May 9, 2018
The Palace of Versailles was the place I was most looking forward to visiting before the trip. I guess if you can be a fan of a dead royal person, I am one. The story of Marie Antoinette just fascinates me and I have always wanted to visit her palace.
We left Breda, Netherlands in the morning and set out for about a 4.5 hour drive to Versailles. We drove through Paris. I showed Eloise the Eiffel Tower from the window of the car. We didn’t stop though. Lindsay and I lived in Paris for a few weeks one summer with a host family, and it is a neat place, but it’s not somewhere that I would set out to visit multiple times since we were there for so long. Plus, I usually prefer exploring outside the big cities.
Versailles is one of the most visited destinations on the planet so I knew it would be crowded. I did some research on how to visit the palace where it is less crowded. I came up with the plan to visit Versailles in REVERSE!!!
This was the best way to see it! When we first got to the palace we drove past the main entrance to the Palace and went in the side entrance which most people probably don’t even know exists. No line! walked right into the gate near the Estate of Trianon. We got a macaroon then spent a few hours visiting the Hamlet and Petit Trianon which is the little Village that Marie Antoinette had built with little houses, gardens, animals, a real working little country village of her own.
Next up we walked to the Petit Trianon. Which was a gift to Marie Antoinette from Louis XVI in 1774 so she could escape court life.
After that we got back in the car and drove 10 minutes to the main gate and parked in the 3rd row. The last admission to the palace is at 5:00pm. Our plan was to get there around 4:30 and that was about what happened.
During the day the lines are hours long stretching out the main gate. We walked right up and into the palace. We walked easily through every room, most of which were empty of tourists. It was seriously the coolest thing! Standing in the giant hallway of Versailles with NOBODY else in it was breathtaking.
If we would have gone to the main palace first we would have been crushed in a mob of people and it would have taken hours to walk through the whole place. We walked through the whole palace in about 45 minutes. Then went out to the gardens and Grand Canal to watch the sun start to set.
The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is probably the most famous. It has giant mirrors that reflect the Grand Canal out the windows. It was so pretty.
The Palace of Versailles was a huge success! We didn’t see everything, but I don’t think it’s possible in one day with 4 year old kids. It is a lot of walking so comfortable shoes are a must.
After visiting the Palace of Versailles that afternoon we went to our hotel. We wanted to stay in a real castle and we actually found one that was surrounded by a moat. It was pretty fantastic!
The hotel is about 40 minutes west of Paris and about 30 minutes from Versailles, so it was a great location to stay if you don’t want to stay in Paris.
The Château de Villiers-le-Mahieu 4*, was built in the 13th Century and was originally a fortress. But over the centuries and under different owners, its function changed somewhat. The Marquis of Attily rebuilt it in 1642, and under his stewardship it gained the status of a château. After him, a number of owners oversaw the château, up to the Count Charles de Rohan Chabot, who restored it, giving it its present appearance. Its charm was what attracted the painter Bernard Buffet, who lived in the château until 1979.
In 1981, Jean-Luc Chaufour has been using his passion for old buildings and for history to help restore and adapt this magisterial site, so that guests feel right at home in this superb four-star Château-Hotel and its breathtaking, otherworldly setting.
Our room was in the tower! I tried to get some pictures of us in the windows, but it was kinda hard without having my professional camera with me. Hey, iPhone cameras have come a long way though and when traveling through Europe with a 4 year old, I’m already carrying enough stuff. So it is what it is.