The Palace of Versailles is one of the most most popular attractions in the world drawing a phenomenal 15 million people to its Palace, Park, or Gardens every year. It was the royal residence about 12 miles west of Paris and a symbol of the opulence of the monarchy of the time.
This is a must-see for anyone visiting Paris - but be sure to avoid the rookie mistakes at Versailles. This is a massive building and impossible to really do justice to here. This is a place where one will learn about the excess, grandeur, and how out of touch the French monarchy was with the masses it ruled. One will learn all about the ill-fated Queen Marie-Antoinette and how she lost her head.
Background Of Versailles
At first, a hunting lodge was built here in 1623 by King Louis XIII. Later King Louis XIV expanded it in three phases from 1661 to 1715. It became a favorite royal residence with Louis XIV moving his court and government there in 1682. That move made Versailles the de facto capital of France. In the French Revolution, the royal family along with the government moved back to Paris. During the French Revolution, it was mostly abandoned and its contents removed.
- Listed: By UNESCO As A World Heritage Site In 1979
Napoleon used the opulent palace as his summer residence from 1810 to 1814, but he didn't restore it. It wasn't until the 1830s that meaningful restoration and repairs were made. A museum of French history was installed in its southern wing.
Role In American History And International Treaties
The Palace even has a role important to the United States. In 1783, the last of the two of the three treaties of the Peace of Paris was signed here that ended the American War Of Independence. The American delegates were led here by Benjamin Franklin and the treaties granted the United States independence (Spain and France also signed ending their war with England).
Just 5 years later, the specter of revolution crossed the Atlantic with the French Revolution that would see the French monarchy not only removed from power but also beheaded.
Following the destruction First World War, the Palace once again appeared on the world stage. In 1919 the much less enduring Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors formally ending the war (a peace that was to last for 20 years).
Visiting Versailles Tickets And Tours
For ticketing and tourism, the complex is broken up into the palace, the gardens, the fountains, and the park. Below are their opening times and their captions on the official Versailles website.
The Palace: From The Seat Of Power To Museum Of French History
- Open: 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
- The Gardens: The Art of Perspective
- Open: 8:00 am to 8:30 pm
Musical Fountains Show: Place of Intimacy
- Open: 12:00 pm to 6:30 pm
The Park: A Haven of Greenery
- Open: 7:00 am to 8:30 pm
The Palace is the central attraction of Versailles. It is one of the largest and most luxurious palaces in the world and is regarded as a fine example of 18th-century French architecture and art. It boasts 2,300 rooms (the kings wanted a big house) and it is open to the public. All visitors must reserve a timed ticket before arrival. The ticket includes access to the palace, the temporary exhibitions, the Gardens of the Palace (but not on certain days), and the Park.
- Price: 18 Euro ($21)
- Children: Under 18 are Free
One can get a guided tour of the palace as well including the private apartments of Louis XV and Louis XVI. To access these one needs a qualified guide. The tour enables one to look into the intimate atmosphere of the royals and the refined decoration of the royal chambers.
- Duration: 1.5 Hours
- Cost: 10 Euros ($12) In Addition To The Admission Ticket
Main Rooms And Attractions Within The Palace
The apartments of the King are at the heart of the palace. The king's bed is beneath a carved relief by Nicolas Coustou entitled France watching over the sleeping King. In the Queen's room, the ceilings are also adorned with scenes from mythology, but while they are male figures on the King's ceiling, they are female figures on the Queen's. The balcony off the king's room was where the royals stood and watched as the hostile revolutionary crowd gathered in the courtyard, the King was forced to return to Paris. Notably, the king and queen stood there with Marquis de Lafayette who is so respected in American history.
- Hall Of Mirrors: The Hall Of Mirrors Is The Most Famous Room, It Looks Out Into The Garden, And Is Decorated With 357 Mirrors Facing 17 Windows
- Royal Chapel: This Combines Traditional Gothic Royal French Church Architecture with French Baroque Style of Versailles It is In The Southern End Of The North Wing
- Royal Opera: It Boasts High-Quality Acoustics Oddly Enough Due To Being Build Out Of Wood For Economy and Speed
- Museum Of The History Of France: A Museum Dedicated To the "Many Glories Of France"