Palace of Versailles

We've seen pictures of the Palace of Versailles in history books and heard stories from friends who visited, so we were fully aware of the extravagance and overwhelming size of the estate. It is the palace of French kings, after all. Regardless of what you've seen and heard, however, it's impossible to fully grasp its enormity until you see it in person, which we finally had the chance to do this week.The more than 2,000-acre complex includes 230 acres of gardens in addition to the palace itself, which contains more than 700,000 square feet of floor space. It's no exaggeration when travel guides suggest blocking off an entire day to explore Versailles.

Of course the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and the King's and Queen's Apartments were a spectacle and ridiculously ornate, but, surprisingly, our favorite part of the tour was Marie Antoinette's estate--particularly her hamlet and the farm. The architecture and atmosphere was a welcomed change in scenery, and transported us from the austere and overdone design of the palaces to what resembled a more rustic and laid-back way of life. The fully functional farm even housed happy chickens, rabbits, sheep, pigs, donkeys and cows, as well as land for growing cabbages, cauliflower and other produce.

With so many unexpected discoveries around every hedge, we absolutely recommend visiting as much of the estate as possible. You really have no idea what beautiful scenes you may stumble across!

Palace of VersaillesPlace d'ArmesVersailles, France 78000