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Wonder #8: Palace of Versailles,France | Wonder of the World

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About The Wonder 

The Palace of Versailles, situated in Versailles, France, about 19 kilometers (12 mi) west of Paris, is a former royal residence commissioned by King Louis XIV. Owned by the French Republic and managed by the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum, and National Estate of Versailles since 1995, it attracts approximately 15,000,000 visitors annually, making it one of the world's most popular tourist attractions. Recognized for its historical and cultural significance, the Palace of Versailles and its gardens were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The French Ministry of Culture has also recognized the palace, its gardens, and certain subsidiary structures as culturally significant monuments.

 

Location Map

History

Once upon a time, in 1623, there was a king of France named Louis XIII. He loved hunting so much that he decided to build a little hunting house on a hill, not too far from Paris and close to his main castle. This special place was near a small village called Versailles, but it was all wet and wooded, not fit for a king to live in. Despite that, he asked a builder named Philibert Le Roy to turn the hunting house into a small castle between 1631 and 1634. However, the king made a strange rule: his wife, Queen Anne, wasn't allowed to sleep over there. Even when there was a big sickness in 1641, and they had to move to Versailles for a bit, Anne still couldn't stay the night.

After King Louis XIII passed away in 1643, Queen Anne took over because their son, Louis XIV, was still too young. She didn't pay much attention to the little castle, and it was forgotten for ten years while she moved everyone back to Paris. But things got tough under her rule because people didn't like how she handled money, leading to big revolts called the Fronde.

When Cardinal Mazarin, who helped Anne rule, died in 1661, Louis XIV, now all grown up, decided it was time to make a big change. He remembered how amazing a big party at another castle, Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, was and got inspired. He wanted a palace even more magnificent and decided Versailles was the perfect place to build it.

So, Louis XIV took charge, brought in the best architects and gardeners from the Vaux-le-Vicomte party, and started working on transforming his dad's old hunting lodge into the most splendid palace ever. He aimed to show everyone that he was the boss, the Sun King, with the most beautiful palace in all of France, symbolizing his power and the grandeur of his reign. And that's how the small hunting lodge turned into the grand Palace of Versailles, a place of awe and wonder, representing the glory of the French monarchy.

How to Get There?

The airports nearest to the Palace of Versailles in France include:

  • Paris-Orly Airport (ORY): Positioned about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) southeast of Versailles, Paris-Orly Airport ranks among France's busiest airports, facilitating both domestic and international air traffic.
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG): Situated approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) northeast of Versailles, Charles de Gaulle Airport stands as France's largest international airport and a key hub for global air travel.
  • Beauvais-Tillé Airport (BVA): While situated farther away at around 110 kilometers (68 miles) north of Versailles, Beauvais-Tillé Airport is occasionally utilized by budget airlines, offering connections to various destinations across Europe.

Here are the Recommended durations and preferred modes of transportation from each of the major airports to the Palace of Versailles are as follows:

Paris-Orly Airport (ORY):

Duration: Around 30 to 40 minutes by car.
Preferred mode of transportation: Taxis or private car rentals offer the most convenient travel option. Alternatively, travelers can opt for public transportation, taking the Orlyval shuttle train to Antony station, transferring to the RER B train to Châtelet-Les Halles, and then taking the RER C train to Versailles-Château-Rive Gauche station, which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG):

Duration: Approximately 45 to 60 minutes by car.
Preferred mode of transportation: Taxis or private car rentals are the most convenient. Travelers can also take the RER B train from CDG to Châtelet-Les Halles station, and transfer to the RER C train to Versailles-Château-Rive Gauche station, which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Beauvais-Tillé Airport (BVA):

Duration: Approximately 2 to 2.5 hours by car.
Preferred mode of transportation: Taxis or private car rentals are recommended due to the distance. Alternatively, travelers can take a shuttle bus from BVA to Paris Porte Maillot, transfer to the metro and RER C train to Versailles-Château-Rive Gauche station, which takes about 3 to 3.5 hours.

Visa Requirements

For short-term stays (less than 90 days) in France, US citizens do not need a visa, but their passport must be valid for at least three months beyond their intended departure date. Long-term stays (more than 90 days) require a long-stay visa or residence permit obtained before traveling. Due to COVID-19, additional entry requirements may apply, such as vaccination proof or COVID-19 testing. For visa information and application procedures, please refer to our "Apply for Visa" section on our website.

Accommodation Areas

Versailles City Center:

Distance to Palace of Versailles: Within walking distance or a short drive.
Description: The city center of Versailles offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses, and apartments. Staying in the city center allows easy access to the Palace of Versailles, as well as restaurants, shops, and other attractions.

Saint-Louis:

Distance to Palace of Versailles: Within walking distance or a short drive.
Description: Saint-Louis is a historic neighborhood located near the Palace of Versailles. It features charming streets, traditional architecture, and boutique hotels. Staying in Saint-Louis provides convenient access to the palace and its gardens.

