On my recent trip to Paris, a visit to the Château de Versailles – the magnificent, but utterly decadent home of the French Absolutist Monarchs – could of course not be missing. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited this palace five times during the last four years and I was very excited to go again, especially since I wanted to take the opportunity to take some photographs when there weren’t bound to be as many tourists as in the summer time.
But as we approached the main gates and I excitedly got my camera out to take the first picture, I realized that my memory card was still stuck inside my computer back in our rental apartement in Paris. Bummer. But what do you do when life gives you lemons? Exactly, you get out your iPhone and you move on.
Versailles is one of my favorite palaces, but a couple of years ago, I wasn’t such a fan. It seemed too grand, too ostentatious and too decadent. It still is all of these things, but I have come to appreciate the beauty and elegance that also lies in these imposing walls.
Don’t let pictures fool you. You can only grasp the sheer size of Versailles when you’re standing right in front of it. Versailles makes an impression even before you have seen the pompous interior. Copied all over Europe, but never quite reached, Versailles was at the heart of French Absolutism. This was were the King surrounded himself with all the Nobles of the country and lived lavishly as the center of the French state. L’etat, c’est moi. I am the state was the word and the scope of Versailles does everything to show just how centered around the King France really was. Does it surprise anyone that there are revolutions when the way the ruling class lives is so vastly and unfairly different from the life of the people? Not me.
If you visit Versailles during the summer time, make sure to buy your ticket online before you come. That is, unless you fancy waiting in line for hours. I’ve done it before and it’s not fun, especially once you figure out that you have to wait in line again to get into the palace after you’ve paid for your ticket. If you’re entitled to free admission (EU citizens under 26 and plenty of other options – check here), then you don’t need a ticket – just show the proper identification at the entrance. If you’re visiting in the winter, then you’ll probably be fine – we had to wait neither to purchase tickets nor to get into the palace.
Once you’re done visiting the Grand Apartements, don’t forget that there are gorgeous rooms downstairs as well! Look out for the Mesdames Apartements and the Apartements of the Dauphin and the Dauphine: The entrance is located in the Royal Courtyard, right beneath the bedchamber of the King.
After visiting the interior of the Palace we headed outside to the Gardens. They are a lot more splendid in the summer time when the bushes are green, there are waterworks at the fountains and classical music is played to convey the feeling of a different era. Nonetheless, it was nice to take in the view with only a little amount of people.
Every time, I’m in the Gardens of Versailles – even during the winter – I am reminded how perfectly orchestrated the Château is: I honestly can barely imagine a better view than from the Galerie des Glaces down the Gardens to the Grand Canal.
We quickly payed a visit to my favorite part of the Château de Versailles, the Petit Trianon and the Domaine of Marie-Antoinette, which I blogged about before, but when the weather turned and raindrops started to splash into our face, we decided to head back to Paris.
Versailles is only a quick train ride away from Paris and in my opinion is one of the sights that is not be missed when you’re traveling there. Take the RER C and make sure that you take the one that goes to Versailles – Rive Gauche! There are several other RER C lines that go roughly into the same direction, but won’t get you to the Château and since they’re not easily distinguished, it can get quite confusing. So just pay attention to where the train is going – there should be announcements on the platform as well.
linking up with Bonnie