We Toured Versailles by Bike and Had a Wonderful Time!
A guided tour of Versailles was not something I ever thought we’d consider. In years past, watching tour groups being rushed here and there with no time to enjoy the sights just didn’t seem appealing to us. But, we love cycling so when we found a guided tour of Versailles by bike, we decided that it might be time to have a go at a tour.
Choosing “Blue Fox Versailles Bike Tour” (not an affiliate) was the best decision ever. As promised, our tour group was small and not once did we feel rushed.
How Our Guided Tour of Versailles Began
We met our guide in the Gare de Lazare and travel together to Versailles. Our guide pointed out bakeries and patisseries as we walked to the covered market. From there, we were on our own to make our picnic selection. We went very traditional with a saucisson, cheese, a demi-baguette and a box of seasonal raspberries. To complete the meal, we purchases a tarte au citron to share from Pâtissier Guinon. No wine as it was not permitted although we did note that some people were not “rule followers”.
Lunch in hand, we walked to the cycle garage where we received our bikes and we set off on our adventure. It was breathtaking to cycling along the chemins of Versailles, stopping, of course for the obligatory photos.
We stopped by the lake for our picnic and enjoyed the amazing view. After lunch, we continued our exploration of the 2000 acres. True to his word, the guide stopped frequently with bits of history to share that was very interesting and the frequent stops insured no one had difficulty keeping up.
Estate of Trianon – continuing our guided tour of Versailles
Next we cycled to and toured the estate of Trianon, which includes the Grand and Petit Trianon châteaux. These residences were designed to provide living space less formal than the main Château of Versailles. The interiors of both châteaux were spectacular but I think my favorite of this part of the tour was the gardens found behind the Grand Trianon.
The Grand Trianon provided Louis XIV a place of rendezvous with Madame de Maintenon. Almost a century later, Louis XV used the Petit Trianon to entertain his mistress Comtesse du Barry and later Marie Antoinette received the Petit Trianon as a gift from Louis XVI.
The Grand Trianon
There were some pretty garish colors in some of the rooms of the Grand Trianon so I chose to share this delightful blue room above instead and the fascinating table below.
The Petit Trianon
The inside of the Petit Trianon was more grand than the exterior! Château are normally sprawling affairs but the Petit Trianon is very much box-like.
Marie Antoinette remodelled the gardens at the Petit Trianon to include this Love Monument folly and the Grotto.
The Queen used the Belvedere folly as an open-air living room in the summer, with the tall windows and multiple doors bringing the outside in.
Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet
Did you know that Marie Antoinette had a small hamlet built on the property of Versailles where, in addition to the Petit Trianon, she could escape the royal world of the main château? I didn’t. This little hamlet is considered part of the gardens and it was a real treat! For the Queen, it was a true escape from reality! Here she could entertain friends in a casual setting.
Château de Versailles- off the bikes and on our own in the Château
Our day ended with the main palace of Versailles and with the tour, we did not have to wait in line! I must say that after visiting many châteaux, Versailles still managed to overwhelm us. The paintings on the ceilings were magnificent. In some instances, I felt they superseded what was in the room itself.
What would a visit to the Château de Versailles be without a visit to the Hall of Mirrors. Did you know it pays tribute to the artistic, economic and political successes of France?
This one parting view of the Château de Versailles doesn’t begin to describe its enormity but you can see the grandeur of the ornamentation. One visit here doesn’t do it justice and we will definitely be back.