If there’s one day trip to add to your Paris itinerary, then it’s a visit to Versailles. This countryside escape to one of the most famous landmarks in France is the perfect activity to complement your exploration to the bustling City of Lights. Visiting Versailles does require some planning, simply because there’s so much more to see than just the Hall of Mirrors and the enchanting gardens. This in-depth guide will help you plan your Versailles visit like a pro, including how to get from Paris to Versailles and where to stay in Paris order to minimize travel time. Are you ready to plan that perfect day trip from Paris to Versailles?
Palace of Versailles facts
The Versailles Castle was built on the grounds of King Louis XIII’s hunting lodge by his son, Louis XIV. The Sun King hosted operas and comedies at the Palace of Versailles. Special events were held in the Hall of Mirrors which bathed in light thanks to the reflections of the twinkeling light of thousands of candles. If the mirrors of Versailles could speak, they’d have some animated stories to tell about life at Versailles. And maybe the most peculiar of Versailles history facts: The Sun King 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 this 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 history (the Hall of Mirrors being the reception venue). The king offered the Petit Trianon to his beloved wife shortly before the French Revolution, ending the monarchy.
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 and take the tourist train that connects the Versailles must-sees. Here’s an overview of the best things to do in Versailles.Visit the Versailles Palace with its popular Hall of Mirrors
– Visit the Versailles Palace
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. The self-guided tour that comes 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).
- 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. The Royal Chapel can only be visited as part of a Versailles guided tour.
Visiting the Palace of Versailles (Galerie des Glaces in French) is a wonderful experience…. until you approach the Hall of Mirrors. Then again, this 17th century grand gallery of mirrors designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, is thé most popular attraction in this royal residence. We first noticed the crowds when we arrived in the Mars room of the Grand Apartments. 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.
– Admire the Hall of Mirrors
We got to the Hall of Mirrors about half an hour before closing time. Can you imagine how much worse it can get in the late morning or early afternoon? But it was definitely worth it, since the Hall of Mirrors truly is gorgeous. So, just go with the flow.
Once you’re inside the Hall, take your time to admire every detail, from the 357 mirrors and the elegant chandeliers to the compositions on the guided bronze pilasters and vaulted ceiling that was painted by French artist Charles Le Brun. Did you know that the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended the first World War in June 1919, was actually signed in the Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors? The audio guided tour offers plenty of other interesting facts about Palace of Versailles.
A visit to the Palace of Versailles takes about 1 to 1,5 hours. Audio guides are available at the entrance as well as on the Versailles app. During your Palace of Versailles visit, you are free to take pictures without flash; selfie sticks, however, are not allowed inside.
– Explore the enchanting 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. Or give your feet a break and opt for an electric cart to visit the Versailles gardens. These are available year-round except for the month of January.
– Watch the fountains come alive
The enchanting gardens are a treat to the eye, even more so when the fountains start to dance to classical music. The Musical Fountains Show certainly adds to the grandeur of the gardens and are guaranteed to make your Versailles visit a memorable one. Click here to find out when the musical fountain shows make the Gardens of Versailles come alive.
– Discover the Trianon Palaces
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.
– Enjoy the Queen’s Hamlet
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. We’d highly recommend the Queen’s Hamlet as part of your Versailles day trip.
– Row your boat in the Park of Versailles
The Park of Versailles lies beyond the gardens and stretches out over 800 hectares. The Grand Canal is the focal point of the park and the best way to enjoy the scenery is from the water. Rent your rowing boat from Petite Venise, lay back and take in the views of the park, the gardens and the palace. Life jackets for kids are available. Visiting Versailles’ vast park can be done on foot, by bike (which you can rent at Petite Venise) or by joining a segway tour. Do note that both the bike tour and segway tour are only allowed in the park and not in the Versailles gardens and that bikes and rowing boats are not available in peak winter.
– Check out the Coach Gallery and Royal Stables
Located opposite the palace, on the other side of the Place d’Armes, you’ll find the Royal Stables. Draft horses were kept in the Small Stables (Petite Écurie), carriage horses and carriages in the Main Stables (Grande Écurie). Both buildings are identical and symmetrical, located either-side the Avenue de Paris. The Small Stables currently house the Sculptures and Mouldings Gallery, which are only open to the public on special occasions. In the Main Stables you can now find the Coaches Gallery, which is open every afternoon except for Mondays, and the Academy of Equestrian arts.
How to get from Paris to Versailles
– How far is Versailles from Paris
The Palace of Versailles is located only 20 km (or 12 mi) southwest of the Paris city center. Depending on your preference, you can visit Versailles either by train, shuttle, car or tour. A full day trip to Versailles from Paris truly is a comfortable experience. Let’s have look at how to get to Versailles from Paris.
