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Visiting Versailles: Things to Do, Tours & Tips for a Paris Day Trip
Julie Last updated: February 8, 2024 France 2 Comments
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. This opulent palace and its surrounding gardens are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. With that, crowds can be enormous. In this guide, we uncover the best way to visit Versailles, with tips on how to avoid the lines, how to tour the rooms crowd-free, and how to get the most out of your visit.
Table of Contents
Overview of the Palace of Versailles
Versailles is a small town that is located 19 km (12 miles) west of Paris.
In 1623, Louis XIII built a small hunting lodge on the site that would eventually become the palace of Versailles.
Louis XIV expanded the hunting lodge from 1661 to 1715, constructing the extravagant palace that we see today. It original purpose was to be a summer home for royalty but in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of the government here from the Louvre.
For just over one hundred years, French kings lived and ruled from Versailles, until the French Revolution in 1789.
In 1783, the Peace of Paris was signed at the Palace of Versailles, which ended the American Revolutionary War.
In the 19th century, the Palace of Versailles was once again used as a spring and summer residence by Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XVIII, Louise-Philippe, and Napoleon III.
In June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I, was signed in the Hall of Mirrors.
Now, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. About 15 million people visit Versailles every year.
In 1979, the palace and the park were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In 2024, during the Summer Olympics , the Palace of Versailles will host the modern pentathlon and equestrian events.
The golden gate of Versailles
Things to Do at the Palace of Versailles
On a visit to Versailles, touring the palace and strolling through the gardens are the main things to do, but you can also visit the Trianon Estate, cycle through the park, or visit a few galleries where sculptures and luxurious coaches are on display.
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Tour the Palace
Touring the palace is the top thing to do on a visit to Versailles.
Louis XIV, Benjamin Franklin, King Louis XVI, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Marie Antoinette all graced these hallowed halls. Numerous war ending treaties were signed in the palace and Mozart performed here at the very young age of 7 years old.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The palace is a maze of luxurious rooms…2,300 rooms according to the official website. This becomes a very crowded place to visit midday, so, for the best experience, plan to visit the palace first thing in the morning or late in the day.
There are a few notable rooms to visit. On this list are the Hall of Mirrors, Marie-Antoinette’s private chambers, the Royal Chapel, the Gallery of Battles, and numerous apartments of the kings and queens.
Here are a few photos of the palace. We visited the Versailles at opening time and immediately entered the palace, which is why there are little to no people in our photos.
The Royal Chapel
The Mercury Salon | How to Visit Versailles
Hall of Mirrors
Looking from the Salon of War into the Hall of Mirrors
COOL FACT: The Hall of Mirrors gets its name for the 357 mirrors on the walls. When this room was constructed, France wanted to demonstrate its might by challenging Venice’s monopoly on mirrors, which were very valuable at the time. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in this room on June 28, 1919, ending the First World War.
The Queen’s bedchamber | How to Visit Versailles
The Coronation Room
The Dauphin Apartments
Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber
Stroll through the Gardens
With tree covered walkways, ornately manicured gardens, enormous green lawns, and walking paths adorned with sculptures, the gardens are also well worth your time. In fact, if you toured the palace midday when it is at its busiest, exiting out into these beautiful gardens is pure bliss.
The Orangery | How to Visit Versailles
The Colonnade Grove
The Latona Basin | How to Visit Versailles
It takes several hours to explore all of the gardens. However, you can pick just a small part of the gardens. We like the walk through Bosquet de la Girandole and Bosquet de la Colonnade (the Colonnade Grove).
If you are visiting at a time when the fountain show is running, it’s worth waiting to see Latona’s Pool in action. This fountain sits near the palace and has benches around it that make a great place to sit and take a break.
Watch the Musical Fountains Show
From April 1 to October 31, the fountains in the gardens come to life, paired with music. This is only offered several days a week (generally Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday) and when this is running, you must pay a fee to enter the gardens. You can get hours and pricing here.
We visited Versailles on a day the Musical Fountains Show was running. We thought it was nice but it’s not a must do. Strolling through the gardens without the music is a great experience, plus the gardens are free to visit when these special programs are not running.
Visit the Estate of Trianon
The Estate of Trianon is tucked away within the gardens, a hamlet for the kings and queens who wanted solitude and peace, away from the palace.
The Grand Trianon was built by Louis XIV as a private residence. It was known as the ‘Marble Trianon” for its pink marble panels. The colonnaded gallery, also called the peristyle, is one of the most popular things to see at the Grand Trianon.
The Mirror Room in the Grand Trianon | How to Visit Versailles
The Petit Trianon was originally constructed for Louis XV and his mistress in 1768. However, it was later gifted to Marie-Antoinette by Louis XVI. Marie-Antoinette redesigned the surrounding gardens and this became her sanctuary away from the palace.
The Marble Staircase in the Petit Trianon | How to Visit Versailles
The Queen’s Hamlet is a small village set around a lake. It was commissioned by Marie-Antoinette and has the appearance of a quaint, rustic village.
Queen’s Hamlet | Aeypix/shutterstock.com
Cycle through the Park
The Park is an enormous area filled with forests and grassy areas. This sits on the western end of the palace grounds. On a quick visit to Versailles, visiting the park is not worth the time, in my opinion, but if you plan to spend a full day here, you can rent bicycles and cycle around the park and the gardens. Bicycles can be rented at ASTEL, which is near the Apollo Fountain and Little Venice.
Paddle on the Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is the large body of water that sits in the park. Rowboats can be rented for a half hour or longer from the shop in Little Venice. Get hours and pricing here.
The Grand Canal and the Park | How to Visit Versailles
Rowboats for rent
The Coach Gallery
Located in the Great Stables, which sits outside of the palace gates, within the town of Versailles, is a museum containing a collection of coaches used at Versailles.
