Versaille’s history is one of greed, passion, and, ultimately, tragedy. In the pursuit of French political power, an incredible complex was constructed to take the monarchy outside of Paris to a more cloistered life that was opulent beyond what could even be envisioned at the time.
Louis XIII started the palace of Versailles in 1624 as a hunting lodge. Over time, more and more of the business of government was decided here, and each subsequent monarch made significant changes to the enormous estate.
People come to Versailles to see the garden, which is incredibly beautiful, and the palace with the Hall of Mirrors, but there is so much more. There are two smaller palaces on the grounds, called the Trianons (there is a “Petit Trianon” and a “Grand Trianon“), which were named for the town that was purchased to build the palaces and gardens. They are truly amazing structures, and hosted mistresses, mothers of the monarch, and even a sister-in-law or two. The monarchs also had offices there when their own office was too much to bear. There were some amazing architectural elements, and even places where a small group of musicians could play so that the music would fill the rooms connected by a small window set into the top of the wall.
In the gardens, there is also Marie Antoinette’s private hamlet. It was the “escape” that Marie needed from court life, which I can imagine was quite overwhelming! Definitely worth visiting, the hamlet is an interesting snapshot of the pressure relief from court life.
The day that we were there, it was packed. Jam-packed. Worth seeing in the fall and first thing in the morning!