Top 10 things to know about the Palace of Versailles, the star of castles

It is undoubtedly one of the most famous castles in the world. Residence of Louis (XIV, XV, XVI and Louis Dupont my cousin by marriage who visited it not long ago), this castle is an architectural marvel and embodies in itself the importance of France in History with a big axe. A true symbol that spreads over 63,154 m2, Versailles attracts around 7 million visitors a year (excluding confinement, eh, you will have understood that). However, do you really know Versailles?

1. The Palace of Versailles quickly became a tourist hotspot

We tend to believe that tourists flocked to Versailles when the monarchy ceased to reign, but in fact no. Already in the time of Louis XIV, people were invited to stroll through the gardens and the corridors of the castle. It was just necessary to avoid crossing the King and to be presentable. People came from all over the country to see Versailles. Like today…

2. The fountains were never fully exploited

At the time of its greatness, all the fountains could never be fully activated. And this for the simple and good reason that it was impossible to pump enough water from the Seine and that the system intended to draw it from the Eure was never operational. Result of the races, a stratagem was used to give the illusion that they were all in motion, when the King was there. Because a fountain that doesn’t work is upsetting for a monarch.

3. The first manned hot-air balloon flight was inaugurated on the Place d’Armes

We are on September 19, 1783. Étienne de Montgolfier tries out his prototype hot air balloon in front of the Palace of Versailles. In the basket are a sheep, a rooster and a duck. The balloon flies away with its passengers, the canvas tears a little but does not cause an accident. He even travels 3 kilometers before landing in Vaucresson, where the animals are found safe and sound.

4. The castle was expensive (like really expensive)

And that’s the least we can say because if we take inflation into account, the addition of Versailles amounts to some 200 billion euros. Between 200 and 300 billion exactly. A third of the amount spent having just been used to build the fountains (which never worked together remember).

5. This is a real hotel

Well, not the kind where you can book a room. But let’s say that with its 700 rooms (and 67 staircases and 1200 fireplaces), the Palace of Versailles could accommodate a bunch of travellers.

6. Versailles was saved by the Revolutionaries

One would have thought that after having cut off the heads of the King and Marie-Antoinette, the Revolutionaries would also have destroyed Versailles. But no, because instead they decided to invest it to return it to the people. It is nevertheless said that the destruction of the castle, after having been considered, was abandoned because it was considered too complex and too expensive. And that’s how the castle became a world-renowned tourist spot… Accessible to the public, but not free either.

7. The castle sometimes hosted more than 10,000 people at the same time

The equivalent of a small town in short. Or in the region you want.

8. 10,000 trees were uprooted in the 1999 storm

Not voluntarily of course, but during the terrible storm which caused innumerable damage throughout the country. 80% of the plants were affected, including Marie-Antoinette’s famous tulips. 2 million euros were then collected to restore the gardens to their original state. Even more trees were planted. around 50,000.

9. All the books in the three castle libraries are fake

They have almost all been transferred to the Paris Archives. However, there remains one that enjoys a certain celebrity: a book written by Louis XIV himself on how to visit the gardens of Versailles.

10. The woods of Versailles were full of prostitutes

Prohibited by the King, the prostitutes remained hidden in the woods of the gardens and distracted the workers, thus slowing down the work. The king, rather furious, decided to introduce a rather brutal law which was to condemn prostitutes to be whipped if they were caught while it was planned for customers to have their noses and ears removed.

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