The Sculpture Gallery
Located in the Small Stables, not far from the Great Stables, are copies of Greek and Roman statues as well as original sculptures from the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
Restaurants in Versailles
There are a bunch of restaurants at the Palace of Versailles, ranging from take-away shops to full-service restaurants.
La Flottile. This restaurant is in Little Venice, near Apollo’s Fountain. We had lunch here. The food is decent and it has a good location and a nice outdoor setting.
La Flottile | How to Visit Versailles
La Petit Venise. This Italian restaurant is located in Little Venice. It is open for lunch through 6 pm and has indoor and outdoor seating.
La Petit Venise | How to Visit Versailles
Grand Café d’Orleans. This restaurant is located in the palace and serves sandwiches and desserts.
Angelina. Angelina is a famous pastry and tea shop. They have a small, outdoor cafeteria at the Trianon Estate and a larger indoor restaurant at Pavilion Dufour.
Laduree. Laduree has a small café in the basement of the palace. You’ll pass by it as you exit the palace.
Laduree at Versailles | How to Visit Versailles
Le Dauphin and La Girandole are two small cafes located in the gardens.
Ore. Located on the first floor of the Dufour Pavilion, this elegant restaurant is run by Alain Ducasse and it is open for breakfast and lunch (until 6 pm).
And of course, you can pack a picnic and have a picnic lunch in the gardens of Versailles.
Our Recommendations: Best Things to Do in Versailles
The must-have experiences are touring the palace and strolling through the gardens. Together, this will take 2 to 4 hours.
For those who want to explore farther, it is worth adding on the Trianon Estate, to see the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet. This adds another 1.5 to 2 hours to your visit.
Visiting the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery is only worth it if you have an interest in these. For most people, I don’t think it is worth the extra time.
How to Get Around the Palace of Versailles & the Gardens
The cheapest but slowest way to get around the palace and the gardens is on foot.
But don’t underestimate the size of this estate. The gardens of Versailles are massive.
To walk from the palace to the Estate of Trianon, you are looking at a 30-minute walk one-way (2 km/1.25 miles).
Tim and I easily walked 5 miles, touring the palace, strolling the gardens, visiting the Trianon Estate, and then walking to the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery.
Fortunately, there are ways to save your steps.
Your first option is to rent a bike and cycle from place to place (definitely worth it to get out to the Estate of Trianon). Bicycles can be rented in Little Venice, near the Grand Canal.
Option #2 is to rent an electric golf cart and use this to get around the gardens. You’ll get to see a lot without expending a lot of energy. However, it is pricey, costing just over €40 per hour, although there is a discount for disabled people. These golf carts can be rented in the gardens, right next to the palace. Get pricing here.
Electric Golf Carts | How to Visit Versailles
And finally, you can take the Little Train. This is a much cheaper option (€8.50 full rate, €4.60 for a single journey) which connects the palace with the Trianon Estate and gardens. You don’t have the freedom and flexibility as you do with the golf cart, but it is a great way to get out to the Estate of Trianon. Learn more here.
The Little Train | How to Visit Versailles
How Much Time Do You Need at Versailles?
On the shortest of visits, plan on spending about 2 to 3 hours at Versailles. This gives you enough time to tour the palace and stroll through a portion of the gardens.
Add on another 1 to 2 hours to visit the Trianon Estate.
With travel time to and from Paris, the entire visit will last from 4 to 7 hours.
It’s easy to spend a full day at Versailles, taking time for a leisurely lunch, to cycle through the park or paddle a boat on the Grand Canal, and to visit the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery.
In the evenings on some days of the week, there are also special events, such as nighttime fountain shows and the Royal Serenade.
How to Get to Versailles
The best way to get to Versailles is by train. RER Line C arrives at the Versailles Chateau – Rive Gauche station in Versailles. Travel time is 30 to 45 minutes depending on your starting point in Paris. From the Versailles Chateau – Rive Gauche station, it is a 10-minute walk to the palace. Check timetables here.
You can also get here by bus (bus line 171, 30 to 45 minutes) or by Uber (or another ride share app…30 to 45 minutes travel time).
When is the Palace of Versailles Open?
The gardens and the park are open every day, from 8 am to 8:30 pm during high season, with reduced hours in the low season.
The Palace and the Estate of Trianon is open every day except Monday. The Palace opens at 9 am and the Estate of Trianon opens at 10 am.
The Gallery of Coaches and the Sculpture Gallery are open only on Saturday and Sundays.
For hours, visit the official website , since each building has a different set of hours.
The Gallery of Battles
Best Time of Day to Visit Versailles
The best time of day to visit Versailles is first thing in the morning. The Palace opens at 9 am, so we recommend getting in line to enter the palace at 9 am, or even earlier. We got in line at 8:30 am and a small line had already formed. By 9 am, this line snaked across the large courtyard in front of the palace. If you want to tour the rooms of the palace with just a handful of people (like we did), plan on getting here early.
We have also visited Versailles midday on a different trip to Paris. The rooms become swamped with people and it’s a much different experience. It’s well worth waking up early to visit Versailles when it opens. Or, visit at the end of the day.
The line to enter Versailles at opening time | How to Visit Versailles
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Versailles?
There are a confusing number of ticket options for Versailles. Hopefully, I can help clear up some of this confusion.
Any ticket that includes the Palace will be booked with a time slot. 9 am is the best time to enter, to avoid the worst of the crowds.
If you only plan to visit the gardens, this is free on the days when there are no Musical Gardens or Musical Fountain shows (get those dates here ).
