Located around 19km (12 miles) west of Paris, Versailles is home to what used to be Louis XIV's royal residence. The Palais de Versailles was first opened to the public in 1883 as a national museum, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 - France's first UNESCO-recognised heritage site. The Château de Versailles has also played host to a range of historic events, including the signing of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. Looking to the future, Versailles will be home to the equestrian events when France hosts the Olympic Games in 2024. You can travel to Versailles on local public transport, including TER regional trains, as well as the metro and RER network.
Getting the train to Versailles, which is undoubtedly France’s grandest palace, can be a relaxing way to dip out of the urban buzz of Paris for an afternoon. Transformed from a hunting lodge into a lavish and opulent abode by the ‘Sun King’ in the 17th century, the palace is both a handsome beauty and the site of many historical events that shaped France and Europe. After just over a 45-minute walk from Versailles Rive Droite or 20 minutes from Chantiers station, visitors will be spellbound as they pass through the main entrance approaching the palace, which stands proudly glittering in gold. The interior is largely unchanged, since it was the ultimate symbol of regal power, with amazing marble, frescoes and woodcarvings. Ostentation levels reach their peak in the famous Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) central ballroom, which saw the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1917.
The formal palace gardens are a marriage of geometrically-aligned flower beds, terraces, fountains and statues, with shady pathways and an orangery, which is home to tropical plants. Wandering through 1.5 km of heavenly gardens, visitors will reach the two smaller palaces, Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, built to provide a more relaxed setting for the king and his friends to dine in, without the strict rules of the court. In the 18th century, a mock-village, complete with thatched cottages, became a rustic retreat space for Marie Antoinette, inspired by the trend towards Naturalism in art and architecture at the time. By the time tourists have finished exploring all this, Versailles will have worked its magic, and 21st-century Paris will feel like another world away entirely!