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How to Plan the Perfect Paris to Versailles Day Trip (Visiting Versailles Tips)

11/10/19

Most people visiting Paris manage to squeeze a day trip to Versailles in their Paris itineraries. And for a reason!

Versailles is one of the world’s most famous palaces and a jewel of French architecture. Its beauty and its proximity to the French capital (the distance from Paris to Versailles is just 21km) makes of Versailles an easy day trip from Paris and one of the top places on everyone’s Paris Bucket List.

The downside of Versailles’ fame and beauty are the crowds and the long lines to enter the Palace. Indeed, with nearly 10 million visitors every year, Château de Versailles is one of the most visited historic sites in the world!

We don’t want to scare people or prevent them from visiting Versailles but a Paris to Versailles day trip can be an awful experience if you just pop out without any plan. Here’s how to plan a day trip to Versailles from Paris and get the most from your Versailles day trip.

 

Our favorite Versailles books

1. Top Reasons for Visiting Versailles Palace & Gardens

It is one of the World’s Biggest Palaces

Château de Versailles is one of the most famous castles near Paris. Who built the Palace of Versailles? Château de Versailles was built in the XVII century as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. It was King Louis XIV, his son, who moved with his family and the royal court to Versailles and he undertook major works on it (the forecourt, north and south wings, royal chapel . .).

King Louis XIV and his successors turned that modest lodge into a seat of power. With the Gardens and the Palaces of Trianon, the Versailles Estate spreads over 800 hectares.

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Versailles Gardens are Wonderful and a Great Technical Achievement

The Gardens of Versailles were considered as important as the Palace, that’s why King Louis XIV entrusted André Le Notre, with the creation and renovation of the Gardens of Versailles. Versailles Gardens span across 800 hectares and comprise 200,000 trees, 50 fountains and a 5.57km canal. They involved full regiments of workers for 40 years.

Water features of all kinds are an important part of French Gardens. Bringing water to Versailles was one of the most difficult challenges of this project. The closest source of water was the Seine River, located 10 Km north and 103-180m lower than Versailles. How did the architects of Versailles carry water from the Seine River to Versailles? Read the fantastic story of La Machine de Marly.

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Château de Versailles is an Important Historical Site

Versailles was more than a palace, it was the symbol of the power of the absolute monarchy of France. It was also a kind of “royal city”, with many government offices located inside the estate. The Sun King also required that nobles of a certain rank spent time at the palace every year to prevent them from developing their own regional power.

Centuries later, the end of the First World War was officially marked in Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28th June 1919.

In 1982 Versailles hosted the 8th G7 meeting, with the heads of state of the 7 most powerful countries.

Today Versailles is a museum and a national palace at the disposal of the Presidency of the Republic. It is used to host foreign heads of state, and other important events.

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Versailles is very Close to Paris!

How far is Versailles from Paris? Versailles is only 21 km away from Paris, so a visit to Versailles is an ideal side trip from Paris by public transportation or guided tour.

 

2. Best Time to Visit Versailles

Versailles Main Gate

Versailles is open all the year-round. During the low season (November to March, except Christmas period) there are fewer crowds and not much waiting time. However, during the high season (April to October), it is much more pleasant to explore the Gardens at Versailles which, in turn, are more beautiful.

In general, prioritize Wednesdays and Thursdays (except during school holidays), when there are fewer crowds.

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Versailles Opening Hours and Frequency during High Season (April to October)

» During the high season, Versailles Palace opens from 9 am to 6.30 pm. Last admission is at 6:00 pm

» Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s domain opens from 12 pm to 6:30 pm. Last admission is at 6:00 pm

» The Park and Gardens are open from 8:00 am to 8.30 pm. Last admission is at 7:00 pm

» During the high season, the average waiting time to enter Versailles is one hour without any kind of Versailles skip-the-line tickets.

» If you want to buy your Versailles tickets on-site, you need to add one extra hour to this time. The line at the entrance of the Château is very spectacular, sometimes scary, but it moves forward fast.