Here are the ticket options:
Palace Ticket: 21€. This includes your timed entry ticket to the palace, Gallery of Coaches, Sculpture Gallery, and park. It only gives you access to the gardens when the Musical Fountains Show and Musical Gardens are not in session. If the Musical Fountains Show or Musical Gardens are in session on the day of your visit, and you want to visit the gardens, you will have to add on these tickets, or purchase the Passport ticket.
Estate of Trianon Ticket: 12€. This ticket gives you access to the Estate of Trianon plus the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery. It does not include the Palace.
Passport: 32€ (peak season pricing). This gives you access to everything: timed entry to the Palace, the Estate of Trianon, the Gallery of Coaches, the Sculpture Gallery, and the Musical Gardens or Musical Fountains Show.
Musical Fountains Show Ticket: 10.50€. This gives you access to the Gardens when the Musical Fountains Show is in session. It does not include the Palace.
Musical Gardens Ticket: 10.50€. This gives you access to the Gardens when the Musical Gardens Show is in session. It does not include the Palace.
And that’s just a few of the options. You can also get tickets that add on a rowboat ride, a lunch, a bike ride, or an equestrian show. Unless you know 100% that you want to add on one of these options, I don’t think it’s worth adding on to your ticket. These can be purchased on the spot as you tour the Palace and Gardens.
CHEAPEST WAY TO VISIT VERSAILLES: For free, visit the Gardens on a day when the Musical Gardens or Musical Fountains Show aren’t in session and just view the palace from the outside. The next best option is to purchase a Palace ticket and visit the Gardens on a day when the Musical Gardens or Musical Fountains Show aren’t in session. This allows you to tour the Palace and visit the Gardens. If you also want to visit the Estate of Trianon, purchase the Passport and you get access to everything in Versailles.
How to Skip the Line at Versailles
Tickets can be purchased on site at Versailles, at the Palace ticket office in the South Ministers’ Wing. Lines to purchase tickets can be very long, up to 1 to 2 hours. On busy days, tickets can sell out, so you risk not being able to enter the palace if you wait to purchase your tickets on site at Versailles.
The best way to skip this ticket line is to book your entry ticket online in advance on the official website. This allows you to skip the ticket line. You will book your ticket for a time slot to enter the palace. 9 am is opening time and the best time to visit the palace with the smallest number of people.
However, you will still have to wait in a security line. This wait can take anywhere from a few minutes to up to 30 minutes, depending on the time of year (July and August tend to be the busiest months to visit Versailles, followed by weekends and holidays).
If you are unable to purchase a ticket online in advance, your next best option is to join a guided tour. This guided tour includes your transportation to and from Paris.
Versailles Day Trip from Paris: Detailed Itinerary
For the best use of your time, here is an itinerary for how to plan your day trip from Paris to Versailles. Purchase your ticket online in advance for a 9 am entry into the Palace.
8:20 am: Arrive in Versailles. If you plan to travel by train, plan on boarding the train no later than 7:50 am, arriving at the Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche station by 8:20 am. This gives you 10 minutes to walk to the Palace to be in line by 8:30 am. You can get here later, if touring the rooms without a lot of other people is not a big deal for you.
9:00 am: Enter the Palace. Go straight to the Grands Appartements/Galerie des Glaces (State Apartments and Hall of Mirrors), to tour the state apartments and see the Hall of Mirrors. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to tour these rooms, up to an hour if it is very crowded.
9:45 am: Appartements de la Dauphine. This is the second group of rooms you can tour at the palace. Here you will see Marie-Antoinette’s private chambers as well as the apartments of other nobility.
10:15 am: The Gardens of Versailles. Exit the Palace into the gardens. If you need a coffee or snack, you’ll pass the Laduree café on the way out of the Palace. Then spend the next hour or two exploring the gardens. You can walk, hire a golf cart, or use the Little Train to get around. If you are here when the Musical Fountains Show is in session, it’s worth seeing Latona’s Pool come alive with the music in the background.
11:45 am: Lunch. Have picnic the Gardens or Park or eat at La Flotille.
12:45 pm: Visit the Estate of Trianon.
2:45 pm: Exit Versailles. The fastest way to exit Versailles from the Estate of Trianon is to take the Little Train to the Palace (or a golf cart, if you rented one). Once you exit the property, you have the option to visit the Gallery of Coaches or the Sculpture Gallery (if they are open today), before heading back to Paris.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: To keep your visit to half a day, visit the Palace and Gardens and skip the Estate of Trianon. If you have limited time in Paris (3 days or less), I think your afternoon is better spent in Paris than visiting the Estate of Trianon.
The Hall of Mirrors
Skip the Line Tours of Versailles
Visiting Versailles is easy to do on your own if you follow our tips and are able to purchase your tickets online in advance. However, if you prefer to tour Versailles with an experienced guide or were unable to book tickets on the official website, here are a few highly rated tours to consider.
This highly rated tour includes your transportation from Paris, with the option to add on the Trianon Estate. You tour the palace with an audio guide.
Tour the palace and gardens with an experienced guide and enter the palace through a separate entrance. This tour does not include transportation from Paris.
This small group tour includes your transportation from Paris to Versailles by train and detailed tour of the palace with a guide.
Finally, this full day tour includes a visit to Versailles and Monet’s Giverny estate.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Versailles
Purchase your ticket online in advance. This will save you a long wait in line at the ticket office at the palace.
The Palace of Versailles frequently hosts special events and temporary exhibitions. Before your visit, check the official website for upcoming events.
Double check hours of operation before you go. Some events, such as the Musical Fountains Show, are not in session every day. It’s also a good idea to check updated conditions (during our visit, the Musical Fountains Show was in session, but operating at a reduced schedule because of drought conditions).
Tuesdays and weekends are the busiest days of the week to visit Versailles. And remember, it is closed on Monday!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to visit Versailles?
