France: Paris: What to See & Do: Day Trips: Château de Versailles
Château de Versailles
There’s no other palace in Europe as dazzling as Versailles, and this, of course, was the point of Sun King Louis XIV, who ordered the lavish remodeling of the château in order to project his wealth and power. Plan to spend a day at Versailles, as you don’t want to miss a tour of the royal apartments and the gardens. In addition to the well-known rooms, including the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), and others like the Grand Appartement, where the king held court, consider one of the tours that look at the royals’ private life, including the Salle de Bains (bathroom) of Louis XV, and the Belvedere Pavilion, Marie Antoinette’s music room. Its boiseries were considered avant-garde for their day, and they’re the work of Richard Mique, who drew inspiration from the discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum—when all of Europe was in the early throes of a fascination with the ancient world.
Take the mini-train to Marie Antoinette’s estate, the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, where you shouldn’t miss the exquisite Rococo theater where the queen often performed. If you have more time, don’t miss the Potager du Roi, a walled garden that supplied the palace with fruit and vegetables, and the Royal Stables, completed in 1682 to house the king’s six hundred horses. Today, the stables are home to Bartabas and his Académie du Spectacle Équestre, and the shows they perform are huge crowd pleasers. Take the RER C or train from the Gare St.-Lazare to Versailles–Rive Droit. Closed Monday.— Sandy Flick 05/16/2007