Tourism Paris and Ile de France

A visit to the Palace of Versailles: all the information and our advice for the best visit of the most beautiful palace in the world

It is the most beautiful palace in the world and should be visited at least once in a lifetime. 63 000 M2 and more than 2300 rooms for the castle, 800 hectares for the park ... It is immense and yet so much volume is not too much to welcome more than 7,000,000 people per year.
What are the places not to be missed? What are the opening hours? What are the prices?
Discover our information, our tips and live Versailles... Like kings !

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Where? When? How? How much ? Practical information :

The main gate of the main courtyard. The entrance to the castle is on the left. Image by juan Esteban Villa/Shutterstock.com 

The main gate of the main courtyard. The entrance to the castle is on the left. Image by juan Esteban Villa/Shutterstock.com 

GPS address:


Place d'Armes, Versailles. The castle of Versailles is located in the Yvelines. It is 30 kms from Paris.

 

By car / parking


Put "Place d'Armes Versailles" on your GPS. This is not the best way to get there but you will find parking spaces in front of the castle and around the Place d'Armes, but they are quickly saturated. There are also parking spaces along the three main avenues that leave the castle: Avenue de Paris, Avenue de Saint Cloud, or Avenue de Sceaux. Precisely, 1 km up the avenue de Paris, you will find more affordable places to park than in front of the castle (where it costs 30 euros for a day). 

By cab or Uber, there are stations. The fare can reach 100 euros to go to Paris depending on the traffic.

 

By public transport.


It is quite easy to get there by public transport from Paris.

From the center of Paris: By train, you have to choose the "Versailles Château Rive-Gauche" station. It is 10 minutes from the entrance of the castle. You can reach this station in 45 minutes from Notre Dame by the RER C, a line that is easy to find since it crosses Paris and passes through the great classics such as the metro stations "Saint Michel" and "Notre-Dame".

From Montparnasse and La Défense: You can also come from Gare Montparnasse or La Défense by taking the Transilien SNCF line N and stopping at "Versailles Chantier". It is necessary to walk a little, approximately 20 mn, to join the castle.

TIP: buy both the outward and the return ticket to avoid waiting in line when you come back because many tourists buy the return ticket on their way back, which causes a lot of waiting in front of the machine. 

Marble Court. This is where you will enter the castle /Photo by andre quinou/Shutterstock.com Marble Court. This is where you will enter the castle /Photo by andre quinou/Shutterstock.com 

 

Opening hours: 


The castle is open every day throughout the year EXCEPT MONDAY.

It is also closed on December 25th, January 1st and May 1st.

 

There are two seasons for the opening hours: low and high season. 

In high season


(from April 1st to October 31st) the castle is open from 9H00 to 18H30 (last admission at 18H00) and the park from 7H30 to 18H00. For Trianon it is 12.00 - 18.30.

 

In low season


(from November 1st to March 31st) the castle is open from 9am to 5:30pm (last admission at 5pm) and the park from 7:30am to 8:30pm. For Trianon it is 12:00 - 17:30.

Please note: the park sometimes closes earlier: on Saturdays with high water from June 16 to September 15, it closes at 5:30 pm. Also, sometimes the weather makes it necessary to close the park to preserve the safety of the walkers. 

TIP: come on Wednesdays and Thursdays or even Fridays. Avoid weekends if possible. Don't hesitate to visit Versailles in late fall or early spring. The park is less crowded and just as beautiful. 

Le soleil, symbole de Louis XIV figure sur de nombreux supports comme les grilles d'honneur / Photo by trucic/Shutterstock.com 

The sun, the symbol of Louis XIV, appears on many supports like the gates of honor / Photo by trucic/Shutterstock.com 

Prices : 


Tip: Generally speaking, get your tickets online, it will save you from waiting in line at the entrance and you can go directly to entrance A. The price may have changed since this article was written. Check on the Castle's website. 

