If your appetite for French history isn’t satisfied by touring Napoleon’s Tomb, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, then your next stop should be the grand Palace of Versailles.
Visiting Versailles is an easy day trip from Paris, and the immense property is every bit as awe-inspiring as you’d expect, seeing as it’s the former home of a king. Chateau de Versailles is a grand spectacle of baroque architecture, romantic gardens, and a history as rich as the gilded detailing on the palace walls.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the chateau dates back to the 1600s when it was originally built as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII. It now serves as a popular tourist attraction with people arriving in droves to tour the stunning gardens and beautiful palace.
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Highlights of the Palace of Versailles
The sprawling chateau is the first thing you’ll see as you enter through the huge iron gates. While it is a spectacle in itself, it also frames the miles and miles of gardens that the Palace of Versailles is famous for.
Each room inside the palace whispers tales of the kings and queens who once roamed its halls, and the extravagant art and decor are a testament to the luxury of an era gone by.
The first stop on most tours is The Gallery of the History of the Palace, which was originally 11 ground floor rooms that housed the royal princes. They have since been turned into somewhat of a museum, which has small models depicting the entire grounds, details about milestones in the palace’s history and 3D films.
The opulent Hall of Mirrors is a crowd favourite, featuring sparkling chandeliers and painted gold ceilings. At over 200 feet long, it also holds 375 mirrors (hence the name), glass doors and marble walls. It is also a great spot to get a view of the gardens.
The nearby War Salon and Peace Salon have similar marble panels, and are decorated with trophies and bronze carvings.
The whole area is considered part of the Grand Apartments, which is where the King and three of his queens live; in fact, 19 royal children were born in the Queen’s chamber. As for the King, his Grand Apartment was made up of seven rooms, which included areas to visit with foreign delegates.
Beyond the grand apartments, you’ll discover the King’s State Apartment. These aren’t your typical living spaces, but elegant salons used for royal functions. Each room is intriguingly named after a celestial deity and adorned to match, all to highlight the king’s divine rule.
Then there’s the more private side of Versailles, tucked away in the King and Queen Petit Apartments. The King’s Petit Apartment houses the personal libraries of Louis XV and Louis XVI, while the Queen’s Petit Apartment is filled with Marie Antoinette’s trinkets like her harp and cherished portraits, provides an intimate peek into her life beyond her royal duties.
Don’t miss the Chapel Royal, a testament to the palace’s religious roots. This architectural wonder (the final major project commissioned by Louis XIV) showcases intricate frescoes illustrating biblical tales.
Finally, the Royal Opera House is stunning theatre which was designed for the wedding of the future King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. It boasts a classic wooden interior and a stage so grand it can host over 1,000 performers.
Visiting the Versailles gardens
The most memorable part of any visit to the Palace of Versailles is undoubtedly the gardens. Covering a staggering 800 hectares, intricate patterns of foliage are spread out in front of the chateau like a beautiful maze.
Bright green hedges and well-manicured lawns line the pathways, which lead up to the famous cross-shaped Grand Canal.
Dozens of fountains and statues are scattered throughout the site, which spring to life during the Musical Fountains Show. The water features are set to music every weekend from April to October, while the Musical Gardens enchant visitors from Tuesday to Friday. Additionally, the mesmerizing Fountains Night Show is held on Saturday nights.
Don’t miss the Ballroom Grove with its amphitheater-like layout and cascading water terrace, and the Colonnade Grove which has a circle of 32 marble columns housing a beautiful sculpture portraying the abduction of Persephone.
Another feature hidden the Orangerie. Constructed by Louis XIV, it houses more than a thousand trees, some of which are over 200 years old. During the colder months these orange, lemon, and palm trees are stored inside to protect them, creating an exotic indoor forest.
Nestled alongside the Grand Canal you’ll find the Petite Trianon and its surrounding gardens which was a private escape for Marie Antoinette away from the formalities of court life. A little further away, her idyllic “Hamlet” is a must-see, with its rustic farm and cottages offering a stark contrast to the luxury of the main palace.
The gardens can take several hours to walk through, so it’s best to budget an entire day to see Chateau de Versailles.
Paris day trips to Versailles: FAQ
How much does it cost to visit Versailles?
When it comes to the cost of Versailles tickets, there are all sorts of options available depending on which areas are visited–click here to see the full list. On the Sunday of the month from November to March entrance is complimentary for everyone, and this explains when free entrance is available on other days.
Note that booking a time slot ahead of time is mandatory for visiting the palace.
How to get to Versailles from Paris
Getting to the Palace of Versailles from Paris is relatively straightforward, with several options:
By train: The most popular and cost-effective way to reach Versailles is by train. Take the RER C line directly to the ‘Versailles Château – Rive Gauche station, just a 10-minute walk from the palace. Trains leave approximately every 15 minutes; the journey time is 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll need a Paris Visite travel card or a separate RER ticket as the palace is outside central Paris’s zones.
By car: If you prefer to drive, the journey takes around 40 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. There are parking lots near the palace; however, finding a parking spot can be challenging during peak times.
RELATED: 15 best day trips from Paris, France
Tours to Versailles
Several Paris companies offer guided day trips to Versailles, including transport, entrance fees, and often skip-the-line access. It’s a great option if you prefer a hassle-free journey with added historical insights from a guide.
Book with GetYourGuide:
Book with Viator:
Bike tours are an excellent way to visit Versailles. They typically cover various areas in Versailles including the city, palace, gardens, and sometimes the Trianon Palaces and Marie Antoinette’s Estate. Riding a bike allows you to cover more ground in less time, making it an efficient way to explore the expansive area.
Tour guides provide historical insights about the French monarchy and the palace’s history, enriching the experience further. Many tours also include a stop for a picnic in the gardens, usually by the Grand Canal. These tours generally provide bicycles and helmets and arrange train tickets to and from Versailles.
They range from half-day to full-day excursions, and some may include skip-the-line access to the palace.
Reserve with GetYourGuide:
Versailles opening hours
The palace is open every day except Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Park and Gardens are open daily, and access to the Gardens is free except on days of fountains shows and musical gardens. Here is more information to help plan a day trip to Versailles.
Where to eat in Versailles
Versailles isn’t just about the grand château; it also offers a delightful gastronomic scene. Here are some recommendations for where to eat in Versailles:
Ore – Ducasse au Château de Versailles: For an upscale dining experience, check out Ore. Situated right within the Palace of Versailles, it’s a contemporary café during the day and a refined restaurant for private dinners. The menu by Chef Alain Ducasse features classic French cuisine with a modern twist. Click here to book
Chez Lazare: This relaxed, family-friendly bistro is a local favorite. The menu features comfort dishes from various French regions, all made with locally sourced ingredients.
Pizzeria O’Royale: If you want something different, this pizzeria serves delicious, wood-fired pizzas. It’s casual and great for families.
Gordon Ramsay au Trianon: Gordon Ramsay’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the Trianon Palace Versailles is worth the visit for an indulgent splurge. The dining room overlooks the palace’s park, making it an unforgettable dining experience.
Angelina: This famed tearoom in the Petit Trianon and the Pavillon d’Orléans is renowned for delicious pastries and iconic “L’Africain” hot chocolate.
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