Want to feel rich for a day? Visit Versailles

Versailles gate

You can’t help but imagine what it must feel like to be outrageously wealthy when visiting Versailles.  Every inch of space, is a display of extravagance.  The walls are covered in fine fabrics, masterpieces of art, gilded plaster or marble; there is literally no empty space.  Even the floors are ornate marble, colored tile or carefully crafted wood.  It is easy to understand how the monarchy could be completely oblivious to the Revolution occurring, when their home was Versailles.

Versailles began as a hunting lodge built by Louis XIII in 1624.  His successor Louis XIV continued adding on to the original lodge until it became one of the largest palaces in the world.  Eventually Louis XIV brought the entire royal court to Versailles and it became the center of politics for France, until the French Revolution when the monarchy was forced out of the palace.  At one time around 10,000 people were living in the palace of Versailles, including the surrounding buildings.

Front courtyard at Versailles

When touring Versailles, you begin at the bottom floor of the chapel, which is where Louis XVI married Marie Antoinette.

Chapel ceiling

 

Then you follow a self guided tour (the handsets are free with admission) to the Grand Apartments.  Every detail was thought out to evoke power or beauty for the royal family.  For instance the ceiling of Venus was painted to represent beauty and the beauty of France.

Ceiling of Venus

The bedroom of Marie Antoinette was restored to its original state.  After the royal family was removed during the French Revolution, all of the original furniture was sold at auction.  The paintings were saved though and sent to the Louvre.

Marie Antoinette’s bedroom

One of the most famous rooms and most beautiful because of the natural light that streams in, even on a cloudy day, is the Hall of Mirrors.  This is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end WWI.

Hall of Mirrors

 

This picture in one of the rooms gives you a feel of how extravagant the interiors were decorated, including marble columns, gilded framed artwork and fresco ceilings.

I know this is going to come as a shock to you all, but the gardens outside were our favorite, even on a foggy cold day.  It is hard to imagine the thousands of acres of perfectly manicured trees and shrubs being a personal garden for one family!

Main garden path

And finally a view of part of the palace from the gardens.

The back of Versailles

Our main advice if you make the trip to Versailles is come early.  We arrived shortly after Versailles opened and didn’t have to wait in a queue at all.  By the time we left the queue was a few hundred people long.  Some of the rooms get pretty crowded, but take your time and enjoy the opulence!

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