Visiting Versailles: The ultimate Paris to Versailles day trip guide

Visiting Versailles while the flowers are in full bloom makes for an unforgettable experience

If you have the luxury of spending several days in Paris then we would highly recommend adding in a day trip to Versailles. This countryside escape is the perfect activity to complement your visit to the City of Lights. Visiting Versailles does require some planning. After all, there’s more to see than just the Versailles Castle and Gardens. This guide will help you plan your visit and also describes the transportation options from Paris to Versailles.

Map of Versailles

We’ve created a map of Versailles that features all the points of interest mentioned in this article. It will help you visualize the site and decide which highlights you want to experience when visiting Versailles.

Things to do in Versailles

The Versailles site is vast. If you want to see it entirely, then be prepared for some serious walking. Alternatively, you just visit the areas that appeal to you the most. Here’s an overview of all things to do in Versailles.

Palace of Versailles

  • Historic facts

The Versailles Castle was built on the grounds of Louis XII’s hunting pavilion by his son, Louis XIV. The Sun King hosted operas and comedies at the Palace of Versailles. He loved having an audience and even made a show of his getting-up and going-to-bed, ceremonies to which about 100 people were invited. After his death, the estate was neglected for a while until his son, Louis XV decided to return. He was very different from his father and his timidity led him to create more intimate spaces within the castles. The marriage of his son Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette, the Archduchess of Austria, was the last major event held in Versailles. The king offered the Petit Trianon to his beloved wife shortly before the French Revolution, ending the monarchy.

  • Lay-out

When arriving at the Cour Royale or Royal Courtyard, you’re ready to start the actual visit to the Palace of Versailles. Walk onto the courtyard, facing the Marble Courtyard.

Little girl at the Marble Courtyard while visiting the Versailles Palace

The self-guided tour with the Passport of Palace ticket allows access to these areas:
– On the garden level: The History gallery (entrance on your right-hand side) and the Apartments of Mesdames, the daughters of Louis XV, via the Marble Courtyard and Lower Gallery. (entrance in front of you).

The Lower Gallery of the Versailles Palace– On the first floor: The Grand Apartments (entrance on your right-hand side) with the seven parade apartments, the War and Peace room, the Hall of Mirrors and the King and Queen’s Grand Apartments.

Queen's chamber at the Palace of Versailles France

Have a look at our Map of Versailles to visualize the site. You can pick up an audio guide from both the entrance in front of you as the one on your right.

  • Visiting the Palace of Versailles

We had Day Passport tickets without time slot. There was somewhat of a queue at the Cour d’Honneur’s entrance A, on a Sunday in July at 17h30. Luckily, we only had to wait for about 15 minutes, which is exceptional. The Palace of Versailles would close at 19h, leaving us just enough time to visit the highlights. We could leave our backpack in the luggage storage at the entrance and the staff brought it to the exit by the time we left the Palace.

Crowds admiring the Grand Apartments at the Palace of Versailles

We had hoped that our late arrival would have allowed us to visit the Palace of Versailles without the crowds. At first, this seemed successful, especially at the Garden level. Things changed we arrived in the Mars room of the Grand Apartments, where it got packed. It was pretty hard to admire the following rooms because we had to switch to survival mode, especially to keep it somewhat comfortable for the kids. The Hall of Mirrors is gorgeous but hard to enjoy because of the crowd. Can you imagine how much worse it can be in the late morning or early afternoon?

The crowd admiring the Hall of Mirrors while visiting the Palace of Versailles

A visit to the Palace of Versailles takes about 1 to 1,5 hours. You are free to take pictures without flash; selfie sticks, however, are not allowed inside.
More information on the Palace of Versailles can be found here.

Gardens of Versailles

The Gardens of Versailles, from the hand of André Le Nôtre, are just as spectacular as the Versailles castle (even a little more, in our opinion). The numerous parterres, groves, sculptures and fountains make for an unforgettable experience. No matter the season, the monumental gardens of Versailles guarantee a pleasant stroll. The Musical Fountains Show only adds to the grandeur.

Exploring the Gardens of Versailles during the Musical Fountains Show
Exploring the Gardens of Versailles during the Musical Fountains Show
The Musical Fountains Show in the Gardens of Versailles France
The Musical Fountains Show in the Gardens of Versailles France
Admiring the Musical Fountains Show during a Paris to Versailles day trip
Admiring the Musical Fountains Show during a Paris to Versailles day trip
Visit Versailles during the Musical Fountains Show season
Visit Versailles during the Musical Fountains Show season

Trianon sites

There’s more to explore onsite than just the palace and gardens. When visiting Versailles, you should also consider admiring the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon Palaces. These were built as a place of refuge for the royals, giving them a break from political obligations and courtly etiquette. Especially Marie Antoinette felt the need to break away from her role as queen and thus spent most of her time at the Petit Trianon.

