Versailles: Wikis


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Coordinates: 48°48′19″N 2°8′6″E / 48.80528°N 2.135°E / 48.80528; 2.135

Commune of Versailles

Versailles mairie.jpg
The town hall (hôtel de ville) of Versailles
Versailles map.png
Location (in red) within the Paris inner and outer suburbs
Coordinates 48°48′19″N 2°8′6″E / 48.80528°N 2.135°E / 48.80528; 2.135
Country France
Region Île-de-France
Department Yvelines
Arrondissement Versailles
Intercommunality Versailles Grand Parc
Mayor François de Mazières
Elevation 103–180 m (338–591 ft)
(avg. 132 m/433 ft)
Land area1 26.18 km2 (10.11 sq mi)
Population2 89,490  (2006)
 - Density 3,418 /km2 (8,850 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 78646/ 78000
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Versailles (French pronunciation: [vɛʁsaj]), a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial center. Located in the western suburbs of the French capital, 17.1 km (10.6 mi) from the center of Paris, the communeis Versailles is the préfecture (administrative seat) of the Yvelines department. According to the 2006 census, the population of the city is 89,490 inhabitants, down from a peak of 94,145 in 1975. Versailles is historically known for numerous treaties such as Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War and the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.



The etymology of Versailles is not clear, but the argument tends to privilege the Latin word versare, meaning "to make more of, to keep on turning a new leaf", expression used in medieval times for plowed lands, cleared lands (lands that had been repeatedly "turned over"). This word formation is similar to Latin seminare ("to sow") which gave French semailles ("sowings", "sown seeds").

During the Revolution of 1789, city officials had proposed to the Convention to rename Versailles Berceau-de-la-Liberté ("Cradle of Liberty"), but they had to retract their proposal when confronted with the objections of the majority of the population.[1].

A seat of power

Versailles was the unofficial capital city of the kingdom of France from May 1682 (when King Louis XIV moved the court and government permanently to Versailles) until September 1715 (death of Louis XIV and regency, with the regent Philippe d'Orléans returning to Paris), and then again from June 1722 (when Louis XV returned to Versailles permanently) to October 1789 (when Louis XVI was forced to move to Paris by the people of Paris). During the entire period, Paris remained the official capital of France, but government affairs were conducted from Versailles.

Versailles again became the unofficial capital city of France from March 1871 (when the French government took refuge in Versailles due to the insurrection of the Paris Commune) until November 1879 (when the newly elected left-wing republicans relocated the government and parliament to Paris).

Versailles was made the préfecture (capital) of the Seine-et-Oise département at its inception in March 1790 (Seine-et-Oise had approximately 420,000 inhabitants at its creation).[2] By the 1960s, with the growth of the Paris suburbs, the Seine-et-Oise département had reached more than 2 million inhabitants,[2] and was deemed too large and ungovernable, and thus it was split into three départements in January 1968. Versailles was made the préfecture of the Yvelines département, the largest chunk of the former Seine-et-Oise département. At the 2006 census the Yvelines département had 1,395,804 inhabitants.[3]

Versailles is the seat of a Roman Catholic diocese (bishopric) which was created in 1790. The diocese of Versailles is subordinate to the archdiocese of Paris.

In 1975 Versailles was made the seat of a Court of Appeal whose jurisdiction covers the western suburbs of Paris.

Since 1972, Versailles has been the seat of one of France's 30 nationwide académies (districts) of the Ministry of National Education. The académie de Versailles, the largest of France's 30 académies by its number of pupils and students, is in charge of supervising all the elementary schools and high schools of the western suburbs of Paris.

Versailles is also an important node for the French army, a tradition going back to the monarchy, with for instance the military camp of Satory and other institutions.


Versailles is located 17.1 km (10.6 miles) west-southwest from the center of Paris (as the crow flies). The city sits on an elevated plateau, 130 to 140 metres (425 to 460 ft) above sea-level (whereas the elevation of the center of Paris is only 33 m (108 ft) above sea level), surrounded by wooded hills: in the north the woods of Marly and Fausses-Reposes, and in the south the forests of Satory and Meudon.

The city (commune) of Versailles has an area of 26.18 km² (10.11 sq mi, or 6,469 acres), which is a quarter of the area of the city of Paris. In 1999, the city of Versailles had a population density of 3,344/km² (8,660/sq mi), whereas the city of Paris had a density of 20,696/km² (53,602/sq mi).

