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The Palace of Versailles is worth a full day's visit to appreciate all its magnificence

 

The King’s bedchamber is pure luxury
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Looking for peace and quiet after Paris’s bustle? Just 16 km west of Paris, the Palace of Versailles, in the suburb of the same name, was created at incredible cost by the "Sun King" Louis XIV during the 17th century and the glorious days of the "Ancien Regime". Today it is the embodiment of classical French art and its royal Apartments, the Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette's Estate, including the gardens and their groves, are simply stunning and you can spend a whole day just enjoying them.

There you can feast your eyes on the fairytale Grand Canal, Petit Trianon, Grand Trianon, and the many dreamlike statues and fountains. Go inside the palace and you will be stunned by the opulence of the Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces)  the King and Queen's bedrooms. Here seventeen mirror arches face seventeen windows looking out over the grand park and each arch has 21 mirrors. Important state meetings are still held here.

If that isn’t dazzling enough, then you must see the famous marble courtyard and Napoleon’s bedroom, as well as the frescoed ceilings and walls in the Salon of Hercules and Salon of Abundance.

Outside, the wide manicured gardens are wonderful to simply walk around. Originally laid out more than 300 years ago, they feature many terraces, shady pathways, and colourful flower beds as well as fountains at every turn.  Most weekends over 50 of these ancient fountains, many still powered by the original hydraulics, put on a fabulous display called ‘‘Grandes Eaux’’ and use over 3600m cubed of water to do so. Also don’t miss the Bassin d’Apollon, the greatest fountain of all. Here in the gardens is also the 17th century Bassin de Neptune fountain as well as the beautiful Orangerie near the Château.

And if you’ve brought a picnic, then do what the French do and go to the Arboretum de Chevrèloup. Packed full of unsual and exotic trees from around the world, it was originally the private deer park of King Louis XV and is itself over 50 hectares in size.

Avoid Tuesdays, which are always crowded, and plan in advance to make it easier. Either book a guided visit, which takes care of transport, tickets and saves time, or simply travel by the RER C metro from Paris to Versailles from Orsay, Saint Michel or Tour Eiffel Metro stations.

The trip out takes 40 minutes (trains leave every 20 or 30 minutes) to Versailles Rive Gauche station and the Palace is a ten minute walk away.