3 must-see attractions in Versailles
Travels don’t have to take you that far from home, and visiting your neighbourhood or city with your camera, as if you were a tourist, can lend a new character to very familiar places.
You can also hop on a bus and hop off as soon as you see some interesting monument or scene you would like to capture with your camera. Then, wait for the next bus and just hop on. In Paris for example, bus line 96 connecting Montparnasse to Belleville or line 95 which goes by the Louvre and the Opera are full of surprises for the price of a ticket!
I have been living in Versailles since 2003 and I really love to play tourist. Here are my 3 favorite spots
Madame Elisabeth Park
A bit of the countryside right on Avenue de Paris in Versailles, this is the Madame Elisabeth Estate, a free flowing English garden. Madame Elisabeth was the younger sister of King Louis the 16th. An orphan at the age of 3, she led a peaceful life totally dedicated to her brother and sister-in-law Marie Antoinette. Her brother gave her this small estate in 1783. Every day she went back and forth to the Palace, since she couldn’t stay the night there before she reached adulthood. She refused to go into exile when the revolution came, and she left Versailles for the Tuileries in 1789.
She was condemned to die on May 10, 1794. The Revolutionary Tribunal found her guilty and so Madame Elisabeth went to the guillotine. She was only 30. The house can only be toured during special events, but the park is perfect for a Sunday stroll or picnic.
73 Avenue de Paris, 78000 Versailles
Open from March 21 to November 15 from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm (till 8:00 pm from April 1 to September 30)
Bus line 171, Pont de Sèvres/Château de Versailles, stop Jean Mermoz.
The King’s vegetable garden
Strolling through the King’s vegetable garden is a bit like being invited to dine with Louis the 14th! While Le Nôtre was tasked with creating the ornamental gardens and Le Brun took charge of the sculptures, La Quintinie had the honor of providing the royal kitchens with fruits and vegetables. His greatest triumph was perfecting techniques for harvesting select products out of season. The King could eat strawberries in March and cherries in May! Today there are more than eight hundred new and historic fruit and vegetable varieties grown in the King’s vegetable garden. This is also a training garden and students from the National Landscaping College (ENSP in French) work here.
Don’t miss out on the next Harvest Festival: Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5, 2014. The fruits and vegetables grown in the garden will be on sale and there will be vendors from all over France (selling honey, spices, candles, etc.).
Hours of operation are posted on the website http://www.potager-du-roi.fr/site/pot_visites/
Entrance from €3
The aromatic pathway via the Gobert passage
Versailles is not just a historic town. It also has its contemporary side. One of the latest municipal projects is the Goberts pond passage connecting the Versailles Chantiers train station to the Palace via the Passage des Senteurs, an aromatic itinerary for the city of perfumes.
Next time you visit Versailles, don’t take the same old RER C (40 long minutes). The train from Montparnasse only takes 12 minutes (20 if it’s not an express train). Exit at the Chantiers train station and take Passage Gobert left after the bicycle garage (in fact, you can rent a bicycle for the day).
The ponds, designed under Louis XIV to bring water to the palace fountains, were blown up by the bombs of the enemies during the Second World War. And then nature took back control over this space. Cherry trees, wild pear and cherry trees, oak trees, and ivy…all these species which had been growing wild for years were preserved, pruned, and replanted to create this new garden. There’s a grass pit where children can run and jump on a circular bench-structure designed by Inessa Hansch. This is a contemporary, functional, urban garden, dated 2013. Exit the garden by Avenue de Sceau. As you go back up toward the palace, on your left you’ll find the Cour des Senteurs
which pays homage to the past and to the present of Versailles, the city of perfume.
The curiosity shop illustrates the families of scents used in the perfume industry, and children love it because they can smell everything! Place des Senteurs houses the luxury Guerlain, Dyptique, and Lenotre fashion houses as well as the Fabre glove maker, and it leads to Passage des Senteurs, a garden stroll through the primary ingredients.
Cour des Senteurs – 8, rue de la Chancellerie 78000 Versailles
Entrance is free
Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Since 2009 Vagabondes.fr has been showcasing European destinations. Catherine truly loves short getaways: 3 days are all she needs to find out if she wants to return, to extend her stay, so it’s like speed-dating with a city or a region. It’s just enough time to capture an ambiance and the local color, to awaken all the senses and to pique your curiosity about a place.
That is what she tries to write when she gets home…her travel impressions, with a focus on art and beautiful hotels.