Versailles

versailles 1I visited Versailles on my weekend in Paris.

Versailles was much closer to Paris than I thought and rather than French countryside I saw mostly French freeway. Versailles was crawling with tourists and hucksters.  It just started raining when we arrived and hucksters were out pushing umbrellas on us, including me, already sheltered under my umbrella. We were also continuously warned that pickpockets were at work.

versailles 2In Versailles, our guide gave us a tour of the State Apartments, King’s bedroom, Queen’s bedroom and various rooms named after Greek gods like Apollo and Mars (aptly nicknamed the war room).  We also saw the hall of mirrors (a really long hall lined with mirrors, natch) where the treaty of Versailles was signed ending WWI.

versailles 3The rooms were ornately decorated and most of the ceilings were elaborately painted which was the most interesting feature – make sure to look up.  It was all overwhelming and I’m sure I missed a lot of the little details.  See all the pictures below.

 

 

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 Photos of the Rooms

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Photos of the Ceilings

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Things to Know about Versailles and its Most Famous Resident

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Some interesting facts about Versailles that I learned:

  • 19 children were born in the Queen’s bedroom (pictured above).
  • There was a railing to keep staff away from the bed in the Queens Bedroom and a door next to the bed so the king could come and go.
  • Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who were beheaded in the Place de Concorde during the French revolution, lived at Versailles.
  • Marie Antoinette initially escaped the rioting crowds by leaving through a hidden door by the bed in the Queen’s bedroom.
  • Versailles was trashed during the revolution.
  • The empty bassinette in the painting (above) represents a child Marie Antoinette lost.  Her children survived the revolution.
  • Our guide said that Marie Antoinette was lonely in Versailles so far away from home (she was from Austria) that she spent most of her time in the garden.
  • No buildings in the town of Versailles could be built taller than the palace.

The Gardens

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versailles 18After the tour, I went out to the gardens.  You have to pay extra, as they were having the waterfall show, otherwise the gardens are included in the admission.  I was lucky to be there when they were having the show as they turn on all the fountains and play music. It really perked up the gardens, as otherwise they are mostly shrubs and few flowers, sculptures and a large pond.

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If You Want To Go

I took the Versailles Guided Tour With Optional Fountain Show through Viator.  It was a 4-hour tour currently costing about $98.  Viator outsources this tour to Paris Vision.   It was easy to find Paris Vision’s office on the Metro using my day pass.  However, the small office was packed with people from multiple tours all trying to check in at once.  It was frustrating and disorganized and I wondered at first what 3rd rate tour company I signed up with. However, in the end it was a good tour with an excellent tour guide and I would recommend it. We got a comfy double-decker bus for the relatively short trip to Versailles.  We wore earphones to hear our guide even when we weren’t near her and she gave commentary in English and Spanish.

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