Little girl posing in front of the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's estate in Versailles France

The beautiful gardens became her playground. An outdoor theatre was constructed and even an entire model village, the Hameau de la Reine or Queen’s Hamlet, to give it that countryside touch. When you explore the magnificent garden, you can still feel a sense of escape and joy. It’s so different from the manicured Gardens of Versailles and well worth a visit.

Visiting Versailles and the Queens theatre at the Marie Antoinette Estate of Le Petit Trianon
Visiting Versailles and the Queens theatre at the Marie Antoinette Estate of Le Petit Trianon
Visiting the Hameau de la Reine or Queen’s Hamlet on a Paris to Versailles day trip
Visiting the Hameau de la Reine or Queen’s Hamlet on a Paris to Versailles day trip
The Queen’s Hamlet or Hameau de la Reine at the grounds of the Petit Trianon in Versailles
The Queen’s Hamlet or Hameau de la Reine at the grounds of the Petit Trianon in Versailles
Farmhouse at the petting farm at Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine or Queen’s Hamlet in Versailles
Farmhouse at the petting farm at Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine or Queen’s Hamlet in Versailles
Vegetable and herb gardens at the Queen’s Hamlet or Hameau de la Reine on the Petit Trianon while visiting Versailles
Vegetable and herb gardens at the Queen’s Hamlet or Hameau de la Reine on the Petit Trianon while visiting Versailles
Belvedere at the Petit Trianon Gardens of Versailles
Belvedere at the Petit Trianon Gardens of Versailles

Park of Versailles

The Park of Versailles lies beyond the Gardens and stretches out over 800 hectares. So, there’s more to explore than just the area surrounding the Grand Canal. You can choose to walk the straight paths or go on a Versailles bike tour, which brings us to the next topic.

Fun ways to explore Versailles

There’s a lot of ground to cover on the Versailles site. Just to give you an idea of the distances: we’ve walked 8 mi (or 12.7 km) during our visit. Luckily, walking is not the only option when visiting Versailles. Here are some alternatives to make your intensive Paris to Versailles day trip a bit more comfortable:

  • You could rent a bike to explore the vast park. You’ll find all kinds of bikes, also models for kids, at Petite Venise. Enjoy a Versailles bike tour along the Grand Canal or make your way to the Trianon estates.
  • A pre-booked segway tour will give you a similar experience.
  • It’s important to note, however, that bikes nor segways are not allowed into the Gardens. That’s where the electric carts come in, with which you can enter both the park and the gardens. A built-in geolocation system will keep you on the right track.
  • If these options are too active for you and you’re looking for a shuttle between the castle, Little Venice and the Trianon sites then you can hop on the mini-train. No need to buy your tickets in advance, you can do so on the spot.
  • And what better way to end the day than by giving your legs a rest in a rowing boat on the Grand Canal? Life jackets for kids are available.
Visiting Versailles by bike
Visiting Versailles by bike
Exploring the Gardens of Versailles in an electric vehicle
Exploring the Gardens of Versailles in an electric vehicle
Little train with stops at the Versailles Palace, the Gardens of Versailles and the Petit Trianon
Little train with stops at the Versailles Palace, the Gardens of Versailles and the Petit Trianon
Renting a boat to row on the Grand Canale during a Paris to Versailles day trip
Renting a boat to row on the Grand Canale during a Paris to Versailles day trip
Rowing a boat on the Grand Canal while visiting Versailles
Rowing a boat on the Grand Canal while visiting Versailles

Do note that one or more of these transportation options can be unavailable during the winter months.

Which Versailles ticket to buy

When visiting Versailles on a day trip, you don’t want to waste your time queuing at the ticketing desk. You can simply by your tickets for the Palace in advance on the official website or via Get Your Guide.

Wondering how to avoid lines at Versailles? We strongly advise to buy a ticket with a time slot, it’s called the ‘Passport with timed entry’ and costs $31 or € 27 per adult, children enjoy free admission.

Versailles hours

The Versailles Palace is closed on Mondays. The Trianon Estate is only open during the afternoon. You can find the Versailles opening hours on the official website.

The Gardens of Versailles and the Park are open every day. You can visit them for free, except during the Musical Fountains Shows and the Musical Gardens. Click here to check out the dates of these events.

