The Chateau of Versailles: A Must-See Attraction on Your Next Trip to Paris

Louis XIV: The Early Years

Before Louis XIV got his Sun King hands on it, the Château of Versailles was little more than a royal hunting lodge on the outskirts of Paris.

"Little", however, was not in the vocabulary of Louis XIV (nor was his native "petit"), the boy king who ruled France from the age of 5 years old. (Me, I was trying to get out of eating my peas when I was five years old.)

In actuality, Louis didn't literally rule France while he was still sucking his thumb. His mother, Anne of Austria (yes, even a king has to answer to his mother), became his regent (one who rules in place of a displaced or underage leader). Together with Cardinal Mazarin, Chief Minister of France, she directed France until Louis' head was big enough to keep the crown from falling down to his shoulders when he put it on. It didn't take long.

Source
Source
Source
The Vastness of Versailles
The Vastness of Versailles | Source

The Chateau of Versailles: If You Build It, They Will Come (Or Else They Will Be Punished)

Always strategizing to greaten his power, Louis XIV had many ulterior motives in building a lavish palace about twelve miles outside of Paris.

For one, it would enable Louis to distance himself from the common people of France, for these were people in which he had no interest in (except to exercising his absolute power over them and collect taxes from them so he could build lavish palaces 12 miles outside of Paris. So he didn't have to see them.)

Second, by moving the court to this location outside of Paris and creating a lavish playground and prestigious social code for the Parisian feudal nobility (those who most threatened his centralized power) and others who would otherwise be strategizing to get them some more, he kept this nobility and others "fat" and away from any thoughts of political strategizing to reduce his power.

Versailles became the seat of French power and it was where Louis held court. He frequently gave gifts to those who were regular attendees, and always remembered those who were infrequent guests. If you had a request of the king, and you were an infrequent guest, bonne chance!

My guest room looks like this too
My guest room looks like this too | Source
One of countless depictions adorning the ceilings of the Chateau de Versailles
One of countless depictions adorning the ceilings of the Chateau de Versailles | Source
Hall of Mirrors, Versailles
Hall of Mirrors, Versailles | Source

The Chateau of Versailles: Welcome to My Humble Abode

The Palace of Versailles is the ultimate tribute to Louis XIV and his reign. It is opulent, grandiose, resplendent with the finest art of the day, the best crafted furniture, the softest silks, and highest quality mirrors, glass and marble. To build such a mammoth construction, in where attention to detail made its way into every nook and cranny, is simply astounding.

The feature rooms of the palace consist of the grand appartement du roi (the king), dripping in gilded bronze and marble and adorned with ceiling paintings depicicting the power of the gods; the lavish grand appartement de la reine (the queen); and the 240-foot long galérie des glaces (Hall of Mirrors) which connects the two.

With its 350 mirrors, opulent chandeliers, giant, arched windows and ceiling paintings depicting the Sun King in all his grandiosity, one stands in awe in this light- and reflection-filled room that looks out upon the spectacular gardens.

Other famous rooms in the palace include the Chapel (in its fifth incarnation now) and l'Opéra, the 712 seat main theatre and the opera house for the palace. L'Opéra was not not used by Louis XIV -- it was actually constructed after his reign. He had many theatre rooms which have since been destroyed and/or replaced, but none so impressive as L'Opéra.

I have a 42-inch plasma for my home theatre. Oh well, I'm not an absoute monarch.

Gardens of Versailles
Gardens of Versailles | Source
Les jardins
Les jardins | Source

Chateau de Versailles: The Gardens, the Fountains, the Trianon

Over 250 acres of gardens, with lakes, canals, and over 1,000 fountains, each of which is a work of art in itself, are laid out in grandiose, geometrically symmetrical designs by landscape artist Andre le Notre.

The grounds connect the main Palace of Versailles described above with the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon,.

The Grand Trianon was mostly a retreat for the king and a place to entertain and board VIPs. The Petit Trianon was a "small" chateau (it was still a lot bigger than my house) that was built by the Sun King's successor, Louis XV, for his mistress Madame de Pompadour.

How Much to Gain Entry to the Court?

There are many options for bus tours that will take you from Paris to Versailles (about a 20 minute bus ride) for about 15 euros. You can choose a half day (9:00a.m. - 1:00p.m. or 2:00p.m. - 6:00p.m.) or a full day (9:00a.m. - 6:00p.m.).

If you have the time to spend, I would recommend the full day - between the palace, the gardens, the fountains and the Trianon, there is so much to see at Versailles that you can easily spend an entire day there. If you only have a half day to spare, you can still get some great photos and see the main attractions.

Tickets for adults are 13.50 euros - 25 euros, depending on the time of year and which elements of the Château de Versailles you want ot visit. Entry is free for everyone on the first Sunday of every month from October through March, and children under the age of 18 are always free.

For more information on tours and transportation, check out Versailles Palace Tours.

Bon voyage, and remember, as Mel Brooks said in The History of the World, Part I: "It's good to be the king!"

Check out these other Paris atractions for your next France vacation.

Chateau de Versailles, France

Le Petit Trianon, Versailles
Le Petit Trianon, Versailles | Source

More by this Author


21 comments

zampano 5 years ago

who are you ?


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Salut Zampano . . . l'etat, c'est moi!


zampano 5 years ago

You must be the people then.

Because l'état c'est le peuple.


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Certainly that is proving to be the case in the Middle East . . Vive la Liberte!


zampano 5 years ago

Vitoria ó muerte


zampano 5 years ago

Nice job you've done here.

Très bon boulot.

Félicitations,Santé!


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Merci bien Zampano. Santé!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Beautiful Hub Mike really enjoyed it!


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Thanks for stopping by, Susan, glad you enjoyed the hub!


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Mikes Corner,thanks for sharing this interesting hub of the chateau of versitlles.


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Thanks Crysto!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Fabulous hub. Your articles always make me want to jump on a plane and go there. Up and awesome.


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Thanks Genna, rendezvous at 12:00, Hall of Mirrors!


Goody5 profile image

Goody5 5 years ago from Bohville, USA, Just below the Mason-Dixon line in the land of the pleasant living

Hey Mike, I know you will want to see the hub where you started it all - http://hubpages.com/hub/News-Flash-The-New-Hub-Pag... Peace be with you


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Hey Goody5, okay I'm going to click your link, I hope I don't need to put my firesuit on first!


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Wonderful! I want to visit! It is now on my radar! Fantastic hub - well written and great photos.


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Thanks, Gma, glad you enjoyed the hub!


france1982 profile image

france1982 5 years ago from Planet Earth

This hub makes me wanna go Paris again...


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Me too! :)


festersporling1 profile image

festersporling1 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Wow. Awesome hub. I also can't WAIT to go to Paris again. I wrote one about the Eiffel Tower. It's been a looong time. http://hubpages.com/travel/Eiffel-Tower-Paris...


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Interesting and well written article which i enjoyed and learned reading from.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working