The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. This opulent palace and its surrounding gardens are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. With that, crowds can be enormous. In this guide, we uncover the best way to visit Versailles, with tips on how to avoid the lines, how to tour the rooms crowd-free, and how to get the most out of your visit.
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Overview of the Palace of Versailles
Versailles is a small town that is located 19 km (12 miles) west of Paris.
In 1623, Louis XIII built a small hunting lodge on the site that would eventually become the palace of Versailles.
Louis XIV expanded the hunting lodge from 1661 to 1715, constructing the extravagant palace that we see today. It original purpose was to be a summer home for royalty but in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of the government here from the Louvre.
For just over one hundred years, French kings lived and ruled from Versailles, until the French Revolution in 1789.
In 1783, the Peace of Paris was signed at the Palace of Versailles, which ended the American Revolutionary War.
In the 19th century, the Palace of Versailles was once again used as a spring and summer residence by Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XVIII, Louise-Philippe, and Napoleon III.
In June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I, was signed in the Hall of Mirrors.
Now, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. About 15 million people visit Versailles every year.
In 1979, the palace and the park were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In 2024, during the Summer Olympics, the Palace of Versailles will host the modern pentathlon and equestrian events.
The golden gate of Versailles
Things to Do at the Palace of Versailles
On a visit to Versailles, touring the palace and strolling through the gardens are the main things to do, but you can also visit the Trianon Estate, cycle through the park, or visit a few galleries where sculptures and luxurious coaches are on display.
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Tour the Palace
Touring the palace is the top thing to do on a visit to Versailles.
Louis XIV, Benjamin Franklin, King Louis XVI, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Marie Antoinette all graced these hallowed halls. Numerous war ending treaties were signed in the palace and Mozart performed here at the very young age of 7 years old.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The palace is a maze of luxurious rooms…2,300 rooms according to the official website. This becomes a very crowded place to visit midday, so, for the best experience, plan to visit the palace first thing in the morning or late in the day.
There are a few notable rooms to visit. On this list are the Hall of Mirrors, Marie-Antoinette’s private chambers, the Royal Chapel, the Gallery of Battles, and numerous apartments of the kings and queens.
Here are a few photos of the palace. We visited the Versailles at opening time and immediately entered the palace, which is why there are little to no people in our photos.
The Royal Chapel
The Mercury Salon | How to Visit Versailles
Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors
Looking from the Salon of War into the Hall of Mirrors
COOL FACT: The Hall of Mirrors gets its name for the 357 mirrors on the walls. When this room was constructed, France wanted to demonstrate its might by challenging Venice’s monopoly on mirrors, which were very valuable at the time. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in this room on June 28, 1919, ending the First World War.
The Queen’s bedchamber | How to Visit Versailles
The Coronation Room
The Dauphin Apartments
Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber
Stroll through the Gardens
With tree covered walkways, ornately manicured gardens, enormous green lawns, and walking paths adorned with sculptures, the gardens are also well worth your time. In fact, if you toured the palace midday when it is at its busiest, exiting out into these beautiful gardens is pure bliss.
The Orangery | How to Visit Versailles
The Colonnade Grove
The Latona Basin | How to Visit Versailles
It takes several hours to explore all of the gardens. However, you can pick just a small part of the gardens. We like the walk through Bosquet de la Girandole and Bosquet de la Colonnade (the Colonnade Grove).
If you are visiting at a time when the fountain show is running, it’s worth waiting to see Latona’s Pool in action. This fountain sits near the palace and has benches around it that make a great place to sit and take a break.
Watch the Musical Fountains Show
From April 1 to October 31, the fountains in the gardens come to life, paired with music. This is only offered several days a week (generally Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday) and when this is running, you must pay a fee to enter the gardens. You can get hours and pricing here.
We visited Versailles on a day the Musical Fountains Show was running. We thought it was nice but it’s not a must do. Strolling through the gardens without the music is a great experience, plus the gardens are free to visit when these special programs are not running.
Visit the Estate of Trianon
The Estate of Trianon is tucked away within the gardens, a hamlet for the kings and queens who wanted solitude and peace, away from the palace.
The Grand Trianon was built by Louis XIV as a private residence. It was known as the ‘Marble Trianon” for its pink marble panels. The colonnaded gallery, also called the peristyle, is one of the most popular things to see at the Grand Trianon.
The Mirror Room in the Grand Trianon | How to Visit Versailles
The Petit Trianon was originally constructed for Louis XV and his mistress in 1768. However, it was later gifted to Marie-Antoinette by Louis XVI. Marie-Antoinette redesigned the surrounding gardens and this became her sanctuary away from the palace.
The Marble Staircase in the Petit Trianon | How to Visit Versailles
The Queen’s Hamlet is a small village set around a lake. It was commissioned by Marie-Antoinette and has the appearance of a quaint, rustic village.
