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  • Writer's pictureYllara Maia

The Ultimate Guide for Visiting the Château de Versailles from Paris

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

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If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, look no further than the Palace of Versailles. Located just outside of Paris, this incredible palace is one of the most impressive and captivating places to visit in all of Europe. From its iconic Hall of Mirrors to its serene formal gardens, every detail at Versailles is designed to astound and delight visitors.

In this guide, we'll explore just what makes Versailles such a special place to visit and how you can make the most of your time there. So grab your camera, put on your walking shoes, and prepare for a royal adventure!

I. Overview of the Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most iconic and remarkable buildings in Europe. Originally built as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII, it was expanded and re-imagined by Louis XIV into one of the largest and most beautiful palaces ever constructed. It’s full of history, art, and grandeur.

Today, it serves as a museum and one of France's most visited tourist attractions. The "Chateau de Versailles" - as the French call it - sees nearly ten million visitors every year. Before you take a trip to go see what all the fuss is about, you should know some background information and the history behind it. Believe me - this will make your experience significantly better.

History and Significance

The Château de Versailles is one of the most significant symbols of French history and 18th-century European royalty. Built in the early 1600s, it was originally used as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII.

It wasn't until King Louis XIV - the "Sun King" - came to power, that it transformed into the luxurious palace that it is today. Versailles then served as the primary residence for King Louis XIV, widely considered to be France’s greatest king.

It was here that he gathered his court and hosted grand parties to entertain guests from around the world. Through its years, the palace of Versailles was also home to Louis XVI and the iconic Marie-Antoinette.

It remained an extremely influential political center until the French Revolution, when radicals stormed its gates and abolished the French monarchy altogether. Throughout its long history, Versailles has served as a reminder of both French luxury, as well as its tumultuous past, making it an important thread in French society's fabric to this day.

Layout and Architecture

The palace of Versailles is an impressive work of architecture. Its massive scale and unique design have made it one of the most recognizable European palaces in the world.

It's made up of a series of buildings and gardens laid out like a square, each containing something different for you to explore. At the center lies the main gate and royal palace, which is the first thing you see when you get there.

The Palace of Versailles

The main building of Versailles is composed of two large wings with extensive courtyards and galleries. This is where you'll find some of the most decorative rooms in the palace - including the Hall of Mirrors, the King's Grand Apartments, and the iconic Hall of State.

Right outside the front entrance to the palace and behind the Royal Gate is where you'll find the iconic Royal Courtyard. This is where you can get a picture of the black and white marble floor with the palace in the background.

The Gardens & Park

Many people visit Versailles not knowing how enormous the entire thing actually is. Aside from the palace - which is what most people come to see - there are miles and miles of royal grounds filled with fountains, other structures, and beautiful gardens. As soon as you exit the palace through the back, you'll be in the gardens.

Located directly behind the palace, the royal gardens are full of lush greenery, sculptures, and fountains - making it one of the most beautiful places to visit in all of France. The intricately designed greenery that you see in all the pictures is only a small part of the gardens, and it's called the Orangerie Garden.

Here is where you can also find the famous Apollo's Fountain and several groves. On the south side of the gardens lies the Grand Canal, which is lined with trees and statues that lead to the impressive Neptune Fountain. This is one of the ways that you can access the rest of the grounds and the park.

The park grounds also feature miles of pathways for you to explore, making it a great place to take a leisurely stroll around. This area is free and open to the public every day.

The Trianon Estate

Located to the right of the Grand Canal are the Trianon Palaces and the Hamlet, which were built for the royals to escape the luxury and the crowds of Versailles. There are three main structures to check out here, along with more gardens, fountains, and some beautiful pavilions.

The Grand Trianon is the most impressive of them all and it was built specifically for Louis XIV to be used as his private mansion. Setting some time aside during your day trip from Paris to visit this piece of architecture is a must.

The Petit Trianon has a more intimate feel, and this is where Marie-Antoinette took her residence when she needed to escape from court life. The Queen's Hamlet is located on the other side of the Grand Canal, and it is a small village-like area with cottages and pastoral scenes.

Restrooms and Refreshments

Throughout the Chateau de Versailles and its grounds, you'll find many toilets and places to eat. Inside the palace itself, restrooms are located in the Pavillion Dufour (west wing) and the South Miniester's Wing. Once you leave the palace, there are other restrooms scattered throughout the gardens and the park.

