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Table of Contents
- Paris to Versailles Day Trip
- Top Reasons for Visiting Versailles Palace & Gardens
- Best Time to Visit Versailles
- How to Visit Versailles after Lockdown [Season 2020]
- Ways to Enjoy a Day Trip to Versailles from Paris
- Best Tips for Visiting Versailles Palace & Gardens on your Own [Season 2020-21]
- Independent Tour: Versailles Itinerary [Season 2020-21]
- Top Things to Do in Versailles [Season 2020-21]
- Best Versailles Shows [Season 2020]
- Unusual Ways to Visit Versailles
- Additional Information for your Visit to Versailles
Paris to Versailles Day Trip
Most people visiting the French capital manage to squeeze a day trip to Versailles from Paris in their itinerary. 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 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, quite the opposite! But a Versailles day trip from Paris can be a terrible experience if you just pop out there without any plan.
Below, we tell you all about planning a Paris day trip to Versailles to get the most out of your Versailles trip.
Top Reasons for Visiting Versailles Palace & Gardens
Versailles is one of the World’s Biggest Palaces
Château de Versailles is one of the most famous castles near Paris, built in the 17th 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.
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.
Versailles Gardens are Great Technical Achievement
The Gardens of Versailles were considered as important as the Palace, that’s why King Louis XIV entrusted André Le Notre, a reputed landscape designer, with the design of the Gardens. Versailles Gardens span across 800 hectares and comprise 200,000 trees, 50 fountains, and a 5.57km canal. The construction of the Gardens involved full regiments of workers for 40 years.
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, the eighth world wonder.
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 some 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.
Versailles is very Close to Paris!
Versailles is only 21 km away from Paris, so a Paris to Versailles day trip by public transportation or guided tour is very easy.
Best Time to Visit Versailles
When is the best time to go to Versailles? Versailles is open all year-round from Tuesday to Sunday. During the low season (November to March, except Christmas holidays) there are fewer crowds and not much waiting time.
During the high season (April to October), it is much more pleasant to explore the Gardens at Versailles which, in turn, are more beautiful. But of course, Versailles during high season is much more crowded.
Best Day to Visit Versailles
When is the best day to visit Versailles? The table below shows the frequency by day during low season and high season. Please, take this table with a grain of salt: for example, a Saturday can be less crowded if the weather is not good.
In general, 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.
How to Visit Versailles after Lockdown [Season 2020]
After 82 days of closure, Versailles finally re-opened its doors on 6 June 2020. Read about the General Hygiene and Safety Regulations followed by all the museums and attractions in the region  but also about the specific regulations to visit Versailles during this season 2020.
GOOD TO KNOW: For the season 2020, Versailles reduces its number of visitors to 500 visitors /hour for a total of 4,500 daily visitors. In the previous years, Versailles was hosting 27,000 daily visitors.
During the 82 days of lockdown, Versailles did a big cleaning, especially in the Hall of Mirrors. All the gold was polished! During the following months, Versailles Palace will be showing its best face, and visitors will be able to visit it in a more peaceful atmosphere.
During the July and August 2020, only individual visitors will be allowed inside the Versailles Palace. Tickets need to be purchased online and visitors will have to choose a specific date and time slot to visit the Palace.
The Château de Versailles visit consists on a one-way itinerary that goes through the following areas:
- The King’s State Apartments
- Hall of Mirrors
- The Queen State Apartments
- The Gallery of Battles
TIP: Book well in advance to secure your Versailles visit! Click here to book your Versailles tickets online right now
Visitors are requested to use the marks on the floor to keep the distance of 1 meter with other visitors. To avoid the overlapping of visitors, the entrances and exits of Versailles Palace and Grand Trianon are separate and clearly marked.
The cloakroom is temporarily closed. Visitors are requested to come with small bags and no bulky items. Umbrellas, scooters, selfie sticks, and tripods are forbidden.