 

1 The entrance ticket for the castle is  21euros (2024)


It gives access to the famous Hall of Mirrors but also to the King's apartments, the Grand Apartments, the chapel and the Queen's room. Note that it does not give access to the gardens or Trianon (Trianon entrance costs 12 euros), but it allows you to visit the castle if you have little time. You can find it here.

 

2 The full 1-day passport is 32 euros (2024)


It gives access to the whole castle but also to the Park and the domain of Trianon. This is the ticket to take if you have planned a day in Versailles. You can find it here.

Please note that you may have to wait 1 hour or 1.5 hours before entering the castle. In any case, get your tickets before coming, on the internet, and plan to be there at 8:30 am or around 1:00 pm if you want to wait as little as possible. 

 

3 The best: The 1 YEAR IN VERSAILLES passport


It costs 65 euros. It gives you access to the queue cutter, so you can go directly to the entrance B and not wait (too much). You have access to the whole Versailles domain, including the Trianon domain which you must visit. You will also receive a nice magazine and it gives access to multiple cultural offers. This is the formula we recommend if you can afford it. It allows an optimal comfort (there is a duo offer at 90 euros). You can find it here. It is valid for 1 year and who knows if you won't come back within the year?

There are possibilities of free or group access, as well as guided tours (from 40 euros), which allow you to discover a particular facet of Versailles and which you will find in detail on the website of the Palace of Versailles.

A l'intérieur du château de Versailles / Photo by Matthew Jacques/Shutterstock.com Inside the castle / Photo by Matthew Jacques/Shutterstock.com 

 

Luggage, toilets, what to do? 


Toilets:


In the castle: It has been said that there were few toilets in Versailles during the reign of the Sun King, if it's true it hasn't changed much. You will find some at the entrance of the castle, after the controls. You will also find some a little further on the first floor, but, be careful, there are none on the first floor (the grand apartments, the hall of mirrors etc...). You will find them again when you come back down at the end of the visit. 

In the park: There are some near the bosquet de la girandole, in the axis of the castle, as well as at the other end of the Grand Canal. There are also some at the entrance of the grand and petit Trianon. 

Luggage and final tips:


Please note that bulky luggage is not allowed in the castle. The same goes for strollers. You can leave them at the lockers. Photos are allowed but without flash and selfie poles are forbidden (even if that's all you see in the Hall of Mirrors...). 

BEWARE: always make reservations and get information before you come

In general, always remember to visit the website of the Palace of Versailles a few days before you come. You will know the opening hours and you will also know which shows are likely to take place. For example the great waters in summer. Look carefully at the sites displayed by your search engine, you will not necessarily come across the site of the Palace of Versailles first but perhaps on tour operators. 

Please note that the prices we give are indicative and are the ones we took on November 17, 2022. They are not guaranteed and do not engage the responsibility of the site. Always check the website of the castle before going there. 

 

the castle of Versailles view from gardens / FrimuFilms/Shutterstock.com

The entrance to Versailles with its gold leaf gates / Photo by FrimuFilms/Shutterstock.com 

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What to see? What to visit? 

Détail de la Galerie des Glaces du Château de Versailles Takashi Images/Shutterstock.comDétails of the galerie des glaces of the castle of Versailles Takashi Images/Shutterstock.com


The castle


First, don't forget to take the audio guide. You always learn more. The official application is also very good, we recommend it. There are several routes. If you are in a hurry, we recommend the large apartments tour.

If you have more time, you will discover other routes here the one of the grand apartments of the Dauphin and the one of "Mesdames" the daughters of Louis XV.