A visit to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles takes 2 to 3 hours, just to see the highlights. With more time, visit the Trianon Estate, cycle through the park, and visit the Gallery of Coaches and the Sculpture Gallery. Most people visit Versailles in a half day from Paris but with so much to see and do, it’s easy to spend a full day here.
Can you just walk around Versailles?
The gardens of the Palace of Versailles are free to visit on days when the Musical Gardens and Musical Fountains Show are not in session. When the Musical Gardens and Fountain Shows are in session, you will need a paid ticket to enter the gardens. The only way to visit the interior of the Palace of Versailles is with a timed entry ticket.
Is Versailles worth it?
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world to visit. Once home to the kings and queens of France, a few very important historical events occurred here, including the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the First World War. Versailles is one of the best day trips from Paris and one of the top tourist attractions in the world.
If you have any questions about how to visit Versailles on a day trip from Paris, or if you want to share any tips to help future readers, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Paris
PARIS: Start with our article Best Things to Do in Paris for ideas of what to do in Paris. Plan your time in the city with our 2 Day Paris Itinerary and 3 Day Paris Itinerary. We also have a Paris Hotel Guide , a guide to the best rooftop bars and restaurants in Paris , advice on visiting Paris with kids , and advice for visiting Paris at Easter.
THE LOUVRE: In our Guide to the Louvre, we cover the top things to see, a walking route through the Louvre, plus lots of tips to help you get the most out of your visit and avoid the crowds.
EIFFEL TOWER: In our Guide to the Eiffel Tower, we cover what there is to see and do, ticket options, best tour options if tickets are sold out, and unique experiences to have on the Eiffel Tower.
EUROPEAN ITINERARIES WITH PARIS: If you want to visit Paris plus one to two other European cities, you have several great options. A 10 day trip to London and Paris makes a great trip if it is your first visit to Europe (or if you just want to visit two great cities). With 10 days, you can also visit Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam or London, Amsterdam, and Paris.
Read all of our articles about France in our France Travel Guide.
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All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.
Hello Earthtrekkets, is it allowed to take pictures in the palace of Versailles? Also using a flash?
Yes, photography is allowed inside of the Palace of Versailles. I believe you can use a flash but I’m not 100% (my camera does not have a flash). There will be signs posted at the entrance letting you know if you can or cannot use a flash once inside. Cheers, Julie
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Europe , France · April 17, 2020
First Time Guide to Visiting the Palace of Versailles
If you are planning a trip to Paris, the Palace of Versailles is an easy day trip to add on to your itinerary. However, there are a few things that you should know before you go. We’re here to share everything you need to know before your first time visiting the Palace of Versailles!
*This post contains affiliate links. If you book a guide through the link provided, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!
Everything you need to know before visiting the Palace of Versailles
Where is the Palace of Versailles located?
The Palace is located in the city of Versailles in the Ile-de-France region, about 12 miles southwest of the Paris city center.
Versailles was once a small village dating back to the 11th century, but today it is a wealthy suburb of Paris.
Before our visit, I had pictured the Palace to be situated in the Paris countryside, when in fact, it is perched right in the heart of the city.
How do I get to the Palace of Versailles?
The best way to reach the Palace of Versailles is by train. Take the yellow RER C line to the Versailles-Chateau-Rive-Gauche station. This line can be easily accessed from any of the major train stations in Paris,
The RER is a train system connecting passengers from Paris to the surrounding suburbs. The RER line utilizes double-decker trains that are more spacious and clean compared to the Paris metro line.
The cost to ride the train from Paris to Versailles is 7.10 euros roundtrip and takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes, depending on which station you are departing from.
Once you arrive at the station, it is a short 10-minute walk to the Palace. The route is clearly marked with signs pointing visitors in the right direction.
If you prefer to not take the train, other options include renting a car or taking a tour .
History of the Palace of Versailles
Louis XIII enjoyed hunting in the surrounding forests of Versailles and commissioned a hunting lodge to be built in 1624 which he gradually expanded over the years into a small chateau.
Louis XIV played and hunted at the lodge with his father when he was younger, and even spent time there to escape the smallpox outbreak.
Several years after taking the throne, he wanted to establish the country estate as the seat of the French government where the Court of Versailles would reside.
From 1661 to 1715 the chateau underwent two stages of major renovations to create one of the largest palaces in the world. It became the center of political power in France and a symbol of absolute monarchy.
Louis XIV succeeded his father at the age of four and reigned for 72 years and 110 days. This is the longest reign of any monarch of a sovereign country in Europe. He died at the Palace of Versailles in 1715.
Perhaps the most well-known residents of the Palace of Versailles were King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette.
Louis XVI was the last king of France. He reigned from 1774 until 1792 when the French Revolution stripped them of their power and resulted in their beheadings.
During the revolution, the palace was looted by revolutionaries and many of the furnishings and artifacts were destroyed.
After the French Revolution, the Palace fell into the hands of the new government where much of the remaining furnishings and artwork were sold or donated to the Louvre.
Many of the pieces have been returned in an effort to restore the palace to its original state. In 1837, the Palace of Versailles was reopened as the Museum of the History of France.
Another notable historic event that took place in the Palace was the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. On June 28, 1919, the treaty was signed in the Hall of Mirrors and solidified the end of WWI.
Best time to visit the Palace of Versailles
During peak season, the palace can see as many as 27,000 visitors a day, resulting in long lines and crowded corridors.
If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit is November through March. We visited at the end of February and there was no wait at the entrance and security.
However, visiting during the winter means that the elaborate estate gardens are dormant. Spring and summer are the best time to fully experience the gardens at the Palace of Versailles.
You will also want to arrive as early as possible on the day of your visit.
The gardens open at 8 am and the palace opens at 9 am. If you arrive at 8 am, you can enjoy the tranquil gardens and avoid the tour bus crowds that start arriving shortly after 9 am.
