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HISTORY Versailles is actually the town and capital of Yvelines département, Île-de-France region in north-central France, and is located 22 km southwest of Paris. The town developed around the world-renowned 17th-century Palace of Versailles, built by Louis XIV, the principal residence of the kings of France and the seat of the government for more than 100 years.
The palace is now a historical monument and UNESCO World Heritage site, notable especially for the ceremonial Hall of Mirrors, the jewel-like Royal Opera, and the royal apartments; for the more intimate royal residences, the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon located within the park; the small rustic Hameau (Hamlet) created for Marie Antoinette; and the vast Gardens of Versailles with fountains, canals, and geometric flower beds and groves, laid out by André le Nôtre. The Palace was stripped of all its furnishings after the French Revolution, but many pieces have been returned and many of the palace rooms have been restored.
POPULARITY AS A DESTINATION In the year 2017 alone, the Palace of Versailles received 7,700,000 visitors, making it the second-most visited monument in the Île-de-France region, just behind the Louvre and ahead of the Eiffel Tower.
EXPLORING FROM HOME There are dozens of ways to enjoy the history and splendor of the Palace of Versailles from the comfort of your home, but these two alone should keep you occupied if not absolutely inspired and amazed for hours:
VIRTUAL EXHIBITS The first is the official Chateau de Versailles website. In it there are several Virtual Exhibitions available to any online visitors free of charge:
LOUIS XIV / NICOLAS FOUQUET: A CERTAIN HISTORY OF TASTE – This slideshow with audio track allows any visitor to explore the history of these two powerful figures from French history. Most often they were depicted as being in conflict, but this exhibit is focused on the numerous things they had in common such as their taste and artistic influences.
LOUIS XIV, THE CONSTRUCTION OF A POLITICAL IMAGE – Here, the most significant of over 200 portraits and engravings of the “Sun-King” have been assembled for your pleasure and interest, all illustrating how the fascinating figure was unlike any other political figure in all of history.
IMORTALISING VERSAILLES – Through incredible photos taken since the invention of photography, the history of this historic site is told, featuring heads of state, resorations, and portfolios left by famous photographers.
There also tow virtual exhibits on the fashion of Versailles, one “For Her” and another “For Him” and a final exhibit focused on the delicacies served and gastronomic heritage of the palace called A Place at the Royal Table.
GOOGLE STREETVIEW TOURS The second method by which you can explore the interior and grounds of Versailles is even more exciting. Google has an Arts & Culture division that has been creating what they call “streetview” tours of famous destinations for some time using equipment and technology similar to the kind they map streets with. These tours are of interiors and of spaces that vehicles are not capable of entering, so a smaller version of their 360 degree mapping rig is used to create an incredible experience for anyone who wants to explore the world without leaving home.
We highly recommend starting with the Hall of Mirrors as it is absolutely stunning! And there you have it: a lovely tour of both the Palace of Versaille itself and some of its most fascinating exhibits, all brought into your home. No additional money spent, no travel required. Enjoy!