 

The "Grand Apartments" tour 


To discover it, cross the Marble Court. Take the opportunity to look at the facades, their busts, and their style which tells so well the history of this castle: a hunting lodge of Louis XIII (we find the architectural style of Louis XIII in the bricks and the white stonework), that his son, Louis XIV, will literally wrap in another much larger construction. There was a project to bring this part to the taste of the XVII century, but it was stopped by the lack of money and the French Revolution. You can see the beginnings of the courtyard of honor on the right, the courtyard that precedes the marble courtyard, with a small colonnade. When you have crossed the courtyard, you will go up to the second floor and you will discover : 

The marble courtyard with the facades of the first castle, that of Louis XIII / Photo by  Fotos593/Shutterstock.comThe marble courtyard with the facades of the first castle, that of Louis XIII / Photo by  Fotos593/Shutterstock.com

 

1 The upper room:


Finished in 1710, it allows you to discover, from above, the royal chapel. It was in fact one of the chapels of the castle. 

Versailles : the interior of the chapel seen from the upper salon / Image by lexan/Shutterstock.comVersailles : the interior of the chapel seen from the upper salon / Image by lexan/Shutterstock.com

 

2 The Salon of Hercules:


This is the largest painted ceiling in the castle: 142 figures painted by François Lemoyne in only three years from 1733 to 1736 after nearly 20 years of interruption of the work begun by Louis XIV but suspended at the death of the king in 1715 before being resumed 18 years later. 

The ceiling of the Salon d'Hercule at Versailles by François Lemoyne (painted between 1733 and 1736) Gilmanshin/Shutterstock.comThe ceiling of the Salon d'Hercule at Versailles by François Lemoyne (painted between 1733 and 1736) Gilmanshin/Shutterstock.com

 

3 The room of Venus


Venus is the Roman goddess of love. She is the entrance to the King's Grand Apartment. This is where the snacks were given during the great evenings of the Court. 

 

4 The room of Diana 


It is a room dedicated to Diana, goddess of the Hunt. This is where the king used to play billiards. It is necessary to imagine a lot of people around him, and even bleachers to welcome the admirers. The king is still there, represented in bust by Le Bernin. 

The bust of Louis XIV by Le Bernin / personal work by Louis le Grand Wikicommons

 

The room of Mars

Dedicated to Mars, god of war, this is the first official room in the king's apartment. This is where the French guards were stationed to watch over the King. You will see a portrait of Louis XIV above the fireplace, painted by René-Antoine Houasse. You can also discover two portraits signed Carle Van Loo, on one side Louis XV, on the other his wife Queen Marie. 

 

Louis Michel van Loo, Louis XV, roi de France et de Navarre, 1760 (château de Versailles)

La reine Marie Lezczinska par Carl Van Loo (château de Versailles)

 

6 The Mercury Room 

The Mercure lounge, interior view Fotos593/Shutterstock.comThe Mercure lounge, interior view Fotos593/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the "bed room" because this room was for a long time the king's parade room even though he slept there very little. This room was completely refurnished in 2012. We see in particular "ployants". These seats illustrate well the Etiquette (the protocol) since only the most titled people could sit on them. Of course, one does not sit in the presence of the king. 

 

7 The room of Apollo 


This is the throne room (its location is marked by a platform). The throne was made of solid silver for a long time before the war forced the king to melt it down to finance his armies in 1689 (and all the silver furniture in Versailles was melted down). Here the king gives audience. The room was also transformed into a ballroom during the "soirées d'appartements", the receptions that Louis XIV often gave for his courtiers. We can see, in the corners, the 4 continents (not 5 since Oceania was discovered only after the construction of Versailles). It is also in this room that we see the portrait of Louis XIV (by Hyacinthe Rigaud) in coronation costume.

Portrait of Louis XIV in coronation costume (Musée du Louvre, oil on canvas, Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701).

If you look at the painting you will see all the attributes of the French monarchy: the golden fleur-de-lys on an azure background that adorns the ermine coat (the ermine represents sovereignty), the sword, the scepter and the crown. In front of the king, his great-great-great grandson: Louis XVI. 

 

8 The war room

It opens the Hall of Mirrors and leads to its counterpart (and opposite) the Hall of Peace. We see Louis XIV victorious on his horse. 