How to get to Versailles from Paris

Public Transport

Getting to the Palace of Versailles from Paris is very convenient with public transport. Line C of the RER regional train will take you from the central Paris straight to the ‘Versailles Château Rive Gauche’ train station. The most convenient stops from which to take the RER are located at Rive Gauche (left bank, the southern bank of the Seine):

  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Gare du Pont de l’Alma
  • Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel (right next to the Eiffel tower)

It can get quite hectic at the train station in the evening so it’s advised to buy your return ticket in advance. From the train station it’s just a 10 minute walk to the Palace of Versailles.

Driving from Paris to Versailles

The distance from Paris to Versailles is 18 km (or 11 mi). It will take you a little over 30 minutes to arrive (traffic not taken into account). Click here for an overview of the different parkings in Versailles.

Organized transfer with or without visit

If you prefer an organized transfer and/or visit, then you’re spoiled with choice.

Visiting Versailles with kids

Visiting Versailles makes for a wonderful family-friendly getaway. There’s plenty of things to do in Versailles to keep the kids entertained: rowing a boat on the canal, taking the little train from the park to the Trianon estate, exploring the Queen’s hamlet, petting the goats, discovering the many fountains in the Gardens of Versailles by golf cart, enjoying an ice-cream…

Two little girls raising their arms to draw attention to the Musical Fountains show in the Gardens of Versailles

The Palace itself might be the most boring part if you’re visiting Versailles with kids. Entrance for kids is free so, just make sure to buy your adult time slot tickets in advance to avoid queuing. The downloadable game booklets can add some fun and context to your family visit but unfortunately, most of these only exist in French.

Two little girls playing hide and seek in a giant tree on the grounds of Marie Antoinette's estate le Petit Trianon while visiting Versailles from Paris

A Paris to Versailles day trip takes some preparation, especially when you’re traveling with children. On the other hand, you don’t really need to see all the sites. Focus on the gardens and then opt for either a visit to the Versailles Palace or one to the Petit Trianon. The kids will enjoy themselves much more when you keep the program light.

Where to stay when visiting Versailles

A convenient location is crucial for any Paris to Versailles day trip. You need a hotel that guarantees both a central location in the City of Lights and that minimizes the traffic time when making your way from Paris to Versailles. Here are some Parisian (boutique) hotels that fit the bill:

  • Near the RER stop ‘Invalides’: Le Narcisse Blanc Hôtel & Spa or Hôtel Juliana.
  • Near the RER stop ‘Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel’ and with an onsite parking lot: Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower.
  • Easy road connection: La Villa Maillot or La Clef Tour Eiffel.

For more options, check out the Hotelscombined website.

  • Look for hotels on the Left Bank, in the 7th district, near the Eiffel tower and along the Seine, or the northwest side of the 15th district if you plan on taking the RER to the Palace of Versailles.
  • If you’re planning on driving, then you can opt for a hotel in that same area, near the Seine river, or for one in the 16th district allowing easy connections for your Paris to Versailles day trip.

Are you looking to spend more than one day in Versailles? There are several Versailles hotel options but one really stands out. Click here to check out our review of the glamourous Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria hotel. Its unbeatable location, right next to the Grille de la Reine (Queen’s Gate) entrance, allows for an easy walk to the Palace of Versailles, the Trianon sites as well as the Gardens of Versailles. You could even use this fabulous hotel as your travel base to explore Paris. Especially during the peak summer season, where there’s a complimentary shuttle service from the Waldorf Astoria Versailles to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Where to eat when visiting Versailles

An exceptional onsite Versailles restaurant option is Ore, Ducasse au Château de Versailles. The ‘Thé de la Reine’ is definitely on our bucket list.

Alternatively, you could bring a picnic. There are plenty of designated picnic spots around the park.

Having a picnic at one of the designated picnic areas while visiting Versailles

The offsite Versailles restaurant we can recommend, is La Véranda by Gordon Ramsey. This restaurant is located in the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria hotel.
(If you’re looking for an afternoon break, then the Afternoon Tea at the Bar Galerie is a must.)

Time to plan your visit to Versailles

Now that we’ve got the practical side of visiting Versailles from Paris cleared up and you know how to tour Versailles, there’s no more excuse to postpone a visit. It’s one of the best day trips to include in any Paris itinerary. We look forward to reading all about your visit to Versailles in the comments below.


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2 Comments

  1. Michelle

    Does it get any more gorgeous than Versailles? It is just so opulent! I bet your girls thought they were princesses! Thanks for all of the great tips. I will definitely be saving them for future reference.

    1. Sarah

      Versailles always has that instant-relaxation effect on us. It’s the kind of place where time stands still, making it the perfect escape from the crowds in Paris or the busy every-day life. The Queen’s hamlet is our girls’ (or should I say princesses’) favorite. Thanks for passing by, Michelle!

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