I’ve always wanted to visit the Palace of Versailles. As a secret history geek and a lover of interior design, it hits all my interests in one big fat tick so after a quick and simple 40 minute train from the centre of Paris, we arrived on a sunny and cold Saturday morning to explore.
I was blown away instantly on walking through the incredible gates. Exploring the rooms available to the public with the help of the handy audio tapes, we learnt about the fascinating history of the royal palace. There’s more than 700 rooms, around 5,000 pieces of furniture, 6,000 paintings (including 1,200 fireplaces!) and in today’s money would cost the equivalent of about $2 billion to build…!
The design was (and still is) so admired that there are many replicas in other European countries and is most recently shown in a fascinating documentary called Queen of Versailles (which you can watching in its entirety on You Tube).
The overwhelming detail and opulence of the chateau is mind boggling! It’s easy to see why the French people, before the revolution, viewed Versailles as a symbol of everything wrong with France at the time. It’s not shy about its incredibly ostentatious showing of wealth, but as a study in architecture and design it’s truly awe inspiring and you can’t help but stand open jawed at the sheer detail and ridiculousness of each and every room.
The famous Hall of Mirrors, known for being the most exquisite room in the palace, used to be lit only by thousands of candles back in the day of King Louis XIV and it is even more spectacular in real life. Hundreds of gigantic mirrors line one wall, reflecting the other large windows on the other side of the room with incredible views over the Versailles gardens…
And it’s not just the interior of the palace too of course; it’s a fact that around 3 million of us visit the incredible gardens every year. We spent a lovely hour wondering around and exploring – in awe of the sheer landscaping of every single element of the 30,000+ acres and only managing to see a fraction of the hundreds of sculptures and fountains showcased in the gardens.
Being able to see the gardens in the middle of Autumn with the changing of the leaves was really special and as always, I couldn’t stop snapping away! It gets REALLY busy at the Palace so I’d get there as early as you can – you can book your tickets online here.
I’d also really recommend a little visit to the town of Versailles itself. We headed for a much needed crepe and some cider after our visit and it’s a gorgeous, dusty pastel coloured street that feels thoroughly Parisian.
Let me know if you’ve been to Versailles too – sadly we didn’t get to row on the lake this time but it’s always good to have a reason to go back isn’t it.
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