It was grandiose and extravagant; as we moved from room to room, each was more over-decorated than the last.
How to Get There
A half-hour metro ride costing 3,50 Euros to the southwest of the city will bring you to Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche station and the Versailles Palace, home to Louis XIV’s vision of the absolute monarchy. The grounds cover over 800 hectares of land, meaning it takes more than an hour to walk from the Palace to the end of the Grand Canal near the edge of the estate border! The beautiful thing about solo travel is the people you meet who are also on a solo adventure, and who are like-minded and cherish the same things you do – I met Tiffany on Paris’ Trocadero at 6:30am and together we made the day trip out to Versailles; an experience made so much more wonderful because I had someone to share it with.
Tickets & The Estate
We arrived at Versailles at approximately 10am to a massive line-up that stretched back and forth across the Honour Courtyard outside the Palace. You have to purchase your tickets beforehand, so have one person wait in line and the other dash into the ticket office in the old South Ministers’ Wing – tickets are 27,00 Euros per person if you’d like to see the gardens too (highly recommended). Just over an hour later, we were in! An audio-guide is included in the price of a ticket, so head over to the North Wing across the Royal Courtyard to pick yours up.
The Palace of Versailles
The Palace was very busy with tourists all trying to snap photos of the exaggerated and iconic interiors. Following the route of our audio-guide, we made our way through the Palace, starting with a gallery of the history, including many fine works of art and videos detailing the history of the Palace. From there, the guide takes you to the State Apartments including the iconic Hall of Mirrors, where I envisioned Louis XIV prancing about, and the King’s Chambers, my favourite being his dining room where he sat alone at the table while somber music played and ladies of the court watched him eat. You can wander the Mesdames apartments too, for a look into the life of a child in court.
Musical Gardens & Groves
We spent quite a bit of time wandering the gardens with accompanying baroque music coming through the trees. On the Grand Canal, people rowed about in quaint white wooden boats. Tucked in and among the groves, little crepe stands enticed customers in, and fountains danced along to the musical notes.
Marie Antoinette’s Estate
Something that I really loved about being here was being able to learn and understand the nuances of their life in a manner that didn’t require reading a textbook. For example, why did Marie want a whole separate estate and not just a wing in the already-huge Palace? What was their relationship truly like?
Of all the buildings on the Estate, my favourite by far was the Grand Trianon, a pink marble palace that Louis XIV designed for his lover Madame de Montespan. Ornate columns and airy, colourful rooms fill this palace.
Adorned with English-style gardens, this was where Marie Antoinette escaped the high and mighty life of court up at the Palace. True to style, the Trianon is minimally decorated. I wonder what she truly felt about life and why she had such a desire to create an alternative life where she could feel ‘normal’?
Queen’s Hamlet & Farm
While it may seem like a small part of the entire Estate when you look at a map, you absolutely cannot miss going for a wander among the ‘Beauty and the Beast’-esque style houses in the Queen’s farm – I half expected Belle to burst out of one of them singing “Little Town”! It was truly like a fairytale storybook. We also found some bunnies at the farm, who chased each other about like mad hatters, and kept Tiffany and I in fits all afternoon!
Where to Eat
After 7 hours of walking, we ended our long day at the delightful Le Lyautey on the way back towards the metro station. We indulged in spaghetti and cheese platters and French bread, while looking back down towards the Versailles estate.
*Including photos by Tiffany