In terms of food, there are three options inside the palace: ORE Restaurant, Angelina, and Grand Cafe d'Orleans. Like any French restaurant in a tourist-infested location, eating at Versailles is not the cheapest option. However, it is the most convenient if you're planning to spend the whole day here.

There are also other options for refreshments outside the palace. Around the gardens, you can get fresh orange juice from scattered stands and sandwiches from La Flottille - located near the Grand Canal.

II. What to Expect Before Visiting the Palace of Versailles

Before you take off on your visit to Versailles, there are a few things you should know ahead of time. First and foremost, plan your trip carefully – you don't want to miss out on any of the attractions! Make sure to purchase admission tickets in advance as well as tour tickets if needed.

Best Time to Visit

You'll also want to take into consideration the time of year you're visiting – there can be large crowds during peak tourist season, so it's good to research when the best time would be for you. There are a lot of people visiting Versailles every year, so never expect the place to be empty.

Typically, your best bet is to visit during either spring or fall. Seasonally, the palace is most vibrant during Springtime, when the gardens are in full bloom and the weather is temperate. During fall months you'll be able to experience a less crowded visit as well as exclusive events such as candlelit evenings.

Winter months will be the least crowded, but the gardens won't be as pretty and it'll suck trying to explore them in the cold - just saying. In terms of days of the week, visit on a weekday if possible; though weekends are more crowded it's still easier than visiting during super peak days like holidays or when school vacations bring hordes of visitors – not ideal for enjoying an immersive visit!

Arrive early in the morning to get the most out of the experience. The palace and gardens are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly. For more information about opening dates and times, check out their website.

Getting There

In terms of how to get there, there are multiple transportation options from central Paris – the palace is located just outside the city and is easily accessible via public transport or car. Knowing these things ahead of time will help make sure your visit goes smoothly!

If you're looking for round-trip transportation to get from Paris to Versailles, taking a train is the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way. Simply jump on the local RER C line and within 40 minutes you will be there.

Check out the RATP website to help find the nearest train station near you and for more information on how to get to Versailles from Paris. Taking a bus is another cost-efficient solution. Public buses 171, 174, 204 and 285 all go directly between these two points throughout the day.

If you want to explore the area at your own pace then renting a car is probably your best bet. For round-trip transport, it takes about an hour to navigate the 52 km drive with plenty of chances for scenic sightseeing along the way. If none of these options are right for you, consider booking an excursion from Paris with transportation included. We'll talk more about this option below.

Admission, Tickets, and Tours

This attraction offers multiple different tickets with varying prices, which will give you access to different places around the estate. General admission Versailles tickets start from €19.50 for adults and €14.50 for students, but it will only give you access to the palace and the park - not the gardens.

If you want to explore the entire attraction, I recommend that you purchase a "passport". This ticket will give you access to everything Versailles has to offer, including the palace, the gardens, the Estate of Trianon, the Gallery of Coaches, any temporary exhibitions, and the park. Starting at €22.97 for adults, upgrading to this package from general admission is a no-brainer.

The other option that you have is to book a guided tour with a travel company. One of the benefits of picking this option is that transportation will be included, so you won't have to worry about getting there on your own. In addition, most guided tours come with the privilege of skipping the queue - which can get very long. Check out these options for Versailles day trips from Paris below:

From Paris: Versailles Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry - Take a day trip to Versailles from Paris via coach bus. You'll get to skip the line and have a guided visit of the palace. Highlights include the Hall of Mirrors, and the ornate State Apartments.

From Paris: Full-Day Guided Tour of Versailles with Lunch - This Versailles day trip also includes skip the line access, a guided tour of the palace, and access to the gardens. With this option, you'll get a deeper look into the Versailles Estate by venturing out into the park and the Trianon palaces.

From Paris: Bike Tour to Versailles with Timed Palace Entry - This Paris day trip includes round-trip train tickets to Versailles, along with a bike tour of the palace grounds. You'll bike through the park, visit Marie Antoinette's Hamlet, and then get a chance to explore the palace during regular opening hours.

