The Palace and Park of Versailles have had a large influence on the artistic form of other palaces and gardens in Europe. It is a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy and its court life of the Ancien Régime.
The Palace started out as a small royal hunting lodge. From 1661, King Louis XIV expanded into one of the largest palaces in the world, and moved his court and government to Versailles. Versailles became the unofficial capital where government affairs were conducted during the reigns of the Kings Louis XIV, XV en XVI. It was used intermittently between 1682 and 1789.
After the First World War, Versailles hosted the opening of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Germany was blamed for causing the First World War in the Treaty of Versailles which had to be signed in the same room on 28 June 1919.
Visit December 2010
I think I found the clues to beat the crowds here at Versailles:
- visit in the low season
- book your ticket beforehand on the internet and print it
- stay overnight in the pleasant town of Versailles
- be at the gate a little before opening time (9 a.m.)
- go fast at the first rooms (to shake off other early birds)
I just did all that on a Sunday morning in December. There were about 40 people waiting at the gate at 9 a.m., including a Chinese tour group. I beat them all at the start, was the first to go in that day and had the rooms almost to myself.
The gardens open already at 8 a.m., and I wandered around them a bit before visiting the interior. It was quite foggy, but that gave an extra mysterious touch to the surroundings. The grounds were still muddy and slippery from the heavy snowfall that had struck the Paris region last Wednesday (and even caused the Palace to close for half a day). A large golden sculpture by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami attracts a lot of the attention at the moment. It is part of a temporary exhibition, his works are also in the interior of the palace.
What did I think of my visit? The bottom line of all the other reviews below I found to be true: the Hall of Mirrors and the Gardens are the most memorable parts. I had visited the Castle of Fontainebleau the day before, and I enjoyed its interior more than Versailles. The latter is better on the exterior and the gardens (it's quite a hike to get to the Grand Trianon for example). The walk through the apartments in Versailles gets a bit tedious, rooms aren't as bright and interesting as in Fontainebleau, and I found the audioguide too boring to listen to. But maybe 2 European castles in 2 days is too much to bear...
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
I visited this WHS in August 2012 by car. I went there early and bought the tickets online to avoid long queues. There still was quite a queue already at 08.30 although the palace opens at 09.00. I explored the royal courtyards and gates before entering the historic palace. The Hall of Mirrors and the Queen's Bedchamber were the highlights of the Palace although crowded. However, the highlight of this WHS for me are the enormous gardens with fountains and the canal. I walked to the Petit and Grand Trianon and visited both together with Marie Antoinette's Estate and the Queen's Hamlet away from the crowds. Very peaceful to walk around and interesting monuments (such as the Temple of Love).
| Date posted: September 2012|
Plan ahead! Lines can get relly crazy! Also plan some time to explore the garden (wich is a sepreate charge from the palace). Also be careful of pickpocketers in the Queens Bedroom and in the garden!
|Sally Thompson (Saouth Africa):|
This is an amazing part of world heritage history! I believe that this is one of the most fantastic structures i have ever seen!
| Date posted: August 2006|
|Ian V. (Canada):|
When it comes to the Palace and Park of Versailles, be sure to focus most of your time and energy on the grounds, and not the palace. The palace is great, but crowded, and the grounds are what has made the locale famous, for good reason.
Spend the time to reach the outer edges of the grounds, where the majority of tourists don't make it to. We took the trolley train to one of the pre-determined stops, and were amazed at how few people were around. You can almost find yourself alone, surrounded by the majesty of the gardens and tailored forests.
Boats are for rent on the cross-shaped canal, and worth the few euros to paddle on the most famous pool in the world.
In short, avoid the crowds in the palace and spent your time wandering through the grounds. There are so many nooks and crannies to investigate and explore that you will find the effort well worth it.
| Date posted: April 2006|
|Ian Cade (England):|
I am not a big fan of Palaces, however Versailles made it on to my list of visited sites for perhaps being the premium example of the European Royal Palace, it is the point of reference for all the grand residences on the continent and beyond, and I am pretty sure that if the WH list was just an exclusive list of the best example of certain types of building, this would be the one that would be inscribed.
The palace is the absolute height of Monarchical absolutism and Baroque decadence. This was essentially the seat of French government until the revolution, as Louis XIV proclaimed 'L'Etat, c'est moi' (I am the state). Every wall ceiling and floor space seems to be crammed with decoration (I must admit to not being in the best shape to view this as we were hit by a particularly dizzying bout of seasickness whilst in the royal apartments).
The Hall of Mirrors (pictured) was pretty astounding, even if only half is currently visible, as there were very impressive restoration works whilst we visited. This is also where the famous Versailles Treaty of 1919 was signed, one of the most important moments in modern European History. The royal apartments were the usual parade of bed chambers and anti rooms with paintings of princes walking their favourite dogs. The Battle Gallery is an impressive pictorial account of French military victories.