The War Room of the Palace of Versailles image for Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock.comThe War Room of the Palace of Versailles image for Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock.com

 

9 The Hall of Mirrors (la galerie des glaces)


It is the most known room of Versailles. 73 meters long, 13 wide and 12.50 m high. It was added later than many of the other rooms, since originally there was a terrace with a small water fountain. The climate prompted the closing of this space and it was used as a large gallery for receptions. It celebrates the greatness of Louis XIV. Notably with the more than 1000 m2 of frescoes on the ceilings. They are signed Charles Le Brun (1619 - 1690), he was already 60 years old at the beginning of the works, which did not prevent him from drawing them (and it is very inconvenient to paint a ceiling). 

Galerie des glaces à Versailles / La galerie des glaces et ses célèbres torchères 

It is decorated with marble and especially with 357 mirrors which is a feat at the time of its construction in 1679 since France is just beginning to know how to make them. It must be said that Colbert managed to bring in, at a high price, Venetian workers to make these mirrors at a time when Venice was the only one to know how to make large mirrors. It forbade to share the secret under penalty of death. This means that France had to pay a high price to make this school case of industrial espionage and to bring these workers that were first installed in Paris, before sending them to Cherbourg in Normandy because the capital made them too turbulent (already the Parisian nights!)

La galerie des glaces photo Takashi Images/Shutterstock.comLa galerie des glaces photo Takashi Images/Shutterstock.com

Here took place great historical events like the marriage of Louis XVI (then Duke of Berry) and Marie Antoinette in 1770. It is here that the German Empire was proclaimed after the heavy defeat of France in 1871 (it lost Alsace and Moselle). It is here that the Treaty of Versailles was signed, which put an end to the First World War. Many personalities have passed through here: de Gaulle invited President Kennedy, Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited it, as well as the G7 heads of state at the invitation of François Mitterand. 

Masked ball given by Louis XV in the "Grande Galerie"

 

10 The Council Chambers 


In the middle of the hall of mirrors, a door will lead you to the cabinet of the council. This is where the kings Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI decided the future of France from 1682 to 1789.

Cabinet of the council : detail / Photo by V_E/Shutterstock.comCabinet of the council : detail / Photo by V_E/Shutterstock.com

 

11 The king's room 


This is the heart of the castle. Here the King slept (although Louis XV and Louis XVI only got up in ceremony, preferring warmer rooms in the smaller apartments). More than a room, it is a ceremonial place where the king receives guests when he gets up or when he goes to bed.  One can only attend these moments if one is important in the court, or chosen by the king. For example, one must have a "WC chair patent" to be present when the king relieves himself. He then discusses with his entourage while doing "what nature commands".  This is also where the king dines in public. 

King's room Versailles / Gabriela Beres/Shutterstock.comKing's room / Gabriela Beres/Shutterstock.com

This is where Louis XIV died on September 1st 1715 at the age of 76. It is also where he underwent the famous operation for an anal fistula. A very dangerous operation at the time, which was repeated on indigents (many of whom died) by the king's physician Charles François Felix. The king did not scream. He just said "my god" at one point. After the operation was successful and the king's life was saved, several "Te deums" were sung throughout France, including a hymn of joy that, in the amazing ways of history, became... "God save the King" the British national anthem.

Sleeping room of the King. photo par VICTOR TORRES/Shutterstock.comSleeping room of the King. photo par VICTOR TORRES/Shutterstock.com

If you turn your head you will see the balcony and the marble court. You will remember Marie Antoinette, coming out to the balcony, while the people of Paris, armed, shouted "the queen to the balcony", and the heads of the guards of the castle were brandished to the sky, stuck on pikes. The queen came out and bowed to the crowd, which finally applauded her. 

Louis XV slept there when he arrived at Versailles, but it was so cold that he had a second fireplace added, before giving up sleeping there and having a room built a few meters away, from which he came out in the morning to perform the rising ceremony in the king's room and, in the evening, the sleeping ceremony. 

Protocol dictated that one should uncover oneself and bow before the king's bed, even when he was not there. 

