The Palace of Versailles was built as a royal chateau in a small village. Today, the suburb (about 20 km southwest of Paris) is known as a wealthy area. The first mention of Versailles (the village) dates all the way back to 1038. Louis VIII ordered the construction of a simple hunting lodge in 1624 after going on several hunting trips in this location. Years later, Louis XIV would expand it into one of the world’s largest palaces. The court was officially established at the palace in 1682.
Over the years, the building has undergone four main construction periods making the palace what it is today. Now, the palace has become one of France’s top tourist destinations, and yet some political functions still continue here. The Heads of state are regaled in the Hall of Mirrors, and the Senate meets in the hall of mirrors to discuss any amendments to the French Constitution.
The palace is complete with a full garden in the back, multiple apartment suites for the various people who lived in this enormous space, and of course plenty of space for entertaining guests and holding political meetings.
Versailles makes for a good day trip away from the city of Paris. It is very simple to get there by way of the subway and a short walk. Make sure to go early! I can not stress this enough; the lines were very long and tedious. Also, there are two separate lines – one to buy tickets and one to actually enter the palace. Be sure to buy your tickets BEFORE getting into the line to enter the palace (for some reason this seemed to be quite confusing for some people). Also be aware that the majority of restaurants within walking distance of the palace are geared towards tourists and tend to be a bit pricey.
Have you been to Versailles? What was your experience like? Are there any other palaces that you have been to that are comparable to this grand estate?