– Taking the train from Paris to Versailles (RER train Paris)
Getting to the Palace of Versailles from Paris is very convenient with public transport. Line C of the RER regional Paris train will take you from central Paris straight to the Versailles Château Rive Gauche train station, the closest of three Versailles stations. The most convenient stops from which to take the Paris RER C train are located at Paris’ 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)
From the Versailles Rive Gauche station it’s just a 10 minute walk to the Palace of Versailles. It can get quite hectic at the Versailles train station in the evening so it’s advised to buy your return train ticket in advance. This RER C Paris train map helps you visualize the stops where you can take the Paris to Versailles train.
A conveniently located accommodation is crucial for a smooth Paris to Versailles day trip. You need a hotel that guarantees both a central location in the City of Lights and at the same time minimizes the travel to Versailles. Here are some Parisian (boutique) hotels that fit the bill:
- Le Narcisse Blanc Hôtel & Spa or Hôtel Juliana near the RER line’s stop ‘Invalides’.
- Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower near the RER stop ‘Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel’.
- For more options on where to stay when visiting Versailles, check out the Booking.com website or click on any of the hits on the map below.
– Visiting Versailles by shuttle
There’s a shuttle bus that runs from the coach stop at the Eiffel tower to Versailles every day except on Mondays. A round trip ticket is priced at €29, children under the age of 9 can join free of charge if accompanied by an adult. The transfer takes about 45 minutes. Further information on the shuttle to Versailles from Paris can be found here. The Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower is conveniently located near the Versailles shuttle stop. This is an excellent solution if you’re looking to travel from Paris to Versailles by bus.
– Driving from Paris to Versailles
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. 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. Easy road connection: La Villa Maillot or La Clef Tour Eiffel.
– Organized transfer (with or without visit)
If you prefer an organized Paris to Versailles tour, with or without visit, then you’re spoiled with choice. Some of the options include priority access, other offer the advantage of visiting Versailles as part of a small group. Have a look at some of the guided tours on offer:
Versailles visiting tips and practical information
– 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 buy your Versailles admission tickets in advance on the official website or via Get Your Guide.
Wondering how to avoid the lines at Versailles? We strongly advise to buy a Versailles timed entry ticket. It’s called the ‘Passport with timed entry’ and costs $31 or € 27 per adult while children enjoy free admission. You could also opt for the Paris Museum Pass which includes access to the Palace of Versailles and the Trianon sites. It also allows you in the Gardens of Versailles EXCEPT during the Musical Fountains Shows and the Musical Gardens.
If you have One Day Passport tickets without time slot, then we’d strongly recommend visiting Versailles Palace just before closing time. On our last day trip to Versailles, which was a sunny Sunday in July, we started queuing at around 17h20. Just 15 minutes later, we found ourselves inside. The Palace only closes at 19h in the summer, leaving us plenty of time to explore the grounds. It never felt crowded, except when we approached the Hall of Mirrors.
We left our backpack in the luggage storage at the entrance and the staff brought it to the exit by the time we left the Palace.
– Versailles visiting times
The Versailles Palace is closed on Mondays. The Trianon Estate is only open during the afternoon. You can find the updated Versailles 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.
– Where to eat in Versailles
Enjoy a casual lunch in one of the brasseries or bring a picnic. There are several designated picnic spots around the park. There are several designated picnic spots around the park. But since visiting Versailles is a palatial experience, it really calls for a royal treat, don’t you agree? There are two options to indulge in an exclusive afternoon tea:
- ‘Thé de la Reine’ in the onsite Versailles restaurant Ore, Ducasse au Château de Versailles.
- ‘Afternoon tea’ at La Véranda by Gordon Ramsey in the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria hotel, right at the Queen’s Gate park entrance.
– Visiting Versailles with kids
A visit to Versailles makes for a wonderful family-friendly getaway. There’s no lack of things to do in Versailles with the kids: 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… Our girls love visiting Versailles, so much so that we tend to return every summer.
The Palace itself might be the most boring part if you’re visiting Versailles with kids. 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. The downloadable game booklets can add some fun and context to your family visit but unfortunately, most of these only exist in French.
Entrance for kids is free so, just make sure to buy your adult time slot tickets in advance to avoid queuing.
Map for your visit to 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 from Paris.
Now that you know exactly how to get from Paris to Versailles and which highlights to visit in Versailles, there’s no more excuse to postpone your day trip. It’s one of the best additions to any Paris itinerary. We look forward to reading all about your visit to Versailles in the comments below.
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