 

Versailles Hours and Frequency during Low Season (November to March)

» During the low season, Versailles Palace opens from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Last admission is at 5:00 pm

» Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s domain opens from 12:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Last admission is at 5:00 pm

» The Park and Gardens are open from 8:00 am to 6 pm. Last admission is at 5:30 pm.

» During the low season, the waiting time is definitely shorter so your Versailles itinerary can be more flexible.

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3. Best Way to Enjoy a Day Trip to Versailles from Paris

How to visit Versailles? It is very easy to organize an independent day trip from Paris to Versailles by train. The train Paris – Versailles (about 7€ round trip) connects Paris Montparnasse to Versailles Chantiers (30 min ride) or Paris Gare Saint Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite.

Also, RER C goes from Paris (St. Michel-Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, Invalides or Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel stations) to Versailles Château Rive Gauche.

Once you get to Versailles, you can visit the Palace and the Gardens just the way you prefer and at your own path (see our Versailles Itinerary suggestion).

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Why a Versailles Guided Tour is a Good Idea

However, we believe that a Paris day trip to Versailles with a guided tour is a good idea. There are many reasons to choose a Versailles guided tour instead of an independent stroll at your own path:

» Your time is limited and Versailles Estate is huge! Tour guides know how to get the most out of your time in Versailles by showing you the main sights at perfect timings to avoid the crowds.

» Guided Tours with a knowledgeable guide are much more interesting and interactive experiences. You can always ask your guide as many questions as you want and they always seem to have many stories to tell.

» Guided tours include a skip-the-line ticket (a must!) and some of them also include the pickup and drop off at your hotel. After exploring Versailles Palace and Gardens for hours, how cool is to go back straight to your hotel on a comfortable van or coach?

» Some guided tours allow you to visit otherwise closed rooms and then to directly join free visit routes. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy these special parts of Versailles Palace with a small group and far from the crowds.

 

Compare the Best Versailles Guided Tours

All these tours include a skip-the-line ticket to visit Versailles Palace and an expert English-speaking tour guide.

TICKET DURATION PALACE TRIANON (+ Queen’s Hamlet) HOTEL PICKUP /DROP OFF PRICE
Private Versailles 4hr Guided Tour 4 hours YES NO YES View
Skip the line Versailles Classic 1.5 hours YES NO NO View
Secret Rooms of Versailles Half-Day Tour 4 hours YES + restricted areas NO NO View
Versailles Full Day Small Group 8.5 hours YES YES YES View
Versailles + Marie Antoinette Guided Tour 5 hours YES + restricted areas YES NO View

 

4. Best Way to Get to Versailles from Paris

We have a whole article with all the ways – public and private – to go from Paris to Versailles. You can find all this information in this article.

 

5. Best Tips for Visiting Versailles On Your Own

» Versailles Estate is FREE for everyone on the first Sunday of the month, from November to March. Long lines are guaranteed though.

» The Park and the Gallery of Coaches are always FREE to visit. If you only want to visit one of these places only, there is no ticket to buy.

» The Main Gardens (the French-style Gardens between the Palace and the Grand Canal) are FREE to visit except during special events such as the Fountain Shows, the Musical Gardens Shows or more. If you want to see the French-style Gardens for free, avoid visiting Versailles during the days with these special events (see the calendar on chapter #8 below).

» Wear comfortable shoes. Consider a hat during hot days in summer.

» Bring plenty of water, especially during the summer.

» Click here for our travel day bag checklist

» Buy skip-the-line Versailles tickets! Versailles tickets skip-the-line are definitely worth paying a bit more to pass over hundreds of people waiting to get in. Versailles proposes different kinds of tickets so it is important to understand what you can visit with each ticket. We have compiled on the table below the most popular tickets.

 

Compare the Best Versailles Tickets

All the Versailles tickets come with audio-guide.

TICKET SKIP THE LINE PALACE (+ audio guide) TRIANON  (+ Queen’s Hamlet) GARDEN SHOWS PRICE
Palace of Versailles NO YES NO NO View
Skip the line Versailles Palace and Gardens YES YES NO Option to do an add-on to see one of these shows View
Skip the line Versailles Pass YES YES YES Option to do an add-on to see one of these shows View
Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet and Trianon YES NO YES NO View

 

TIP: Are you thinking about buying the Paris Museum Pass for 2, 4 or 6 days? The Paris Museum Pass includes skip-the-line access to Château de Versailles and Trianon!

