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Palace of Versailles

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The Chateau de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) represents the excess and grandiosity of the French royalty, which was one of the primary sources of anger and hostility from the oppressed French commoners of the era. Originally built by King Louis XIV to be a hunting lodge, the huge palace is 680 metres long with 700 rooms. The palace is one of the largest in the world and also features a lavish garden with 200,000 trees and flowers on 800 hectares of land. It was the prime residence for the Kings and Queens of France for over 100 years, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, who both executed by the guillotine at location now known as the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Despite being about 20 km from Paris, the Palace of Versailles is easily accessible by the ever-efficient Paris RER train system, which has frequent service on a daily basis. The travel time between Paris and RER stop at Versailles-Rive Gauche is 30 minutes and the Versailles-Rive Gauche stop is about 1 km away from the palace. Although not as crowded as many of the top attractions in Paris, Versailles still draws millions of visitors each year and it is well worth the short trip to visit this incredible palace. The palace is open to visitors everyday of the week except on Mondays and on some French holidays. The adjoining park and garden are open everyday.

Palace of Versailles

Once you arrive at the the massive palace, you will be greeted by the statue of King Louis XIV. If you do a tour of the palace, among the highlights you will see are the Hall of Mirrors, which is considered to be the most famous room at Versailles, the State Apartments, and the King and Queen's Apartments. Also inside the palace are the Royal Chapel and the Royal Opera House. You'll also notice the many important famous painting and sculptures throughout the palace, most notably the “Crowning of Josephine by Napoleon”, “Napoleon at Saint Bernard Pass” and the painting of “King Louis XIV”. Queen Marie Antoinette had a separate mansion for herself known as the Petit Trianon, which enabled her to get away from some of the royal excesses she would have to go through each day with the royal and staff.

One of the French Revolution's most important events that occurred after the storming of the Bastille in July 1789, was when several thousand commoner women marched to Versailles in protest of the high cost and the shortages of bread in 1789. Fearing for their safety, the King and royal family fled Versailles within a week of the march and settled at the Tuileries Palace whose property was adjacent to the Lourve on the Right Bank of Paris. This palace was destroyed nearly a hundred years later and all that remains today is the Tuileries Garden.

The Palace of Versailles was also the site of the historic signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which was a peace agreement signed in 1918 amongst world leaders to signify the end of World War I. Many of the world's most powerful leaders attended the signing including Prime Minister David Lloyd George of England, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States and Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau of France and leaders of the German Reich such as Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau and Dr. Otto Landsberg.

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