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lukasdj Versailles - A travel report by luca
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Versailles,  France - flag France -  Ile-de-France
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lukasdj's travel reports

Return to the time of Roi du Soleil: Versailles

  24 votes
During our stay in Paris, we spent (my wife and me) one day to visit the Chateau de Versailles. We haven’t had time to visit the city, but we have dedicated all the time for the main attraction: the gardens, the palaces are another town within the town!


The castle
The castle
In the beginning of the 16th century Versailles was a small village with an old castle and a few houses. King Henry IV used this land as hunting area. In 1624 he decided to build a hunting pavilion, so he didn't have to return to Palais du Louvre or his chateau in Saint-Germain en Laye after every shooting party. Later on, he and his son (Louis XIII) continued to extend the castle. When Louis XIV decided to leave the Louvre, for his disgust of such a dirty and chaotic city as Paris was in that time, he chose Versailles as new “home”. He wanted there also all his court; in this way he could have an eye on them... He decided to build the most luxurious palace in Europe that ever existed, to manifest the power of Roi du Soleil. The works started in 1661 and the royal palace was completed about 40 years later. The result is an imposing group of buildings and gardens where more than twenty thousand French aristocratic lived, as well as all the servants.

Favourite spots:
Bassin d’Apollon
Bassin d’Apollon
Outside the palace there is an enormous garden with lots of fountains: it’s one of the best example of French garden architecture. Le Notre was the designer of this magnificent composition of status, lakes, flower-beds, fountains, and so on. Fountains had to raise jets of water at every passage of Louis XIV. In order to obtain this play of water, a new aqueduct was planned and built to pump water from the Seine (more than 10 km far away) to Versailles, into reservoirs under the fountains. From the terrace, out of the palace, you can walk down to the Parterre d’Eau with the Bassin de Latone. On the right side (north) you can see the Bassin de Neptune. On the left side (south) you can see the Orangerie. It’s particular design and position keeps the temperature stable between 5 and 8°C all the year. From the Bassin de Latone starts the Tapis vert, a long walk leading to the Bassin d’Apollon. It’s the most impressive sight, where Apollo raises with his chariot, horses, and tritons.

What's really great:
The tower
The tower
Inside the palace the Galerie des Glaces is unforgettable. Here took place all celebrations, feasts, balls but also here the king received all foreign ambassadors and kings. At the time of Louis XIV, the ability of making such big mirrors was also a demonstration of technological supremacy. The ceiling is painted with French victories and sparkling chandeliers fall from it. I think you could feel lonely in such a palace; maybe this is the reason why exists Le Hameau, a fabulous little village at the border of the royal garden, where the Queen was used to retire. There we felt like characters in a fable! The village was completely functioning with its working mill, a dove cote, a dairy, a tower and a farm with a farming family included. Sometimes the court came here to play rural life for a day, where the Queen was the milk-woman and the King was the master of the village. Externally the houses were built in the rustic style, but the interiors have all the comforts like the Trianon.

Sights:
Grand Canal
Grand Canal
From Place d’Armes there is a suggestive sight of the palace through three yards. At the end of the first one, there is the equestrian statue of Louis XIV.
After the Bassin d’Apollon, there is a big park divided by the Grand Canal and the Petit Canal. You can rent a little boat and spend a great time on the channel. Following the little channel, you can reach the Grand Trianon and then the Petit Trianon.
Le Grand Trianon is a little palace where the King could retire for resting and amusement and where he could remain closer to his family.
Le Petit Trianon is another little palace ordered by the King Louis XV for Madame de Pompadour. Then King Louis XVI gave it as a present to Marie-Antoniette on his accession to the throne. Marie-Antoniette used frequently this little palace for her tea parties and for listening music (Mozart).
These two palaces are surrounded by beautiful garden with two completely different styles; the first has been chosen by the King, the latter by the Queen.

Accommodations:
La Chambre du Roi
La Chambre du Roi
The King played his official life in the Grands Appartements. Some of the rooms were dedicated to god and goddess, each of which where reserved for a different official service. In this group are included the Grands Appartements de la Reine. Also "La Chambre du Roi" (the bedroom of the King) was used for official ceremonies at the start and the end of the day, but actually he slept in another private room.
The Petit Appartements were reserved for his private life. Don’t miss to visit the Opera and the Chapel. The royal family could retire also into Le Grand Trianon and le Petit Trianon, when they wanted to break from the formal court life.

Other recommendations:
If you want to visit something without any crowd around, you have to wake up early in the morning or use the first hours in the afternoon.
We could stand staring in each hall of the royal palace of Versailles and image the King, the Queen, and court living there because we took our tour in the morning and there were a few people looking around.
The village of Le Hameau can be appreciating before 04:00 PM, before school children arrive because it’s an educational farm.
If you haven’t enough time, and you have already visited Le Grands and Petit Appartements, you can avoid visiting the interiors of the Trianons, but you must to see the gardens.

Published on Thursday May 26th, 2005


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Thu, Jun 09 2005 - 02:26 PM rating by kandath

Luca, Wonderful report. I am ashamed to say that I only discovered you after you signed my guest book. Keep the good work going,
Kris kandath

Thu, May 26 2005 - 11:47 PM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice to read every bit of this report

Thu, May 26 2005 - 05:43 PM rating by magsalex

Years since i was there! Nice report.

Thu, May 26 2005 - 03:04 PM rating by picasso

Very interesting to read and also very educational with a lot of in depth information. - *****

Boris

Thu, May 26 2005 - 11:20 AM rating by bear495

Very nice job on this report.

Russ

Thu, May 26 2005 - 09:58 AM rating by davidx

I guess we all have our foibles. One of mine is that I detested Versailles - but I hope I still know a good report when I see one.
Cheers, David

Thu, May 26 2005 - 08:56 AM rating by gloriajames

interesting! 5*

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