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Versailles - home of the Sun King

The great city of Versailles, which lies some ten miles south-west of Paris in the Yvelines department of northern France, was once the home of the Sun King himself, Louis X1V. Here you can find the magnificent palace, one of the most opulent in the world, which was the home of the French kings up until the revolution, when the occupants (Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette) famously lost not just their palatial home but their heads as well!

Versailles today

The Versailles of today is still a great city. In some aspects, perhaps, it could be described as a suburb of Paris, but it is an affluent and important centre of culture and commerce with an identity of its own. There is no denying, however that Versailles (whether today or in days gone by) is defined by its palace and the connotations of wealth and power that go along with this.

Versailles's Palace of the Sun King

Once such a drain on French finances, today the palace is a huge source of income for France and for Versailles in particular. It attracts some 30,000 tourists a day, and is one of the most visited sites in Europe. There is no scope here to describe the wonders of the palace in any detail, but suffice to say that the scale of its opulence will take your breath away. Marvel at the hall of mirrors (built to reflect the glory of the Sun King himself) and the magnificence of the grounds with their superb fountains, statues and orangery. It is hard to believe that this incredible palace began life as a hunting lodge... but it is not difficult to understand how it came to play such an important part in French history.

A city of symmetry

The city of Versailles, designed to the requirements of the King, is a symmetrically planned city which was actually used as a model for the designing of Washington DC! It lies on a raised plateau within a landscape of woods and forests, and although it is close to Paris it retains its identity and resists becoming just another ubiquitous part of the urban sprawl.

Shops, restaurants, sports and leisure facilities for all

Versailles is a great and highly developed city which has all the expected amenities and necessities as well as just about every possible luxury! There is fabulous shopping, a superb range of restaurants representing much of the world's gastronomy, and sports and leisure facilities to suit all tastes and ages. The city is a major judicial centre and also the capital, or prefecture, of its department, so all the local government offices are situated here.

How to get there

It is so easy to get to Versailles from the UK. Paris is on the doorstep, and all services from the UK arrive in or at least connect to Paris. Paris Orly is the closest airport and you can fly to Paris Orly or Charles de Gaulle with any number of airlines from around Britain, including Air France, British Airways, bmi, bmibaby, flybe, easyJet, Jet2, Thomsonfly and Aer Lingus. Or you can take the Eurostar train or sail to the northern ferry ports. Whichever method of transport you choose you will find the journey short and straightforward.

Property prices and availability in and around Versailles

Versailles is a wealthy city, and prices tend to reflect this. It is also close to the capital, and within easy reach of an international airport, all these factors helping to maintain a strong property market. Having said this, however, it should be noted that there are a number of properties available in certain areas of Versailles which will not break the bank. Look out for studios and small apartments in large old buildings in the less fashionable parts of town... these are being revamped and becoming quietly desirable so should prove a good investment.

Do you know Versailles better than we do? Do you have photos of Versailles?

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Versailles AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Versailles?

Versailles is located in the centre north of France, just south-west of Paris. It lies in the east of the Yvelines department.

Versailles Property Map


Île-de-France Guide

Île-de-France Property Map


Yvelines Guide

  Yvelines Map

Population: 90,000

Access: By air: Fly to Paris with a choice of airlines and departure points. By boat: The ferry ports of the north are all reasonably accessible. By rail: The city has railway stations and these link easily to Paris.

Economy: The city is very wealthy with a varied and thriving economy. Tourism is a huge factor, with the Palace alone drawing some 30,000 visitors every day.

Interesting fact: Versailles was, for some time, the unofficial capital of France. Paris remained the official capital, but the real seat of power was Versailles, by choice of the King.

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