Born out of the will of a king, the city has a rational and symmetrical grid of streets. By the standards of the 18th century, Versailles was a very modern European city. Versailles was used as a model for the building of Washington DC by Pierre Charles L'Enfant.[citation needed]


The name of Versailles appears for the first time in a medieval document dated A.D. 1038. In the feudal system of medieval France, the lords of Versailles came directly under the king of France, with no intermediary overlords between them and the king; yet they were not very important lords. In the end of the 11th century the village curled around a medieval castle and the Saint Julien church. Its farming activity and its location on the road from Paris to Dreux and Normandy brought prosperity to the village, culminating in the end of the 13th century, the so-called "century of Saint Louis", famous for the prosperity of northern France and the building of gothic cathedrals. The 14th century brought the Black Plague and the Hundred Years' War, and with it death and destruction. At the end of the Hundred Years' War in the 15th century, the village started to recover, with a population of only 100 inhabitants.

In 1561, Martial de Loménie, secretary of state for finances under King Charles IX, became lord of Versailles. He obtained permission to establish four annual fairs and a weekly market on Thursdays. The population of Versailles was 500 inhabitants. Martial de Loménie was murdered during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (24 August 1572). In 1575 Albert de Gondi, a man from Florence who had come to France along with Catherine de' Medici, bought the seigneury of Versailles.

Louis XIII

Louis XIII, the builder of the original Château at Versailles

Henceforth Versailles was the possession of the family of Gondi, a family of wealthy and influential parliamentarians at the Parlement of Paris. Several times during the 1610s, the Gondi invited King Louis XIII to hunt in the large forests of Versailles. In 1622 the king became the owner of a piece of wood in Versailles for his private hunting. In 1624 he bought some land and ordered Philibert Le Roy to build there a small hunting "gentleman's chateau" of stone and red bricks with a slate roof.

This small manor was the site of the famous historical event called the Day of the Dupes, on 10 November 1630, when the party of the queen mother was defeated and Richelieu was confirmed as prime minister. Eventually, in 1632, the king obtained the seigneury of Versailles altogether from the Gondije. The castle was enlarged between 1632 and 1634. At the death of Louis XIII in 1643 the village had 1,000 inhabitants.

Louis XIV

King Louis XIV, his son, was only five years old. It was only 20 years later, in 1661, when Louis XIV commenced his personal reign, that the young king showed interest in Versailles. The idea of leaving Paris, where, as a child, he had experienced first-hand the insurrection of the Fronde, had never left him. Louis XIV commissioned his architect Le Vau and his landscape architect Le Nôtre to transform the castle of his father, as well as the park, in order to accommodate the court. In 1678, after the Treaty of Nijmegen, the king decided that the court and the government would be established permanently in Versailles, which happened on 6 May 1682.

At the same time, a new city was emerging from the ground, resulting from an ingenious decree of the king dated 22 May 1671, whereby the king authorized anyone to acquire a lot in the new city for free. There were only two conditions to acquire a lot: 1- a token tax of 5 shillings (5 sols) per arpent of land should be paid every year ($0.03 per 1,000 sq ft (93 m2) per year in 2005 US dollars); 2- a house should be built on the lot according to the plans and models established by the Surintendant des Bâtiments du Roi (architect in chief of the royal demesne). The plans provided for a city built symmetrically with respect to the Avenue de Paris (which starts from the entrance of the castle). The roofs of the buildings and houses of the new city were not to exceed the level of the Marble Courtyard, at the entrance of the castle (built above a hill dominating the city), so that the perspective from the windows of the castle would not be obstructed.

The old village and the Saint Julien church were destroyed to make room for buildings housing the administrative services managing the daily life in the castle. On both sides of the Avenue de Paris were built the Notre-Dame neighborhood and the Saint-Louis neighborhood, with new large churches, markets, aristocratic mansions, buildings all built in very homogeneous style according to the models established by the Surintendant des Bâtiments du Roi. Versailles was a vast construction site for many years. Little by little came to Versailles all those who needed or desired to live close to the maximum power. At the death of the Sun King in 1715, the village of Versailles had turned into a city of approximately 30,000 inhabitants.

Versailles in 1789.

Louis XV and Louis XVI

When the court of King Louis XV returned to Versailles in 1722, the city had 24,000 inhabitants. With the reign of Louis XV, Versailles grew even further. Versailles was the capital of the most powerful kingdom in Europe, and the whole of Europe admired the new architecture and design trends coming from Versailles. Soon enough, the strict building rules decided under Louis XIV were not respected anymore, real estate speculation flourished, and the lots that had been given for free under Louis XIV were now on the market for hefty prices. By 1744 the population reached 37,000 inhabitants. The cityscape changed considerably under kings Louis XV and Louis XVI. Buildings were now taller. King Louis XV built a Ministry of War, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (where the Treaty of Paris (1783) ending the American Revolutionary War was signed in 1783 with the United Kingdom), and a Ministry of the Navy. By 1789 the population had reached 60,000 inhabitants,[4] and Versailles was now the seventh or eighth-largest city of France, and one of the largest cities of Europe.