Visitor information for visiting the Palace of Versailles
- The Main Palace is open every day, except Mondays, from 9 am to 5:30 pm (6:30 during peak season). The Gardens are open every day from 8 am to 6 pm (8:30 pm during peak season). The Estate of Trianon is open every day, except Mondays, from 12 pm to 5:30 pm.
- The best value is the Passport with Timed Entry for 20 euros. This includes access to all 4 areas of the palace. It also includes an audioguide and timed entry to avoid the lines.
- There are a variety of ticket options available, check this link for a comparison of the tickets .
- Entry is free on the first Sunday of the month from November to March.
- Guided tours are an additional 10 euros. Knowledgeable guides dive deep into the history and allow visitors to access portions of the palace that are closed off to regular visitors.
- From April thru the beginning of November, guests can view the fountain show and musical gardens at an additional charge.
- Be sure to download the free Palace of Versailles app that includes audioguides at no additional charge.
- Beware of pickpocketers in and around the palace grounds.
- Large bags, metal strollers, umbrellas, and selfie sticks are prohibited.
What to expect when visiting the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles consists of four main areas:
- The Main Palace
- The Gardens and Park
- The Estate of Trianon and the Queen’s Hamlet
- The Royal Stables.
1. Touring the Main Palace of Versailles
The opulent palace has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It contains 2,300 rooms spread over almost 680,000 square feet.
The basic ticket includes a self-guided audio tour of the most popular rooms comprising a small portion of the palace.
I will admit that the audioguide left me longing for more. It was very informative as far as the function and decor of each room, but it lacked in the fascinating history and stories that I was craving.
If you are looking to delve deeper into the history, a guided tour would be a better option.
These are the rooms that are included in the basic tour of the Palace of Versailles:
The Royal Chapel
After picking up an audio guide, guests will head upstairs where they can view the two-story Royal Chapel. The court gathered here every morning at 10 am for the King’s mass.
Visitors can then catch a glimpse of the Upper Stone Gallery adjacent to the upper floor of the chapel.
The Hercules Drawing Room
From here, guests will tour the King’s State Apartments. This is a collection of 7 elaborate rooms, beginning with the Hercules Drawing Room.
This regal room once served as the palace chapel until the current Royal Chapel was completed.
It later served as a ballroom and hosted a variety of diplomatic functions.
The room features a massive fireplace and an astounding ceiling painting, Apotheosis of Hercules , which gave the room its name.
The famed Feast in the House of Simon can also be found adorning the wall. This Veronese painting was a diplomatic gift from the Doge of Venice.
The Venus Room
The King often hosted evening gatherings and utilized the Venus Room for serving refreshments.
Tables were decorated with floral bouquets and topped with delectable rare fruits.
The Diana Room
The themed rooms centered around Greek and astrological mythology. The Diana Room was in honor of Diana, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt, with much of the artwork depicting hunting scenes.
This room served as the billiards room during the evening gatherings. In this room, you’ll also find a marble bust of Louis XIV created by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1665.
It has been referred to as the “grandest piece of portraiture of the baroque age”.
The Mars Room
The Mars Room originally served as the guardroom and celebrates the king’s military triumphs.
This room was often used for music and dancing during the evening social gatherings.
The Mercury Room
The Mercury Room served as the State Bedchamber. Louis XIV’s grandson slept here for three weeks before traveling to Spain to take the throne as the king of Spain.
This is also the room where Louis XIV’s coffin was on display for 8 days after his death.
The Apollo Room
The Apollo Room was originally designed as a ceremonial room, but was used as the throne room beginning in 1682.
The artwork in the room is dedicated to the “Sun King” the self-proclaimed title by Louis XIV.
His lavish 8 1/2 foot silver throne once stood in this room until it was melted down to help finance one of the wars.
A copy of the most famous portrait of Louis XIV hangs above the fireplace, the original can be found at the Louvre.
The War Room
The War Room and Peace Room flank the Hall of Mirrors and combine to make up the Grand Gallery.
The War Room pays tribute to the military victories and is decorated with trophies, gilded weapons, paintings, and a large stucco medallion of Louis XIV on horseback trampling his enemies.
From here, visitors enter into the Hall of Mirrors.
Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors is the most popular room in the Palace of Versailles and once stood as an outdoor terrace overlooking the gardens.
The elaborate 240-foot long hall is lined with 17 arches comprised of 357 small mirrors.
The exterior wall is lined with 17 correlating arched windows reflecting sunlight onto the mirrors. The ceiling is hung with 24 ornate chandeliers.
During special occasions, as many as 20,000 candles were lit in the hall creating a “corridor of light” with the flames dancing in the mirrors.
The artwork lining the hall pays tribute to the political, economic, and artistic success of France.
The hall served as a daily passageway between the King and Queen’s state apartments, and occasionally hosted ceremonies and special events.
As mentioned before, it is here that the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was signed to end WWI. Today concerts are held year-round in the hall.
For a unique experience, you can actually spend the night at the Palace of Versailles where you get exclusive access to an after-hours tour without the crowds.
The Peace Room
After crossing the Hall of Mirrors, visitors will reach the Peace Room. This room pays homage to the peace that France brought to Europe after the wars represented in the War Room.
During the reign of Louis XV, this room was used for religious concerts every Sunday.
The King’s Bedchamber
The king commissioned a collection of rooms for his own private apartments.
These can be visited during a guided tour, however, his bedchamber can be viewed just off the Hall of Mirrors.
This regal room was once the State Drawing Room. In 1701 it became the king’s bedchamber in order to occupy the center of the palace.
The king even commissioned custom bed drapes to be made using real gold thread. It is on this bed that Louis XIV died of gangrene in his leg.
