Whilst there is plenty to see and do in Paris, one of the most amazing experiences that Paris offers is actually outside of the central city area. The Palaces of Luxembourg, Versailles and Fontainebleau are amazing examples of spectacularly opulent and impressive royal estates (in order of distance from Paris).
This sprawling but elegant estate actually lies within central Paris, in the 6th Arondissement, only a 15 minute walk from Notre Dame Cathedral. This mid-17th Century construction was home to Marie de Medici (the mother of Louis XII and member of the powerful Florence based Medici family). It has served as a parliament building, has massive and beautiful gardens and inside features a long and decorative Salle des Conferences that is packed with frescoes and paintings. Considering it's so close to central Paris, it's well worth a visit
Versailles is a gaudy, imposing and selfish building - that being said, it's one of the most impressive palaces in the world. Settled in its very own village, built to support the whims and requirements of the French monarchs, Versailles is around 20 kilometres away from central Paris (easily reachable by train). The palace is 67,000 square metres of gold, marble and stone - to give you an idea of the scale of the palace, a nationalised tapestry industry had to be formed in order to come close to meeting the requirements.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to go see a ballet performance in the Royal Opera which is an unbelievable experience.
This lesser known palace is around 60 kilometres from Paris (again easily reachable by train) and before being the UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum that it is today, was home to a variety of French royals and nobility and also a hunting lodge. There is even a bedroom created for Napoleon in the early 19th Century, still decorated and on show.
Don't miss the Garden of Diana at the back of the palace, which was the royal private garden. There is also the carp pond which is at least as big as 4 football fields, and numerous grottoes, gardens and canals all around the extensive grounds.
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