French Revolution

Seat of the political power, Versailles naturally became the cradle of the French Revolution. The Estates-General met in Versailles on 5 May 1789. The members of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath on 20 June 1789, and the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism on 4 August 1789. Eventually, on 5 October and 6, 1789, a crowd of women joined by some members of the national guard from Paris invaded the castle to protest bread prices and forced the royal family to move back to Paris to do something about it. The National Constituent Assembly followed the king to Paris soon afterwards, and Versailles lost its role of capital city.

From then on, Versailles lost a good deal of its inhabitants. From 60,000, the population declined to 26,974 inhabitants in 1806.[5] The castle, stripped of its furniture and ornaments during the Revolution, was left abandoned, with only Napoleon briefly staying one night there and then leaving the castle for good. Louis-Philippe, who took the throne in the July Revolution of 1830, saved the castle from total ruin by transforming it into a National Museum dedicated to "all the glories of France" in 1837. Versailles had become a sleepy town, a place of pilgrimage for those nostalgic for the old monarchy.

19th century - present

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 put Versailles in the limelight again. On 18 January 1871 the victorious Germans proclaimed the king of Prussia, Wilhelm I, emperor of Germany in the very Hall of Mirrors of the castle, in an attempt to take revenge for the conquests of Louis XIV two centuries earlier. Then in March of the same year, following the insurrection of the Paris Commune the French government under Thiers relocated to Versailles, from where the insurrection was militarily quelled. The government and the French parliament stayed in Versailles after the quelling of the insurrection, and it was even thought for some time that the capital of France would be moved definitely to Versailles in order to avoid the revolutionary mood of Paris in the future.

Restoration of the monarchy was almost realized in 1873 with parliament offering the crown to Henri, comte de Chambord, but his refusal to accept the tricolor flag that had been adopted by France during the Revolution made the restoration of monarchy impossible for the time being. Versailles was again the political center of France, full of buzz and rumors, with its population briefly peaking at 61,686 in 1872,[5] matching the record level of population reached on the eve of the French Revolution 83 years earlier. Eventually, however, left-wing republicans won a string of parlimantary elections, defeating the parties supporting a restoration of the monarchy, and the new majority decided to relocate the government to Paris in November 1879. Versailles then experienced a new population setback (48,324 inhabitants at the 1881 census).[5] After that, Versailles was never again used as the capital city of France, but the presence of the French Parliament there in the 1870s left a vast hall built in one aisle of the palace which is still used by the French Parliament when it meets in Congress to amend the French Constitution, as well as when the French president addresses the two chambers of the French Parliament.

The palace of Versailles in the spring of 2006.

It was not until 1911 that Versailles definitely recovered its level of population of 1789, with 60,458 inhabitants at the 1911 census.[5] In 1919, at the end of the First World War, Versailles was put in the limelight again as the various treaties ending the war were signed in the castle proper and in the Grand Trianon. After 1919, as the suburbs of Paris were ever expanding, Versailles was absorbed by the urban area of Paris and the city experienced a strong demographic and economic growth, turning it into a large suburban city of the metropolitan area of Paris. The role of Versailles as an administrative and judicial center has been reinforced in the 1960s and 1970s, and somehow Versailles has become the main center of the western suburbs of Paris.

The center of the town has kept its very bourgeois atmosphere, while more middle-class neighborhoods have developed around the train stations and in the outskirts of the city. Versailles is a chic suburb of Paris well linked with the center of Paris by several train lines. However, the city is extremely compartmented, divided by large avenues inherited from the monarchy which create the impression of several small cities ignoring each other. Versailles was never an industrial city, even though there are a few chemical and food processing plants. Essentially, Versailles is a place of services, such as public administration, tourism, business congresses, and festivals. From 1951 until France's withdrawal from NATO unified command in 1966, nearby Rocquencourt was the site for [[SHAPE]. Versailles is also an important military center, with several units and training schools headquartered at the Satory military base, which was the headquarters of the famed 2nd French Armored Division until 1999, and where a military exhibition is organized annually.


Versailles' primary cultural attraction is the Palace, with its ornately decorated rooms and historic significance. The town also has other points of cultural notability; in recent times, its position as an affluent suburb of Paris has meant that it forms a part of the Paris artistic scene, and musical groups such as Phoenix, Air and Daft Punk have some link to the city,[citation needed] as does the director Michel Gondry.


Historical population

100 500 1,000 30,000 24,000 37,000 60,000 35,093 27,574 26,974 27,528
28,477 29,209 35,412 34,901 35,367 39,306 43,899 44,021 61,686 49,847 48,324
49,852 51,679 54,874 54,982 54,820 60,458 64,753 68,574 66,859 73,839 70,141
84,445 86,759 90,829 94,145 91,494 87,789 85,726 87,549
Estimates before 1800, official census figures[5] after 1800.