There are plenty of Versailles tours offered by multiple travel companies, so make sure to do your research before you book. Find out everything that is included and the length of the tour, then determine which one is best for you.

III. Touring Versailles

Once you've arrived at Versailles, there are many things to do and explore. The main palace itself is a magnificent piece of architecture, where the decorations and artwork will take your breath away.

There are different sections throughout the Palace that can be explored, such as the Hall of Mirrors, Marie-Antoinette's chamber and the Royal Chapel. However, the palace's interior isn't the only thing to see and you should consider exploring other parts such as the gardens and the palaces of Trianon.

The entire premises is huge and there's no way you'll get to see it all in one day, but you should try to see as much as your can. Below are the most iconic parts of Versailles that you absolutely can't miss.

The Hall of Mirrors

The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most iconic features inside Versailles Palace, and the most famous room. This breathtaking hall with its 17 arches and 357 mirrors gives you an opportunity to time travel back to the 18th century and experience the extravagance of French court life.

This 17th-century marvel is one of the most impressive structures and visited attractions in the entire Versailles palace. As you walk down its length, you'll feel like royalty, and be sure to take in the ceiling frescoes as you make your way through.

Maria-Antoinette's Estate

Taking a visit to Marie-Antoinette's estate will give you a taste of what life was like in the Palace for the former queen. With its sumptuous furnishings and decorations, this estate is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

You'll be able to explore the UNESCO-listed estate and take in the grandeur of its Italian Baroque architecture. As you wander through, be sure to admire the delicate details of Marie-Antoinette's bedroom and private garden, as well as the beautiful Grotto that she used for her private escapes.

The Royal Chapel

The Royal Chapel was where King Louis XVI and his family attended services before the revolution. With its ornate walls and ceiling, it is still a stunning sight to behold. Be sure to take in the majestic and detailed altar and look up to appreciate the baroque ceiling as you make your way through.

The Gardens

The Versailles gardens are another must-see while you're there. These lush french style gardens are filled with sculptures, musical fountains, and winding pathways - perfect for a leisurely walk or an afternoon picnic.

You can explore the intricate designs of garden sculptures and fountains, walk along the Grand Canal or take a quiet moment in one of the many serene areas. This was definitely the most beautiful garden I've ever seen. It's enormous and can take a while to fully explore. If you have the time, make sure to stay for the musical fountain show - you won't regret it.

At specific times of the year, you can explore the gardens to the sound of baroque music. Known as the musical gardens, this attraction is different from the musical fountains shows and it's only available from April 1st to October 31st. Make sure to check their website to see what's available during your visit.

The Gallery of Battles

The Gallery of Battles is a long hall filled with paintings depicting the most significant battles of French history. This gallery was originally built to commemorate Louis XIV's military victories, making it an interesting piece of art and history. It covers nearly the entire first floor in the South Wing.

The paintings are from various artists and they are an incredible sight to see. Some of them are enormous and you can easily spend a long time marveling at them. Definitely don't miss the Gallery of Battles during your visit to Versailles.

The King's State Apartments

The King's State Apartments are a series of rooms that were used by the French kings and queens that called Versailles their home. With their ornate decoration and luxurious furnishings, these apartments provide a glimpse into French royal life.

The rooms are filled with stunning furniture, tapestries, and artworks from the period. One of the highlights is the King's Chamber, which is a beautiful room decorated in gold and pink - perfect for an Instagram photo-op! If you have extra time, also check out the King's Private Apartments.

The Queen's State Apartments

The Queen's State Apartments are an iconic part of Versailles Palace, and they provide a unique view into the life of Marie-Antoinette. These rooms were once used by the queen to entertain her guests and hold lavish parties.

You'll be able to admire the exquisite details of these apartments, from the marble fireplaces and gilded furniture to gold-leaf tapestries. This is a must-see attraction for anyone who wants to experience what it was like living in Versailles Palace.

The Grand & Petit Trianon

The Grand and Petit Trianon are both part of the Trianon Estate. The Grand Trianon is a smaller palace that was built for Louis XIV as a retreat. Here you can explore the exquisite gardens, fountains and sculptures.

The Petit Trianon is a much smaller version of the Grand Trianon, and it was built for Marie-Antoinette as her personal haven. Here you can view her private rooms and the Petit Hameau (a picturesque little village she built for herself).

