We have been to Paris multiple times but have never had enough time to take the train out to Versailles. This trip, we decided to stay in Versailles and use it as our base station. We didn’t want any excuses for running out of time and Jeff didn’t want to deal with driving in Paris.
Our Airbnb was just a ten minute walk to the front gates of the Palace. We purchased our day tickets to the Palace and gardens on-line a couple months before we arrived. The day before we received our electronic pass and we were ready to go.
A Little History
The Palace of Versailles was originally a small hunting lodge in the middle of 8,000+ acres that was built in 1623 by Louis XIII. In 1631, he removed the lodge and built a much larger chateau. Fast forward to 1661-1715 and enter King Louis XIV – also known as the Sun King. King Louis XIV made some grand improvements and the chateau became the Palace we see today. At this time, he also moved his court and his government to Versailles which virtually made it the capitol of France.
King Louis XVI was married to Marie Antoinette and they were the last monarchs to live in Versailles before the French Revolution. Louisville, KY was named after King Louis XVI. For a bit of trivia. Of course, after the French Revolution, Napoleon would spend his summers at there.
Today, there are approximately 800 acres left of the estate and the Palace is owned by the French Republic since 1995. Each year over 15 million people visit this Unesco World Heritage site making it one of the most visited attractions in the world.
The Queen’s Hamlet – Hameau de la Reine
Marie- Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI, had a very special village built for her at the edge of the property. This little hamlet allowed her to escape the Palace and get back to nature. It is about a 20 minute walk from the Palace (we figured that she didn’t actually walk here – ever). There were 10 small buildings in this lovely enclave of nature. It was also good to be queen (until you lost your head, of course).
Important Info: Buy your ticket in advance from the Versailles site online. They only sell a specific number of tickets so don’t wait until you get to the front gate as you might be out of luck.
Our eticket was $52 each for admission into everything in the estate. Allow about 4 hours and plan on lots of walking (ie, no high heals). Europe is not terribly handicapped accessible and you will have stairs to climb.
Be sure to download the Versailles app and take your earbuds with you. Rick Steves also has a nice walking tour of Versailles on his app that you can download ahead of time.