Place of birth of residents of Versailles in 1999
Born in Metropolitan France Born outside Metropolitan France
87.9% 12.1%
Born in
Overseas France
Born in foreign countries with French citizenship at birth¹ EU-15 immigrants² Non-EU-15 immigrants
0.9% 4.2% 3.2% 3.8%
¹This group is made up largely of pieds-noirs from Northwest Africa, followed by former colonial citizens who had French citizenship at birth (such as was often the case for the native elite in French colonies), and to a lesser extent foreign-born children of French expatriates. Note that a foreign country is understood as a country not part of France as of 1999, so a person born for example in 1950 in Algeria, when Algeria was an integral part of France, is nonetheless listed as a person born in a foreign country in French statistics.
² An immigrant is a person born in a foreign country not having French citizenship at birth. Note that an immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still considered an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants.


Versailles is served by Versailles – Chantiers station, which is an interchange station on Paris RER line C, on the Transilien La Défense suburban rail line, on the Transilien Paris – Montparnasse suburban rail line, and on several national rail lines, including low-frequency TGV service.

Versailles is also served by two other stations on Paris RER line C: Versailles – Rive Gauche (the closest station to the Palace of Versailles and consequently the station most frequently used by tourists) and Porchefontaine.

Versailles is also served by two stations on the Transilien Paris – Saint-Lazare suburban rail line: Versailles – Rive Droite and Montreuil.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Versailles is twinned with:


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : France : Île-de-France : Versailles
Central Court of the Palace of Versailles
Central Court of the Palace of Versailles

Versailles [1] [2] is a city on western edge of the French capital city Paris, now part of the sprawling metropolis within the Ile de France region. Versailles is best known for being the site of the vast royal palace and gardens built by King Louis XIV within what was previously a royal hunting lodge. It is also one of the most wealthy neighbourhoods near Paris.

The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

The Palace of Versailles has been the scene for several historic events, not the least of which was the signing, on 28 June 1919 within the Hall of Mirrors, of the Peace Treaty between defeated Germany and the Allies that brought the First World War officially to an end. The signing of the treaty at Versailles, of course, mirrored the proclamation, in 1871 within the same long hall, of the establishment of the German Empire under the Prussian king, subsequently the Kaiser.

Get in

The easiest way to get to Versailles palace and avoid queue is to buy the ticket directly from the Chateau Versailles web-site: it costs a bit more than the usual entrance ticket, but includes railway and metro tickets (to and from), an audioguided tour of the Chapel and Opera House, the King's and Queen's State Apartments, the Dauphin's and the Mesdames' Apartments, the Coach Museum, Trianons and all the temporary exhibitions.

However you can get to the Palace easily by train and buy tickets per attraction once you're there. This may be the best approach if you want to see something in particular or you just want to explore the enormous gardens.

By train

It takes about 40 minutes to reach Versailles from Paris.

There are three different train stations in Versailles: Versailles Rive Gauche, Versailles Rive Droite and Versailles Chantiers. Versailles Rive Gauche is the one closest to the Palace (5 minutes by walk), so this is probably the one you want, but you might end up in another station depending on where you come from.

  • RER C line, direction Versailles Rive Gauche (train called VICK), get off at Versailles Rive Gauche station. Be careful not to get off at Viroflay Rive Gauche! The name looks somewhat the same, but this is not the same station! Another branch of the RER C, direction Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, stops at Versailles Chantiers.
  • Paris Montparnasse: you can take a train to Versailles at Gare Montparnasse, but it will stop at Versailles Chantiers. Versailles Rive Gauche station is only accessible via RER C.
  • Paris Saint Lazare: suburban trains stop at Versailles Rive Droite.

both Stations are about a 5 minute walk from the entrance of Versailles

By bus

Route 171 travels between Pont de Sèvres (at the end of Métro line 9) to Versailles. The bus journey from the station to the Chateau takes approximately 30 minutes.

By bike

It's a nice bike ride from Paris via Bois de Bologne and Parc St Cloud. See [3]

Get around

The main city is easily traversable on foot, however a good network of buses run throughout. Once inside the palace it's possible to hire both bikes and battery-powered golf carts (see section below).

In the town about a kilometer from the château.
In the town about a kilometer from the château.
  • Chateau de Versailles, [4], [5] open daily (except Mondays when the chateau is closed) 9AM-5:30PM November-March, 9AM-6:30PM April-October.

One Day Pass (all inclusive) Apr-Oct: €20 weekdays, €25 weekends; Nov-Mar €16; under-18s free. Chateau-only tickets also available : €13.50, museum pass holders and under-18s free. Marie-Antoinette's Estate & Grand Trianon -only tickets : Apr-Oct €9, Nov-Mar €5 ; under-18s free. The grandes Eaux Musicales, week-ends and bank holidays only, Apr-Oct €8, under-18s €6, under-10s free.