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6. Versailles On your Own – Skip the Line Versailles Tips

Do you want to avoid the longest lines during your visit to Versailles? What is the best time to visit Versailles?

This graphic is an estimation of the waiting times in Versailles during high season and low season so you can get an idea on the best time to go to Versailles. Please take them with a grain of salt, this is not rocket science 😉

Best Time to go to Versailles

Versailles Waiting Times

 

» Versailles Tickets Skip-the-Line are a lifesaver, especially during high season. Go straight to the entrance and do only the line for the security check. This Versailles Skip-the-Line Pass allows priority access to the entire estate of Versailles.

» In general, the most crowded days are Tuesdays, weekends and French holidays such the 14th of July (France’s national day) and the 15th of August.

» Prioritize Wednesdays and Thursdays (except during school holidays), when there are fewer crowds.

» The most crowded Versailles hours are between 10 am to 3 pm, especially during the weekends.

» Try to arrive before 9 am to be amongst the first visitors to enter so you will better enjoy the place.

 

7. Planning your Versailles Visit – Suggested Paris to Versailles Itinerary

This is our suggested Paris to Versailles day trip itinerary, to visit Versailles at your own pace.

Of course, you can decide to start your Versailles visit with Versailles Palace. In this case, try to arrive before 9 am to be amongst the first visitors to enter so you will better enjoy the place.

 

» Plan to do the trip ideally on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, when there are lesser crowds

» 9:30 am to 10:00 am – Arrive at the train station (Versailles Rive Droite)

» Walk to the Marché Notre Dame  food market (opens from 7: 00 am)

» Shop for picnic supplies and have a second coffee and a snack around

» Walk towards the park entrance on Boulevard de la Reine

» Walk past some lovely fields with sheep in them

» Visit the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet (opens at noon)

» Visit the Grand Trianon

» Walk along the Grand Canal

» Stop for a picnic on the Canal’s banks or eat at one of the cafes

» Explore the French-style Gardens

» Visit the Versailles Palace until 5:30 pm

» Walk past the Saint Louis district (unless you decide to visit the Versailles Fountains Night Show)

» Head back to Paris from a different train station (Versailles Rive Gauche)

» Get the train Versailles to Paris sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 pm

 

TIP: For this Versailles Itinerary we recommend buying the Skip-the-Line Versailles Pass

 

8. Things to Do in Versailles Guide

The Estate of Versailles is huge so it is important that you find your bearings and know what to visit in Versailles. Have a look at this Quick Versailles Guide, with the main things to do in Versailles Estate:

 

Château de Versailles (Versailles Palace)

Versailles Palace France

Versailles Palace is the beating heart of the domain. It has two floors (garden floor and first floor), with a total surface of 63.000 m2 divided into 2.300 rooms and halls.

The most famous rooms in the Palace are the Hall of Mirrors (used for ceremonies on exceptional occasions such as the masked ball for the wedding of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI), the King’s State Apartments (7 rooms used for hosting the sovereign’s official acts), the Kings’s Private Rooms and the Gallery of Great Battles, covering almost the entire first floor of the South Wing of the Palace and which depicts nearly 15 centuries of French military successes.

 

The Estate of Trianon

The estate of Trianon is home to the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon pavilions, as well as the Queen’s Hamlet and a variety of ornamental gardens. These intimate spaces close to the main palace were built by the kings to gain some brief respite from courtly etiquette and enjoy nature.

Amongst these buildings, outstands the Queen’s Hamlet. Queen Marie-Antoinette wanted to show agronomy, farming, and breeding to children and it was also a great opportunity for her to escape the court etiquette and enjoy a little bit of “rural life”. The hamlet is inspired by the traditional architecture of Normandy, and it includes a windmill, a billiard room, and a boudoir.

