The Palace of Versailles is one of the most opulent and luxurious places you will ever lay your eyes on, and it is well worth the visit! We made the last-minute decision to jump on a train from Paris on our last day in the city, and were overwhelmed by what we found.
The history of the Palace and gardens alone could keep you there for days, listening to story after story about the French Revolution and how the kings and queens lived. It will be busy, and you may have to wait in line for a wee while, but with so much to discover it is a day well spent in one of France’s most affluent and famous towns.
Getting there is easy as there are several stations in Paris that have trains running to Versailles. Once you arrive at Gare de Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche, it is a 15 minute walk to the right and then to the left (you can likely follow the crowds), where you will be greeted by a lined street leading up to the breathtaking gates of gold.
We bought our tickets at a booth at the base of Place d’Arms (this saved time once in the grounds), and then joined in the crowds heading towards The Palace. As we arrived around midday, we decided to head first into the gardens to skip the long queues heading inside. If you wander over to the right hand side of the Chateau and duck through the archway there, you’ll find yourself walking out into the glorious oasis that is the gardens of Versailles.
Even if you are not a quintessential garden lover, walking the same paths as royalty once walked and relaxing amongst the quiet of the intricately designed layout will be enjoyable for all.
Bring a picnic and recline on the steps as you listen to the classical music broadcast throughout the gardens, find the water display and stumble across garden after garden that was designed with the approval of King Louis XIV. You will find the map given with your tickets very useful here as the gardens are mind bogglingly large.
If you have the time and your legs are happy to continue adventuring, wander down to Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. If you’re feeling weary there is a mini-train which can take you here (for a small fee), the treasures to be found here far outweigh the reasonable stroll through the grounds.
Once you find yourself at the Queen’s Hamlet (you will need a ticket that covers entry to the Estate), you will discover how Marie-Antoinette liked to live once away from the Court. Pretty gardens, a functioning farm and luxurious interiors make this a romantic and beautiful spot to explore. The colour, design and detail of the furniture are absolutely exquisite! Find the Temple of Love, wander through Le Petite Trianon and spend some time in the gardens; it’s a beautiful spot to leave the busyness of The Palace behind.
Once you have enjoyed the gardens and decide to head into The Palace, be prepared for crowds! The queue out the front may seem large but moves reasonably quickly, and you should be inside before too long. We picked up an audio headset each which was undoubtably helpful, giving us information on a huge range of topics including the architecture and the people who lived there.
Take your time and enjoy the majestic artwork, the opulence and sheer excessiveness in design and decor. There are not many places to stop inside the Chateau for a rest, so be prepared before entering the building.
Your feet will be crying out for a break once you’ve thoroughly explored the beauty and extravagance of The Palace of Versailles, but there is no doubt this day out can be enjoyed by all. We recommend it to everyone who tells us they’re heading to France! The history, the beauty and the tragedy all combine to make it a memory that will not fade quickly.
All images by Nicola Goring
Ms Chinoiserie Says: The splendour and luxury of Versailles is simply breathtaking – a definite “must visit” when in Paris!
About Nicola Goring – I’m Nicola, the florist and crafter behind rubyandjoy. I’m a gardening, fabric loving, mint tea drinking, brownie baking, book obsessed maker! I love a good adventure having just moved back from five years in Scotland (with my lovely Scottish husband).