Fares from 01.01.2010: One Day Pass (all inclusive) €18 except on Grandes eaux musicales days : €25. Chateau-only tickets also available : €15, reduced fare €13, museum pass holders and under-18s and under-26s (EU only) free. Marie-Antoinette's Estate & Grand Trianon -only tickets : €10, reduced fare €6, under-18s and under-26s (EU only) free. The grandes Eaux Musicales, week-ends and bank holidays + some tuesdays, Apr-Oct €8, under-18s €6, under-10s free.

Another famous "must see" location on the western outskirts of Paris. Not only does it have enormous historical significance, it is also a very beautiful building. Do other tourists a favor - do not use your mobile phones inside, it ruins the atmosphere. The rear of the palace also is partially covered by scaffoldings. If you plan to visit the palace it cannot be stressed enough that getting there earlier is recommended, because the lines stay very long all day. Even if you have a Paris Museum Pass or similar, you will still be directed to stand in the long line while construction is underway.

  • Alternatively, and especially if you have young children, access to the grounds is free.
  • Note that it is often free to access the park from the Rue de la Paroisse entrance (leads to the Bassin de Neptune), or if you are walking, from the Boulevard de la Reine (next to the 4-star hotel Trianon Palace).
  • Historic buildings are scattered in the west part of the town. See for instance:
    • Hôtel de Ville: the 19th-century town hall building (you can get inside), on the Avenue de Paris, a 5-min walk from the Château, or from the Versailles-Rive-Gauche station .
    • Cathédrale Saint-Louis, in the old Quartier Saint-Louis neighbourhood.
    • Église Notre-Dame, rue de la Paroisse.
    • Hôtel de la Péfecture, a nice façade across the town hall.
    • The municipal Library, in the former Louis XIV's ministry of foreign affairs, 5 rue de l'Indépendance Américaine. You can enter on opening hours. They also organise open-doors on certain days, to get a glimpse inside the old cabinets. [6]
  • You may also have a look at the Potager du Roi, where the king used to have his vegetables cultivated. Avenue du Maréchal Joffre.
Palace from the back
Palace from the back
Some of the gardens
Some of the gardens
  • Consider taking an audioguide tour of the chateau, available in several languages from various reception points within the palace and grounds. The day pass price includes the audio tour.
  • Within the grounds in the Summer there are a number of activities including a train ride, rowing boat and cycle hire. The mini-train is really the only time efficient way to get an overview of the entire grounds, which include his and hers residence palaces, which otherwise are at least a 30 minute walk each way from the main palace. The mini-train also stops along the main canal, where there is a cafe and a snack shop. For 30 euros it is also possible to hire a golf-style buggy for one hour in order to explore the expansive grounds.
  • Additionally, a short walk into town can provide a welcome contrast to the hectic, tourist-filled chateau. The town is like most others in France, with a couple of small, historic churches and lined with small shops. While eating on the grounds of the chateau can save time and walking, finding food at a small café, patisserie, or sandwich shop in the town is less expensive and an authentic experience. Eating a picnic along the lake at the château is a pleasant experience, and you can find a couple of small grocery stores in town to pick up things like bread, sandwich meat, cheese, wine, etc to take back for a picnic at the château.


Versailles itself (the town) has any number of good places to eat whilst visiting. Once you have made it into the palace grounds, however, it should be noted that it is far more convenient to eat within — the alternative is to hike back into the town, before returning to the Palace (time better spent viewing the rooms and grounds). The grounds are also perfect for picnicking in warm and/or dry weather.

A number of other options exist:

  • Within the Château itself, a Café is positioned not far from the Cour des Princes
  • Within the Formal Gardens, there exists 2 informal restaurants, La Flotille and La Petite Venise, on Petite Venise (from the Château, head back directly through the Gardens to the start of the canal - Petite Venise and the restaurants can then be found to the right).
  • Several kiosks serving snacks and fast food can be found in the Gardens (Bosquet du Dauphin & Bosquet de la Girandole) and the Grand Trianon.


Versailles might not be the best town to party. However it is fairly easy to mix with the locals.

There is a little concentration of bars (and restaurants) on the Place du Marché, at the junction of the Rue de la Paroisse, and Rue du Maréchal Foch. This is where most young people go out at night. Tables outside the terraces are plentiful in the nice months. Exploring the walking alleys from the Place du Marché can also reveal less know restaurants.

Another popular bar with Versailles' youth is the O'Paris, on the Avenue de Saint-Cloud, very close to the Château's Place d'Armes (on the right-hand side when facing the Château). They often play sport events inside. Tables outside are also available when it is warm enough.

  • Huttopia Versailles [7] : a nice place to stay, in the forest and very close to the RER (train) station. Ideal for families as it is a campsite with a swimming-pool. Many accommodations to rent (cottages, ridge tents...).
  • Hotel Les Jardins d'Epône, 220 avenue de la Mauldre 78680 Epône, +33 1 30956870, [9]. checkin: 01pm; checkout: 11am. A beautiful hotel restaurant just near the exit 10 of A13 on the road to Versailles. 55-59€.  edit
  • Giverny - Visit the house and gardens of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet. Can be packaged with a Versailles visit.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VERSAILLES, a town of northern France, capital of the department of Seine-et-Oise, 12 m. by road W.S.W. of Paris, with which it is connected by rail and tram. Pop. (1906) town, 45,246; commune, 54,820.54,820. Versailles owes its existence to the palace built by Louis XIV. It stands 460 ft. above the sea, and its fresh healthy air and nearness to the capital attract many residents. The three avenues of St Cloud, Paris and Sceaux converge in the Place d'Armes. Between them stand the former stables of the palace, now occupied by the artillery and engineers. To the south lies the quarter of Satory, the oldest part of Versailles, with the cathedral of St Louis, and to the north the new quarter, with the church of Notre Dame. To the west a gilded 1 See Gay, Cart. hied. i. p. 367.

iron gate and a stone balustrade shut off the great court of the palace from the Place d'Armes. In this court, which slopes upwards from the gate, stand statues of Richelieu, Conde, Du Guesclin and other famous Frenchmen. At the highest point there is an equestrian statue in bronze of Louis X1V., and to the right and left of this stretch the long wings of the palace, while behind it extend the Cour Royale and the smaller Cour de Marbre, to the north, south and west of which rise the central buildings. The buildings clustered round the Cour de Marbre, which include the apartments of Louis XIV., project into the gardens on the west considerably beyond the rest of the facade. To the north the Chapel Court and to the south the Princes Court, with vaulted passages leading to the gardens, separate the side from the central buildings. On the other is the inscription, "A toutes les gloires de la France," which Louis Philippe justified by forming a collection of works of art (valued at r,000,000), commemorating the great events and persons of French history. The palace chapel (1696-17r o), the roof of which can be seen from afar rising above the rest of the building, was the last work of J. Hardonin-Mansart.

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The ground-floor of the north wing on the garden side contains eleven halls of historical pictures from Clovis to Louis XVI., and on the side of the interior courts a gallery containing casts of royal funereal monuments. The Halls of the Crusades open off this gallery, and are decorated with the arms of crusaders and with modern pictures dealing with that period. On the first floor of the north wing on the garden side are ten halls of pictures commemorating historical events from 1795 to 1830; on the court side is the Gallery of Sculpture, which contains the Joan of Arc of the princess Marie of Orleans; and there are seven halls chiefly devoted to French campaigns and generals in Africa, Italy, the Crimea and Mexico, with some famous war pictures by Horace Vernet. The second storey has a portrait gallery. In the north wing is also the theatre built under Louis XV. by Jacques-Ange Gabriel, which was first used on the 16th of May 1770 on the marriage of the dauphin (afterwards Louis XVI.) and Marie Antoinette. Here, on the 2nd of October 1789, the celebrated banquet was given to the Gardes du Corps, the toasts at which provoked the riots that drove the royal family from Versailles; and here the National Assembly met from the Loth of March 1871 till the proclamation of the constitution in 1875, and the Senate from the 8th of March 1876 till the return of the two chambers to Paris in 1879. On the ground-floor of the central buildings are the halls of celebrated warriors (once the anteroom of Madame de Pompadour), marshals, constables and admirals, and the suite of rooms known as the Dauphin's Apartments, now given up to historical portraits. The Galerie Basse, once known as the Gallery of Louis XIII., leads to the rooms surrounding the Marble Court, a series of which contains many plans of battles. The lobbies of the ground-floor are full of busts, statues and tombs of kings and celebrated men. The famous staterooms are on the first floor. On the garden side, facing the north, are a series of seven halls, some of them decorated with tapestries representing the life of Louis XIV. Among them may be mentioned the Hall of Hercules, till 1710 the upper half of the old chapel, where the dukes of Chartres, Maine and Burgundy were married, and Bossuet, Massillon and Bourdaloue preached; the Hall of Mercury, where the coffin of Louis XIV. stood for eight days after his death; and the Hall of Apollo, or throne room. To the front of the palace, facing the west, are the Galleries of War and Peace, with allegorical pictures, and the Glass Gallery, built by Mansart in 1678 (235 ft. long, 35 wide and 42 high), having 34 arches, 17 of which are filled with windows looking on the gardens and 17 with large mirrors. The gallery is overloaded with ornament, and the pictures by Charles Lebrun, the trophies and figures of children by Antoine Coysevox, and the inscriptions attributed to Boileau and Racine, all glorify Louis XIV. This gallery was used by him as a throne room on state occasions. Here the king of Prussia was proclaimed emperor of Germany on the 18th of January 1871. Connected with the Gallery of Peace are the queen's apartments, occupied successively by Marie Therese, Marie Leczinska and Marie Antoinette, where the duchess of Angouleme was born, the duchess of Burgundy died, and Marie Antoinette was almost assassinated on the 6th of October 1789. Behind the Glass Gallery on the side of the court are the rooms of Louis XIV. The Oil de Beeuf, named from its oval window, was the anteroom where the courtiers waited till the king rose. In it is a picture representing Louis XIV. and his family as Olympian deities; and it leads to the bedroom in which Louis XIV. died, after using it from 1701, and which Louis XV. occupied from 1722 to 1738. In the south wing of the palace, on the ground-floor, is the Gallery of the Republic and the First Empire, the rooms of which contain paintings of scenes in the life of Napoleon I. A sculpture gallery contains busts of celebrated 'scholars, artists, generals and public men from the time of Louis XVI. onwards. In the south wing is also the room where the Chamber one of the Be received Clay sketch for the monument of Cardinal Forteguerra, showing the kneeling portrait of the cardinal, which is not in the actual monument; a very poor modern figure occupies its place.

of Deputies met from 1876 till 1879, and where the Congress has since sat to revise the constitution voted at Versailles in 1875 and to elect the president of the republic. The first floor is almost entirely occupied by the Battle Gallery (394 ft. long and 43 wide), opened in 1836 on the site of rooms used by Monsieur the brother of Louis XIV. and the duke and duchess of Chartres. It is lighted from above, and the walls are hung with pictures of French victories. In the window openings are the names of soldiers killed while fighting for France, with the names of the battles in which they fell, and there are more than eighty busts of princes, admirals, constables, marshals and celebrated warriors who met a similar death. Another room is given up to the events of 1830 and the accession of Louis Philippe, and a gallery contains the statues and busts of kings and celebrities.

The gardens of Versailles were planned by Andre Le Notre. The ground falls away on every side from a terrace adorned with ornamental basins, statues and bronze groups. Westwards from the palace extends a broad avenue, planted with large trees, and having along its centre the grass of the "Tapis Vert"; it is continued by the Grand Canal, 200 ft. wide and 1 m. long. On the south of the terrace two splendid staircases lead past the Orangery to the Swiss Lake, beyond which is the wood of Satory. On the north an avenue, with twenty-two groups of three children, each group holding a marble basin from which a jet of water rises, slopes gently down to the Basin of Neptune, remarkable for its fine sculptures and abundant water. The Orangery (built in 1685 by Mansart) is the finest piece of architecture at Versailles; the central gallery is 508 ft. long and 42 wide, and each of the side galleries is 375 ft. long. There are 1200 orange trees, one of which is said to date from 1421, and 300 other kinds of trees.

The alleys of the parks are ornamented with statues, vases and regularly cut yews, and bordered by hedges surrounding the shrubberies. Between the central terrace and the Tapis Vert is the Basin of Latona or the Frogs, with a white marble group of Latona with Apollo and Diana. Beyond the Tapis Vert is the large Basin of Apollo, who is represented in his chariot drawn by four horses; there are three jets of water, one 60, the others 50 ft. in height. The Grand Canal is still used for nautical displays; under Louis XIV. it was covered with Venetian gondolas and other boats, and the evening entertainments usually ended with a display of fireworks. Around the Tapis Vert are numerous groves, the most remarkable being the Ballroom or Rockery, with a waterfall; the Queen's Shrubbery, the scene of the intrigue of the diamond necklace; that of the Colonnade, with thirty-two marble columns and a group of Pluto carrying off Prosperine, by Francois Girardon; the King's Shrubbery, laid out in the English style by Louis Philippe; the beautiful Grove of Apollo, with a group of that god and the nymphs, by Girardon; and the Basin of Enceladus, with a jet of water 75 ft. high.

Among the chief attractions of Versailles are the fountains and waterworks made by Louis XIV. in imitation of those he had seen at Fouquet's château of Vaux. Owing to the scarcity of water at Versailles, the works at Marly-le-Roi were constructed in order to bring water from the Seine; but part of the supply thus obtained was diverted to the newly erected chateau of Manly. Vast sums of money were spent and many lives lost in an attempt to bring water from the Eure, but the work was stopped by the war of 1688. At last the waters of the plateau between Versailles and Rambouillet were collected and led by channels (total length 98 m.) to the gardens, the soil of which covers innumerable pipes, vaults and aqueducts.

