The Palace of Versailles is a must for those visiting Paris. Symbol of wealth, power and opulence of the French court, this castle is absolutely impressive.
Being one of the main attractions in and around Paris, the Palace is always very crowded. Therefore, the visit may not be easy. This post, a complete guide about the Palace of Versailles, has all the information you need to plan your visit, without stress.
Palace of Versailles: is it worth it?
Our immediate response is: yes, the Palace of Versailles is worth a visit!
However, if your stay in Paris is up to 3 days, it is maybe more interesting to stay in the city and discover all its attractions and museums. But if your stay is longer than 3 days, it is worth spending one of them in Versailles. After all, Versailles is the most beautiful and richest palace in the world!
Curiosities about the Palace of Versailles
First of all, we have prepared an infographic with some curiosities, practical information and a bit of history of the Palace of Versailles. If you do not have time to read all the information in this post, the infographic provides a summary of the most important information for your visit.
Palace of Versailles: tickets
Certainly, that’s the most important aspect: you need to buy your tickets online in advance, to get rid at least of the box office queue. Here are some ticket options:
- Option 1: Visit the interior of the castle, without the gardens, with audio guide. If you have limited time, this is the best option. You will be able to visit the entire interior of the castle, but you will not have access to the gardens and other attractions of the domain, like Trianon (see below).
- Option 2: Visit the interior of the castle and gardens, with audio guide (recommended).
Once you are in Versailles, we recommend to visit all the attractions of the domain (read below). In this case, the price of the ticket varies according to the date:
- Reduced rate | For visits between November 1st and March 31st or on Wednesdays and Thursdays between April 1st and October 31st.
- Full rate | For visits on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays between April 1 and October 31.
Click here for more information on tickets and prices.
How to get to the Palace of Versailles?
The Palace of Versailles is located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Paris. How to get there?
- By train| the cheapest option
Take the RER C5 (train called VICKY) with final destination Versailles Rive Gauche, the closest station to the Palace. The RER C line runs through several underground stations in Paris: Saint Michel-Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, Invalides, Pont d’Alma, Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel. See the subway and RER map by clicking here
- With one of the many guided tours, like the one organized by Paris City Vision | The bus, comfortable and air-conditioned, leaves from the center of Paris (2 rue des Pyramides, 75001) and arrives at the entrance of the Palace. You do not have to worry about buying the tickets, because they are already included in the price of the tour. There are several options to visit, see them all and make your reservations on the Paris CityVision website.
Palace of Versailles: what to see?
Now that you have your ticket, let’s see what to visit.
1. Visit the interior of the Palace
Versailles has more than 2,300 rooms distributed over 63,000 m². Of course, not all the rooms are open for the visit.
As you enter the castle, a predefined itinerary will lead you to some of the main rooms:
- The King’s State Apartment
- The King’s Private Apartments
- The Queen’s Apartments
- The Hall of Mirrors (from where you have a unique view of the gardens)
- The Gallery of Great Battles
- The Royal Opera and the Royal Chapel
2. Discover the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles
In 1661, King Louis XIV invited the landscape architect André Le Nôtre to design the gardens of Versailles. For the Sun King, the gardens were as important as the palace itself. The works were carried out at the same time as those of the palace and lasted 40 years. The garden covers 800 hectares, including French and English style gardens and the Trianon Domain.
With its great perspective, its geometric shapes and perfect symmetry, the Grand Canal is an icon of French-style gardens. Designed by Le Nôtre, the garden has 372 statues, 600 fountains and 35 km of canals!
Night fountains show
The night fountains show takes place every Saturday evening from June 13th to September 19th.
From 8.30 pm to 22 pm, you can take a stroll in the gardens while admiring a great show of lights and waters, to the sound and rhythm of the Sun King’s baroque music. At the end of the event, you can enjoy the great fireworks in front of the big pond. Click here for more information and tickets.
3. The estate of Trianon
In the estate of Trianon there are two other small palaces: the Grand and the Petit Trianon. Both were built to help the king and queen escape the bustle and excesses of the court.
The Grand Trianon, entirely built in pink marble, was the place where the King used to pursue his love affairs, away from his court.
