On Saturday evenings between mid-June and mid-September the Palace of Versailles comes alive iat night as we can imagine it would have done under Louis XIV, when lavish balls and parties were held in the magnificent gardens. Baroque music is played across the gardens, the fountains are switched on and the gardens and exterior of the palace are illuminated. Wathcing the sun go down to music and the lights come flickering on across the gardens and in the groves hidden within the trees is truly magical.
As night falls you can explore the gardens. The alleyways are lit up by hundreds of tiny lights, some have bubbles being blown along them, and suddenly you come upon one of the groves, the cascades of water illuminated and music playing. My favourite is the Bosquet des Rocailles, designed by Le Notre in 1685, where balls were once held – blink and you can imagine the courtiers swirling in the candlelight to the beautiful music. And always in the background the palace is blazing with light.
I also discovered that the Orangerie is open, currently empty as the orange and lemon trees are still enjoying the last of the summer heat outside. I’ve rarely seen this open during the day, so it was a treat to be able to go inside.
The evening ends with a firework display, again to music. Seeing Versailles lit up in all its splendour on a warm summer’s night is really something special. Make sure you buy your tickets in advance.
Take the RER C from central Paris to Versailles Rive Gauche Chateau, or take the train from Paris St Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite