First built in 1623 by Louis XIII, the Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles) is one of the most excellent achievements of 18th century French art.
Located around 20 KM southwest of Paris, Versailles can be reached by riding the train. Go down at Versailles Château Rive Gauche, a station on the line C that is approximately one hour away from the city center.
As usual, I thought touring the Palace of Versailles would be best with Sandeman as they can guide you and tell you the interesting stories. Their tour is worth €30, and that already includes the back & forth train tickets. Meeting place was in front of Fontaine Saint-Michel again. Since that day was a Friday, the Musical Gardens would be open so they asked us to pay extra €7. Apparently, there are certain days only that the Fountain Show and Musical Gardens are open from April to October. Best to check their website to see the schedule.
From the Versailles Château Rive Gauche station, it’s like a 10-minute walk going to the palace. We went straight to the garden which is at the back of Château de Versailles. Since it was a group tour, we were let in quickly unlike the regular goers who had to fall in line. Another reason why you should do a group tour! Note that the line to buy entrance tickets is different from the line to enter the garden, and there’s also another line to the entrance of the palace itself. Access to the gardens is free of charge, except for Fountain Show and Musical Gardens days.
Okay, basically this post will be more about the Gardens of Versailles, not the palace itself. The whole place is SO HUGE that touring the gardens would require a whole day already if you really want to see every corner. Also, the line going into the palace was so long so I passed. I promised myself I will go inside the next time tho! Now let’s move on to what we explored in the gardens.
The Latona Fountain is one of the more recently renovated structures here at Gardens of Versailles. It depicts the legend of Apollo’s mother and Diana protecting her children against the insults of the peasants of Lycia, and calling on Jupiter to avenge them. He heard their plea and transformed them into frogs and lizards.
The Rocaille Grove is an open-air Cascade Ballroom. The marble “island” in the center was used for dancing, and Louis XIV himself would perform there. You will hear recorded Baroque music playing, hence the Musical Garden name, similar to the old times, but back in the day they were performed live.
There are four fountains near the Royal Walk dedicated to the four seasons. Unfortunately I only have photos of the three, but here’s the first one: The Bacchus Fountain, also called the Autumn fountain. Bacchus, a figure of Roman mythology, teaches the cultivation of the vine throughout the world. As the god of wine and drunkenness, he symbolizes the harvest and is surrounded by small satyrs, half child and half goat.
The Colonnade is surrounded by 32 marble columns. The arch stones are adorned with heads of nymphs and naiads. In the center is a group of statues depicting the Abduction of Persephone.
The Saturn Fountain, located in the south end, symbolizes the season of winter. Saturn is seated on a throne in the center, surrounded by small cupids, on an island studded with shellfish.
The Enceladus Fountain is taken from the myth of the fall of the Titans who were buried under the rocks of Mount Olympus which they tried to climb in defiance of the prohibition of Jupiter.
The Flora Fountain is in perfect symmetry with the Saturn Fountain. Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, gardens and spring, symbolizes the first season of the year. She is represented with a crown of flowers in the center of the fountain.
And here’s the Fountains Show! There are 55 historic fountains here but only 32 currently plays during the musical fountains show. Live music is only played occasionally.
And some more greenery below… Absolutely stunning place! All thanks to the kings, especially Louis XIV’s extravagant and luxurious taste. The high-maintenance Gardens of Versailles covers approximately 800 hectares of land!
Looking at my pics, they didn’t really do the gardens justice! Haha I wish I took way more. I guess I was in awe the whole time. And by the way, besides the palace and gardens, you may also visit Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Again, separate pay, separate line and that probably requires another half day. I left at around 02:30 PM and went back to the city to see Notre Dame de Paris. More about it on my next post!