The Palace of Versailles (the royal château or simply Versailles) may be crowded.
Even though this building is a true monstrosity, the narrow thresholds cause major bottlenecks, precluding movement from room to room at times.
That is why we like the Gardens (which we only visit in the dead of “winter”)
The leaves have dropped, the statuary and topiary are covered for the winter. (although December in Versailles, we seem to see more mud then snow)
We choose to be at the front guard-house when the gates open at 8:00 – for a Run. It’s dark,feels a little dangerous and there is a strong sense of the history of this space. You pass through the front courtyard, around the side of the Palace, into the Gardens. We have the Gardens of Versailles all to ourselves. Start up among the fountains, run down through through the landscaping. Beyond the Gardens we run into the Park around the Canal, then return to the Palace up in in the distance, at dawn.
By the time we return to the front courtyard, the tourists have already assembled in line for the Chateau. But for us, we have found our magic in the gardens.
In the summer we have heard of the evening fountain shows with music and lights (and the predictable crowds of tourists). We can’t imagine the grandeur and spectacle, but still, we prefer the solitude of a garden run at dawn with iTunes.
Beyond the Gardens of Versailles is the Park
(the Park is the open space further west of the gardens and includes the large space around the canal