A few miles outside the centre of Paris lies Versailles. In the 11th century it was just a small village but in the 17th century King Louis XIII began to transform Versailles from a small country residence into a hunting lodge which lay the basis for the Palace we now know today. It has since became one of the most important, famous political estates in the world.
One of the most important figures in the development of Versailles was undoubtably King Louis XIV. He loved Versailles and wanted to continue building and expanding the chateaux which had first been built by his father.
The history of the Palace is incredible and could fill multiple text books/it already has, so I’m not going to give you a history lesson. I’m just going to show you some pictures..
So serious stuff aside, Dad is a massive history buff, as am I, but he reallllly laps it up. He is also a massive fan of the TV series Versailles, so its fair to say he was particularly excited about our visit.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted by beautiful golden gates and an extremely impressive forecourt.
We arrived reasonably early (about 11ish) along with hundreds of other people and we made our way around the Palace.
Versailles has welcomed royalty, celebrities and public figures from all over the world. From The Kennedy’s to John Travolta to our very own Queen Elizabeth II.
So it’s safe to say I’m sure we wont have been the first people to be completely taken aback by its grandeur!
I mean we knew it was going to be impressive..but this impressive..!?
It was Louis XIV who expanded the estate. The entire estate is comprised of the Palace, the gardens, the Park, the Trianon estate and several buildings in town meaning it spans over 800 hectares!
Such an impressive Palace needs to have a pretty special entrance, I give you the front door key..
Just imagine carrying that around on your pocket!
The rooms on the ground floor were full of paintings, statues, artefacts and interactive short films teaching you all about the history of Versailles.
Making our way upstairs we started to get a glimpse of the incredibly ornate rooms.
We explored and explored.
Each room was just as grand as the one before.
I’m afraid you’ll find a lot of ceiling pictures, I’ve only noticed this since going through all the pictures home. I can only say it’s because when you’re so small and stuck in the middle of a massive crowd it means that you spend a lot of time just looking up!! Luckily for me, the ceilings were art in themselves so I wasn’t stuck for something to look at and appreciate.
The chandeliers were also something to be in awe of!
Slightly overrun with tourists it made it incredibly difficult to fully appreciate the Palace’s beauty.
To give you a bit of a scale of the bed…I think I’d need a little ladder to even get into it!
The Hall of Mirrors was incredible. Even the crowds couldn’t stop you from appreciating its beauty!
Luckily neither Paris or Versailles were invaded during the First World War, although both were affected. Versailles closed its doors for a while in order to protect its works however, for the most part life continued as normal. The end of the First World War was marked by the signing of The Treaty of Versailles which was done here in the Hall of Mirrors in 1919.
I’d fully recommend trying to get to Versailles as early in the day as possible, even better go out of season! You’ll have more space to wander, it’ll be less of a bunfight and all round more enjoyable!
The Gallery of Battles was built in the 19th century to house all paintings dedicated “to all the glories of France”. King Louis-Philippe wanted a museum of French history and had a desire to show national reconciliation.
All that exploring meant we’d built up quite an appetite. In the grounds of Versailles you can choose from Ladurée and Angelina’s. Both famously Parisian and so very fitting. We came across Angelina’s first so that’s where we went.
Mum and Dad both went for pasta.
Haze and I both went for veggie club sandwiches.
I’ve heard pretty average things about Angelina’s but we actually really enjoyed it, so no complaints here!
After lunch we noticed the crowds outside getting larger and larger and we couldn’t face being stuck inside any longer so headed outside for some fresh air.
After all the hussle and bussle it was so nice to escape into the gardens. The Palace is surrounded by vast forests and meadows in which the King used to enjoy hunting.
The Orangery gardens show perfect symmetry. There have been orange trees imported from Spain, Portugal and Italy, there are lemon trees, palm trees, oleander trees and pomegranate trees. Some are over 200 years old! During the winter they are housed in the Orangery and in the summer they are spread out looking glorious as they basque in the sun!
We couldn’t get over the scale of the gardens. As we wandered around we realised we weren’t even touching the sides as we stayed firmly on the paths.
With perfectly trimmed hedges and bushes, and fountains which put on dancing shows, everything was so, so incredibly impressive.
To maintain the garden apparently everything has to be replanted about every 100 years.
A series of storms in the late 20th century including one in 1999 devastated the gardens meaning they had to be totally redone and fresh plants planted. This means the gardens now look very similar to how they would have looked during the reign of Louis XIV.
Just doing it for the ‘gram..
hey, we all do it!
My favourite part..the opera music being played from the bushes. There were literally singing bushes.
so am I!
If you’ve stuck with me until here then I hope I have given you a glimpse into one of the most beautiful places in the world. It really is a place not to be missed if you visit Paris.
Also, a completely unrelated side note, if you’re under 26 and from a country within the European Union you can visit all the famous landmarks, unfortunately not including the Eiffel Tower, for free!! Just flash your passport and you’re away. Get going, quickly!!