If you're planning to take a trip to Versailles and it's your first time visiting, we must tell you that there is so much to see and do that you might miss out on some of its best features unless you know in advance where to go and what to see. We've put together a mini-traveler's guide to let you know about the most highly recommended things to do and places to see when you're there.
1. Plan several hours at the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is the former hunting pavilion of Louis XIII and it is listed as a World Heritage Site from 17th Century France. It's a beautiful palace that is filled with historical and educational wonders. It was there that Louis XIV installed the government and the court in the year 1682. The palace is an absolute must see for anyone who is planning to visit Versailles. There are 2,300 rooms in the palace so plan on spending at least a half day touring. The official visiting hours are from 9:00 am through 5:30 pm.
2. Visit the Trianon estate while you're there
The Trianon Estate is the more intimate area where royalty would retreat to escape from the necessity of rendering courtly etiquette. It was a place of respite and was a very important place of refuge for the royals. As you can tell from the architecture and the magnificent gardens it was intended to be a place where they could relax. When you're there, you are standing where significant historical figures once stood.
3. Visit the Royal Stables
The Royal Stables offer a place to visit that is less visited than most other locations at Versailles. The project to build the stables was launched in 1679 and it took a virtual army of workers to complete the massive project in just three years. The Royal Stables were built in anticipation of the move of the government and the Court to Versailles.
4. Take a stroll through the English Gardens
One of the most breathtaking places you can visit in Versailles is the English Gardens. The building of this magnificent landscape was commissioned by Marie Antoinette in 1774. Gardens were already in existence at that time, but she desired to have them remodeled. She purposely ordered that the number of buildings be limited and decided upon the Belvedere and the Love Monument for placement in the Gardens.
5. Go to the Queen's Theatre
Another unforgettable experience is a visit to the Queen's Theatre in Versailles. This is yet another of Marie Antoinette's requested venues. Her personal architect Richard Mique was commissioned to build this theater and it was finished in 1780, just in time for a June 1 inauguration. There is room in the theater to seat 250 guests. The grandeur of the Queen's Theatre is something you'll have memories of for life, so plan on taking plenty of pictures while you're there.
6. See the Queen's Hamlet
If you're a fan of history then the Queen's Hamlet guided tour takes you across a stone bridge straight to the reception facilities and into the boudoir of the Queen's House. A grouping of rustic cottages with ornately decorated and furnished interiors occupy the space where the Queen once held small gatherings. At the hamlet, there existed a functional farm which was intended for the education of the children of the royals.
7. Visit the Neptune Fountain
Neptune Fountain is the iteration of the Roman god of the seas Neptune. He's also known as Poseidon. The fountain was finished in 1683 and is one of the most impressive in the region. Neptune sits upon a rock with his trident at a downward angle, surrounded by four seahorses. You won't want to miss out on seeing this fountain in person.
8. Tour the Rambouillet Castle
Castle Rambouillet is not far from Versailles and is located to the southwest of Paris. This is another experience that you won't want to miss out on. The castle was once a fortress in medieval times and it has since been turned into a residence. Here you'll find the Cottage with shells and the Dairy of Queen Marie Antoinette.
9. Shop at One Nation Paris Outlet
While you're in Versailles, you don't want to miss out on a world class shopping experience. The place to be is the One Nation Paris Outlet. Here you'll find plenty of Parisian souvenir's of you trip and unique gifts to bring back for friends and loved ones. What's a trip to France without a shopping excursion?
10. Visit the Historic Galleries Museums at the Palace of Versailles
While at the Palace of Versailles, make sure to visit the Museum that features the history of the 1830 Revolution. Here you'll find a collection of drawings, sculptures, paintings and engravings that will tell you more about the people and the culture of this era.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith