Take advantage of the final entrance of the day to enjoy a full Versailles tour after most of the crowds have gone home. You'll explore the gardens (which include a fountain show on the weekends) as well as the most famous and opulent rooms of the palace. With a small group of no more than 19 people and transport on a private mini-bus, there is no easier or more relaxing way to see the lost splendor of France's royal past.
Take a walk through France's decadent past on this fully-guided tour of one of Europe's most iconic buildings, the Palace of Versailles. Using last-entrance passes to enter the building after most of the crowds have left, you'll see its gardens and most famous rooms as you learn the story of the rise and fall of France's monarchs and the lavish (and cutthroat!) courtly culture they created in this opulent royal redoubt. Your Versailles tour from Paris begins in the city center where you'll meet your guide and no more than 18 fellow travelers then hop on a train to Versailles for a comfortable ride to the outskirts of Paris where Louis XIV renovated his father's hunting lodge to create the gilded behemoth that we know today as the Palace of Versailles.
Just as important as the Palace, the 2,000 acres of gardens that surround it are still considered some of the finest in the world. Your Versailles tour begins in these gardens, where you'll learn the story of their creation and how Louis went to some very extreme (and slightly nefarious) lengths to employ the finest garden designer in Paris. You'll also learn to read the symbolism packed into the garden - no prizes for guessing why there are so many references to the Greek sun god - and marvel at the immense fountains which still run on their original hydraulics. Although the fountains are silent during the week, if you go on the weekend, you'll enjoy them as Louis did, spouting thousands of gallons of water in one of the oldest and most impressive displays of acquatic engineering in Europe.
Once you've seen the gardens, you'll skip the lines into the Palace for a tour of the most famous rooms. By utilizing the last entrance of the day, you will arrive after most of the crowds have left and see the palace as peaceful as it gets without renting it for a private function (which is actually possible, but as you guide can tell you, but it'll cost you).
As you go from one sumptuous room to the next, you'll learn about the courtiers and courtesans who lived here and how their lives revolved around balls, backstabbing, and actually, a lot of boredom, as they vied for the king's favor. Highlights include the King's apartment, the public State Apartments, including the War Room and Peace Room, and of course, the Hall of Mirrors, which is still considered one of the most impressive single rooms in the world. With art, symbolism and imagery packed into every corner,
Paris, world capital of art and culture, gathers some of the most famous museums and monuments in the world. Like all the world's great capitals, Paris lives at a fast pace, by day, by night and especially at rush hours. Bear in mind that museums and monuments are often less crowded during the week. Sights that should not be missed include: The Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. Visit any of the many others according to your tastes and interests: the Musee Picasso, Musee Rodin, Musee Carnavalet, Musee Marmottan and the Arab Institute are just a few. Essential Paris monuments are the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe or the Grande Arche de la Defense.
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