The grounds were massive and well worth spending a few hours walking around. We visited in winter so the fountains were offm the statues covered and the trees bare, but it was still a pleasant way to spend our time and entry was free. I was also quite surprised to find that the surrounding town was also very well planned and much in keeping with the Palace itself perhaps worth exploring.
Versailles is easy to reach from central Paris especially by rail. I am sure the site is always busy as it was on a Thursday in February but it is defiantly worth a visit and I am pleased that I have seen it but it is not a site I think I could even grow to love.
| Date posted: March 2006|
I went to Versailles when I was 14 but the Hall of Mirrors and the gardens are what I remember most. Spectacular!
| Date posted: February 2006|
On my second trip to Paris, I decided to spend ~1/2 day at Versailles and took the train out to it. It turns out that I could have used that much time for just the gardens! The palace was amazing, as they usually are; in particular, the enormous paintings were beautiful. However, the gardens, with the elaborate water fountains and landscaping were amazing. I would suggest allowing one full day to explore Versailles.
| Date posted: November 2005|
WOW. This palace is hectic. To tell the truth i never even knew it exhisted until i got it for my World Heritage Site assignment. Its sctructure is extraordinary. It would be a wonderful opportunity and experience to go and visit this place one day. I'm only thirteen and im pretty sure none of the kids my age would know about this astonoshing palace, if they did i think they would have the same reaction as i did. I'm really glad i got this for my assignment.
| Date posted: November 2005|
|Dominique bratton (Australia):|
Hi im 12 years old and at first the palace of vrsailles was really boring but then when we started learning about the french revolution in history it became clear to me i was finnally understanding and it was actually really interesting. It was amazing to see how the french king and queen were living with all their gold furniture, painted roofs and amazing gardens while the rest of the counry was dying on the streets becuase they were all homeless and starving that so many of them died. I hope pur country will never end up like that.
| Date posted: September 2005|
|A. ORiordan (US):|
I confess...I thought it was gaudy. You really understand why the French rebelled against their spendthrift rulers when you see the place. The relatively simple Hall of Mirrors is a welcome change to the heavy red-green-white-and-black marble combinations with the heavily patterend gold furniture... The tight rooms and immense crowds don`t help, and neither do the long lines for the pay-restrooms. I didn`t get a good chance to tour the gardens, but from what I saw they were preferable to the palace itself.
| Date posted: July 2005|
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
Versailles is the model after which most European royal palaces were modeled, from Schönbrunn to Caserta and Drottningholm, but none quite matches its splendour and simple greatness. It is just vast in every respect, including the gardens that are about the size of Liechtenstein. The interior is just as impressive as the exterior, and its opulence and ornateness are hard to describe. Versailles is so well known that it is on almost every tourist's trail, and it shows. I was there twice, once in June and once in October, and both times the number of visitors was just incredible. So to experience Versailles at some amount of solitude, you probably have to come one early February morning, but nonetheless Versailles is a must-see, even with tens of thousands of other people sharing your visit.
| Date posted: June 2005|
|Rajeev Aloysius (Sri Lanka):|
This is truly worth the visit, and still costs a very reasonable amount. €9 at the time of writing for the palace and its gardens.
You can reach there using the metro, the stop is the last one on that line, Versailles Rive Gauche (now, maps conveniently state "Chateau de Versailles"). Do not get off on the earlier halt, also called Rive Gauche.
The Chateau is only a very short walk. Just turn right from the main entrance from the station and then turn left. You will see the walk up to the palace. There are souvenir shops on both sides of the street.
The palace grounds and gardens are awe-inspiring. You can spend a week here, but I had about 6 hours. Be sure to rest occasionally, or better use the mini-trains if you are not used to walking. The length of the tour is supposed to be 5km. The gardens seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, with lakes and ponds with little boats on them. There are innumerable bronze fountains in the gardens if you walk in any direction, several large sculptured fountains in the walk directly facing the rear of the palace proper. This is one of the most awesome palaces I have ever been to, only Sanssouci in Potsdam, Germany may be slightly bigger in area if you take the new palace and the whole park into account.
The state rooms themselves are gilded and very ornate with quite a lot of Louis XIV furniture, but perhaps not as ornately as say, Windsor Castle's restored wing and Schönbrunn in Vienna. The rooms are also always very crowded and you can keep bumping into people taking photographs if you are not careful.
There is a war gallery, which has art depicting great French battles from the 5th Century to the 19th. Be sure to spend some time in studying these giant canvasses. They are as interesting as those in the Louvre in central Paris and the Getty in L.A.
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