The Petit Trianon, on the other hand, was the favorite place of Marie Antoinette; it is here that the queen spent most of her time.
Around the Little Trianon, Marie Antoinette gradually built the gardens, centered around a hamlet of cottages similar to the Normandy villages of the time. Known as “The Queen’s Hamlet”, it was the place where the young queen spent time with her children, away from the court etiquette that bothered her so much.
Marie Antoinette also commissioned an English-style garden, more natural, without the geometric shapes that characterize French-style gardens.
How do you move around the Gardens of Versailles?
There are different options to reach the Trianon:
The Gardens of Versailles in video
Map of the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles: opening times
Visit to the Palace’s interior:
The Palace is open every day except on Mondays (and except on December 25 and January 1st).
Opening time: from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm (gates close at 5 pm and ticket sale at 4.50 pm)
Visit to the gardens
Open daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
Visit to Trianon
Open daily, except Mondays and on December 25 and January 1st.
Opening hours: from 12h to 17h30 (gates close at 17h and ticket sales at 16h50)
How long does it take to visit the Palace of Versailles and the gardens?
If you choose to visit the castle alone, without a guide, here are some recommendations to avoid the big flow of tourists:
- Take a stroll in the French style gardens in the morning | Approximately 2 hours
- Head to the Trianon after 12:00 pm, time in which the park opens | Approximately 3 hours
- Visit the interior of the castle after 3 pm, when the crowd will already be leaving | Approximately 1h30
Restaurants at the Palace of Versailles
There are several options, but it’s always better to plan in advance where to eat.
- If you are looking for an ultimate experience, have lunch at Chef Alain Ducasse’s Ore restaurant. In this case, it is essential to book in advance through the restaurant’s website.
- Another good option is Angelina, a famous tea house in Paris, which has two sites in Versailles: a restaurant and a tea house at Trianon (do not miss the famous hot chocolate). Access to the restaurant is from the first floor of the Palace. Reservations: by phone +33 (0)1 39 20 08 32 or through the website.
- For other options, check the Versailles website here.
- A nice alternative on warm days is to have a picnic in the park (it is forbidden in the gardens).
History of the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was the last residence of the French kings. Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI were forced to leave the Palace during the French Revolution, when they were executed. But the history of the palace begins before…
Originally, Versailles was a royal hunting lodge. In 1624, King Louis XIII commissioned Jacques Lemercier to build a castle on the site. The walls of this first palace have been preserved – today they are the outer facade overlooking the Marble Patio.
But it was under the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King (1661-1710), that the residence was transformed into an immense and extravagant complex surrounded by French-style gardens. Every detail of its construction was intended to glorify the king.
Gradually, the residence evolved from a hunting lodge to a leisure residence, where great parties were held in the gardens. In 1682, it became the main residence of the French court and government. Louis XIV transferred to Versailles not only the aristocracy but also the main administrative institution.
When he passed away in September 1715, the construction of Versailles was far from complete. But with the King’s death, the court was again installed in Paris. Versailles started a long period of decline and oblivion.
In 1722, young Louis XV returned to Versailles. His first concern was to complete the work of his great-grandfather. But he also decided to create more intimate spaces, like the Petit Trianon, built for his mistress. His shyness led him to increase the number of small chambers in which he felt more comfortable than in the large public spaces created by Louis XIV.
Louis XV did not live exclusively in Versailles, he also spent part of his time at Fontainebleau (discover here the other castles around Paris).
Born in Versailles, Louis XVI became king before the age of 20. The celebration of his marriage to Marie Antoinette took place in 1770 at the Royal Opera House. Four years later, the King offered his wife The Petit Trianon. Marie Antoinette not only occupied it, but transformed it into her personal domain.
Although there were constant parties in Versailles, the court spent most of its time in Paris. The king was rapidly losing popularity among the people. But also among the nobility, as a result of heavy taxes and the extravagant expenses of Marie Antoinette.
Without realizing the social and economic situation, Louis XVI, who only cared about being loved, and Marie Antoinette, who loved luxury, were forced to leave Versailles in October 1789, when the French Revolution began. They would never return.