The Château of Versailles is the pinnacle of 17th and 18th-century luxury. It’s a manifestation of the excess of the Ancien Régime and is dumbfounding in its opulence, with grounds so large that you need a bicycle or golf cart to stand a chance of doing everything in a day.
Much of what you see was the work of architect Louis Le Vau, landscaper André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun, who painted and decorated the 17th-century interiors.
The rest of the town flows from the palace, providing sumptuous homes on elegant avenues for courtiers and contractors who needed to be close to the king.
Lets explore the best things to do in Versailles:
1. The Château’s Apartments
On a self-guided tour you’ll enter the dazzling salons and chambers where the royalty lived and went about their business.
The King’s Grand Apartment is all about Louis XIV, and the decor hasn’t changed since his reign in the 17th century.
In these seven spectacular salons he’d make himself available to visitors on his way to the chapel, and would hold court three evenings a week.
The King’s Apartment contained Louis XIV’s ludicrously grand bedchamber, while his successor Louis XV preferred the more understated King’s Private Apartment.
The Queen’s Grand Apartment is symmetrical to the King’s, but was a private space for the three queens, Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche (Louis XIV), Marie Leczinska (Louis XV) and Marie-Antoinette (Louis XVI), and so the decor was updated to suit late-18th-century tastes.