Notre-Dame:

Distance to Palace of Versailles: Within walking distance or a short drive.
Description: Notre Dame is another neighborhood close to the Palace of Versailles. It offers a mix of accommodation options, including hotels and bed and breakfasts. Notre Dame is known for its picturesque streets and proximity to the palace.

Chantiers:

Distance to Palace of Versailles: Within walking distance or a short drive.
Description: Chantiers is a district located near the Palace of Versailles train station. It offers various hotels and budget-friendly accommodation options. Staying in Chantiers provides easy access to public transportation and the palace.

Satory:

Distance to Palace of Versailles: Within a short drive or public transportation ride.
Description: Satory is a neighborhood located slightly further from the Palace of Versailles but still within reach by car or public transportation. It offers a mix of hotels and guesthouses, often at more affordable rates compared to the city center.

Language

While French stands as the official language of France, English finds its place in tourist hubs, hotels, and eateries nationwide. Yet, delving into basic French phrases can deepen your connection with locals and enrich your travel journey. For visitors to France, it's helpful to learn basic French phrases and practice pronunciation before your trip. Consider using language apps or carrying a pocket dictionary for assistance. Don't be afraid to try speaking French, as locals appreciate the effort. If you're struggling, ask for help politely, and use non-verbal communication when needed. Stay patient and friendly, and remember that making an effort to communicate in French can enhance your travel experience and foster positive interactions with locals.

Currency

The currency used in France is the Euro (). 

Fun Facts About Grandeur of Versailles

  • The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles boasts 17 mirrored arches and witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Louis XIV transformed Versailles into a political hub, relocating the French court from Paris in 1682.
  • The Palace of Versailles has over 2,300 rooms, 67 staircases, and 352 chimneys.
  • Versailles' gardens span 800 hectares, featuring exquisite lawns, statues, and fountains.
  • Over 30,000 workers contributed to Versailles' construction, a testament to its grandeur.
  • Versailles' opulence has captivated filmmakers, featured in numerous movies and TV shows.
  • Versailles' grandeur attracts millions of visitors yearly, making it a top historic destination.
  • The Sun King's influence is palpable in Versailles, reflecting his reign's magnificence.
  • Versailles' Hall of Mirrors symbolizes French elegance, with its stunning architectural features.
  • The Treaty of Versailles, signed in Versailles' historic hall, marked the end of World War I.

Best Time to Visit the Wonder

Spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) offer ideal weather and fewer crowds for visiting the Palace of Versailles:

  • Spring: Mild temperatures (10°C to 20°C / 50°F to 68°F), blooming gardens, and fewer tourists than summer.
  • Fall: Pleasant temperatures (10°C to 20°C / 50°F to 68°F), perfect for exploring without summer crowds.
  • Weekdays are quieter than weekends, providing a more serene experience.
  • Early mornings or late afternoons are best to avoid crowds and enjoy a peaceful visit.
  • Booking tickets online in advance saves time and bypasses entrance queues.
  • Start your visit early with popular attractions like the Hall of Mirrors to avoid peak hours.
  • Explore the gardens and Marie-Antoinette's Estate for a tranquil experience with fewer visitors.

Winter (December to February) offers a quieter visit to the Palace of Versailles, but weather conditions vary:

  • Weather: Temperatures range from 1°C to 7°C (34°F to 45°F), with occasional rain or snow, so dress warmly.
  • Crowds: Fewer tourists, shorter lines, and peaceful surroundings.
  • Weekdays are less busy than weekends, providing a more intimate experience.
  • Early mornings or late afternoons are ideal for avoiding crowds and enjoying the palace grounds.
  • Some outdoor areas, like the gardens, may be closed or less accessible due to maintenance.
  • Indoor attractions, such as the Hall of Mirrors, remain open for exploration.
  • Special events or exhibitions may attract more visitors on certain days.
  • Winter offers a unique opportunity to explore with fewer crowds, but prepare for cold weather and potential closures.

Summer (June to August) brings the peak season at the Palace of Versailles, characterized by warm weather and bustling crowds:

  • Weather: Temperatures range from 17°C to 25°C (63°F to 77°F), ideal for outdoor activities, though it can become hot and humid.
  • Crowds: Expect long lines and crowded attractions, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Weekdays may also see crowds, but early mornings or late afternoons offer slightly quieter periods.
  • Purchase tickets online in advance to skip queues and save time.
  • Popular attractions like the Hall of Mirrors and State Apartments remain busy throughout the day.
  • Explore the gardens in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat and crowds.
  • Consider booking a guided tour or audio guide for efficient navigation and insight into the palace's history.
  • Despite the crowds, longer daylight hours in summer allow for more exploration time.
  • Dress appropriately for warm weather, wear sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable clothing, and stay hydrated.

Activities


 

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