Versailles – after hours

Have you ever wondered what it would be like having the Palace of Versailles all to yourself? How you’d feel wandering through the Hall of Mirrors on your own?
Last night I was lucky enough to find out. Well not entirely to myself, but I was invited to a travel trade evening after closing and it felt a world away from the daytime crowds.

Versailles is of course beautiful at any time of the day, or year, but it was really special to be able to walk through the silent corridors and enjoy the peace and beauty of the palace in the early evening light.

Built originally by Louis XIII as a hunting lodge in 1624, and coming into all it’s glory under the Sun King Louis XIV and his court, the palace has 2300 rooms and is set in a vast and magnificent park. Despite the summertime crowds, it’s a visit not to be missed. I love visiting the private apartments of Louis XV and XVI, hidden inside the huge public apartments they are small and still lavishly furnished rooms where the royal family would go about their lives away from the prying eyes of the court. The contrast between the crowds today in the main apartments and the intimacy of these rooms really helps understand a bit of what it must have been like living at court in times gone by.

Next time, I’m going back with the man with the keys! I can’t wait to discover the secrets hidden behind those closed doors. I’ll also be heading out into the gardens and down to Marie Antoinette’s hamlet.

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Open daily except Mondays. In the summer on Tuesdays music is played in the gardens, on Saturdays and Sundays the fountains are switched on with the music (you will pay extra for the gardens on these days but it’s well worth it).

Watch out for the huge lines! Taking a tour that cuts the line is a good idea here, and a good guide will also mean you get to learn all about court life at Versailles, which is really what makes it come alive. If you want to see the private apartments then you need to book a tour as individuals are not allowed inside.

Take the RER C to Versailles Chateau or the train from St Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite (great views of the city if you take this line) and it’s a short walk from either station.

Chateau de Versailles

  • Chateau de Versailles, Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles

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