Queen’s Hamlet | Aeypix/shutterstock.com
Cycle through the Park
The Park is an enormous area filled with forests and grassy areas. This sits on the western end of the palace grounds. On a quick visit to Versailles, visiting the park is not worth the time, in my opinion, but if you plan to spend a full day here, you can rent bicycles and cycle around the park and the gardens. Bicycles can be rented at ASTEL, which is near the Apollo Fountain and Little Venice.
Paddle on the Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is the large body of water that sits in the park. Rowboats can be rented for a half hour or longer from the shop in Little Venice. Get hours and pricing here.
The Grand Canal and the Park | How to Visit Versailles
Rowboats for rent
The Coach Gallery
Located in the Great Stables, which sits outside of the palace gates, within the town of Versailles, is a museum containing a collection of coaches used at Versailles.
The Coach Gallery
The Sculpture Gallery
Located in the Small Stables, not far from the Great Stables, are copies of Greek and Roman statues as well as original sculptures from the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
The Sculpture Gallery
Restaurants in Versailles
There are a bunch of restaurants at the Palace of Versailles, ranging from take-away shops to full-service restaurants.
La Flottile. This restaurant is in Little Venice, near Apollo’s Fountain. We had lunch here. The food is decent and it has a good location and a nice outdoor setting.
La Flottile | How to Visit Versailles
La Petit Venise. This Italian restaurant is located in Little Venice. It is open for lunch through 6 pm and has indoor and outdoor seating.
La Petit Venise | How to Visit Versailles
Grand Café d’Orleans. This restaurant is located in the palace and serves sandwiches and desserts.
Angelina. Angelina is a famous pastry and tea shop. They have a small, outdoor cafeteria at the Trianon Estate and a larger indoor restaurant at Pavilion Dufour.
Laduree. Laduree has a small café in the basement of the palace. You’ll pass by it as you exit the palace.
Laduree at Versailles | How to Visit Versailles
Le Dauphin and La Girandole are two small cafes located in the gardens.
Ore. Located on the first floor of the Dufour Pavilion, this elegant restaurant is run by Alain Ducasse and it is open for breakfast and lunch (until 6 pm).
And of course, you can pack a picnic and have a picnic lunch in the gardens of Versailles.
Our Recommendations: Best Things to Do in Versailles
The must-have experiences are touring the palace and strolling through the gardens. Together, this will take 2 to 4 hours.
For those who want to explore farther, it is worth adding on the Trianon Estate, to see the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet. This adds another 1.5 to 2 hours to your visit.
Visiting the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery is only worth it if you have an interest in these. For most people, I don’t think it is worth the extra time.
How to Get Around the Palace of Versailles & the Gardens
The cheapest but slowest way to get around the palace and the gardens is on foot.
But don’t underestimate the size of this estate. The gardens of Versailles are massive.
To walk from the palace to the Estate of Trianon, you are looking at a 30-minute walk one-way (2 km/1.25 miles).
Tim and I easily walked 5 miles, touring the palace, strolling the gardens, visiting the Trianon Estate, and then walking to the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery.
Fortunately, there are ways to save your steps.
Your first option is to rent a bike and cycle from place to place (definitely worth it to get out to the Estate of Trianon). Bicycles can be rented in Little Venice, near the Grand Canal.
Option #2 is to rent an electric golf cart and use this to get around the gardens. You’ll get to see a lot without expending a lot of energy. However, it is pricey, costing just over €40 per hour, although there is a discount for disabled people. These golf carts can be rented in the gardens, right next to the palace. Get pricing here.
Electric Golf Carts | How to Visit Versailles
And finally, you can take the Little Train. This is a much cheaper option (€8.50 full rate, €4.60 for a single journey) which connects the palace with the Trianon Estate and gardens. You don’t have the freedom and flexibility as you do with the golf cart, but it is a great way to get out to the Estate of Trianon. Learn more here.
The Little Train | How to Visit Versailles
How Much Time Do You Need at Versailles?
On the shortest of visits, plan on spending about 2 to 3 hours at Versailles. This gives you enough time to tour the palace and stroll through a portion of the gardens.
Add on another 1 to 2 hours to visit the Trianon Estate.
With travel time to and from Paris, the entire visit will last from 4 to 7 hours.
It’s easy to spend a full day at Versailles, taking time for a leisurely lunch, to cycle through the park or paddle a boat on the Grand Canal, and to visit the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery.
In the evenings on some days of the week, there are also special events, such as nighttime fountain shows and the Royal Serenade.
How to Get to Versailles
The best way to get to Versailles is by train. RER Line C arrives at the Versailles Chateau – Rive Gauche station in Versailles. Travel time is 30 to 45 minutes depending on your starting point in Paris. From the Versailles Chateau – Rive Gauche station, it is a 10-minute walk to the palace. Check timetables here.
