Unfortunately we chose the 25th december for visiting Versailles. The castle was closed!! You have to know that my husband and I never plan some details. So we baught tickets for a train to see the gardens of Versailles. Although the castle was closed we spent 5 hours there.
Behind the Hall of Mirrors, symbol of the power of the King stands the remarkable project manager Charles le Brun (1619-1690).
As “Premier peintre du Roi" first painter of the King, as director of the Gobelins (royal factory of tapestries and furniture), as a chancellor of the royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, le Brun superintended all the decoration of the palace of Versailles.
He designed the decorations, the paintings of the royal apartments, the ornaments of the woodworks, the tapestries, even the locks. He directed the many teams, and could give a unit of style to the décor.
One could say of this complete decorator that “all arts worked under him”.
From 1678 to 1684, Charles le Brun decorated 1.000 m2 of the ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors with paintings illustrating the military campaigns of Louis XIV and his actions of interior policy. He upset the codes of official painting by painting for the first time in this type of compositions the face of the King.
As what concerns the 357 mirrors it is said that Venetian glassmakers were attracted in France by Colbert. These glassmakers coming from Murano were pursued in France by Venetians who tried to assassinate them to prevent the transmission of their production secrecy. A quite profitable manufacturing as Venetian mirrors did cost much more than a painting of Rubens in that time!
Recent chemical analyzes showed that the mirrors of Versailles were indeed manufactured in France, by the Saint-Gobain company created by Louis XIV, because typical components coming from Normandy were found in these mirrors.
At the time the silvering of the mirrors was done with tin and mercury what involved a high mortality among the workmen exposed to the toxic mercury vapours.
During the recent restoration of the gallery 30% of the old mirrors had to be replaced whereas silvering with mercury is prohibited since 1850.
Now, as visitors will see, the mirrors with mercury give special reflections, tonality and depth, while modern mirrors produce rather flat images.
Old mirrors were found at antique dealers and in the attics of the French Senate.
Since the silvering of these old mirrors contains approximately 19% mercury an analysis of the air of the hall of mirrors was carried out.
Be reassured the content of mercury in the air of the gallery is lower than the WHO's standards.
With more than 700 rooms the Château de Versailles is one of the largest castles in the world. A visit to Versailles to view all the rooms and grounds will take you a full day.
More information to come.
Maybe the most beautiful room in the palace (if it is possible to choose one) is the Hall of Mirrors where glass is dominant.
Seventeen large mirrors face seventeen windows, with sparkling chandeliers enhancing light and colours.
The chandeliers opened a market to lead crystal, with "Versailles" style challenging Murano or Bohemia.
In the huge, rich and magnificent complex of Versailles the statue of Louis XIV seems... poor and discreet.
The ambitious and vainglorious king would cut some heads if he could return and judge his sucessors.
A world around the Palace, the gardens are a wide collection of fountains and lakes, surrounded by flowers carefully arranged.
Being so wide, you may use a small train to follow it, stopping in several of its more distinctive areas.
Funny, the way they use irregular measures, to compensate the errors of perspective caused by the size of the longest lake.
Now, let's concentrate on art. Forget for a while the palace and gardens, and look at the paintings, statues, frescoes and carvings. Where? Everywhere!
Each salon or corridor is a tremendously rich gallery of art that could keep you busy for hours. And if, not being a French, you had to study french culture and history, you are going to meet lots of names and faces familiar to your memories
The richness of the palace and the perfection of the gardens became a model for lots of palaces all over Europe. But none beats the original. There’s no chance to see in a glance an entire salon because there will always dozens of persons everywhere you go. It’s impossible to make a picture different from some bodies or heads, at least, with a palace in the background.
It’s impossible to analyze most of the details, because everything is so immense, and there are so many people behind you, that you have to rush. But it is a hell of experience. I suggest that you make several visits, each time focusing in a different angle. To start, the building.
It's huge marvelous and rich. And with thousand of beautiful details that you are unable to see, unless you repeat, and repeat, and repeat...
It's one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in that time period. The chateau is ornate and the designs and gardens exemplified symmetry and precision. The history of this edifice is well-kept and you can see many of the thrones the kings used at that time.
A trip to France is not complete until you have visited Versailles. Versailles is such a beautiful and grand place. The Palace is incredible in both size and in luxury. The history, artwork, the furnishings and the architecture is magnificent. The grounds with their statues and fountains are unbelievale. To think that this was once the home of Kings and Queens......what a life the Royalty lead.