Queen's Hamlet - Versailles

 

La Maison de la Reine (The Queen’s House) new!

The Queen’s House and the adjoining Réchauffoir (or warming room), entirely renovated and refurbished, opened their doors again from May 12, 2018 thanks to the Maison Dior patronage.
For the first time in 2 centuries, Marie-Antoinette’s house – set in the Petit Trianon park – is unveiled! The rooms of the Queen’s house have been redecorated and refurbished as well and show refinement and spruce colors mix which contrasts with the bucolic and rustic aspect of the outdoor.

 

The Main Gardens

Versailles French Gardens

Designed by André Le Notre, the same landscaper who designed the gardens of Chateau de Chantilly, the magnificent French-style Gardens, with beautiful geometrical designs, are one of the jewels of the Versailles Estate.

The Gardens are free to visit, except during special events such as the Musical Gardens Show and Fountains Night Show. In Versailles Gardens you can see many fountains, grooves, statues, colonnades, and even an obelisk.

At the foot of the Palace, there is a beautiful Orangerie parterre with orange trees, lemon trees, and pomegranate trees from Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

 

The Park

Versailles - Lime Tree Walk

The Park is the green extension after the Main Gardens which surrounds the Grand Canal and it is always free to visit. This part is very popular amongst locals and Parisians for family picnics, jogging or bike rides.

The Grand Canal is André Le Nôtre’s most original design. With its huge dimensions (1700 m east-west and 1000 m north-south) and 60 m in width, the Grand Canal was used for ship battles by the King and his court. If you are fit, walk down to the Royal Star, a viewpoint at the edge of the western branch with amazing views of the ensemble.

The Lime Tree Walk is located in this area, and it links the Palace to the “Mortemets”, the waterfowl reserve within Louis XIV’s hunting estate. The Lime Tree Walk is one of the many famous views in the gardens of Versailles.

 

Le Potager du Roi (the King’s Kitchen Garden)

Le Potager du Roi (the King’s vegetable garden) is the lesser-known part of the Versailles Estate. It was built between 1678 and 1683 by Jean-Baptiste La Quintinie, at the request of Louis XIV.

Well known for his competences in fruit gardens and vegetable gardens, La Quintie was responsible for providing fruits and vegetables at the King’s table. The prodigies accomplished by La Quintinie attracted the interest and admiration of his master, the King, who liked to come for a walk in the vegetable garden. A gardening enthusiast, Louis XIV liked to show his vegetable garden to his illustrious guests and he even learned how to prune fruit trees with his gardener. 

Today, Le Potager du Roi is classified as a historical monument and a “remarkable garden”, and its gardeners perpetuate the art of pruning and cultivate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in a French garden.

Le Potager du Roi is an independent visit, not included in any ticket shown above. The entrance is located at 10, rue du Maréchal-Joffre. Tickets cost 4,5€ – 3€ (high season-low season) during the week, and 7€ during the weekend.

 

The Royal Stables (Gallery of Coaches)

The Royal Stables are the greatest royal construction project for housing horses ever undertaken. The Royal Stables consists of two buildings, the Great Stables and the Small Stables, identical in size but with a different use.

The Great Stables is where the hunting horses were kept (hundreds of horses according to their race and coat) while the Small Stables was used to keep the carriages, sleds, and coaches. Today, the ground floor of the Great Stables hosts an impressive display of coaches, mainly grand ceremonial Berlin Coaches.

The Royal Stables is an independent visit, not included in any ticket shown above. They are located at 1 Avenue Rockefeller, just in front of the Palace, and the entrance is free.

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9. Most Popular Versailles Shows

Versailles Fountains

During the high season (April to October), Versailles organizes beautiful shows around the Palace, and it is a good idea to extend your visit and enjoy also these shows.

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Versailles Musical Gardens Day Show

Enjoy a musical stroll in the heart of the French-style Gardens at the sound of baroque music and with the groves exceptionally open to the public.

Versailles Musical Gardens Show takes place on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 27 March to 29 October. The fountains work from 9 am to 7 pm.

