CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES
The Palace of Versailles was
the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790.
It was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624 under Louis XIII's
reign. It was expanded by Louis XIV in 1669. He used it as a little
lodge, a secret refuge for his amorous trysts with the lovely Louise
de la Valliere and built a fairy tale park around it. Jules Hardouin
Mansart, the king's principal architect, drew the plans to enlarge
what was turning more and more into a palace from A Thousand and
One Nights. The terrace that overlooked the gardens was removed
to make way to the magnificent Hall of Mirrors, the Galerie des
Glaces. It is from where the king radiated his power and where the
destiny of Europe was decided over a century. The French classical
architecture was completed by extensive gardens.
As you approach the château, you pass through the Cour des
Ministres, paved with cobblestones. Here stands a statue of Louis
XVI as he looks at a town which basically only existed to create
houses for 20,000 noblemen, their servants and other members of
the court who could find no room at the chateau containing 3,000
The Chateau proposes two itineraries; either a guided tour or not.
Apart from the state apartments of the king and queen and the Galerie
des Glaces (the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles
was signed at the end of World War 1), that you can visit on your
own, most of the palace can only be viewed in guided groups, and
whose times are much more restricted. Long queues are common.
There are over 600 fountains in the gardens, many designed by Le
Brun and Mignard. The Seine river, several miles away, had to be
diverted to keep water flowing in order to make the fountains work.
The water rushed in and filled huge above-ground basins. The gravity
pull is what kept the fountains running.
From 1661 and 1700, 250 acres of land were turned into intricate
gardens and parks by Le Nôtre. The grounds are a perfect example
of classic French formal gardens, (derived from the Italian design
theory) adorned with marble, bronze and lead statues and fountains.
The geometric flower beds, combined with fountains mix magically
with the architecture of the palace. Beyond the formal gardens is
the Petit Parc, and the Grand Parc providing an area for strolling
How to get there
RER C : Versailles Chantiers, Versailles Rive Gauche. (Please note special rates)
Bus : 171
Museum of the National Assembly
They have a wonderful permanent exhibit,
"The Big Hours of Parliament". This show presents the
history of parliament, a short film in the Dome of the Congress,
as well as several sessions in the southern wing of the chateau,
about the different activities of the congressmen. The complete
visit lasts about 1h30
Informations, hours, entrance fees & acces map.
Info Paris (clic below)
Paris by Night, Weather, Embassies, Cults, Maps.
Glossary, Popular Places, Itineraries, Transportation.
Shopping, Gay & lesbian info.