My fascination with Versailles began several years ago upon reading Rosalind Laker's novel, "To Dance With Kings." The story begins in 1664, during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King. The lovely Marguerite creates fans to sell to ladies of nobility from a stall outside the palace.
My first attempt to visit Versailles was on a rainy day in 1979 when I was turned away at the gate due to a bomb scare. This time, 21 years later, I was determined and rewarded with a beautiful day with few people touring.
The chateau is elaborate. What started as a modest hunting lodge eventually became the largest palace in Europe, housing 20,000 people at a time. The gardens, clearly affected by storms the previous winter were sparse. The pools near the main building were decorated with beautiful bronze statues such as the one pictured here.
After touring the palace I took the tram to the far end of the palace grounds. It's here that you'll find the Grand Trianon, built by Louis XIV in 1687 to escape the rigors of court life and to enjoy the company of his mistress Madame de Maintenon, and the Petit Trianon, built in 1762 as a retreat for Louis XV. Marie-Antoinette's "Le Hameau" is also here. This charming small hamlet consists of several buildings (pictured here) where she would escape the every day stresses of royalty.