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Suz Pathmanathan

Know before you go: Palace of Versailles

Possibly one of the most recognisable attractions in all of France, the Palace of Versailles in Paris is a beautiful structural dedication to royal influence. It is easy to see why the Palace of Versailles is one of the most highly sought- after attractions, second only to the Eiffel Tower, in all of Paris. Boasting the enchanting architecture of the 18th century, 250 acres of landscape, and stunning artwork, this castle is a stellar example of the lives French royalty once lived. With more than 10 million people visiting annually, here are some things to know before you go to the Palace of Versailles.

History of the Palace of Versailles

Once a quaint hunting lodge, the Palace of Versailles was reinvented as a chateau by Louis XIII. The surrounding land was purchased at that time so the king could create impressive gardens around his chateau. The first big construction project started in 1661, however, by Louis XIV, which wanted a country estate where the court of Versailles could be held. The overall project took 20 years to complete, but the gardens would not be completed for another two decades to be completely finished.

Things to Know Before You Visit the Versailles Palace

With an attraction as large as the Palace of Versailles, it is best to prepare before you go. To get the most out of your visit, here are a few insider tips to keep in mind.

1. There Are Different Areas to Visit in Palace of Versailles

The Versailles Palace actually consists of The Gardens, The Main Palace, Trianon Estate, and The Queen's Hamlet. All areas have some spectacular things to see and experience. You will probably spend the majority of your time in The Main Palace. It boasts more than 2,300 rooms and things you won't want to miss like the Hall of Mirrors and the King's Bedchamber. However, make sure you take the time to explore the grounds and other areas if you have a full day.

More about the gardens because they are just so spectacular. The Versailles Gardens are a real-life fairytale spread across 800 hectares, crafted in the 17th century for King Louis XIV. Picture endless rows of meticulously trimmed hedges, towering trees, and bright airy flowers, creating a natural work of art. Each area has its own unique charm, with artistic fountains that come alive with music during special shows, transporting you back to the era of French royalty.

And don't miss the grandeur of the Grand Canal, perfect for a quiet rowboat ride. And if you want more adventure, explore the smaller groves, each with their own themes and hidden sculptures. It's a stunning blend of natural beauty and historical artistry, a must-see for anyone who appreciates details of the past mingled with the elegance of nature. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes – there's so much to explore.

2. Get to the Versailles Palace As Early As Possible

The palace, a majestic and historical site, attracts an impressive number of approximately 27,000 visitors each day. To fully immerse yourself in the grandeur and history of the palace, it's advisable to schedule your visit early in the morning. This iconic landmark is accessible to the public every day except Mondays.

The doors open to visitors at 9 a.m. and remain open until 5:30 p.m. To make the most of your visit and to avoid the inevitable crowds, it's recommended to arrive just as they open. Tour buses typically start rolling in shortly after opening time, bringing with them a surge of visitors. Arriving early ensures that you can explore the palace in a more relaxed and less crowded atmosphere.

In addition to the palace itself, the expansive gardens and park, which are as much a part of the experience as the palace, open their gates at 8 a.m. daily. These outdoor areas offer a serene and beautifully landscaped environment where you can stroll and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding the historic structure.

Whether you're a history enthusiast, a lover of architecture, or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, planning your trip to coincide with these earlier hours will undoubtedly enhance your visit, allowing you to appreciate the palace, its gardens, and park in a more tranquil setting.

3. Consider Taking a Guided Tour for an Insider's View of Versailles Palace

The palace offers guided tours throughout the day. These tours focus on different areas and topics. They are especially helpful for first-time visitors. Guides provide interesting stories and knowledge.

Tours offer access to usually closed areas. This lets you understand the history and architecture more.

After the tour, you can explore on your own. This combines the best of both. You learn insights from guides first. Then you can revisit spots or find new areas at your pace. Whether you like history, architecture, or grandeur, this mix ensures an enjoyable and memorable time.

4. Improve Your Visit by Downloading the Audio Guide for Versailles

Another thing to know before you go to the Palace of Versailles is that it actually offers a free app. Add it to your phone and look for the other audio guides you can download as well. Both will be highly beneficial while you are exploring the palace and the grounds.

5. Experience a Meal at Versailles Palace

There are actually some restaurants available inside the palace where you can stop and grab lunch if you're spending the day exploring. Keep in mind that the prices at these restaurants can be considerably higher than what you would pay to eat elsewhere, however. It is pretty common for tourists to pack their own lunch and picnic in the park.

6. Don't Forget Your Paris Pass to Visit the Palace of Versailles

The key thing to know before you go to the Palace of Versailles is this. The Paris Pass will grant you access to the Palace, as well as at least 60 other attractions in Paris. Use the pass to access the palace and Chateaux de Trianon et Domaine de Marie-Antoinette when it is open. Extra shows are not included with the pass, but you will skip right past the ticket line.

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