Featured Image Caption: Palace of Versailles
Versailles, the opulent Palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in France. Its grandiose architecture, impressive gardens, and lavish interiors attract millions of visitors every year. However, while the palace and its grounds are undoubtedly breathtaking, there are several hidden gems that many visitors overlook. In this blog post, we will explore the top 7 hidden gems to discover on a Versailles Tour.
The Queen’s Hamlet
Tucked away in the northeast corner of the palace gardens, the Queen’s Hamlet is a charming village of thatched-roof cottages, complete with a lake, a mill, and a dairy. Built for Marie Antoinette in the late 18th century, the hamlet was designed to provide the queen with a pastoral escape from court life. Today, visitors can wander through the picturesque streets, take a boat ride on the lake, or visit the dairy to sample fresh butter and cheese.
The Grand Trianon
Located a short walk from the palace, the Grand Trianon was built by Louis XIV as a retreat for himself and his mistress, Madame de Montespan. The elegant pink marble palace is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and features luxurious interiors, including a stunning marble staircase and a salon adorned with crystal chandeliers. Visitors can also explore the nearby Petit Trianon, which was Marie Antoinette’s private residence.
The Royal Opera House
Located inside the palace, the Royal Opera House is a masterpiece of 18th-century architecture and design. Built by Louis XV in 1770, the opera house features exquisite gilded details, plush velvet seats, and a stunning ceiling painting by the artist Augustin Pajou. Although the opera house is no longer in use, visitors can take a guided tour of the space and learn about its fascinating history.
The King’s Vegetable Garden
Located just outside the palace walls, the King’s Vegetable Garden is a vast, meticulously maintained garden that once supplied the palace with fresh produce. Today, visitors can stroll through the garden’s orchards, vineyards, and vegetable patches, or visit the greenhouse, where exotic fruits and vegetables are still grown.
The Hall of Mirrors Gallery
While the Hall of Mirrors is a well-known feature of the palace, many visitors do not realize the extent of its beauty and historical significance. The gallery, which stretches for 73 meters along the palace’s south facade, features 17 mirrored arches that reflect the light from the palace’s gardens, creating a stunning effect. It was also the site of several important events in French history, including the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
The Hercules Room
Located on the first floor of the palace, the Hercules Room is a magnificent salon decorated with frescoes and sculptures depicting the labors of Hercules. The room was originally used as a reception hall for the king’s most important guests and features a magnificent marble fireplace and a ceiling painting by Francois Lemoyne.
The Water Theater Grove
Located in the southern part of the palace gardens, the Water Theater Grove is a stunning open-air theater designed by Andre Le Notre. The theater features a central stage surrounded by a pool of water, with fountains and sculptures decorating the space. It was used for musical and theatrical performances during Louis XIV’s reign and is now a popular spot for picnics and relaxation.
In conclusion, while the Palace of Versailles tour is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, there are many hidden gems to discover beyond its well-known attractions. From the charming Queen’s Hamlet to the grandeur of the Royal Opera House, the palace and its grounds offer a wealth of history.
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