One of the things that I love about France is the architecture of the buildings, especially in Paris. The way the city has been rebuilt in the 19th century is just an amazing work. Well done Georges-Eugène Haussman. But also the History of this once upon a time Kingdom. The castles are the most beautiful I have ever seen. No castles I have visited so far in several countries can compare to the one in France regarding their beauty and the attention to details. During my last trip to Paris this summer, I wanted to go visit the Versailles castle. The last time I was there, I was a kid and have not had any memory left from the visit. So, this time was the opportunity to go back, but it did not turn as expected...
A bit of History
The Versailles Castle or Château de Versailles, is a UNESCO's world heritage site. Its construction began during Louis XIII reign and his son Louis XIV also known as the Sun King or Roi Soleil transformed and expanded it to what we know of today, and moved the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. The Castle lost its standing following the French Revolution in 1789 but since then, has become the Museum of the History of France.
The queue to get inside the castle was HUGE!There was no way I would stand in the sun for hours and my schedule would not allow me either as I had to go to one of my best friends birthday celebrating his 30th in the evening. But don't worry this is not the end of the story! There was a back up plan: Visit the Versailles Castle Garden.
It might be worthy to plan your visit in advance depending on what you wish to visit. You can find more details here.
The Gardens of Versailles
800 hectares of land, with 17 gardens and 18 fountains. This garden is enormous! The King Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre with the design and laying out of the gardens which in his view were just as important as the castle. The works were undertaken at the same time as those for the palace and it took about 40 years to complete.
Take your time to stroll around the gardens. There is plenty to see. I went there with a few friends and we spent couple hours walking and getting lost in the different bosquets built to look like labyrinths!
The Grand Canal
Approximately 1,500 meters long and 62 meters wide, it was constructed between 1668 and 1671. It used to serve as a venue for boating parties but now serves as an amazing addition to the gardens. If you stay until 4pm in the afternoon, this is the time when the fountains are activated and give an enchanting look to the whole garden.
Finally, at the far back of the garden, there is a lake where you can rent a boat and paddle around during the Spring and Summer.Despite not being my initial plan, I really enjoyed visiting the gardens of Versailles. It is so unique and so huge that I don't believe there are any others that could be compared to it.
Good things to know to visit the castle
- Wear comfortable shoes
- The Palace of Versailles in Closed on Monday
- The ride by train takes about 45 minutes to an hour. And if you plan on visiting both the Palace and the Gardens, it will definitely take you about a day to explore everything.
- The entrance to the garden is 8€ per adult and for the Palace 18€. However, if you are a European student aged between 18 and 25 (inclusive) it is FREE!
- If you want to beat the crowd, book your ticket online on their official website. That way you will be able to join directly the ticket holders line to the Palace entrance which is faster than the hour long queue for those buying the ticket on site. Otherwise, join a tour with a travel tour, this will allow you to skip the line and visit the rest of the Palace afterwards. However, you might not have access to all the rooms of the Palace.
Fun fact: Versailles's price tag ranges anywhere from two billion dollars to a maximum cost of $299,520,000,000!
If you got a day to spare in Paris, this is definitely a must do, but make sure to plan it in advance, otherwise, you will have to wait for your next visit and for the time being just explore the inside of the palace via Google maps 360 view!