The Queen’s Apartments
The symmetrical first floor of the palace originally had identical layouts for both the Queen’s and King’s Apartments. The Queen resided on the south and the King resided on the north.
After the Queen’s death shortly after moving in, Louis XIV made changes and downsized the Queen’s Apartments in order to accommodate his own personal apartments.
It is also interesting to note that the paintings on the ceiling depict female characters throughout the Queen’s Apartments, whereas the King’s feature males.
The Queen’s Bedchamber
The Queen’s Bedchamber was occupied by three different queens over the years.
The luxurious decor was definitely fit for a queen, from the sculptured gilded ceiling to the peacock feathers adorning the canopied bed.
It is here where the queen spent much of her time holding private audiences. Her getting-up ceremony was a courtly affair mandated by strict etiquette.
Throughout the years, nineteen children of French royalty were born in this room, an event that was a public affair of the court.
The first two queens also passed away in this room. The last queen to occupy this room was the ostentatious Marie-Antoinette.
The Noble’s Room
The Noble’s Room served as the second antechamber where formal audiences were held.
Marie Antoinette took it upon herself to remodel this room in a more modern style.
The Royal Antechamber
The King and Queen were required to eat certain meals in public and the Royal Antechamber is where this took place.
While the royal family were the only ones dining, the ceremony drew a large crowd of spectators from members of the court.
Those who were privileged enough to be granted access to the affair sat on stools or stood gathered around to watch.
The antechamber is also where the queen’s guests waited before entering the bedchamber.
The Queen’s Guard Room
Twelve guards were posted day and night in the Queen’s Guard Room.
The queen never entered this room and never felt the need to redecorate. As a result, this is the only room in the palace that reflects the original 17th-century decor.
In the early morning of October 6, 1789, hundreds of starving French citizens stormed the palace in an effort to abolish the absolute monarchy during the French Revolution.
The rioters tried to reach the Queen’s Apartments through this guard room. A guard warned one of the queen’s ladies in waiting, she was then able to bolt the door to the antechamber and help the queen escape through the King’s Apartments.
This concludes the self-guided portion of the palace tour. Cafes, shops, and restrooms are also situated throughout the palace. Click here for a map of the Palace of Versailles.
2. Visiting the Versailles Gardens
The Garden of Versailles is spread across 1,976 acres and is one of the largest gardens in the world. Entrance to the gardens is free, however, the musical fountain show is an additional charge.
Exploring the gardens can take an entire day. Bike rentals are a fun way to explore the gardens and help guests make the most of their time. Rentals are available from mid-February to mid-November.
This Food & Palace Bike Tour also comes highly recommended where you can explore the gardens, learn about the scandalous history, and have a picnic on the banks of the canal.
The audio guide included with the palace tour does not include the gardens. However, the free Palace of Versailles app has an audio guide available for the gardens.
Shortly after we set out to explore the gardens, a huge thunderstorm hit and we had to run for shelter.
But before it started raining, we strolled through the gardens appreciating the perfectly symmetrical lines and architectural layout.
We admired the sculptures, fountains, and the grandeur of the Grand Canal.
Guests can even rent a rowboat to glide along the canal from late February to mid-November.
We stopped in at the garden cafe for a panini when the rains hit and we had to make a run for it back to the train station.
I wish we had more time to explore the gardens, but we hope to return again someday!
Click the link for a detailed map of the Versailles gardens highlighting the must-see locations.
3. Visiting the Palaces of Trianon
The Palaces of Trianon are located in the northern quarter of the gardens. The estate includes the Grand Trianon, the Petite Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet.
Admission is included with the purchase of a passport ticket, or tickets can be purchased separately.
Visitors can walk the 1.4 miles to reach the Palaces of Trianon, or take the Little Train for 8 euros roundtrip. The train departs from the Palace of Versaille’s north terrace as well as the top of the Grand Canal.
The Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon served as a private retreat for the king. It was a place for him to escape the pressure and crowds of courtesans and spend time with his mistress.
The expansive single-story palace is surrounded by its own private gardens and courtyard. Visitors can tour the King and Queen’s Apartments, State Apartments, and several other rooms, as well as the gardens.
The Petite Trianon
The Petite Trianon lies on the other end of the gardens opposite the Grand Trianon.
Louis XV wanted to expand the Grand Trianon in order to accommodate more guests, so he commissioned the Petite Trianon to be built.
It was here that he first began to experience symptoms of the pox which took his life a few days later.
Louis XVI had been heir to the French throne since the age of 11 when his father passed away, as well as his older brother.
When his grandfather, Louis XV passed away, he inherited the throne at age 20.
At this point, he had already been married to Marie-Antoinette for 5 years, she was 14 at the time of their marriage (and supposedly they did not consummate their marriage for seven years).
Upon taking the throne after the death of his grandfather, the Petit Trianon was given to his young wife as a gift.
Years later it was rumored that the Petit Trianon is where she would meet up with her lover, a Swedish diplomat.
Later, during the French Revolution, the Petit Trianon was turned into a hostel.
The Queen’s Hamlet
Marie-Antoinette was loathed by the people and seen as the symbol of the monarchy’s excess.
While the citizens of France were dying of starvation, she was remodeling the palace with the finest furnishings and focusing her attention on outlandish hairstyles.
Supposedly, when she was told the citizens had no bread to eat, she flippantly responded, “let them eat cake”. A luxury that no peasant could afford. However, scholars argue whether she really uttered those famous words.
The Queen’s Hamlet is another example of the excess she is known for. When she sought a place of refuge to escape palace life, she commissioned a small village to be built around an artificial lake within the Trianon Gardens.
The ten buildings composing the Queen’s Hamlet have a rustic exterior with extravagant interior details.
