One of the most well-known World Heritage Sites is the Palace of Versailles, together with its gardens. The Royal Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapel, the Royal Opera, and the Museum of the History of France are all part of the ensemble, which is built in the 17th and 18th-century architectural style.
The Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, the Temple de l’Amour, and the Hamlet of Queen Marie-Antoinette are just a few of the notable buildings that adorn the Park. There are also statues, fountains, water parterres, and other impressive structures. After two years of rehabilitation work, the Royal Opera finally opened its doors in 2009 after the reinstatement of the royal gate and the total restoration of the Petit Trianon. It now greets the public with an extraordinary program.
Since October 2010, the Grand Couvert’s antechamber, which has been completely renovated and is once again open to the public, features the King’s table once more. It mimics the setting of King Louis XIV’s public dinners with his family, which took place every night at 10 p.m. and lasted 45 minutes.
The history of the Palace of Versailles
The town of Versailles only consisted of a few homes south of the current Place d’Armes before Louis XIV’s reign. But the lords of the court received land, and new structures appeared, mostly in the north quarter. On May 6, 1682, the Palace of Versailles was designated as the official royal seat of France. However, it was abandoned with the death of Louis XIV in 1715. But it was given back to the monarchy as a royal residence in 1722. During the reigns of Louis XV (1715–74) and Louis XVI, additional additions were built (1774–92). After the French Revolution, the building complex was almost completely demolished.
Napoleon generally ignored Versailles, while Louis XVIII and Charles X essentially maintained it, except for modifications to the Trianons. However, Louis-Philippe made significant changes, in part thanks to American customers. The Museum of French History, founded by him and dedicated “to all the glories of France” on June 10, 1837, during the first celebration at Versailles following the Revolution, was perhaps his most significant gift to the palace.
The Gardens of Versailles are a work of art and one of the most extensive and most beautiful gardens in the entire world. The gardens were constructed on Louis XIV’s command in 1661 and were created by renowned landscape architect André Le Nôtre. They took more than 40 years to finish and were considered essential to the palace.
It was a massive undertaking to clear marshes and glasslands and move tons of earth in order to put out the flowerbeds, fountains, Orangerie, and canals. Thousands of men collaborated to create the gardens as trees were hauled in from all around France.
Features of Versailles gardens
The Water Parterre, North Parterre, and South Parterre are three sizable parterres that are made up of symmetrically arranged plant beds that line the palace’s garden side.
The Water Parterre, which has two sizable rectangular pools and serves as a lovely example of how light can be used to enhance a space, reflects the sun’s rays and illuminates the exterior wall of the Hall of Mirrors.
From the Water Parterre, you can see the North and South Parterres, which encircle the base of the palace. The Grinder and Modest Venus, two bronze statues, created in 1688, mark the beginning of the North Parterre. The space is divided by a sizable circular pool that features the Pyramid Fountain. The three-year construction of the fountain, which Charles Le Brun designed, includes 3 tiers of lead basins supported by dolphins, crayfish, and Tritons.
A few stairs lead up to the South Parterre, also referred to as the Flower Garden, with two bronze sphinxes on either side. You may get a breathtaking view of the Orangery from the fence.
One of the most exotic areas of the entire Versailles Garden is the Orangery, which was built by Louis Le Vau and contained a total of 1055 trees that are placed in ornate boxes. It has lemon, oleander, pomegranate, olive, and palm trees in addition to the orange trees that King Louis XIV favored. The queen’s suite and most of the South Wing apartments offer views of the Orangery. Six elegantly patterned lawns spread out from a circular pond that marks the Orangery’s center. Additionally, it has a central gallery that extends for more than 150 meters, has a vaulted ceiling that is 13 meters high, and opens onto a lovely garden.
The Château de Versailles is the largest open-air sculpture museum in the world, housing 386 sculptures made of bronze, marble, and lead. The sculptures, which all depict varied themes of love, celebration, power, and glory, were all ordered by Louis XIV and utilized as symbols of the King’s might, power, and magnanimity. Apollo, the sun god, frequently appears in the artwork. Examples include Latona’s Fountain, which shows Apollo as a kid, and The Dragon Fountain, which shows Apollo in all of his glory and includes a Python that has been pierced by Apollo’s arrows.
The statues’ subject matter changed as Louis XIV grew to represent childhood. Insisting that “childhood must be everywhere,” statues of kids riding dolphins and playing with newts began to appear in the gardens.
Millions of tourists enjoy this history each year, and great care is taken to maintain the works in the gardens, which feature a collection of statues and sculptures by some of the greatest artists of the 17th century.
The Groves of Versailles are miniature gardens tucked away in the woods that are ornamented with statues, vases, and fountains. There are fifteen little kinds of wood that were previously outdoor salons scattered throughout the larger gardens. These include the Ballroom Grove, which was created as a living amphitheatre, the Chestnut Grove, which features two rows of chestnut trees.
Apollo’s Baths Grove, an English-style garden with a lake in the middle and a large artificial rock enhanced with cascades and a grotto. The Queens Grove, which highlights Virginia tulip trees, the Chestnut Grove, which features two rows of chestnut trees, and the Chestnut Grove are also included.
Entrance fees of Versailles Palace
Tickets for independent tours cost €19.50 and include admission to the palace, temporary exhibits, gardens, and if no musical fountain shows or musical gardens activities are taking place, the park.
When there are no Musical Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens events, the Estate of Trianon ticket is €12 and includes access to the Petit Trianon, Grand Trianon, temporary exhibitions in the Grand Trianon, gardens, and the Gallery of Coaches.
€18 per person for group trips when a tour guide is present.
On the first Sunday of every month, from 1 November to 31 March, admission is free.
Teachers of elementary and secondary schools and those who are citizens of the European Union under 26 (except temporary exhibitions).
For welfare recipients and job seekers in France is free.
Young people and children under 18 are not charged.