Versailles is known for the palace that housed kings and queens and hosted the treaty negotiations at the end of WWI. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI lived here until their arrest and early deaths. The palace and grounds occupy a vast area, and a great way to tour the outside is by bicycle. We signed up for the all-day tour with Fat Tire Tours and we’re so glad we did. This day is definitely a highlight of our time in Paris.
Discovering the little city of Versailles proved to be one of the unexpected pleasures of the day. Many people ride the train from Paris for about 30 minutes, get off at the train station, and go right to the palace. We headed instead to downtown Versailles to pick up our bikes at the company office there.
That day happened to be market day in Versailles, which is famed for one of the best farmer’s markets in France. Our guide turned us loose to find something for our picnic lunch. Cheeses, fruit, fresh baguettes – we were spoiled for choice. And it was fun to mingle with the locals who were out doing their grocery shopping.
The first king to occupy the palace here was Louis XIV. Then Louis XV and Louis XVI lived here until the government returned to Paris. This is a mural of one of the kings. As there are no photographs from those years, I’m not sure which Louis this is. Any experts out there want to chime in?
After carefully choosing from among all the bounty, we carried our bags of food through the town to do a little sightseeing.
Our excellent guide Drew gave us a brief history of Versailles as we took in the beauty of the greenery.
For lunch, we rode to the end of the grand canal and set up our picnic on the lawn. Our guide provided plates and utensils and the all-important corkscrew. We settled back to bask in the view of the vast backyard of the palace.
Coming up: Versailles – the Palace and Marie Antoinette’s play village, the Hamlet
If you go:
For comprehensive information on tours, hours, prices, and history, visit this website.
The palace is open every day except Monday from 9:00 to 5:30. You can purchase general admission tickets online before you go to save time in line.
Prices: Palace tickets are 20 Euro. For days when the musical fountain show is in the gardens, tickets are 27 Euro.
The gardens are open every day for no charge.
Fat Tire Tours offers tours of Paris, Versailles, and Giverny. The two tours we have been on have been very well organized and the guides are fun and knowledgeable. I highly recommend this company.
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