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 is not an example of "trompe l'eil" art, but we may be confused by the garden's size and proportions in Versailles.
The lake named "Grand canal" that is the axis of the gardens, is almost 1700 meters long, and it is larger at the end to reduce the perspective. It was used to several nautical exhibitions, even with large boats, but don't ask me how did they move them into the lake.
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
Although we visited Versailles during winter we spent an hour walking around the famous Gardens of the palace because we’ve heard so much about them.
Of course, you can walk only a small part of the gardens because they are really big, spread away on thousands of acres. During the warmer months you may want to try the little tram that will take you also to the Trianons (we didn’t go there this time).
There are a lot of fountains but none of them had water :( It seems they are operating only a small period in april. The big lake (pic 3) is 1.7 long but some tree paths (pic 4) or the symmetry of the gardens are also impressive.
The gardens are open daily 7.00 to sunset weather permitting.
It seems renting a bike is the best way to enjoy the gardens but we didn’t even think about on cold winter day.
Versailles is a small town situated 25 km away from Paris. It’s an easy day trip by train. Go early because there are long lines. Upon our arrival we first went to the Tourist Information (across the street from the train station) and we bought our tickets there in less than 5’!
The palace opens at 9:00 but there were people already at the palace.
There are different tickets depending what you want to see (the palace, the gardens, the trianons), it was very cold so we decided to enjoy only the palace and part of the gardens so we payed €15 (but those who were under 24 didn’t pay anything, they just showed their ids at the gate!).
It was just 5’ walk from the Info until we saw the statue of Louis XIV (pic1), 2’ later we crossed the golden gate and went to the right and started exploring the palace. One of the first rooms was one of the most impressive too. It’s the Chapelle Royale (pic 2) where the king used to visit every morning at 10.00.
The palace is huge, it has about 700 rooms but you can see only some of them. Most of the rooms/halls are filled with paintings, sculptures, tapestries, amazing murals, rare furniture etc Famous Italian and French artists made great job in here, it seems the kings had a lot of money to pay for all these great pieces of art :) The palace was built in 17th century, expanded many times and has more than 2000 windows and 1250 fireplaces!
I had a feeling everyone was running to see the Hall of Mirrors which is the highlight in the palace but in the way you will miss a lot of great corners (pic 3).
That’s why you have to read a guide book or use the audio guide, some paintings in the palace have long stories behind them, so we went slowly and enjoyed our tour and when we finally reached the Hall Of Mirrors we just stayed for some minutes because it was full of people (pic 4) and you cant really admire the 17 mirrors that face 17 windows. The rooms of King and Queen (pic 5) weren’t as impressive as we thought but as I said what I really loved were the details here and there.
The palace is open Tuesday-Sunday 9.00-18.30(until 17.30 october-april)
During my visit to Paris in November 2009, I joined a Versailles Walking Tour where we walked around the gardens and parks and learnt about its history.
The grounds were designed by Andre Le Notre where the Grand Canal covers the grounds along with it's manicured formal gardens, hidden groves and pathways.
On a future visit I plan to visit the Palace itself and a day trip worth doing from Paris.