You can also get here by bus (bus line 171, 30 to 45 minutes) or by Uber (or another ride share app…30 to 45 minutes travel time).
When is the Palace of Versailles Open?
The gardens and the park are open every day, from 8 am to 8:30 pm during high season, with reduced hours in the low season.
The Palace and the Estate of Trianon is open every day except Monday. The Palace opens at 9 am and the Estate of Trianon opens at 10 am.
The Gallery of Coaches and the Sculpture Gallery are open only on Saturday and Sundays.
For hours, visit the official website, since each building has a different set of hours.
The Gallery of Battles
Best Time of Day to Visit Versailles
The best time of day to visit Versailles is first thing in the morning. The Palace opens at 9 am, so we recommend getting in line to enter the palace at 9 am, or even earlier. We got in line at 8:30 am and a small line had already formed. By 9 am, this line snaked across the large courtyard in front of the palace. If you want to tour the rooms of the palace with just a handful of people (like we did), plan on getting here early.
We have also visited Versailles midday on a different trip to Paris. The rooms become swamped with people and it’s a much different experience. It’s well worth waking up early to visit Versailles when it opens. Or, visit at the end of the day.
The line to enter Versailles at opening time | How to Visit Versailles
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Versailles?
There are a confusing number of ticket options for Versailles. Hopefully, I can help clear up some of this confusion.
Any ticket that includes the Palace will be booked with a time slot. 9 am is the best time to enter, to avoid the worst of the crowds.
If you only plan to visit the gardens, this is free on the days when there are no Musical Gardens or Musical Fountain shows (get those dates here).
Here are the ticket options:
Palace Ticket: 21€. This includes your timed entry ticket to the palace, Gallery of Coaches, Sculpture Gallery, and park. It only gives you access to the gardens when the Musical Fountains Show and Musical Gardens are not in session. If the Musical Fountains Show or Musical Gardens are in session on the day of your visit, and you want to visit the gardens, you will have to add on these tickets, or purchase the Passport ticket.
Estate of Trianon Ticket: 12€. This ticket gives you access to the Estate of Trianon plus the Gallery of Coaches and Sculpture Gallery. It does not include the Palace.
Passport: 32€ (peak season pricing). This gives you access to everything: timed entry to the Palace, the Estate of Trianon, the Gallery of Coaches, the Sculpture Gallery, and the Musical Gardens or Musical Fountains Show.
Musical Fountains Show Ticket: 10.50€. This gives you access to the Gardens when the Musical Fountains Show is in session. It does not include the Palace.
Musical Gardens Ticket: 10.50€. This gives you access to the Gardens when the Musical Gardens Show is in session. It does not include the Palace.
And that’s just a few of the options. You can also get tickets that add on a rowboat ride, a lunch, a bike ride, or an equestrian show. Unless you know 100% that you want to add on one of these options, I don’t think it’s worth adding on to your ticket. These can be purchased on the spot as you tour the Palace and Gardens.
CHEAPEST WAY TO VISIT VERSAILLES: For free, visit the Gardens on a day when the Musical Gardens or Musical Fountains Show aren’t in session and just view the palace from the outside. The next best option is to purchase a Palace ticket and visit the Gardens on a day when the Musical Gardens or Musical Fountains Show aren’t in session. This allows you to tour the Palace and visit the Gardens. If you also want to visit the Estate of Trianon, purchase the Passport and you get access to everything in Versailles.
How to Skip the Line at Versailles
Tickets can be purchased on site at Versailles, at the Palace ticket office in the South Ministers’ Wing. Lines to purchase tickets can be very long, up to 1 to 2 hours. On busy days, tickets can sell out, so you risk not being able to enter the palace if you wait to purchase your tickets on site at Versailles.
The best way to skip this ticket line is to book your entry ticket online in advance on the official website. This allows you to skip the ticket line. You will book your ticket for a time slot to enter the palace. 9 am is opening time and the best time to visit the palace with the smallest number of people.
However, you will still have to wait in a security line. This wait can take anywhere from a few minutes to up to 30 minutes, depending on the time of year (July and August tend to be the busiest months to visit Versailles, followed by weekends and holidays).
If you are unable to purchase a ticket online in advance, your next best option is to join a guided tour. This guided tour includes your transportation to and from Paris.
Versailles Day Trip from Paris: Detailed Itinerary
For the best use of your time, here is an itinerary for how to plan your day trip from Paris to Versailles. Purchase your ticket online in advance for a 9 am entry into the Palace.
8:20 am: Arrive in Versailles. If you plan to travel by train, plan on boarding the train no later than 7:50 am, arriving at the Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche station by 8:20 am. This gives you 10 minutes to walk to the Palace to be in line by 8:30 am. You can get here later, if touring the rooms without a lot of other people is not a big deal for you.
