The Castle of Versailles and its grounds
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The Hall of Mirrors
© Only France
The Marble Courtyard
Marie Antoinette's Estate
The Orangerie of Versailles
View of Castle of Versailles by night
The privileged residence of the French monarchy from the period of Louis XIV to Louis XVI, the Castle of Versailles is located 16km south west of Paris. Embellished by several generations of architects, sculptures, decorators and landscapers, for more than a century it served as a model for Europe of how a royal residence should be.
The grounds of the Castle of Versailles stretch over an area of 715 ha, 93 ha of which are taken up by its gardens.
The embodiment of classical French art, the area of land features numerous elements, including the Petit and Grand Trianon, the Hameau de la Reine (Queen's Hamlet), the Grand and Petit Canal, a menagerie, an orangery and the Swiss Ornamental Lake. Its grounds are still abuzz with memories of “court life” from the time of the Sun King and his successors.
Listed as Unesco World Heritage since 1979, the Palace and grounds of Versailles constitute one of the most beautiful creations of 17th century French art there is.
The work of the Sun King
The former hunting lodge of Louis XIII was transformed and extended by his son Louis XIV, who built France's Court and government here in 1682. Up until the 1789 French Revolution, the country's kings succeeded each other here, each leaving their own mark on the Castle.
Louis XIV notably embellished the King and Queen's Grands Appartements (grand apartments). The most emblematic achievement remains the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), a ball and reception venue par excellence. Designed by Jules-Hardouin Mansart and decorated by Charles Le Brun, it was inaugurated in 1684.
The following century, a series of extensions followed, notably with the construction of the Chapel and the Opera. Today the Castle occupies an area of 63,154 m2, which is divided up into 2,300 rooms.
The Gardens and Grounds of Versailles
From the central window of the Hall of Mirrors, laid out in front of the visitors' eyes is the breath-taking view of the gardens of Versailles, from the lawn in the foreground, right out to the horizon.
Gardener André Le Nôtre embellished and extended the original view by enlarging the Allée Royale (royal alley) and by cutting the Grand Canal. Charles Le Brun designed a large number of statues and fountains for these areas.
The Museum of French History
Although the Castle lost its official vocation as official seat of power in 1789, in the 19th century it became the Museum of French History, commissioned by Louis-Philippe. It is therefore regularly endowed with new collections. Boasting approximately 60,000 artworks, the collections of the castle of Versailles cover very wide domains.
Not to be missed
- The Grands Appartements (grand apartments) of the King and Queen.
- The Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), with its twin drawing rooms (the Salon de la Guerre and the Salon de la Paix, which flank the north and south of the Palace – respectively called the “Aile de Noble”, ornobles' wing, and “Aile des Princes” , the Princes' wing, sometimes known as the “Aile de Midi”, the Midi wing).
- The Castle's gardens and grounds. From April to October, the Grandes Eaux et Jardins musicaux (musical fountains show) brings the castle's grounds to life. This is the perfect occasion to discover the fountains and groves and their sparkling waters to the rhythm of music.
- The Grand Trianon was erected by Jules Hardouin Mansart in 1687. This small palace made from pink marble and porphyry really stands out for its refinement and its elegant proportions.
- Marie-Antoinette's estate. From the Petit Trianon to the Queen's gardens and Hamlet, this estate, opened in 2006, reveals the inner workings of the wife of Louis XVI, who loved to come to this area to rediscover the pleasures of a simple and rural life, far from the pomp of Versailles.