The Hamlet

The queen's Hamlet is a perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of the Versailles Gardens. Here you can find a miniature farm and quaint cottages that were once used by Marie-Antoinette for her private parties.

This quaint hamlet was built in 1783 by Marie Antoinette as an escape from the pomp and extravagance of court life. It consists of a few rustic buildings that include a mill, a dairy, and even some cottages with working kitchens.

While it may not look like much today, it was at one time a luxurious retreat for the Queen and her ladies-in-waiting, who passed the days amidst nature’s beauty in pleasant company.

IV. Tips for Enjoying Your Trip

There's no denying that visiting the Palace of Versailles is a must-do for any traveler, especially on their first trip to France. But we also understand that the process can be a bit overwhelming for some.

I know we've thrown a lot of information at you, but we want to make sure that you're well-prepared before you visit Versailles. With that being said, here are some tips for making the most out of your trip.

Consider Booking a Full-Day Trip With a Guide

Booking a Versailles Day Tour with a guide is one of the best ways to make sure you get the most out of your visit. Not only do they provide transportation to and from Paris, but they also offer expert guides who can help you make the most out of your experience.

By booking a group or private guided tour, you'll also get skip the line tickets. This will save you a ton of time.If you chose to do this, make sure you book a full-day tour.

I cannot stress this enough. If you book any half-day trips from Paris, you'll have just enough time to explore the palace - but nothing else. Since you'll have a set schedule, you most likely won't have time to explore the splendid gardens or the rest of the site.

Be Prepared For Crowds

Versailles Palace is one of France's most popular tourist sites, so expect it to be crowded. If you don't book a tour, you'll have to stand in line like everyone else. Be prepared for long lines and lots of people crowding around iconic locations. The Hall of Mirrors and the Marble Courtyard are two of the most popular attractions, so therefore the most crowded.

Beware of Pickpockets

As I mentioned before, this is one of the most popular tourist sites in France. This means you'll have to be extra vigilant of your belongings. Versailles is one of the most notorious locations for petty theft.

Pickpockets are known to target unsuspecting tourists, so make sure you keep your bags close and don't carry any unnecessary valuables with you. I recommend bringing a cross-body bag with a zipper and never leaving anything in your pockets.

Take Your Time Touring Inside the Palace

After you pass security and enter the palace, you should know that they like to follow a system of one-way traffic. This means that there will be a specific order to navigate through the different parts of the palace.

There is staff all around trying to make sure people follow the flow of traffic, so once you leave one area, it will be very difficult to go back. With so many visitors coming here every year, they do this to keep the crowds moving and to prevent traffic jams.

That being said, if there is a specific room that you're really excited to see, take your time there. Odds are that once you move on to the next part, you'll have trouble going backward.

We ran into this issue when we visited. My cousin and I sped through the inside of the palace so we would have enough time to explore the gardens. Once we were done, we decided to go back to the Hall of Mirrors one last time. One of their staff members stopped us and basically said that we had to the entrance and go through the entire thing all over again.

Check Out Special Exhibitions & Events

From time to time, there are special exhibitions and events held at the Palace of Versailles. Many of these are focused on Marie Antoinette and other members of the royal court, while others are centered around grand historical events or special works of art.

Not all ticket types have access to these events, so make sure you buy the correct one if you're planning to add this to your Versailles itinerary. You can find more information about what is available during your visit on their website.

Rent a Golf Cart to Explore the Gardens & Grounds

If you're planning to spend some time exploring the grounds of Versailles, I highly recommend that you rent a golf cart. The estate is massive and it will take a lot of walking to get from one end to the other. By renting a golf cart, you can cruise through the gardens quicker - and it'll be fun.

It costs €36 for 1 hour, and then €9 for every additional 15 minutes. This can add up pretty quickly and be a bit pricey for some. The cost of a 3-hour rental can add up to €108. So if you're on a budget, skip the golf cart and invest in some comfortable walking shoes instead.

The Palace of Versailles is a must-see if you're visiting France. It's a beautiful piece of history and there’s so much to explore. Just make sure that you plan your trip well, come prepared with the right kind of ticket, and know what to expect from the trip in order to have an enjoyable experience. Bon Voyage!


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