 

12 the antechamber of the bull's eye 


It takes its name from the bull's eye that illuminates it. It is there that the courtiers waited to be called to have access to the King's room. 

 

13 The Peace Room 


Contrary to the war room, it is at the end of the Galerie des glaces. Part of the queen's apartments, it was separated from it by a removable partition that was (rarely) removed for special occasions. It was here that Queen Marie indulged in one of her rare flaws: gambling. In the center of the ceiling: France gives Peace to Europe. Above the fireplace, a portrait of King Louis XV. 

 

14 The Queen's room 

Chambre de la Reine à Versailles. le Lit, le meuble à gauche est le serre-bijou qui contenait les bijoux de la Reine Marie Antoinette. walter_g/Shutterstock.comQueen's bedroom at Versailles. the bed, the piece of furniture on the left is the jewel box which contained the jewels of Queen Marie Antoinette. walter_g/Shutterstock.com


This has always been the Queen's room. This is where Maria Theresa of Austria slept (and died), as well as Queen Maria Lezczinska (who would not have recognized the place since her successor redid everything).

Queen Marie-Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun 

Marie Antoinette slept there and had everything refurnished. The "duchess's bed" can be seen here, with the eagles of the House of Austria on the canopy. On the side of the bed, on the left, there is a hidden door. It was through this door that Marie Antoinette fled when the people of Paris stormed the castle on October 6, 1789.

Queen's room at Versailles. The bed. The ballustrade separated the Queen and the authorized ladies from the rest of the court. This is where Marie Antoinette gave birth in public. There were so many people, that Louis XVI had to push the courtiers to break a tile and open the window.  V_E.Shutterstock.comQueen's room at Versailles. The bed. The ballustrade separated the Queen and the authorized ladies from the rest of the court. This is where Marie Antoinette gave birth in public. There were so many people, that Louis XVI had to push the courtiers to break a tile and open the window. V_E.Shutterstock.com

It is also where the queens of France gave birth in public. So that people could testify that the child born was indeed a son or daughter of France. Here were born 20 "children of France" including the future Louis XV, Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X.

Queen's ved / detail Photo by Sophie Louisnard on Unsplash

 

15 The salon of the nobles 


This is the room that served as an anteroom for the queens of France. They were expected here. They also received guests here. The body of the Queen was exposed here at the moment of her death. 

Nobles room. Castle of Versailles Gabriela Beres/Shutterstock.comNobles room. Castle of Versailles Gabriela Beres/Shutterstock.com

 

16 Antechamber of the Great Covered of the Queen 


This is, in a way, the dining room of the royal couple. They eat their meals in public. A show. An orchestra plays music, everyone stands, and the king and queen dine. Louis XIV and Louis XVI have a ferocious appetite. They are served several dishes at the same time, and they take what they like. Sometimes they have to wait, especially to drink, since it is a privilege to serve them. So you have to wait for a whole series of people to intervene and you can't do otherwise because it's an honor and often they have paid for that honor. This is where the wine froze in the glass of King Louis XIV during the terrible winter of 1709 which did not spare Versailles (the Seine was frozen from Paris to its mouth, and the trees literally burst under the effect of the frost).

 

17 room of the Queen's guards 


This is the room where the 12 bodyguards watched over the Queen. Several of them were killed during the days of October 1789 while trying to prevent the people from Paris from entering the Queen's room. The decor is all from the reign of Louis XIV. You can see what the visitors saw more than 3 centuries ago.

furniture of the castle of Versailles walter_g/Shutterstock.comfurniture of the castle of Versailles walter_g/Shutterstock.com

 

Also to be discovered in the castle are the apartments of the Dauphin and the daughters of Louis XV


If you have time, visit the apartments of the dauphin and the apartments of the daughters of Louis XV. 30 minutes for one, 45 minutes for the other. You will discover all the delicacy of the art of living in the "Age of Enlightenment". 

