Le Château de Versailles dates to the era of the divine right of kings when royalty attempted to outdo each other with lavish and awe-inspiring palaces regardless of the cost to their nations. In fact, the bankrupting cost of expanding Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV (the Sun King) served as one of the catalysts for the very bloody and paradigm-shifting French Revolution. Despite being cognisant of its somewhat cruel origins, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the magnificence of the estate and to fall completely in love with it.
Many visitors come to tour the inside of the palace, which is widely renowned for such grandiose displays of wealth and power as the Hall of Mirrors. However, the real jewels in the crown of Versailles are the gardens and their 55 unique fountains.
Dances and concerts for the aristocracy used to take place in this circular enclosure earning it the nickname Salle de Bal (Ballroom). The waterfalls are constructed of seashells that were brought back from Africa by French explorers.
A place of exquisite beauty and overwhelming opulence, a tour of the Versailles gardens is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Paris. As stated by Victor Hugo in his series of essays, Choses Vues: 'Versailles is the magnificent binding of the magnificent book of French history'.
Note that the gardens are open all year round, but the fountains only operate during specific days and times from the beginning of April to the end of October. Be sure to check operating times on the website to get the most out of your visit. Versailles is located about twenty kilometres southwest of Paris and is easily accessible via the Paris metro system.