royal and a must-see on your tour of Versailles.
2. King’s Private Apartments
Many visitors to Versailles aren’t aware that the palace is divided up into public and private areas. While thousands of visitors flock to the more accessible public quarters on their Versailles tour, select tour groups are invited to explore the palace’s lesser known areas - restricted quarters frequented only by the Kings and his closest council. If you’re lucky and organized enough to book your tour of the King’s private apartments you’ll be treated to a truly royal experience. Many believe that the French monarch slept in the palace’s public quarters. The King and Queen would lie down to rest in the public apartments every night. However, when the court officials and visitors left to go home for the evening, the royals would get up and retire to their own private chambers to sleep. They would be required to rise very early again in the morning and return to the public sleeping area, so that when officials arrived at the palace at morning they would think that the royals spent their entirety of the night in the beds of the public apartments. Hear more fascinating facts like this as you walk in the footsteps of France's most controversial royals on a VIP tour of Versailles secret rooms.
3. Petit Trianon
Within the gardens of Versailles, you’ll find the King’s Grand Trianon. This garden villa was constructed under the demand of King Louis XIV. The hamlet served as a sanctuary for the French monarch. Here he could host parties with his closest friends and forget the strict etiquette of the court. The Grand Trianon was complete with its own parklands and was enclosed by a think forest.
Perhaps even more charming that the Grand Trianon is the Palace’s Petit Trianon. Housed within the confines of the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon was created almost a century later. It was designed for King Louis XV’s most cherished mistress, Madame de Pompadour. It was a space where she could relax and truly be herself. As time passed it, the Petit Trianon became a shelter for French history’s most controversial character, Marie Antoinette. She used the estate as a refuge where she could release herself of courtly responsibilities. This delightful estate is everything you would expect from a royal residence. It boasts exceptionally elegant woodwork décor, elaborate ornamentation and marble columns. The building is enclosed by four beautifully contrasting gardens, one on each side of the palace.
4. The Queen’s Hamlet
In addition to le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette requested the construction of her truly fascinating Hamlet, in the Trianon gardens. The Hameau de la Reine, a rustic retreat, was built under the request of Marie Antoinette in 1783. The Queen was captivated by the life of a ‘peasant’ and so envisaged this estate to be that of a working-class village from the French countryside. The estate even has its own working mill, farmhouse and barn. It served as a private meeting place for the Queen and her closest friends - serving a place of leisure.
5. The Gardens of Versailles
Equally as stunning as the interior of Versailles is the palace’s surrounding gardens. Design and construction began on these formidable gardens in 1661, under the reign of Louis XIV. Louis XIV considered this lush landscape to be as important as the palace itself and so with the help of landscape architect André Le Nôtre, he set about creating these magnificent masterpieces of greenery. These gardens took almost 40 years to complete. With spectacular water features, beautiful sculptures and exotic flora, the Gardens of Versailles will leave you speechless. If you’re planning a visit to Versailles on a day trip from Paris, be sure to schedule your tour around the palace’s iconic fountain show to truly immerse yourself in the splendor of these enchanting gardens.
Delve into the history of France on a day trip to Versailles from Paris. Not only will the estate’s art, architecture and gardens leave you awestruck but your experience will enrich with insight and knowledge into the French royals who shaped the course of world-history.