Beyond the present park, but within that of Louis XIV., are the two Trianons. The Grand Trianon was originally erected as a retreat for Louis XIV. in 1670, but in 1687 Mansart built a new palace on its site. Louis XV., after establishing a botanic garden, made Gabriel build in 1766 the small pavilion of the Petit Trianon, where the machinery is still shown by which his supper-table came up through the floor. It was a favourite residence of Marie Antoinette, who had a garden laid out in the English style, with rustic villas in which the ladies of the court led a mimic peasant-life. The Grand Trianon is a one-storeyed building with two wings, and has been occupied by Monsieur (Louis XIV.'s brother), by the Great Dauphin, Napoleon I., and Louis Philippe and his court. The gardens of the Grand Trianon are in the same style as those of Versailles, and there is a museum with a curious collection of state carriages, old harness, &c.

Apart from the palace, there are no buildings of interest in Versailles; the church of Notre Dame, built by Mansart, the cathedral of St Louis, built by his grandson, the Protestant church and the English chapel being in no way remarkable. The celebrated tennis-court (Jeu de Paume) is now used as a museum. The large and sumptuous palace of the prefecture was built during the second empire, and was a residence of the president of the republic from 1871 to 1879. The library consists of 60,000 volumes; and the military hospital formerly accommodated 2000 people in the service of the palace. There are statues of General Hoche and of Abbe de l'Epee in the town. A school of horticulture was founded in 1874, attached to an excellent garden, near the Swiss Lake.

Versailles is the seat of a bishopric, a prefect and a court of assizes, and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade-arbitrators, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France, and, among its educational establishments, lycees and training colleges for both sexes and a technical school. It is an important garrison town and has a school of military engineering and artillery. Distilling, boot and shoe making, and marketgardening employ many of the people, but the town has no specially characteristic industry. The links of the Paris Golf Club are at La Boulie near Versailles.

Louis often hunted in the woods of Versailles, and built a small pavilion at the corner of what is now the rue de la Pompe and the avenue of St Cloud. In 1627 he entrusted Jacques Lemercier with the plan of a chateau. In 1661 Louis. Levau made some additions which were further developed by him in 1668. In 1678 Mansart took over the work, the Galerie des Glaces, the chapel and the two wings being due to him. In 1682 Louis XIV. took up his residence in the chateau. It is estimated that 20 million pounds were spent on the palace, gardens and works of art, the accounts for which were destroyed by the king. Till his time the town was represented by a few houses to the south of the present Place d'Armes; but land was given to the lords of the court and new houses sprang up, chiefly in the north quarter. Under Louis XV. the parish of St Louis was formed to the south for the increasing population, and new streets were built to the north on the meadows of Clagny, where in 1674 Mansart had built at Louis XIV.'s orders a château for Madame de Montespan, which was now pulled down. Under Louis XVI. the town extended to the east and received a municipality; in 1802 it gave its name to a bishopric. In 1783 the armistice preliminary to the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States was signed at Versailles. The states-general met here on the 5th of May 1789, and on the 10th of June took the solemn oath in the Tennis Court by which they bound themselves not to separate till they had given France a constitution. Napoleon neglected, and Louis XVIII. and Charles X. merely kept up, Versailles, but Louis Philippe restored its ancient splendour at the cost of i,000,000. In 1870 and 1871 the town was the headquarters of the German army besieging Paris. After the peace Versailles was the seat of the French National Assembly while the commune was triumphant in Paris, and of the two chambers till 1879, being declared the official capital of France.

See A. P. Gille, Versailles et les deux Trianons, with illustrations by M. Lambert (Tours, 1899, 1900); P. de Nolhac, La Creation de Versailles (Versailles, 1901); J. E. Farmer, Versailles and the Court under Louis XIV. (New York, 1905). 1905).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun


  1. A suburb of Paris, formerly the capital of France.
  2. The Palace of Versailles



French Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia fr


Proper noun


  1. Versailles, a suburb of Paris, formerly the capital of France
  2. Versailles, The Palace of Versailles

Simple English

File:Palace of Versailles Front
Palace of Versailles

Versailles is a French city, located in the western suburbs of Paris, 17.1 km. (10.6 miles) from the center of Paris. It is the capital of the Yvelines département. This city is very important for the History of France because it was formerly the capital of the kingdom of France.

Its name comes from the Latin word vertere, meaning to turn the soil.[1] It is twelve miles west from Paris.[1]

Versailles is made world-famous by the Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles), who lived Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI.

The population of the city estimates was 85,900 inhabitants in 2004.

It is also famous because this is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of The Great War.


  1. 1.0 1.1 " Versailles: A Biography of a Palace (9780312603465): Tony Spawforth: Books". Retrieved 12 April 2010. 

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