Ways to Enjoy a Day Trip to Versailles from Paris
How to visit Versailles?
A self-guided day trip from Paris to Versailles by train is very easy to organize. Once you get to Versailles, you can visit the Palace and the Gardens just the way you prefer and at your own pace (see our Versailles Itinerary suggestion ).
A Paris day trip to Versailles with a guided tour, however, is a very popular option among people visiting Paris. We tell you why.
Why a Versailles Guided Tour is a Good Idea [Option Available from September 2020]
If a Versailles day trip from Paris is very easy to organize, how come the Versailles guided tours are so popular amongst travelers? 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 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 visiting 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 people 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 with skip-the-line tickets)
|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|
|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|
Best Tips for Visiting Versailles Palace & Gardens on your Own [Season 2020-21]
» Buy your tickets well in advance! Versailles proposes different kinds of tickets so it is important to understand what you can visit with each ticket. Just remember that during the season 2020 audio guides are not available.
Compare the best Versailles Tickets
|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 & Gardens||YES||YES||NO||Option to do an add-on to see the 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 also includes access to Château de Versailles and Trianon!
» Wear comfortable shoes. Consider sunglasses and a hat during hot days in summer.
» Bring plenty of water, especially during the summer. Click here for our travel day bag checklist.
Independent Tour: Versailles Itinerary [Season 2020-21]
This is our suggested Paris to Versailles day trip itinerary, to visit Versailles at your own pace. This itinerary considers that you bought a Skip-the-Line Versailles Pass online in advance.
Prioritize Wednesdays and Thursdays (except during school holidays), when there are fewer crowds. Try to arrive before 9 am to be amongst the first visitors to enter so you will better enjoy the place.
Of course, you can decide to start your Versailles tour 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.
- 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.
- 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 Versailles Pass
Top Things to Do in Versailles [Season 2020-21]
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)
The 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 and 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. This Gallery depicts nearly 15 centuries of French military success.
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 her children and it was also a great opportunity for her to escape the court etiquette and enjoy a little bit of “rural life.” The traditional architecture of Normandy inspires the hamlet which includes a windmill, a billiard room, and a boudoir.
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.
Designed by André Le Notre, the same landscaper who designed the gardens of Château de Chantilly, the magnificent French-style Gardens decorated 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 is the green extension after the main gardens which surround 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 famous Lime Tree Walk is located in this area, and it links the Palace to the “Mortemets”, the waterfowl reserve within King Louis XIV’s hunting estate.
Le Potager du Roi
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 King Louis XIV.
Well known for his competences in fruit gardens and vegetable gardens, La Quintinie 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, King Louis XIV liked to show his vegetable garden to his illustrious guests and he even learned how to prune fruit trees with his gardener.
Le Potager du Roi is listed 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 they are always free to visit.
Best Versailles Shows [Season 2020]
During the high season (April to October), Versailles organizes beautiful shows around the Palace and Gardens, and it is a good idea to extend your visit and enjoy also these shows.
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.
The Versailles Musical Gardens Show takes place on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 6 June to the end of October. The fountains work from 9 am to 7 pm.
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 July to 19 September, from 8.30 pm to 10.40 pm. The Fireworks Show is from 10.50 pm to 11.05 pm.
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 King Louis XIV.
Dates: Saturdays from 13 June to 19 September; Shows are at 6.30 pm, 6.50 pm, 7.10 pm, 7.30 pm, and 7.50 pm
Unusual Ways to Visit Versailles
Versailles by bike is the perfect way to experience the Park and Château! Follow your guide through the 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.
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.
Rowboat Ride along the Grand Canal
Château de Versailles and its picturesque gardens are the perfect frame 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.
Additional Information for your Visit to Versailles
» 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.
Versailles Opening Hours – 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. The 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.
Versailles Opening Hours – 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.
- There’s one line to access the Palace and one different line to buy the tickets. If you want to buy your Versailles tickets on-site, you need to add one extra hour to this time.
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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