Versailles: the ultimate emblem of extravagance and absurd excess. So no wonder everyone wants to see it! At over 3 million visitors per year (that’s an average of over 8,000 visitors a day) things can get a bit hectic. So here’s some help so you receive some royal treatment on your next visit.
Versailles was once just a small, insignificant village outside Paris. The foundations for the palace were laid by Louis XIV – who decided he’d had enough of putrid smelly Paris and needed a break from the metropole. He moved the entire government and the royal family there in 1682. It’s sprawling grounds and massive complexes have hosted some of history’s most important events – from the beginning of the French Revolution to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in its famed Hall of Mirrors. Visiting Versailles is an incredible chance to walk in the footsteps of royals and dignitaries. One can almost hear the arguments at conferences and the explosions of fireworks at royal celebrations.
2. Don’t Miss
Hall of Mirrors
This is where the famous treaty after World War I was signed. It is 73 meters long (239.5 feet) and boasts 17 arched windows each decorated with 21 mirrors. Can you guess what it’s original purpose was? For the king to walk from his private apartment to pray in the chapel Courtiers would stand around and watch, hoping to get invited to one of his house parties. No, we’re serious!
The Royal Chapel
Was the last to be built and is the most spectacular. Marie Antoinette was married here.
The Grand Apartments
These apartments are where the King spent his private hours. It’s incredible to imagine yourself sleeping, dining, and playing in such a lavishly decorated environment!
The Clock Room
The main attraction here is a 250-year-old clock which is capable of showing the time, date, and phases of the moon. To crown it all off, it even boasts a working model of the solar system.
Are just as stunning as the interior. For celebrations and festivities, Louis XIV installed a Grand Canal and two parterres. He used to sail small craft on it such as gondolas. There’s also 11 main fountains that feature designs from Greek and Roman mythology for beautiful and dramatic effect!
3. Tips for Visiting
Order tickets online
The queue to even buy tickets is daunting even during off-peak seasons. Buy skip-the-line tickets with a guide and avoid the hassle.
Get there early
Plan your day around the excursion! Versailles is massive so it makes sense to get there early around opening time (9AM) to avoid the increasing masses and ensure you have enough time to explore the gardens.
Which means you can’t get into the palace. But! If that’s not your thing, the gardens are still open on Mondays, meaning you could explore them relatively deserted at your own leisure, which is an experience in and of itself.
Avoid Sundays and Tuesdays
These are the busiest days as the Louvre and many other Paris museums are closed, drawing larger crowds that would otherwise be in Paris!
Eat Well: pack a picnic
It’s going to be a long day, so best prepare by bringing some food as the options at the palace are quite expensive and often crowded. Here’s a guide to where and how!
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