If you have time for only one daytrip from Paris, my vote would go to Versailles, Louis XIV's opulent palace about 40 minutes away by RER train. It's easy to get to and of the chateaux and palaces I've seen within a day's range of Paris, this is the one that impressed me the most. Try to pick a sunny warm day to visit, the gardens and Marie Antoinette's estate are best enjoyed in lovely weater. The fountains are only turned on certain days, I believe it's just Saturday but check the website to be sure. I've visited three times and still haven't seen them turned on. Admission is more expensive on those days.
Versailles is included on the Paris Museum Pass, if you don't have one of those, it's highly recommended to pre purchase tickets before heading out although on my last visit in July 2011, the ticket line took less time than the security line.
You can easily spend the good part of a day here, try to visit early before the crowds start forming or you'll be jockeying with 100s of people for a peek at the rooms.
For more tips on visiting, you can visit my Versailles page
We were hoping to get tickets to fireworks-show at Versailles. They would have had fireworks, lights and music, and actors dressed like in times of kings living in Versailles. But we didn´t get the tickets, we didn´t know it should have been booked very early, because the tickets are quite limited. But when we got to Versailles, I think it was good we didn´t get the tickets. It was so cold! I don´t remeber being freezing as much in summer (in July!!!) for ages!! How can it be so cold, when day before it was most warmest day of our two weeks.
We thought we would get in quick, because we had bought tickets from tourist office a day before. But we noticed, that allmost everyone had bought tickets before! I have never standed in so long line, in freezing wind, rain coming and we had no coats! (Couln´t think of getting so cold after yesterday). I think we waited allmost two hours to get in! I´m not actually sure was it worth it. In sunny day it would have been different of course, but in this weather.. Actually we didn´t like the palace so much as people seem to do. It is way to "bling bling" for us. You just felt like you watched how many ways you can spent money if you have it too much. The garden was nicer than the palace, and Marie Antoinettes estate were more interesting. Those old farm-looking houses were cute, and I liked them much more. There was also a small palace, witch was nicer than this most famous big one. I think we owuldn´t have missed a thing, if we wouldn´t have gone inside the big palace. I think many of you think I´m grazy saying this, but it´s my/our opinion. I wish all of you going there would at least have better weather, so you could enjoy the garden better and wont freeze out ;) When we went, the fountains were supposed to be on all the time, but they didn´t work right and kept turning off. There was voice saying they are sorry every now and then. And when the fountains were on, the water went wetting the people because of the wind. It didn´t go up, it went left or right..
If you think I wrote like this because of the weather, it´s not only that. We prefer old stone castles than glittering palaces. They just don´t get us exaited. If I would have known better, I might have taken the tickets only to Marie Antoinettes estate hameau and garden. Before we found them, I thought the place was totally wrong for us.
I hope no-one gets angry when I say this so straight. But I like to be honest. And as I said, the garden and Marie Antoinettes place wwere nice.
If you don´t feel like walking, you can rent a little car. Like a golf car, but it was about 25e for an hour! Bikes were cheaper, but we did walk.
It's very simple come early for the lines reach 1,000's long to get in......go slowly go into every room, go on the tour of the gardens for you have never seen anything like this in your life !!!! It's very sad, but the signs as you enter the palace says it all "Beware of pickpockets" Again bring your walking shoes, for your gonna walk tons and tons here !!!!! And don't rush through it !!!!! You can literally spend your entire day here if you choose to. The palace itself can take up to 2 hours to go thru the entire thing in a non rushed way. The tour of the gardens takes about 1 hour but the line usually is long itself.
Make sure to buy your tickets at a RER station in Paris and save yourself a lot of time (read my other tip).
View of this vast and beautiful garden is really breathtakuing. There are very pretty flowers,amazing fountains and marvellous statues in this historical garden. The garden was opened by Louis XIV in 1664. Today it is one of the most beautiful and biggest gardens in the world.
one of the MUST things to do/go in paris (if you stay at leat 3 days) because it will take you half a day to go to versailles.
It's not that far away, only 30 minutes from the centre of paris, but even though you arrive really early you will have to make a long queue!!!! (which I most hated!! ) 1 hour queue to get the ticket (14 euros, it includes the audioguide). If you are a europeean citizen or you have european nationaly and you are minor of 24 yeras old, you can avoid making the queue presenting your id directly in the entrance of the palace.
There are a lof of painting and statues, but what i liked more was to see the furniture in the rooms because it makes you image how the kings used to live in the palace