Tour of the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles stands as a testament to the power and wealth that the French royal family had before its demise. It was originally constructed in 1682 under the order of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, and served as the royal residence until his grandson, Louis XVI, was removed during the French Revolution in 1789.
A total of 700 rooms are found within the 720,000-square-foot palace that rests on more than 2,000 acres just outside of Paris. Yes, that makes it one of the largest palaces in the world.
Have you ever wanted to see inside? While it is impossible to see all of the rooms in this massive palace, tours are available that showcase the first floor, where the kings and queens lived out their days surrounded by courtiers. But you don't need to visit France to get a peek at the boujee chateaux. Follow along on our tour!
Map of Versailles' Ground Floor
To enter Versailles meant entering the King's State Apartment in the northwestern wing of the first floor, as you can see on this map you can follow as we take you through more than two dozen rooms.
The King's State Apartment consisted of seven grand rooms designed to be imposing and lavish — just the king's way of letting the world know who he was.
As you made your way through the apartments, you were part of a parade to reach the King's private rooms. Ready to see inside?
Room of Abundance
Entering the Palace, the first sight for a courtier or guest would be the intimate Salon d'Abondance, or Drawing Room of Plenty.
Here, coats would be taken and one could catch their breath before being led through the parade of halls to follow. The room was filled with refreshments, with coffee and wine available to begin or end your evening.
Officially the main entrance of the King's State Apartment, the Venus Room is located at the top of the Ambassador's Staircase, or Grand Degre, which was destroyed in 1752.
This room begins the theme of mythology in the rooms, as Louis XIV himself was called the Sun King. Venus, the goddess of Love, is painted on the ceiling of the room.
During evening events, this room was filled with fresh fruit and flowers.
The goddess of the hunt and sister to the sun god, Apollo, received recognition in this room named for her. Hunting scenes are found on the walls and in paintings.
Louis XIV used this room to play billiards, and the room had tiered seating for guests to watch him compete. But you're not in the "real" State Apartments yet. The space is considered yet one more entrance before the State Apartments truly begin.
Each of the three main State Apartment rooms features walls of a bold red, symbolizing courage, war, vigor and love.
As the god of war, Mars was appropriate for this room that was mainly used as a guard room during the day and transformed into a ballroom during evening events.
Often called the bedroom, the Mercury Room was originally the King's bedchamber before he relocated it to a much smaller space behind the walls of the Hall of Mirrors.
The king then used this room, instead, for game tables. However, the museum added the bed to the room to showcase it in its original state.
The Sun King saved the best room for last, dedicating this room to the god of the sun and of war.The king used it as his throne room, which featured his "silver" throne — an armchair bedecked in sculptures and plaques of silver.
Hanging above the fireplace is a copy of the famous portrait of the king, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud. The original hangs in the Louvre, but during the king's reign, it called the Apollo Room home.
War Drawing Room
At the end of the parade that covered the northwestern wing of the palace comes the corner drawing room known as the War Room, which was completed in 1686.
This marble-filled room features gilded trophies and weapons celebrating war victories of the French. The bas-relief in the faux-fireplace, for example, depicts Clio, the muse of history, recording the kings' victories, while the relief above it features Louis XIV trampling his enemies on horseback.
Hall of Mirrors
As you leave the War Drawing Room behind, you enter the room most famous for bringing peace: the Hall of Mirrors. This room was actually supposed to be a large terrace but became ornately decorated in a Baroque style with 357 mirrors displayed. The Venetian mirrors, during the time of the kings, illustrated wealth, so it was just one more extravagance of the king.
More importantly, however, this is the very hall where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, creating peace between the Allies and Germany following World War I.
Peace Drawing Room
After war and a treaty comes peace, and this corner room on the opposite end of the western wing is so called. It's not one of the King's State Apartments, though. This is the last room of the Queen's Grand Apartments.
Found in the southwestern wing, the apartments mirrored the king's on the opposite side of the palace and were made for Louis XIV's wife, Queen Maria Theresa.
The Queen's bedchamber was open to court as it was common for the queen's toileting and childbirth to be on display. The queens did give birth in this room, although, thankfully, they were allowed a screen to give them some privacy.
Maria Theresa died in this bedroom shortly after these rooms were ready for her. The king then turned her collection of apartments into his personal apartments.
