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November 19, 2018

France: Versailles


The Palace of Versailles viewed from the gardens.

Guidebooks will tell you Palace of Versailles is one of Paris’s must see sights. It’s no wonder why: Versailles is over-the-top impressive. It is expansive, grand, and ornate.

No place in France is more symbolic of the French Monarchy. Indeed, Versailles’ overindulgence is itself a symbolic reason for the French Revolution. Versailles’ name was so tainted that after the Revolution Napoleon refused to live in the palace after he came to power. Napoleon was perfectly willing to take advantage of the pleasures of other of the Bourbon monarchy’s châteaux, but not Versailles. As Napoleon well knew, choosing to live in Versailles would have linked him to the monarchy’s excesses, the last thing he wanted after the Revolution.

The Royal Chapel

A long hot wait to get inside,

With its bling and history, tourists, mostly foreign, come out en masse out from the center of Paris to see Versailles. Busload after busload of camera clutching tourists arrives each day. In the process Versailles is turned into a version of an historical amusement park.

We understood from experience that in late June Versailles would be busy. Thus we pre-purchased tickets online to save time. The château opens at nine. By the time we lazily arrived in the morning at ten minutes before ten there was an entrance line an hour long. If we had arrived a half hour later, we would have waited two hours before we too could add our bodies the zoo scene inside Versailles.

Though the gardens are open, the palace is not on Mondays.

This may not end well.

Impressive as Versailles is I suspect that many visitors to Versailles during the peak season would enjoy seeing the less touristed chateaux in the region. Fontainebleau, Vaux-de-Vicomte, and Compiègne, though not as expansive and over-the-top as Versailles, still have plenty of history and bling. They are also easy enough to get to from the center of Paris. If shuffling around in a tightly packed crowd isn’t your thing, these châteaux are options to consider. In my opinion, it is far more enjoyable to tour a château without being surrounded by thousands of close packed tourists. Save Versailles for the off-season, whenever that might be.

Versailles gardens are open on Mondays.

The famous Hall of Mirrors, with a thousand or so others

The Marble Courtyard

Of course, if you like to watch the scene of throngs of bus tourists bent on taking cell phone pictures at all of the same places then visit Versailles during the peak season. It is amusing, in a perverse out of body experience sea of humanity sort of way.

That said there is one big advantage to visiting Versailles: You don’t have to explain to your friends why you went to Fontainebleau instead.

The Royal Chapel is one of the first things you can see after entering the palace.

Inside a gallery

The Royal Chapel from the outside: Even in the morning it is hot and the ground crews have turned the water on the water to cool things down.

———–

The “Palace and Park of Versailles” were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1979.

Historical figures join the tourist crowds.

Long hallway

A peak inside the Royal Chapel

And of course you can shop in Versailles.

A coach in the Gallery of Coaches at Versailles

A cottage garden in the Queen’s Hamlet

The Petit Trianon: The palace and the Grand Trianon were not enough.

Le Pavillon français in the parc du château de Versailles.

The Fountain of Apollo is not fountaining at the moment.

“La Loire”

The Sun King

Louis XIV of France: The Sun King was the driver behind the splendors of the Palace of Versailles.

 

 

2 Comments »

  1. […] in Europe by floor area. The palace has 1,450,000 sq ft of floor space and 3,418 rooms. It makes Versailles’s mere 721,182 sq ft and 700 rooms seem like an economy château by […]

    Pingback by Spain: Madrid, Palacio Real | Another Header — December 22, 2018 @ 4:54 am

  2. […] II of Bavaria. Ludwig’s other palace building projects included Herrenchiemsee, built to resemble Versailles, and the fanciful and more famous ferry-tale castle Neuschwanstein. At the time of Ludwig’s […]

    Pingback by Germany: Linderhof Palace | Another Header — February 27, 2019 @ 7:41 pm


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