The hamlet is divided into three main areas. The first is the reception area that includes the windmill, the boudoir, the Queen’s House, the billiard room and the stove room. These facilities were used when the Queen entertained guests and hosted small parties.
The second area is used for agricultural purposes and includes a barn, working dairy, model dairy, fisherman’s cottage, and guardhouse.
The third area is the farm and includes stables, a pig sty, sheep pen, and hen house. The Queen insisted that this was a functioning farm that was used for the palace kitchen and to educate the royal children.
4. Visiting The Royal Stables
The Royal Stables are the final stop while visiting the Palace of Versailles. The stables are located across the street just opposite the palace.
They are situated at the edge of Place d’Armes near the beginning of the three main avenues that fan out from the palace.
The Royal Stables consists of the Great and Small stables, both equal in size but different in function. The scale and majesty of the stables are astounding.
During the reign of Louis XIV, there were as many as 2,000 horses residing in the stables, with 1,500 men working there. The horses were trained for hunting and war.
Today guests can visit the Gallery of Coaches free of charge. The gallery is located on the ground floor of the Great Stables.
The gallery houses an extravagant collection of grand ceremonial coaches. Each carriage played a role in a historic event from marriages, to baptisms, coronations, and funerals.
Visitors can also view a short video chronicling the history of horse-drawn carriages.
I was amazed to see that there was so much more to explore at the Palace of Versailles beyond the palace itself.
I hope this guide has helped better prepare you to know what to expect when visiting the Palace of Versailles!
Other posts you might like:
- How to see Paris in 4 Days
- Paris Bucket List
- 12 Spots Not to Miss in Montmartre
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Family travel expert and content creator who has been inpsiring millions with her travel guides since 2018.
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September 30, 2022 at 5:45 pm
How long does the self guided audio guide tour last? Does it include the gallery of great battles?
September 30, 2022 at 9:48 pm
The self-guided audio tour inside the palace lasts for about an hour, but you can go at your own pace. Your ticket also gives you access to the gardens and a few other exhibits, but not the Gallery of Great Battles.
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The Top 8 Things to See in Versailles
Sean Finelli Last Updated: November 9, 2022
The Palace of Versailles is practically a mandatory day trip for anyone visiting Paris due to its dramatic history and opulent features. But what famous art or attractions should you see while there? Our licensed Versailles guide created this post of the top things to see in Versailles.
Pro Tip: Planning what to do on your trip to Versailles Palace? Bookmark this post in your browser so you can easily find it when you’re in the city. Check out our guide to Versailles for more planning resources, our top Versailles tours for a memorable trip, and the if a Versailles tour is worth it.
What You Have to See at the Palace of Versailles and Gardens
If you had spoken to anyone in the mid-17th century and told them that an old hunting pavilion 22 miles (37 kilometers) outside of Paris would one day become the home of the monarchy and court, you would have been laughed out of the room.
Largely thanks to King Louis XIV, this famed palace’s place in history is forever solidified. And it’s place as a top tourist destination near Paris is unquestioned. But what will you see here? The palace has 2,300 rooms, so it will be impossible to see them all. And we can’t forget the expansive gardens that must be seen too.
To help narrow down the most important things to see at Versailles, I’ve outlined the main spots to explore so you’re ready for your visit!
8. Grand Trianon
The Palace of Versailles was so opulent that Louis XIV constructed another palace to get away from the craziness of the main palace and his court. He also needed a place to be with his mistress: Madame de Montespan.
The architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart called it, “A little palace of pink marble and porphyry, with marvelous gardens.” Supposedly Louis XIV had set very strict guidelines for what he wanted to build and Mansart followed them exactly—although the architect didn’t really have a choice since Louis was constantly checking the construction.
Lavishness had no bounds already at Versailles and that continued here in the Grand Trianon. One example of this was the flower display. The gardens are surrounded by huge flowerbeds and terraces which could hold thousands of flowers planted in individual flower pots. The goal of planting them this way was to change the flowers out daily! Talk about extravagance on steroids.
Later, King Stanislaw I of Poland stayed here when he visited Versailles, and the great Napoleon sojourned here from time to time. In 1963, General De Gaulle restored the palace to host foreign dignitaries and use as his presidential palace.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our Versailles Guide for more resources.
7. Petit Trianon
In 1758, Louis XV decided there still weren’t enough palaces on the Versailles estate and began constructing another one. This one intended to be big enough to house the king and his royal entourage.
To differentiate between the Grand Trianon built by his great-grandfather Louis XIV, he was to call this the Petit Trianon. The in vogue architectural style at the time was neoclassical and the royal architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel did not disappoint in building the perfect example.
Unfortunately in April 1774, King Louis XV felt his first symptoms of smallpox at his new residence and died only a few days later. This pushed his son Louis XVI into the limelight, and he decided to give the Petit Trianon to his young bride Marie Antoinette as a gift. She immediately redecorated the palace and even changed the botanical gardens that were set up by Louis XV into an Anglo-Oriental garden which was the “in thing” at the time.
During the French Revolution, the Petit Trianon was turned into a housing area for those of few means. Napoleon later brought it back to life and had the entire area restored. He gave it as a gift to his wife and subsequently to his second wife Empress Marie Louise. Ironically, in 1867 the Petit Trianon was converted into a museum by the wife of Napoleon III and dedicated to Marie Antoinette.
Our Best Versailles and Paris Louvre Tours
Secrets of the Louvre Museum Tour with Mona Lisa
The Louvre is the largest art museum on Earth and the crowning jewel of Paris, which is why it’s on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t miss out on an incredible opportunity! Join a passionate guide for a tour of the most famous artwork at the Louvre. Skip-the-line admissions included.