Click here to book your Versailles Musical Gardens Show ticket

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Versailles Fountains Night Show

Versailles Gardens Fountain Show

During this Fountains Night Show, the Gardens are transformed into an amazing visual and musical experience. Stroll the Gardens beautifully illuminated, with the fountains and grooves displaying water at the sound of music. The show ends with a “grande finale” an awesome fireworks display in front of the Grand Canal.

Dates: Saturdays from 15 June to 21 September, from 8.30 pm to 10.40 pm. Fireworks Show is from 10.50 pm to 11.05 pm.

Click here to book your Versailles Fountains Night Show ticket

 

A Royal Evening at Versailles Palace

This is the most complete of the Versailles shows, the Royal Evening lasts 6 hours in total.

In the evening, when the crowds are gone, get a taste of King Louis XIV’s fabulous life and join the baroque musicians and dancers in the awesome Hall of Mirrors for a French-style evening ball. After the ball, head to the Gardens to admire the music and fireworks. See the fountains light up as they did in the days of Louis XIV.

Dates: Saturdays from 16 June to 14 September; Shows are at 6.30 pm, 6.50 pm, 7.10 pm, 7.30 pm, and 7.50pm

Click here to book your Royal Evening at Versailles Palace

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10. Unusual Ways to Visit Versailles

Explore the Gardens by Segway Tour

This easy, fun, and eco-friendly mode of transport is certainly a good way to see the entire grounds, something that would take you hours on foot! Follow your knowledgeable guides on your own Segway and have fun exploring the Gardens. This 2-hour guided Segway tour is one of the best ways to get the most out of the Gardens.

Click here to book your Segway Tour

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Versailles by Bike

A Versailles by bike tour is the perfect way to experience the Gardens and Château! Follow your guide through the Gardens and Park by bike at a very cool pace and visit the Palace and Trianons at perfect timings to avoid the crowds (Versailles tickets skip-the-line included). This Versailles guided tour starts with a visit to the local market in Versailles, where you can buy yummy things for your picnic later by the Grand Canal.

Click here to book your Versailles by Bike Tour

 

Rowboat Ride along the Grand Canal

Row Boats - Versailles Grand Canal

Château de Versailles and its picturesque gardens are the perfect frames for a romantic date. But if you want to do something really special, a rowboat ride along the Grand Canal (13€, min half an hour) will be something difficult to forget.

After visiting the impressive Château de Versailles, explore Versailles Gardens from another point of view, from the water! We are sure that a rowboat ride at Château de Versailles will blow you away.

Unfortunately, there is no possibility to book rowboat rides in advance. The hire point is located on the banks of the Grand Canal near Little Venice.

 

11. Additional Information for your Visit to Versailles

Versailles Fountains

Versailles Main Access Points

The Versailles Estate is vast, with many entrance gates but some of them are permanently closed for security reasons. Find below the main gates or points of access to the Versailles Estate which are always open. Remember that due to the anti-terrorist security plan, visitors with large baggage items (exceeding 55x35x20 cm) are not admitted on the domain and every bag or vehicle is controlled upon access.

» The main entrance to the Place of Versailles is through the MAIN COURTYARD.

  • ACCESS A is for individual visitors with their ticket already bought and printed
  • ACCESS B, on the opposite side of the courtyard, is for groups with reservations
  • If you do not have a ticket upon arrival and are not eligible for free admission, go to the ticket office first, situated on the left in the Main Courtyard in the South Ministers’ Wing, and then to ACCESS A to validate it.

 

» You can access the Estate of Trianon by the Gardens and Park (entrances located at Allée des 2 Trianons) or from the city via SAINT-ANTHONY GATE (located on the D186 arriving from le Chesnay)

» The DRAGON GATE gives access to the Gardens from rue de la Parroisse

» The QUEENS GATE, on Boulevard de la Reine, gives pedestrian access and car access to the Park

» The SAILORS GATE, on the route de Saint-Cyr (D10), gives access to the Park and Sailors Walk.

» Access to Potager du Roi is at 10, rue du Maréchal-Joffre

» Access to Royal Stables is on Avenue de Rockefeller

 

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