we (m. & s.) had the chance to visit the château de versailles a couple of weeks ago (while a. was in berlin, studying...life's so unfair sometimes!). we'd already visited it years ago with a. and our parents, but our grandmother never did, and she loves castles and king and queen history as much as we do! so we decided to make a little "châteaux roadtrip", with versailles, vaux-le-vicomte and fontainebleau on the menu!
we went during pentecost weekend, so we were a bit scared because it's one of the most crowded weekend of the year. but oddly enough, we managed to stay far from the madding crowd (!) most of the time!
the château opens at 9am, so we arrived at 8:30am on saturday morning. a lot of people were already waiting in line to visit the château (there's fortunately a separated entrance for the gardens), but frankly it was quite tolerable compared to the hundreds of people waiting at 9am!
we started visiting the ground floor, with the royal courtyard and the gallery of palace history. we continued our visit on the 1st floor, with the king and queen's grand apartments and of course the famous hall of mirrors (galerie des glaces) [see picture below]! everything there was made to impress the visitors (and we were impressed!), with gild decorations, paintings on the ceilings [see picture below], statues and mirrors everywhere. it's ostentatious and sumptuous. stunning, but not our favorite part of the castle! but anyway, we had so much fun taking pictures of us and king louis in the mirrors [see picture below]!
we actually prefered the apartments of mesdames (louis XV's daughters) on the garden level. they are less sumptuous but much more charming [see picture below].
we have one regret though, we didn't get to see the opera (guided tour only). so next time, we might exceptionally register for a guided tour!
after visiting the interiors of the château we headed to the gardens, where we spent the afternoon, as well as the next morning (we didn't have to wait in line this time as we only wanted to visit the gardens, so we arrived comfortably at 9am)!
we began our tour with the orangerie, which is undeniably our favorite place in the gardens. all the orange trees were already out on the parterre (they are kept inside the orangerie during winter), it was just gorgeous [see picture below]. this place is also magical in winter under the snow. you can see some pictures on the internet. plus the stairs leading to the parterre are monumental, s. liked them a lot [see picture below]!
we then walked for a few hours in the groves. there are more than a dozen different groves, each one with a special fountain or sculptures: the ballroom, the grove of apollo's baths [see picture below], the enceladus grove [see picture below], the grove of domes [see picture below], the collonade [see picture below],...
the fountains are not working all day long, so you need to plan your itinerary to be sure to see some of them spraying water. it's really something, some are quite impressive!
finally we visited the grand trianon and marie-antoinette's estate. between the petit trianon [see picture below], the queen's hamlet, the french and english gardens, the orangerie de jussieu and the queen's theatre, there are lots of wonderful places to see in marie-antoinette's estate. as it's not as close to the château as the groves, it's usually less crowded.
there are a lot of rooms to visit in the grand trianon, which is great because this little château is stunning, both on the inside and on the outside!
the queen's hamlet [see picture below] is so cute, no wonder marie-antoinette prefered spending time here rather than in the court of versailles! it seems to come straight out of an animated disney movie. seeing jaq, gus or lucifer wouldn't surprise anyone! and unlike one might think, it was actually a real farm and the products (cabbages, cauliflowers, artichokes,...) supplied the kitchen of the château.
there was so much to visit we couldn't possibly share pictures of everything, but we do hope you enjoyed this little tour!