Likely to Sell Out
Skip-the-Line Palace of Versailles and Gardens Tour from Paris
Versailles isn’t that difficult to get to by train, but why stress over the logistics? Meet a local guide in central Paris who will purchase your train tickets and ensure you get off at the right stop. Then enjoy a guided tour of the palace and the unforgettable gardens. Skip-the-line admissions included to the palace and gardens.
6. The Queen’s Hamlet
Out of everything that you will see at Versailles, nothing will really prepare you for the Queen’s Hamlet. When you think of Versailles, the first words that come to you are probably “extravagance and lavishness”. It’s a common belief based on reality.
So it may come as a surprise that, at first glance, the Queen’s Hamlet would seem to contradict that entirely—until you understand that this Hamlet was commissioned by Marie Antoinette solely for her to experience what it was like to live in a peasant hamlet. Enough said.
The queen would take relaxing walks here and imagine she was a commoner, although naturally, she would never actually work like a commoner. When many were starving in poverty in Paris, a popular saying to underscore Marie Antoinette’s lavish life was “Let them eat cake.”
During the French Revolution, the Queen’s Hamlet fell into disrepair. Napoleon later restored most of the area and gave it as a gift to his wife Marie Louise. This was a bit ironic and also symbolic since she was the grand-niece of Marie Antoinette!
The hamlet is defined by five features you should see:
- The Windmill: Never used to grind grain, but just to have the look of a farm.
- Marlborough Tower and Working Dairy: A functioning dairy farm where they could enjoy cream and cheese.
- The Guard House and Dovecote: The house of the Queen’s guard and also where they grew hens and pigeons.
- The Boudoir: A small house to host guests and to eat.
- The Queen’s House and the Stove Room: A house solely for the Queen where she could host guests or have a rest.
5. The Empire Rooms
These rooms were also created by Louis-Philippe, a contemporary of Napoleon, in an attempt to gain the support of Bonapartists and former members of the empire. He collected many of the largest paintings commissioned by Napoleon in the palace’s south wing, where you can find them today underneath the Gallery of Battles.
4. Place d’Armes & The Gate of Honour
Lucky for you, you really can’t miss this part if you’re visiting the Versailles Palace. Place d’Armes is the massive funnel-shaped courtyard that sits in front of the palace. It is the site where three streets converge: Avenue de Saint-Cloud, Avenue de Paris, and Avenue de Sceaux.
The gates are not original to the Palace (gasp!). Those were torn down during the French Revolution and were replaced in 2008 in a massive project. The gate is 80 meters long and made from steel coated with 100,000 gold leaves. It’s fitting that the first thing you see in Versailles defines the palace as the opulent estate it truly is.
Not ready to book a tour? Find out if a Versailles tour is worth it .
3. The Gallery of Battles
The Gallery of Battles is one of the most impressive galleries in the palace. Louis-Philippe I, created this gallery to glorify the French military efforts in a series of paintings depicting historical events, which line every wall.
These paintings are absolutely incredible in their sheer size and patriotic vibe. This is a great place to really take in the talent of massive artworks celebrating French history.
2. The Gardens of Versailles
It’s hard to decide which deserves the number 1 and 2 spots on this list, but here we are. How to explain a garden so immense and grand with words? It’s a daunting task, but I will try.
The original garden took 40 years to build and is so big that thousands of workers and even entire regiments worked on it. It has to be replanted every 100 years to keep everything looking young. The last time this happened was in the early 2000s so if you go now, you will get an idea of what it looked like during the time of Louis XIV himself.
What to see in the Gardens of Versailles:
The Four Season’s Fountain : As you walk down the Royal Way, you will notice that there are alleys running parallel and perpendicular to this road. At the crossroads, you will find the Four fountains.
Neptune Fountain : The Neptune fountain is one of the biggest fountains with 99 jets that spout water. Its name comes from the towering statue of Neptune overlooking the sea creatures.
Latona’s fountain: This is one of my favorite and also is huge! Inspired by The Metamorphoses by Ovid, it portrays the goddess Latona protecting her two children, Apollo and Diana, who were being insulted by peasants from Lycia. Her rage forced Jupiter to turn all the residents into frogs. If you look closely you will notice frogs sculpted on the lawn around the sculptural group.
Walk the paths: The gardens are actually free to enter during the week if you don’t want to enter the palace, except on Tuesdays and the weekend, where you will need to pay €9.50 for the fountain show.
Rent a bike or golf cart and explore : You have two spots where you can rent a bike: one at the beginning of the gardens and one below towards the grand staircase. You can also find golf carts here if you prefer a more leisurely drive through the grounds. Go for it!
1. The Hall of Mirrors
This is one of the most famous rooms in all of Versailles and easily the most beautiful. This breathtaking hall has 357 mirrors and an impressive history. Most recently, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors in 1919, which ended World War I.
Originally, the space was a terrace that overlooked the gardens. So as you stand in the hall, you’ll see the mirrors and entry into other rooms on one side, and windows to the gardens on the other. The natural light makes the mirrors and chandeliers positively radiate light and opulence here.
Jules Hardouin-Mansart also designed this room, and it was a significant upgrade in 1648 from the drafty, exposed terrace. What once was hardly used became a room fit for a king—and millions of tourists. Find out more about how to visit Versailles so you can see for yourself!
Where To Stay in Paris
With a city as magnificent as Paris, it can be hard to find the perfect hotel at the perfect price. Explore the best hotels and places to stay in these incredible neighborhoods in Paris.
About Sean Finelli
Sean is a co-founder and owner of The Tour Guy and its subsidiary The Roman Guy. He studied finance and statistics, but that is his "Dr. Jekyll" side! His "Mr. Hyde" is in love with travel, art, history, and culture. Sean has read libraries of historical text and believes that all internet content should come from books. A practice he follows!
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