Versailles in pictures – strolling through the majestic gardens pausing to admire the beautiful fountains, visiting the Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s “little” estate and touring the Palace. In one word, Versailles is extraordinary. It’s the king of all palaces both in size as well as exquisiteness. Once the hunting lodge of Louis XIII, Versailles was enlarged by his son, Louis XIV who added the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen which also holds the beautiful Hall of Mirrors. Versailles, however, was not only the residence of the king, but at one time, it was also the seat of France’s government.
Last month, my husband and I took our two youngest children on a vacation to Paris. We flew into London, spent a few days there, took the Eurostar to Paris for the weekend, then resumed our visit in London.
Versailles is a simple train ride from Paris – a 30 minute, easy ride into the Versailles Rive Gauche station. We found this to be the easiest, most direct way to get there. Although there are several ways to reach Versailles, we took the RER C line which arrives at the Versailles Rive Gauche station from the Saint-Michel and the Champ de Mars stations. From the station, it is about a 10-minute walk to the Palace.
You can purchase your tickets to tour Versailles at the Palace as well as at the Versailles Tourist Office which is located just steps away from the entrance to Versailles. We purchased ours at the tourist office because the crowds were heavy on the day we arrived and we thought it might be a shorter wait for tickets.
We arrived mid-morning and weren’t sure of restaurant options located within Versailles so we strolled down to Passage de la Geole, a cobblestone alley lined with quaint shops and cafes. There is an open-air market on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday that is well-known throughout the region. Fresh fruit and vegetables from the palace’s kitchen gardens can be purchased on market days and there are many cafe’s from which to purchase food and drinks.
After lunch, we made our way back to the Palace for our tour.
Since Versailles was crowded with tourists, we explored the gardens first which are peaceful and beautiful. We allowed time to stroll and enjoy the walk towards the Petit Trianon and Hameau.
About a mile away from the Palace lay the storybook village, Hameau de la Reine, Marie-Antoinette’s Estate whose architecture was inspired by the simple life of peasants. Complete with a water-mill, thatched-roof houses and vegetable plots, this farm village provided a much needed escape for Marie-Antoinette. This was an actual working farm with animals and servants.
On our way back to the palace, we stopped at a cafe called Angelina located in the Petit Trianon. This restaurant serves sweet selections as well as light lunch offerings and coffee.
After our cappuccino break, we strolled past beautiful fountains along the way. From April to October, classical music fills the gardens and the fountains are turned on to the rhythm of the music. The fountains are turned on most weekends as well as a few other days during the week. Check the Versailles website for specific dates and times.
Inside the Palace, the Hall of Mirrors is truly magnificent. Back in the time of Louis XIV, orange trees were set in silver pots and nighttime galas were illuminated by 3,000 candles whose reflections in the mirrors illuminated the room.
More from inside Versailles…
A few travel tips if you’re planning a visit to Versailles…
* Although there are many ticket options, in my opinion, the best ticket is called “The Passport” or “One-Day Ticket” which includes admission to the Palace, the Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. It also includes the Musical Gardens Show (from April to October) and any exhibitions.
* There are several places to eat within Versailles as well as numerous bathroom facilities.
* Versailles is free to visitors on the first Sunday of every month from November to March.
* The distance from the Palace to the Trianons is more than a mile. You can walk the distance if you’d like or you can take the train which shuttles visitors back and forth between both places. You can check their website for ticket prices.
More to come soon! Next we visit the Eiffel Tower and walk along the Seine to the Arc de Triomphe, take the Eurostar back to London and take a ride on the London Eye.
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