9:00 am: Enter the Palace. Go straight to the Grands Appartements/Galerie des Glaces (State Apartments and Hall of Mirrors), to tour the state apartments and see the Hall of Mirrors. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to tour these rooms, up to an hour if it is very crowded.
9:45 am: Appartements de la Dauphine. This is the second group of rooms you can tour at the palace. Here you will see Marie-Antoinette’s private chambers as well as the apartments of other nobility.
10:15 am: The Gardens of Versailles. Exit the Palace into the gardens. If you need a coffee or snack, you’ll pass the Laduree café on the way out of the Palace. Then spend the next hour or two exploring the gardens. You can walk, hire a golf cart, or use the Little Train to get around. If you are here when the Musical Fountains Show is in session, it’s worth seeing Latona’s Pool come alive with the music in the background.
11:45 am: Lunch. Have picnic the Gardens or Park or eat at La Flotille.
12:45 pm: Visit the Estate of Trianon.
2:45 pm: Exit Versailles. The fastest way to exit Versailles from the Estate of Trianon is to take the Little Train to the Palace (or a golf cart, if you rented one). Once you exit the property, you have the option to visit the Gallery of Coaches or the Sculpture Gallery (if they are open today), before heading back to Paris.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: To keep your visit to half a day, visit the Palace and Gardens and skip the Estate of Trianon. If you have limited time in Paris (3 days or less), I think your afternoon is better spent in Paris than visiting the Estate of Trianon.
The Hall of Mirrors
Skip the Line Tours of Versailles
Visiting Versailles is easy to do on your own if you follow our tips and are able to purchase your tickets online in advance. However, if you prefer to tour Versailles with an experienced guide or were unable to book tickets on the official website, here are a few highly rated tours to consider.
This highly rated tour includes your transportation from Paris, with the option to add on the Trianon Estate. You tour the palace with an audio guide.
Tour the palace and gardens with an experienced guide and enter the palace through a separate entrance. This tour does not include transportation from Paris.
This small group tour includes your transportation from Paris to Versailles by train and detailed tour of the palace with a guide.
Finally, this full day tour includes a visit to Versailles and Monet’s Giverny estate.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Versailles
Purchase your ticket online in advance. This will save you a long wait in line at the ticket office at the palace.
The Palace of Versailles frequently hosts special events and temporary exhibitions. Before your visit, check the official website for upcoming events.
Double check hours of operation before you go. Some events, such as the Musical Fountains Show, are not in session every day. It’s also a good idea to check updated conditions (during our visit, the Musical Fountains Show was in session, but operating at a reduced schedule because of drought conditions).
Tuesdays and weekends are the busiest days of the week to visit Versailles. And remember, it is closed on Monday!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to visit Versailles?
A visit to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles takes 2 to 3 hours, just to see the highlights. With more time, visit the Trianon Estate, cycle through the park, and visit the Gallery of Coaches and the Sculpture Gallery. Most people visit Versailles in a half day from Paris but with so much to see and do, it’s easy to spend a full day here.
Can you just walk around Versailles?
The gardens of the Palace of Versailles are free to visit on days when the Musical Gardens and Musical Fountains Show are not in session. When the Musical Gardens and Fountain Shows are in session, you will need a paid ticket to enter the gardens. The only way to visit the interior of the Palace of Versailles is with a timed entry ticket.
Is Versailles worth it?
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world to visit. Once home to the kings and queens of France, a few very important historical events occurred here, including the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the First World War. Versailles is one of the best day trips from Paris and one of the top tourist attractions in the world.
If you have any questions about how to visit Versailles on a day trip from Paris, or if you want to share any tips to help future readers, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Paris
PARIS: Start with our article Best Things to Do in Paris for ideas of what to do in Paris. Plan your time in the city with our 2 Day Paris Itinerary and 3 Day Paris Itinerary. We also have a Paris Hotel Guide, a guide to the best rooftop bars and restaurants in Paris, advice on visiting Paris with kids, and advice for visiting Paris at Easter.
THE LOUVRE: In our Guide to the Louvre, we cover the top things to see, a walking route through the Louvre, plus lots of tips to help you get the most out of your visit and avoid the crowds.
EIFFEL TOWER: In our Guide to the Eiffel Tower, we cover what there is to see and do, ticket options, best tour options if tickets are sold out, and unique experiences to have on the Eiffel Tower.
EUROPEAN ITINERARIES WITH PARIS: If you want to visit Paris plus one to two other European cities, you have several great options. A 10 day trip to London and Paris makes a great trip if it is your first visit to Europe (or if you just want to visit two great cities). With 10 days, you can also visit Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam or London, Amsterdam, and Paris.
Read all of our articles about France in our France Travel Guide.
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