I thought I knew what to expect when visiting the Palace of Versailles, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
No description nor secondhand photos can prepare you for the grandiosity of this incredible French baroque fortress –
It just goes on and on (and on!)
Paris to Versailles
Bananas in hand and still in the first few days of our Europe story, we got another early start catching a train from our home base in central Paris to Versailles, a town that took about 45 minutes to reach.
We arrived to a light, cold drizzle and I was the only one without an umbrella or poncho (because fashion) but thankfully, the line moved quickly and Tiffany’s poncho had more than enough room for the both of us.
We’d purchased our tickets ahead of time but were still apprehensive about getting in since our plans had been changed and the dates we had reserved had already passed (thanks Irma.)
Some explanations and light begging seemed to be enough for the ticket takers at the Palace of Versailles; they verified that the tickets had not been used and allowed us to enter without purchasing them again (we got off to a pretty good start with the French didn’t we?)
Once inside, we wandered chamber after chamber of artfully decorated interiors, with a different masterpiece painted on each ceiling.
Palace of Versailles History & Facts: Built To Impress
The Palace of Versailles was first built as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII, but it was made into the lavish palace as we know it today by his successor Louis XIV.
Louis XIV, aka ‘the Sun King’, ruled France as an absolute monarch for 72 years, during which time he considered himself the embodiment of France.
As such, he felt his palace must display the full extent of wealth and power which his nation is capable of – a challenge he rose to meet with great enthusiasm.
With a restored ornate gate of gold surrounding the courtyard, you get a taste for Louis XIV’s aesthetic long before you even enter the castle.
Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles was particularly stunning, a long corridor lined with alternating mirrors and even more unique works of art –
I actually had a tourist ask to take a picture with me while I was there (it’s the hair, I’m sure.)
It’s interesting to note that, although most mirrors at that time were imported from Italy at great cost, the Hall of Mirrors was constructed exclusively with mirrors made by the French themselves.
With a long history and plenty to see, it’s not hard to see why the Versailles palace is one of the top things to do in France for travelers.