When Queen Marie Leszcznska, the wife of King Louis XV, lived in these apartments, she used this room to hold her formal audiences with the ladies of the court, sitting in a circle.
The decor of this room, however, is credited to Marie Antoinette, who didn't like the original look.
An odd tradition during the era of French royalty was to watch the king and queen eat dinner. Called the Grand Couvert, this is the room where the public could come watch the couple dine.
Louis XIV had dinner here almost every night, but his son Louis XV liked dinners in private, and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette only dined here once a week. The young queen added a platform for musicians and had music played during the event.
As the official entrance into the Queen's Apartments and located at the top of the Marble Staircase, this is where 12 guards were stationed night and day.
As such, the queens never used this room, and its decor is the original of the palace — one of the few!
Although it is called the Coronation Room, this room was the guardhouse until the French Revolution and the rise of the First Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte.
He was crowned in 1804 but not here. He was crowned in Paris, so this is actually where the greatest paintings of his reign were on display, including one celebrating his crowning.
The Queen's Library
The queen did have some privacy, especially in this library that overlooks the Dauphin's Courtyard.
This room was given to Marie Antoinette while she was Dauphine and has remained intact since she used the space.
Within the center of the palace, overlooking the Marble Courtyard, was the king's private rooms.
Louis XV relocated his bedchamber to this small south-facing location because it was easier to keep heated. He died in the room in 1774, and the room became the bedchamber to King XVI, the last King of France.
The French kings were known for keeping mistresses, especially Louis XV, who is said to have cried when his love, Madame de Pompadour, died.
Just a short — and private — walk to the king's private apartments, the space is actually found on the second floor and was an attic above the Mars, Mercury and Apollo rooms.
The upper floors of the palace housed the royal family and courtiers and is where the Dauphine's chambers were located. Dauphines were the wives of the Dauphins, heirs to the throne — the French versions of princess and prince.
Before Marie Antoinette became queen, she used this collection of rooms that included a bedchamber and a sitting room.
The Gilded Room
Belonging to Madame Adelaide, the daughter of King XV, this private chamber served as a school for the princess.
The king also used the room for privacy and having his coffee.
King's Dining Room
One of the two rooms that had been Adelaide's apartments, this dining room overlooks the courtyard and was transformed by the king for his post-hunt dinners. (Remember, he liked his dinners private.)
When Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette ruled, this was one of their favorite rooms, where they would have dinner with their closest friends.
Louis XVI's Games Rooms
Connected to the dining room, this room became a game room for Louis XVI.
After dining, the dinner party could continue in this room well into the night.
Louis XVI's Library
The first room in the palace commissioned by Louis XVI when he became a young king was a new library.
As the younger family members lived on the upper floors, he had libraries but built this to be his largest and on the same floor with his apartments.
In the South Wing, the stunning Royal Opera was the largest concert hall in Europe when it was first used in 1770 by Louis XV. The theater and ballroom were first used for the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Now, the museum continues the tradition and features performances and concerts open to the public.
In the North Wing, the Hercules Room was the last room Louis XIV was working on before his death. Formerly a chapel, the space was being converted following the completion of the grander chapel to which it is connected.
Louis XV finished the room, and it is an entrance to both the chapel and the Room of Abundance.
The last space Louis XIV saw to completion was this gothic chapel, which was dedicated to Saint Louis, of the family's ancestry and the kings' namesake.
The two-story chapel was used daily for the king's mass at 10 a.m.
Louis XIV enjoyed life away from the royal court, so he had the Grand Trianon constructed as a space with gardens to retreat. He also used it to entertain his mistress, who later lived here during the summer months.
This area on the Versailles' estate includes the first grand palace, a second smaller palace and gardens. Its name comes from the former village that occupied the land.
The Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon is rather two palaces connected by a sheltered colonnade called the Peristyle.
Housing a North Wing, for State Apartments, and a South Wing, for residential use, the pink marble building was a favorite of Louis XIV.
The Round Room
This round room was the entrance to the first of Louis XIV's State Apartments, found in the North wing.
Louis XIV's suite of apartments in the Grand Trianon included this Mirror Room, which was used as a council chamber.