Louis, Dauphin de France (1729 - 1765)

 

1 The library of the dauphin : 


Made for the son of Louis XV, the Dauphin (1729 1765). It is decorated with beautiful marine paintings. He loved to play music with his sisters. It must be said that the children of Louis XV were cultivated and gifted for the arts. 

La bibliothèque du dauphin / Photo by Henri Lajarrige Lombard on Unsplash

 

2 The dolphin's cabinet 


Originally the bedroom and study of Monsieur, the brother of Louis XIV, the two rooms were joined together in 1693 and redecorated in 1747. 

 

3 The Dauphin's room 


Originally the golden cabinet of Monsieur, the king's brother, the working cabinet of the Regent, who died there in 1723, it was redecorated by the architect Gabriel (to whom we owe the magnificent opera house of Versailles and the Place de la Concorde in Paris among others) in the colors of green, colors that were thought to be good for sleep. 

 

4 The second antechamber of the Dauphin 


It is a gallery of family portraits. It is moving because the majority of the people represented here lived in this room and in Versailles. 

 

The apartments of "Mesdames", daughters of Louis XV

Madame Victoire / Par Jean Marc Nattier en 1760.

Nicknamed "Mesdames", some of the daughters of King Louis XV, who were never married, lived here. It must be said that Louis XV and Queen Marie, his wife, had 10 children

 

1 The lower gallery 


It is located under the Hall of Mirrors 

 

2 The first antechamber of Madame Victoire 


It is the waiting room of the king's daughter. There are some chairs. Originally it was the bathroom of Louis XIV (who used it little). 

 

3 The second anteroom of Madame Victoire 


The room where the princess receives, in particular the new persons admitted "to the honors of the court". Above the doors you can see the fables of La Fontaine. 

 

4 Grand Cabinet of Madame Victoire 


The room where music was king. The princess mastered the harp very well for example. It is to her that Mozart (who was received in Versailles and who was on the knees of Queen Marie) dedicated sonatas for harpsichord, an instrument that she also mastered perfectly. 

 

5 The bedroom of Madame Victoire 


Magnificent rocaille style room with its bed and furniture to adorn the princess when she woke up.

The bed of "Madame Victoire" Photo by Finn on Unsplash

6 The inner cabinet of Madame Victoire 


Her room "to her" the place was reserved to her. In a castle where everything was public, it was the only room where the princess could retire and meet the people of her choice. The Versailles of today is not so different from the Versailles of the Court since there were many visitors, not always noble ones. It was enough to rent a sword at the entrance to enter the domain in the name of the ancient tradition that wanted his subjects to be able to approach the king of France. One could even send him requests, in written form called "placets". This crowd caused a lot of inconveniences, first of all robberies of which even King Louis XIV was a victim. There were already pickpockets (so be carefull today again) 

 

7 The library of Madame Victoire


Which she shared with Madame Adélaide, her sister. To recognize their books, they were bound in different colors. Green for one, red for the other. 

 

8 Interior cabinet of Madame Adélaïde


Before being given to the daughter of Louis XV, this room was part of the apartment of the Marquise de Pompadour, royal mistress of Louis XV, who received guests here. She died here in 1764. 

 

9 room of Madame Adélaïde 


With its woven decoration. There were two of them: one for the summer, one for the winter.  The one we see is the "summer furniture". Note the Riesner chests of drawers, named after the great cabinetmaker to whom we also owe the sublime desk of Louis XV. 

 

The park and the gardens 

Jardin et Château de Versailles / photo Vivvi Smak/Shutterstock.com Jardin et Château de Versailles / photo Vivvi Smak/Shutterstock.com 

One cannot imagine Versailles without its park. The park was developed before the castle. Louis XIV wanted it to be a place for celebrations. It was, for the most part, designed by André Le Nôtre. We must distinguish the park from the gardens, which are not necessarily the same thing. The gardens extend in front of the castle. If we summarize, they are the spaces with the pruned boxwoods that start from the castle and stop in front of the Grand Canal. Beyond that, we are talking about the Park of Versailles (with many trees and the two Trianons). 

