Palace of versailles

What you need to know before visiting the opulent Palace of Versailles

As the site of a historic rebellion and home to two of France’s best-known rulers, is the famous Palace of Versailles worth visiting?

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular attractions in the world, attracting a staggering 15 million people to its castle, park or gardens each year. It was the royal residence about 20 km west of Paris and a symbol of the opulence of the monarchy of the time.

It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Paris – but be sure to avoid rookie mistakes in Versailles. It’s a massive building and impossible to really do justice here. It is a place where you will learn about excess, grandeur and how disconnected the French monarchy was from the masses it ruled. We will learn everything about the unfortunate Queen Marie-Antoinette and how she lost her mind.

Versailles Background

Initially, a hunting lodge was built there 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. This move made Versailles the de facto capital of France. During the French Revolution, the royal family and the government returned to Paris. During the French Revolution it was largely abandoned and its contents suppressed.

  • Listed: By UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1979

Napoleon used the opulent palace as a summer residence from 1810 to 1814, but he did not restore it. It was not until the 1830s that major restorations and repairs were carried out. A French history museum has been installed in its south wing.

Role in American history and international treaties

The Palace even has an important role in the United States. In 1783, the last of two of three Paris Peace Treaties was signed here which ended the American Revolutionary War. American delegates were led here by Benjamin Franklin and the treaties granted independence to the United States (Spain and France also signed an end to their war with England).

Just 5 years later, the specter of revolution crossed the Atlantic with the French Revolution which would see the French monarchy not only driven from power but also beheaded.

After the destruction of the First World War, the Palace once again appeared on the world stage. In 1919, the far less durable Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors, officially ending the war (a peace that was to last 20 years).

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Visit Versailles Tickets And Tours

For ticketing and sightseeing, the complex is divided into palaces, gardens, fountains and park. Below are their opening times and captions on the official website Versailles website.

The palace: From the seat of power to the French History Museum

  • Open: 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • The gardens: The art of point of view
  • Open: 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Musical Fountain Show: Place of Intimacy

  • Open: 12:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The park: A Haven of Greenery

The Palace is the central attraction of Versailles. It is one of the largest and most luxurious palaces in the world and is considered a fine example of 18th century French architecture and art. It has 2,300 rooms (the kings wanted a big house) and is open to the public. All visitors must reserve a timed ticket prior to arrival. The ticket includes access to the Palace, the temporary exhibitions, the Palace Gardens (but not on certain days) and the Park.

  • Price: 18 euro ($21)
  • Children: Under 18s are free

One can get a guided tour of the palace as well as the private apartments of Louis XV and Louis XVI. To access it, you need a qualified guide. The visit allows you to immerse yourself in the intimate atmosphere of the royal family and the refined decoration of the royal bedrooms.

  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Cost: 10 euros ($12) in addition to the entrance ticket

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Main rooms and attractions of the palace

Royal apartments

The King’s apartments are at the heart of the palace. The king’s bed is under a relief sculpted by Nicolas Coustou titled France watches over the sleeping king. In the queen’s chamber, the ceilings are also decorated with scenes from mythology, but if they are male figures on the king’s ceiling, they are female figures on the queen’s. The balcony of the king’s bedroom was where members of the royal family stood and watched the hostile revolutionary crowd gather in the courtyard, the king was forced to return to Paris. Notably, the King and Queen were standing there with the Marquis de Lafayette who is so respected in American history.

  • Hall of Mirrors: The Hall of Mirrors is the most famous room, it overlooks the garden and is decorated with 357 mirrors facing 17 windows
  • Royal Chapel: This combines the traditional Gothic architecture of the French royal church with the French Baroque style of Versailles. It is at the southern end of the northern wing.
  • Royal Opera: It has high quality acoustics oddly enough due to its wood construction for economy and speed.
  • French History Museum: A museum dedicated to “several glories of France”

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