This past weekend, I took a quick two day trip to Versailles to see Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes which includes a fireworks display at 10:45pm. I booked the tickets on-line prior to arriving (you should too to save time waiting in line). At €24 it was a bargain giving the experience. I also decided to see La Serenade Royale de la Galerie des Glaces. The Serenade was more ‘touristy’ than I expected but well worth the €17 since I had the opportunity to see the Hall of Mirrors with almost no people which is rare.
The main event, however, was the Jardins which would open at 7:45pm. While there were hundreds of people, it was far less than the usual crush when the Jardins are open and free to see. We were first treated to the most spectacular sunset which must have be ordered by the Sun King himself as it seemed to want to go on forever. Then, at 8:30, as we all watched from the top of the main staircase leading down to the main Jardins, the fountains began to spring to life with both water, music and light. It was magical and mesmerizing as the last bits of color in the sky gave way to the brilliant colors of the Jardins and their fountains.
We were then allowed to make our way down the massive stone stairs to enjoy all the sights and sounds for the next two and half hours. Dead ends, dark alleys and brilliants fountains were just a part of the adventure that awaited us. I could imagine Marie-Antionette and her favorites doing something very similar but to candles and fires rather than lights and lasers. Yes they incorporate lasers as well as fog and bubble machines. While a little schticky, it was still fun and didn’t diminish the overall experience.
In anticipation of the fireworks, everyone took seats on the main stone stairs that lead back up the chateau and overlook the Jardin. We all sat silently watching the fountains and listening to the the music. Then, it went silent and the air seemed to get slightly colder with the only sound the water rushing and flowing. Suddenly there was a large burst of fireworks above Apollo’s Chariot fountain in the distance accompanied by music. The fireworks were so beautiful and perfectly synchronized with the music. About 15 minutes in total length it was the highlight of the night and met with rapturous applause at its completion. I was disappointed with the photos I took of the fireworks but opted to watch them more than shoot them so I could really enjoy the experience. I did manage to get a great video of the last few seconds which you can see by clicking here.
It was a magnificent night and one I highly recommend. Unfortunately, mine was the final nighttime show for the season. Annually from June though September, check the official website for dates and times and to purchase your tickets. However, you can still see the fountains come to life during the day through November. Click here for details.