Palace of Versailles

Enjoy a royal day out at Versailles! The golden gates at the entrance set the tone. You begin with a tour of the Palace: the Hall of Mirrors, the royal apartments … The park and gardens are a masterpiece of symmetry designed by André Le Nôtre. It is here that you enter into the private world of the King and Queen with a visit to the Grand and Petit Trianon, the theatre with its original machinery from 1780, and the Queen’s Hamlet, synonymous with Queen Marie Antoinette. Every year, the Palace and gardens are the setting for enchanting shows including the Musical Fountains Show in the gardens and concerts at the opera house or the royal chapel

The Château de Versailles, which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for 30 years, is one of the most beautiful achievements of 18th-century French art. The site began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. Each of the three French kings who lived there until the French Revolution added improvements to make it more beautiful.

The Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Grand Apartments, the Museum of the History of France. The Château de Versailles, the seat of power until 1789, has continued to unfurl its splendour over the course of centuries. At first it was just a humble hunting lodge built by Louis XIII. But Louis XIV chose the site to build the palace we know today, the symbol of royal absolutism and embodiment of classical French art.

In the 1670s Louis XIV built the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen, whose most emblematic achievement is the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart, where the king put on his most ostentatious display of royal power in order to impress visitors. The Chapel and Opera were built in the next century under Louis XV.

The château lost its standing as the official seat of power in 1789 but acquired a new role in the 19th century as the Museum of the History of France, which was founded at the behest of Louis-Philippe, who ascended to the throne in 1830. That is when many of the château’s rooms were taken over to house the new collections, which were added to until the early 20th century, tracing milestones in French history.

The Gardens

From the central window of the Hall of mirrors the visitor look down on the grand perspective that leads the gaze from the Water Parterre to the horizon. This original perspective, which preceded the reign of Louis XIV, was developed and prolonged by the gardener André Le Nôtre by widening the Royal Path and digging the Grand Canal. This vast perspective stretches from the façade of the Château de Versailles to the railings of the park.

In 1661, Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre with the design and laying out of the gardens of Versailles which, in his view, were just as important as the Château. The works were undertaken at the same time as those for the palace and took forty years to complete. But André Le Nôtre did not work alone: Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Superintendent of the King’s Buildings, directed the project from 1664 to 1683; Charles Le Brun, appointed First Painter of the King in January 1664, produced the drawings for a large number of statues and fountains; and, a little later, the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart drew up increasingly understated scenic plans and built the Orangerie. Lastly, the King had all the projects submitted to him and wanted the “details of everything”.

The laying out of the gardens required enormous work. Vast amounts of earth had to be shifted to lay out the flower beds, the Orangerie, the fountains and the Canal, where previously only woods, grasslands and marshes were. The earth was transported in wheelbarrows, the trees were conveyed by cart from all the provinces of France and thousands of men, sometimes whole regiments, took part in this vast enterprise.

Since 1992, the gardens have been gradually replanted, and after the devastating storm of December 1999, the work speeded up to such an extent that quite a few sections have already been restored to their original appearance.

Official website:- en.chateauversailles.fr

Opening Times

HIGH AND LOW SEASONS
LOW SEASON
From 1 November to 31 March

Palace
Every day except Mondays
9.00 am – 5.30 pm
Last admission: 5.00pm – Ticket office closes at 4.50 pm
Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate
Every day except Mondays
12.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Last admission: 5.00 pm – Ticket office closes at 4.50 pm

Garden and Park
Every day
8.00 am – 6.00 pm

HIGH SEASON
From 1 April to 31 october
Palace
Every day except Mondays
9.00 am – 6.30 pm
Last admission: 6.00 pm – Ticket office closes at 5.50 pm

Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate
Every day except Mondays
12.00 pm – 6.30 pm
Last admission: 6.00 pm – Ticket office closes at 5.50 pm

Garden
Open every day
8.00 am – 8.30 pm

Park
Open every day
7.00 am – 7.00 pm for vehicles; 7.00 am – 8.30 pm for pedestrians

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