If you are looking for a day trip from Paris that combines history, culture, and nature, look no further than Versailles. This city, located about 20 kilometers southwest of the French capital, is home to one of the most famous and impressive palaces in the world: the Château de Versailles.
The Château de Versailles was the residence of the French kings and queens from 1682 to 1789, when the French Revolution put an end to the monarchy. It is a masterpiece of French classical architecture and art, with over 2,000 rooms, including the stunning Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, ending World War I. You can also admire the lavish apartments of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and his successors, as well as the exquisite furniture, paintings, sculptures, and tapestries that decorate the palace.
To visit the Château de Versailles, you need to buy a ticket online in advance, as the palace is very popular and often crowded. You can choose from different options, depending on what you want to see and how much time you have. The Palace Ticket gives you access to the main palace, the gardens, and the park. The Passport Ticket includes the Palace Ticket, plus the Domaine de Trianon and the temporary exhibitions. The Estate Ticket gives you access to the Domaine de Trianon, the gardens, and the park, but not the main palace. You can also book guided tours, audio guides, or multimedia guides to enhance your visit.
The Domaine de Trianon is a separate area of the estate, where the royal family could escape the formalities and pressures of the court. It consists of two smaller palaces: the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, both built in elegant and refined styles. The Petit Trianon was the favorite retreat of Marie-Antoinette, the last queen of France, who created a rustic and romantic hamlet nearby, where she could enjoy a simple and natural life. You can visit the hamlet and its farm, where animals still roam freely.
The gardens of Versailles are another attraction that you should not miss. They cover 800 hectares of land, and are designed in the French style, with geometric patterns, symmetrical alleys, and ornamental ponds. They are also adorned with hundreds of statues, fountains, and groves, each with a different theme and atmosphere. You can explore the gardens on foot, by bike, by golf cart, or by boat. You can also attend the musical fountain shows, which take place on certain days and times, and feature water jets synchronized with classical music.
Versailles is not only about the palace and the gardens, though. It is also a charming city with a rich heritage and a lively culture. You can visit the Cathedral of Saint Louis, the Royal Opera, the Royal Chapel, and the Museum of the History of France, among other monuments and museums. You can also enjoy the local cuisine, the markets, the festivals, and the events that take place throughout the year. You can find more information and tips about Versailles on the official website of the Office de Tourisme de Versailles.