Fancy a summer escape? Hop on board the Eurostar and whizz yourself to Paris, from where you can discover the iconic Palace of Versailles in all its summertime glory…
Words: Rachel Mantock
The Palace of Versailles has always been one of those historical greats that I admired from afar – and by afar I mean from Instagram. But despite my Insta-familiarity with this colossal beauty, my heart still skipped a beat when I finally saw it in real life.
A private guided tour of the fanciful interior and frescoes confirmed my suspicions that the palace is as close to a real-life fairy tale as you can get, and the dream-like quality of the experience was amplified further the next evening when we dressed up for the opera in the palace chapel.
The chapel – all ornate gold, chalky white pillars and Michelangelo-style cherubs – is the perfect setting to take in the opera in all its glory, angelic voices lulling us into a trance-like state.
You must also dine at the palace’s new restaurant, Ore – Ducasse au Château de Versailles, by the one and only Alain Ducasse. Small plates of foie gras and Marie Antoinette’s favourite desserts make one feel every inch part of the French aristocracy.
If you want to go for the full princess experience, book into the Trianon Palace Hotel, which boasts majestic views of the Palace of Versailles from its beautiful rooms. You can even dine on your terrace to take it in in its full majesty.
The Palace of Versailles really comes to life during the summer evenings when musicians and dancers of the Compagnie Baroque recreate a French-style ball in the sumptuous Hall of Mirrors
The Palace of Versailles really comes to life during the summer evenings when, between June and September, musicians and dancers of the Compagnie Baroque recreate a French-style ball in the sumptuous Hall of Mirrors and colourful light shows transform the fountains into quite the spectacle. It’s a wonderful way to imagine the palace as it would have been during its heyday.
After getting merrily lost in maze-like gardens, our trip was brought to a glittering end with a firework show and it was back on board the Eurostar for us, reclining in our comfortable seats and channeling the spirit of Marie Antoinette as we whizzed through the Channel Tunnel.