The Palace of Versailles is an opulent representation of royal might and authority that continues to astound guests today. You can't visit Paris and not stop by this famous landmark. The Palace sheds light on the extravagant and ostentatious lifestyles of past French monarchs and provides a fascinating window into the country's past. Each year, more than 10 million people flock to see this opulent palace.
It is second only in popularity to the Eiffel Tower among tourists visiting France. Just 20 kilometres outside of the French capital, the Palace of Versailles was the official residence of French monarchs for more than a century before the French Revolution. As per Versailles’ history, it was just a small hunting lodge, and Louis XIII purchased the land around it to create a sprawling park and garden area befitting a true chateau. Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, built this mansion outside of Paris so that he could escape the oppressive influence of the French aristocracy.
On August 24, 1607, the future King of France, the Dauphin, Louis XIII, came to Versailles for the first time to go hunting. When he told his father, King Henry IV, that he had found a forest and meadows teeming with game, the news was met with delight. But the doctor who documented the visit, Héroard, claims the Dauphin didn't come back until 1617. After being crowned monarch in 1610, he returned to the region in 1621 and quickly developed a fondness for it.
It was surrounded by woods that echoed with the calls of pheasants, boars, and stags, and it was conveniently located between his primary residence in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Paris. Toward the end of 1623, King Charles I decided to construct a modest hunting lodge for overnight use; he stayed there for the first time in June 1624. The Maréchal de Bassompierre said of his modest country home, "a mere gentleman would not have been particularly proud of the construction." To commemorate his coronation in 1631, Louis XIII ordered its reconstruction. As Versailles history has it, it is said that up to 1634, construction was ongoing, which laid the groundwork for the modern-day Palace.
The life and reign of Louis XIV are inextricably intertwined with that of Versailles history. While the site was inhabited for centuries before Louis XIV, it was only after he took a strong liking to it that he decided to expand the existing chateau, which had been built by his father as a hunting lodge out of brick and stone. As the King had grand visions for the chateau and the surrounding forests, he decided to take on the role of an architect and create a work of art that would be forever associated with his name. In October 1641, Louis XIII sent his son and his brother to Versailles to get away from a smallpox epidemic that had spread to the Palace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
According to Versailles history, Louis XIV died in September 1715, and the court relocated to Vincennes and then temporarily to Paris in December. After a period of lavish care, Versailles fell into disrepair. Every two weeks, the Grandes Eaux Fountain Display was turned on by the estate's governor to ensure its proper functioning. The Palace was nothing more than a tourist attraction for Tsar Peter the Great, who came there twice in May and June 1717.
The young Louis XV did not return to Versailles until 15 June 1722, and that was at his request. First and foremost, he wanted to finish his great-work, grandfather's but he also wanted to build more personal, secluded study areas for himself. He was so shy that he preferred to spend more time in private quarters than in the lavish public spaces designed by Louis XIV.
Louis XVI, like his grandfather before him, was born in Versailles, and he ascended to the throne at a young age. One of the most important events of the late 18th century in Versailles was the joyous occasion of his marriage to Marie-Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, in 1770. It was held at the Royal Opera House as per Palace of Versailles history.
In contrast to his grandfather, Louis XVI spent the majority of his time at Versailles, where he undertook numerous interior improvement projects while devoting himself, in his private quarters, to the study of a wide range of sciences that particularly interested him. Louis XV had built the Petit Trianon for Mme de Pompadour, but Mme du Barry had lived there first. In 1774, Marie-Antoinette accepted her husband's gift of the estate and made it her own.
As Palace of Versailles history has it, this palace survived the French Revolution relatively unscathed, despite the fact that some might have preferred to see such a prominent symbol of the monarchical system destroyed. After the royal family left for the Tuileries on October 6, 1789, the King's Buildings service was able to start restoration work on the Hall of Mirrors' ceiling paintings that would have been embarrassing to do while the Court was present.
Although the Convention had decreed that preservation of the former royal residences ceded to the nation, the collapse of the monarchy in August 1792 nonetheless ushered in a period of uncertainty. Even after this time period had passed, there was still some debate about the best way to make use of the South Wing, which had been temporarily appropriated for arms production before the work was moved to the Grand Commun buildings.
In October of 1789, the royal family and their court departed from Versailles for Paris, and those days were over for good. Knowing full well how the Palace would be perceived, Napoleon opted instead for the more humble Trianon as per the Palace of Versailles history. Although Pope Pius VII did pay a visit there in 1805, it wasn't until Louis-Philippe became "King of the French" in 1830 that Versailles was truly revitalised.
The new ruler of the July Monarchy shared a passion for the past with his illustrious family name, the House of Orléans. The king decided in 1833 to build a museum "dedicated to all the glories of France" to bring together the various factions in France, from monarchists to republicans, loyalists to traitors, and conservatives to progressives. The museum, which first opened in 1837, was dedicated to the illustrious episodes in French history spanning from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the July Monarchy.
As per the Palace of Versailles history, this lavish palace was commissioned by Louis XIV, and he began transforming the royal hunting lodge in Versailles, where he had spent his childhood, into a symbol of royal opulence in 1661. In 1682, to impress his subjects, Louis XIV relocated his court to the grand palace of Versailles, located just 13 miles far outside Paris.
As a result of its architectural splendour and political significance, it has dominated the popular imagination for quite some time, and thus you must visit Palace of Versailles. Outside of Paris is where you'll find this extravagant palace, once used by royalty.
Starting with Louis XIV and continuing through Louis XVI, the French royal family called the Palace of Versailles home.
King Louis left Versailles on 6 October 1789 as Louis XVI took over a kingdom plagued by difficulties. With the nation's finances in shambles in 1789, King George III called a meeting of the Estates General at the palace. When public pressure became too great, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled Versailles for Paris later that year.
At the centre of the French Revolution was the Palace of Versailles. Originally constructed for Louis XIV as the main residence of the French monarchy, the Palace continued to serve in this capacity during Louis XVI's reign. The artefacts housed in the Palace of Versailles are a testament to this pivotal era in France's past.
Yes, Without a Doubt! You must visit Palace of Versailles because it is well worth it. You'll get an education in French history and a tour of one of the world's most impressive structures. A trip to Paris isn't complete without taking in the magnificent Palace of Versailles. For a glimpse into the lives of Marie Antoinette and other royals during the French Revolution, a visit to the Palace of Versailles is a must on any itinerary that includes a stop in the City of Lights.