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Versailles City France

Versailles is a town located about ten miles to the southwest of Paris, France. There you will find one of France 's major tourist attractions: the Chateau, built by Louis XIV, the Sun King. The king liked it so much that he soon had it enlarged by his 'royal engineer and architect', Philibert Le Roy (this early chateau survives in the buildings that flank the Marble Courtyard). Then from 1661 to 1668 the young Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, had his own architect, Louis Le Vau, embellish the residence. Yet this 'little house of cards', as the memorialist Duc de Saint-Simon called it, remained too small.

Versailles attracts about 30,000 tourists a day, which makes something like 10 million per year. You'll also find other museums, as well as a full range of restaurants and accommodations (including a campground) catering to the tourist traffic.

Versailles is known for one reason: the chateau.

Versailles is not just a chateau, though: it is a city with a population of just under 100,000 people. Like any city, it has different neighborhoods, with businesses, schools, universities and other educational institutions, churches, youth organizations, community groups, and sports facilities.

Explore this city with us at StayresFrance.com and book Versailles hotels through us at discount rate.

Versailles Tourist Attractions

Château de Versailles

Within 50 years, this residence got transformed from Louis XIII's simple hunting lodge into an extravagant marvelous palace. Started in 1661, the construction of the château involved 32,000 to 45,000 workers, some of whom had to drain marshes - often at the cost of their lives - and move forests. Louis XIV set out to build a palace that would be the envy of all Europe, and he created a symbol of pomp and opulence that was to be copied, yet never quite duplicated, all over Europe and even in America .

Gardens of Versailles

The Gardens of Versailles were designed by artist Le Nôtre, who created a Garden of Eden using ornamental lakes and canals, geometrically designed flower beds, and avenues bordered with statuary. At the peak of their glory, 1,400 fountains spewed forth. The Buffet is exceptional, having been designed by Mansart. One fountain depicts Apollo in his chariot pulled by four horses, surrounded by tritons emerging from the water to light the world. On the 1.5km-long (1 mile) Grand Canal, Louis XV - imagining he was in Venice - used to take gondola rides with his favorite of the moment.

Grande Écourie

The latest attraction at Versailles is the newly reopened stables of Louis XIV. For 2 centuries, these historic stables were closed to the public. Constructed by the famed architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, these stables once housed more than 600 horses of the king. Visitors to the stables are taken on a brief guided tour and can then witness morning dressage demonstrations. Ten advanced equestrian students direct the horses, and costumed riders demonstrate equestrian choreography performed to music.

Grand Pavilion

A long walk across the park will take you to the Grand Trianon (Grand Pavilion), in pink-and-white marble. Le Vau built a Porcelain Trianon here in 1670, covered with blue and white china tiles, but it was fragile and soon fell into ruin. So, in 1687, Louis XIV commissioned Hardouin-Mansart to build the Grand Trianon. Traditionally, it has been a place where France has lodged important guests, though de Gaulle wanted to turn it into a weekend retreat. Nixon once slept here in the room where Mme de Pompadour died. Mme de Maintenon also slept here, as did Napoleon. The original furnishings are gone, of course, with mostly Empire pieces there today.

Petit Trianon

Gabriel, the designer of place de la Concorde in Paris, built the Petit Trianon in 1768 for Louis XV. Louis used it for his trysts with Mme du Barry. When he died, Louis XVI presented it to his wife, and Marie Antoinette adopted it as her favorite residence, a place to escape the rigid life and oppressive scrutiny at the main palace. Many of the current furnishings, including a few in her rather modest bedchamber, belonged to the ill-fated queen.

Le Hameau (Hamlet)

Rousseau's theories about recapturing the natural beauty and noble simplicity of life were much in favor in the late 18th century, and they prompted Marie Antoinette to have Mique build her the 12-house Le Hameau (Hamlet) on the banks of the Grand Trianon Lake in 1783. She wanted a chance to experience the simplicity of peasant life - or at least peasant life as seen through the eyes of a frivolous queen. Dressed as a shepherdess, she would come here to watch sheep being tended and cows being milked, men fishing, washerwomen beating their laundry in the lake, and donkey carts bringing corn to be ground at the mill.

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