British national Camilla Gash (on Instagram @summerisntover) was infected with the global travel bug at an early age, having spent time in America, England, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, and Ghana during her adolescent years. Now a student of French at the University of Bristol, Camilla recently spent a year in Versailles—a city she describes “a magical and majestic place that combines history, beauty, and culture”—to fine-tune her accent while working at a local business school.

While most French-linguist undergrads opt to spend their third year in Paris, Camilla made a deliberate choice to base herself in nearby Versailles. To most people, the very word evokes one of the most splendiferous royal residences the world over. But the city where it can be found has so much more to offer.

“Versailles is a city of opposites,” she says. It’s “very touristy, but with a certain peace and tranquility about it; close to bustling Paris, but blessed with miles of green space; opulent, but with a relaxed pace.” Here are a few of Camilla’s favorite things about the city she once proudly called home.

Versailles Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the Palace of Versailles (the Château), of course. The Hall of Mirrors and vast palace grounds never fail to impress.

September through March (except for Mondays, because the château is closed) is the best time to visit my city because the crowds are a lot more manageable than in the summer. You’ll need no excuse to warm yourself up with a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) at Angelina.

You can see my city best from the street leading up to the palace. Walking from the train station, you turn a corner and suddenly get your first glimpse of Versailles in all its golden glory. It’s a pretty magical moment.

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