As a kid, we have heard fairy tales from our loved ones and imagined beautiful castles and palaces. Château de Versailles (‘Palace of Versailles’) brings imagination to life. Spending time in its musicals gardens, nothing less than a fairyland, is one magical experience.
Palace of Versailles, the largest in Europe, is one of the most mesmerizing Palaces. One can easily spend a day there to explore the Palace, Gardens and Groves, Palaces of Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate, and the Grand Canal. Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France who helped provoke the popular unrest that led to the French Revolution and to the overthrow of the monarchy in August 1792.
A train ride from Paris to Versailles Chantiers takes 45 minutes and does not require prior bookings. The castle is walking distance (1.5 kms) from Versailles Chantiers and once you see the never ending long queue outside the castle, you know that you have arrived. It is pertinent to note that the access to the Gardens is free, except on the days of Musical Fountains show and Musical Gardens (generally Tuesdays but depends on the month of visit). Thus, prior reservation of audio tour of Palace will save 2-3 hours of standing in the queue and you will have more time to discover five centuries of history hidden there.
The Palace is a symbol of absolute monarchy and zenith of classical arts in France. The paintings on the ceiling of Gods and cherubs appears like tales expressed through colours. The Hall of Mirrors, the most famous room in the Palace was used for ceremonies on rare occasions. It was also here that the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919, ending the First World War.
The background of enchanting fountains and perfectly manicured gardens makes one look beautiful in it too. You can also hire bicycles in the park from the hire point at Little Venice on the banks of the Grand Canal. For those who don’t want to cycle, take a trip in a rowing boat along the Grand Canal and discover the park from different angles. The best experience for me was cycling through the beautiful tree lined streets of the garden in sunshine and rain.
Do not miss Potager du Roi (Vegetable garden of the King) which is few minutes walking distance from the Palace. Designed for King Louis XVI, this royal vegetable garden offers a theatrical vision of food grown for the court. Fruits and vegetables are still grown here and can be purchased early in the morning. The garden is till date well maintained and has many beautiful flowers and birds.