My last full day in Paris, I took a day trip to Versailles where I spent the entire day. Versailles is known for its extravagance with the Hall of Mirrors and many fountain filled gardens. It was one of the most impressive sights I’ve ever seen.
Versailles is located 12 km west of Paris. It was first noticed by Louis XIII and he built a hunting lodge there to enjoy its woods full of game. It was his son, Louis XIV, who turned Versailles into an estate fit for king. Major work was initiated in 1661 when his reign began. From 1668 to 1710 Versailles was in a permanent state of construction as it was built and expanded as Louis XIV added new phases to the massive estate.
Everything inside the Palace is extravagant: every wall covered in paintings, gold carvings, and statues, every stone of every floor, the incredible ceilings covered in paintings, the stone carvings of past royals that lived here. Everything is completely over the top and absolutely stunning.
While the Palace itself was amazing, I was truly impressed walking through the many beautiful gardens. Apparently, Louis XIV loved them so much that he created his own itinerary for guests to follow to walk through the gardens, which can still be followed today.
Construction on the gardens starts in 1661 and took 40 years to complete. There have been some minor alterations to the garden design over the past century and starting in the late 1990’s there was much work done to restore the gardens after damage caused by recent storms.
To supply the necessary water to the Versailles gardens, the king’s engineers had to devise a drainage system to bring water from the surrounding hills. Some water was even brought from the River Seine.
One of the most beautiful garden sights is the Orangery, which is flanked by the 100-step staircase. It houses 1080 trees, all of which are planted in boxes. There are more than orange trees; there are also lemon, pomegranate, oleanders and palm trees. Ironically, the trees don’t produce much fruit as they are pruned into decorative spheres. They are only outdoors from mid-May to mid-October. The rest of the year they are kept indoors due to the cold winter temperatures.
I’ve visited several Palaces over the years, and this is truly one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen. If I ever make it back to Paris I can easily see myself returning to Versailles for a relaxing stroll through the gardens.