Versailles: a Stroll among Kings and Revolutionaries

It had been many years since I first visited the Palace of Versailles and I was very keen to return and find out if, despite the huge number of tourists it attracts, it was still a place worth getting to know. Now, after returning to wander through its great salons and gardens, I can confirm that it does indeed deserve to be revisited, if only to marvel at the amazing Hall of Mirrors or the evening spectacles held in the gardens on summer nights. But on this latest journey, I also discovered more sights to see in the historic town of Versailles.

Royal Serenade at the Palace of Versailles

Apart from visiting the Palace of Versailles, either in a guide-led group or on your own, there is a new way to experience this magnificent institution, which I tried on my recent trip: join the Royal Serenade that takes place on Saturday evenings in summertime, after the palace has closed its doors to the day’s regular visits by the public. This involves a special tour during which, as you visit the various rooms, you can watch theatrical performances and experience Baroque music with singing and dancing, all replicating the era of the Kings of France. For the Royal Serenade experience, you take the same tour as the Public Apartments circuit, so that you pass through the key sites of the Hall of Mirrors and the Gallery of Battles.

Palace of Versailles (External link)
Place d'Armes, Versailles

Restaurant Ore by Alain Ducasse

One of the pleasant surprises I had on my Versailles visit was having a meal at the Ore restaurant, run by renowned chef Alain Ducasse. This restaurant is located in one of the outbuildings of the vast palace complex and, though it is normally reserved for celebrations of major events, it is open to the public on summer nights, subject to prior reservation. We decided to go there after attending the Royal Serenade. What a treat to enjoy delicious fine dining at its most exquisite before ending our day at the palace watching the Great Fireworks Display.

Restaurant Ore (External link)
Pavillon Dufour – 1st floor, Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles

Great Fireworks Display

If there is anything really worth seeing at the Palace of Versailles, it’s the evening fireworks display put on every summer weekend. Before this extravaganza, visitors can see the fountains splashing in the gardens for the great light and music show, Summer Fountains Night Show. Baroque music rings out across the majestic gardens, where thousands of people wander from one fountain to the next to enjoy the many multimedia spectacles. The visit ends with spectacular fireworks that can be seen from every corner of the palace gardens, with the music seeming to lead the pyrotechnic displays, culminating in a magnificent grand finale, making this an unmissable experience on your visit to the Palace of Versailles.

Palace of Versailles (External link)
Place d'Armes, Versailles

Jeu de Paume Room

Any visit to Versailles should not be limited to the vast monument that is the royal palace, as there are other interesting corners where one can deepen one’s knowledge of events that marked the progress of the French Revolution. The most important such location is the Jeu de Paume (Real Tennis) Room, where representatives of the people in the States-General met, determined not to leave until they had achieved the right to one vote per person, an historic moment considered to be what sparked the revolution. This location is, in fact, a tennis court and, over the course of your visit, you can learn more about the historic origins of the French Revolution.

The Real Tennis Room (External link)
1 Rue du Jeu de Paume, Versailles

Theatre-Restaurant ReminiSens

An interesting option for dinner in the historic centre of Versailles is the theatre-restaurant ReminiSens, where I enjoyed fine dining inspired by menus from the 17th and 18th centuries in the ambience of the era of the Kings of France. As I ate, I was treated to a theatrical performance in which the actors dramatically related anecdotes and intrigues of the Court. All in all, it was an interesting experience to round off my visit to Versailles.

Reminisens (External link)
20 rue Baillet Reviron, Versailles

Notre Dame Market Square

If you want to see the place with the most atmosphere in the City of Versailles, it is no doubt Notre Dame market square, a large, rectangular space where a big market is held, the second largest in France. Spread over a four-block collection of buildings, its spectacular food areas are unquestionably the highlight. Around the square, there are bars and restaurants where you will find great ambiance all day long.

Notre Dame Market (External link)
Place du marché Notre-Dame, Versailles