It’s a short train ride on the Metro from Central Paris take the RER C (yellow) Versailles-Rive Gauche for under 5 Euro. From the train station follow the signs to Château Versailles, you will be blinded by the sun reflecting off the golden entrance gates at your destination. If you are here to tour the Château be prepared for the long line ups to get inside and then the crowds throughout the building. But, if you are a lover of gold, you will be in heaven, the Hall of Mirrors is also a tourist favorite.
My memories of Versailles lie in the gardens, travel along Rue des Réservoirs past Théâtre Montansier, turn left on Rue de la Paroisse to get to the garden gates. You can purchase a ticket here to get access to just the gardens. There are golf carts, bicycles and other rentals if you wish to tour around the vast space.
Through the gates you are amazed by the condition and maturity of the gardens, hedges tower above you; the space is massive and intricately designed into various sections. I would suggest grabbing a map to plan your route. Everywhere you look in this manicured, manufactured space is breathtaking. Start at the Château for an amazing panoramic view of the gardens, amazing fountains, statues, grand staircases, ornamental lakes and your first view of The Grand Canal off in the distance. This is also a great location to see the magnitude and glory of the Château Versailles.
The gardens are overwhelming and incredibly beautiful, you could spend an entire day exploring them and still not have seen everything there is to see. Travel through and explore the different sections, you can see different planting materials and methods, some more natural compared to the other precisely planted gardens. Many of the them feature sculptures of historic figures in the French Court, others have exquisite fountains, or massive marble pillars lining the space. You truly feel like Royalty here, grab a bench in one of the gardens and relax while taking in your surroundings.
The Orangerie was one of my favorite spaces. A giant fountain in the middle surrounded by the elaborately designed grass sections, the main walkways are lined in rows with planters filled with fruit trees. A massive staircase surrounds the Orangerie, leading to the terrace around the Château. Climb to the top for your best view and perspective of the symmetry in this highly designed space.
On the north west side of the gardens find The Grand Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s estate. Stroll through the Hamlet Marie-Antoinette, the community she created during her time at Versailles. The buildings in the hamlet are quite modest and quaint compared to the dominating Château. From the Petit Trianon to the Queen’s Gardens it is incredible to be in the Queen’s space and to experience her vision of what her personal life was to be.
If you are tired of walking, rent a row boat in The Grand Canal. Rentals have an hourly rate and be aware if you plan to cover the whole, cross shaped canal you will need a bit more than an hour. Again your are amazed in the size and magnitude of this waterway meant to mimic Venice. As your boat skims across the water notice the ducks and other wildlife making their homes here, and the number of dogs and owners playing in the forests to the side.
After a day of walking, climbing stairs and rowing stop and grab a table on the patio of La Flottille, on The Grand Canal. Take a minute to toast Marie-Antoinette as you devour your cake.
Click to see my gallery of Versailles Gardens
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