This room was originally used as a private chapel with an altar in the back and doors that could be closed to convert the room into a gathering space.
Louis XIV turned it into an antechamber during his reign.
Louis-Philippe's Family Room
In this palace that acted more like home, this was the family room to Louis-Philippe and was a relaxing place.
The tables were meant for card games.
Cards were also played in the Garden Room, which overlooks the Chestnut Grove and the Grand Canal.
This room had a number of uses during its different rulers. A bedroom, a "resting room" and an office.
The artwork adorning the green damask walls are paintings of Apollo.
Preferring to eat his meals privately, Louis XIV enjoyed his supper in this room, where there was also an elevated platform for musicians.
Louis XV made the space a private office, but Napoleon turned it back into a dining room for breakfast.
Originally the bedroom of Louis XIV and where Louis XVIII died, this royal bedroom became the Empress' bedroom during Napoleon's tenure.
This bedroom was originally used by Louis XV, who decorated the space with wood paneling.
But Napoleon used this as his bedroom once he took over the palace.
On the same estate as the Trianon, Louis XV added this smaller palace. He died here, but when his son and Marie-Antoinette became King and Queen, Louis XVI gave it to the queen.
Napoleon III's wife, Empress Eugenie, turned it into a museum dedicated to Marie-Antoinette.
As the original chapel had been removed, Louis-Philippe created this private chapel out of Louis XIV's former billiard room.
Hidden in the gardens of the Grand Trianon is a theater commissioned by Marie-Antoinette.
Renowned for loving the arts, she wanted a class theater for performances. This one seats 250 with an orchestra pit that holds 20 musicians.
The Queen's Hamlet
Marie-Antoinette felt that even the Petit Trianon was still not enough of an escape from the royal court.
So, the King presented her with a rustic hamlet, the Hameau de la Reine, built even farther away as a retreat just for her.
The Queen's Stage
The Flemish-designed buildings created a neighborhood grotto around a lake and gave the young Queen a place to escape the glamor and glitz of Versailles as she entertained her closest friends in private.
The entire space was designed to look like a stage.
Marie Antoinette's Maison
The largest building of the Hamlet was, of course, the Queen's House, called Maison de la Reine. Designed like a stage that connected Antoinette's bedroom, boudoir, dining room, salon and billiards room, its construction was meant to be temporary.
The house was restored in 2018, and it is filled with pieces from Empress Marie-Louise's estate, as Antoinette's furnishings were destroyed and scattered during the French Revolution.
The largest salon in Marie-Antoinette's house was airy and sunny with walls hung in yellow silk.
This first-floor room welcomed only the closest of her friends.
This intimate room featured wood floors, white marble and mirrors and was used by Marie-Antoinette for just a few guests.
Its name says it all.
The Guard House and Dovecote
The Dovecote was not only home to doves but hens, roosters and chicken that Marie-Antoinette chose herself.
Each building in the hamlet had a vegetable garden. The hamlet's agricultural buildings were actually used as such. Workers lived in these buildings, including the head gardener.
This honor went to Jean Bersy, who was also in charge of Marie-Antoinette's safety when she was in the hamlet.
Marlborough Tower and Working Dairy
The tower of the hamlet is a part of the fisherman's cottage and was used to store fishing equipment.
The dairy supplied the rich butter and creams Marie-Antoinette so famously loved to enjoy.
The windmill, however, wasn't actually a mill.
It was painted in trompe-l'oeil to look like a deteriorating French countryside building.
The Gardens of Versailles are considered to be the most beautiful in the world — so much so that other royal families have attempted to recreate their own versions of these grand gardens.
Designed by landscape architect Andre Le Notre, there are more than 350,000 trees throughout the 2,000 acres that feature a Grand Canal and an Orangerie.
The gardens are most famous for their fountains, of which there are 50 with various themes. Fifteen groves, like the one pictured here, were created as small gardens with fountains surrounded by walls of trees and greens to hide them away.
From outside the palace, follow the Water Walk that leads to the famous Neptune Fountain, constructed in 1682, and reach the Dragon Fountain, which tells the story of Apollo and has water jets that make this fountain the tallest of them all.
Long before refrigerators and freezers, to keep ice meant creating large buildings with thick stone walls.
The first ice stores at Versailles were added during Louis XIV's reign.