24 July 2011

Visiting the Château de Versailles

GFiMP went to Paris this week and visited the château de Versailles and the Louvre. Below are some photos from our trip.

The château, originally the home of Louis XIII, was renovated by his son, Louis XIV and is celebrated as the apex of 17th century French art and architecture.

Looking up a the main entrance to the château from the Royal Courtyard.

Admiring the Hall of Mirrors, a 73-meter long gallery that was used daily
by courtiers and visitors as a passageway to other parts of the château.

The ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors.

The king's bedroom.

Ornate wall and ceiling.

Underneath a chandelier.

The Queen's bedroom.

A quiet stone passage leading to the gardens.

Photographing the château from the gardens. To get the everything in a single frame, you either have to stand far enough away or use a super wide angle lens, it's that big.

Looking west towards the Grand Canal which, if you could see from the air, was built in the shape of a cross.

The Grand Trianon
Constructed in 1688 on a property just north-west of the main château, the Grand Trianon was built as a recreational residence for Louis XIV and his family; a small countryside getaway for when the stress of running the country became a little too stressful, I imagine. It was here that Louis XVI gave his wife, Marie-Antoinette, her estate, Le Petit Trianon.

The front entrance to the Grand Trianon.

A side courtyard of the Grand Trianon.

Le Petit Trianon - The Estate of Marie-Antoinette

The main building of the Petit Trianon seen from the gardens.

The kitchen where foods were reheated before being served to the king and queen.

A room for playing music and entertaining guests.

The billiard room.

The Queen's Hamlet
Set deep into the gardens of the Trianon, the Queen's Hamlet will forever be known as Marie-Antoinette's "haven of peace".

Walking the same paths the queen herself used more than 200 years ago, it's easy to see how this could have become a favorite escape from her official role as queen.

Passing by quiet stretches of water and quaint, thatched-rooved houses and gardens so perfectly and naturally maintained, one cannot help but feel a zen-like serenity in this bucolic paradise...with only one wish to just sit quietly and let it soak in forever.

The mill, built in 1783.

One wing of the Queen's house.

Through the archways of the Queen's house into the gardens.

La Tour de la Pêcherie, in the form of a lighthouse, was the starting point
for walking tours and fishing excursions on the adjoining pond.

Interior of the building adjacent the lighthouse tower. 

The farm.

The château of Versailles is open year round (except Mondays, certain French holidays, and official ceremonies), from 9am to 6:30pm during the high season, and from 9am to 5:30pm during the low season. Click here for information about tickets and rates to visit the château and Marie-Antoinette's estate.

The Trianon and Marie-Antoinette's estate are open (and closed) on the same days as the château, but from 12 noon to 6:30pm in the high season, and from 12 noon to 5:30pm in the low season.

Plan to spend at least four hours, preferably more, to visit both the château and the Grand and Petit Trianon. There are several café restaurants, bathrooms, a book and gift shop, and a tram service that will take you (for a small fee) from the château to the Trianon and back.

Though I don't generally enjoy playing the tourist, and will plan my next visit to the château for the low season, Versailles is a truly marvelous experience, a place to lose oneself for a day in the magnificent opulence of pre-revolutionary French culture.  A must see.

Next: The Louvre


n/a said...

Stunning photos, Alex -- enticing enough to make one long to be there. Even though you visited Versailles in high season, you managed to capture it with few people. How did that happen? Looking forward to the Louvre blog.

Alex Quici said...

Hi, and thanks for your comment. It's true that visiting the château is like walking through a beehive. More often than not my eye naturally looks for those open spaces. And sometimes my camera follows! Thanks for reading.