Our advice: take good shoes, and enjoy walking. The journey is long in the gardens of Versailles and in Trianon. Don't hesitate to get lost on purpose since it's quite easy to find your way around: the gardens are made of squares side by side, and in each of these squares there is an artistic surprise. Never forget a small umbrella, the weather changes quickly in Versailles... 

Le bassin de Latone / Image par 365 Focus Photography/Shutterstock.comLe bassin de Latone / Image par 365 Focus Photography/Shutterstock.com

Start by going to the end of the esplanade, you will see the splendid Latone basin. Round, it represents the mother goddess of Apollo and Diana, who is at the top, and who is surrounded by 20 frogs and 24 turtles and lizards (the peasants of Lycia who laughed at Latona who turned them into frogs, no less!) 

The fountain of Appolo  / Image par Mistervlad/Shutterstock.comThe fountain of Appolo  / Image par Mistervlad/Shutterstock.com

Then turn left and go down. You will find the parterre du midi, below you will find the parterre de l'Orangerie and in the distance you will see the pièce d'eau des Suisses. You are above the orangery, a great luxury at the time of Louis XIV since it allowed to shelter the trees which do not support the climate of the north of France such as the orange trees or the lemon trees. 

Parterre de l'orangerie et pièce d'eau des suisses / Image par Artem Avetisyan/ShutterstockParterre de l'orangerie et pièce d'eau des suisses / Image par Artem Avetisyan/Shutterstock

Go down the steps (you will have the orangery on your left) and at the bottom turn right to enter the gardens. Above all, get lost. You will discover "bosquets", in other words decorated places, sometimes arranged as scenes, and this is the charm of the gardens of Versailles. We advise you to go along the esplanade and to take the second alley on your left and walk through it. At one point on your left, there will be the bosquet of the Queen, go and see it, then come back to the main alley and go to your right, you will come across the "bosquet of the ballroom" with its amazing shape, its water jets, its "shells" (which make a nice noise when the water flows) and its marble from Languedoc. Then return to the same alley, to the second round pool, you will go diagonally to your right and you will discover the magnificent grove of the Colonnade. You will then reach the Grand Canal, a vast expanse of water on which Louis XIV liked to let gondolas glide, and you will have a double perspective, one on the Grand Canal and the other on the Latona basin and the castle. 

The great Channel / Domaine de Versailles / Image par Vladimir Osipov/Shutterstock-The great Channel / Domaine de Versailles / Image par Vladimir Osipov/Shutterstock
 

If you are in a hurry and are not going to Trianon :


If you want to save time, cross the main alley leaving the Grand Canal on your left, then turn right, and go up to the castle by one of the alleys on the left coming from the Grand Canal. At one point you will pass the sublime grove known as "des bains d'appolon" bah of Appolo). There you can see Apollo (god of the sun), to whom the sculptor gave the features of Louis XIV, being bathed by nymphs after his day of work.  Finally, you will go back up to the castle to discover the northern parterre with its drawings and its waterfalls, and you will arrive at the esplanade.

The parterres of the French garden, a springtime delight / Image by Smokedsalmon/ShutterstockThe parterres of the French garden, a springtime delight / Image by Smokedsalmon/Shutterstock

 

If you go to Trianon:


When you are at the Grand Canal, with the castle behind you, take the large alley on your right, at one point you will turn left and at the end of an alley you will discover the Grand Trianon after walking along the walls of the Petit Trianon. It is really worth the detour.

 

The Grand Trianon.

The GreatTrianon / Image par Mistervlad/shutterstockThe GreatTrianon / Image par Mistervlad/shutterstock

It is the place of pleasure of Louis XIV, where he relaxes a little from the constraints of the "job". Built by Jules Hardouin Mansard, Louis XIV's architect, it was completed in 1683. Residence of the Republic now which can accommodate prestigious guests (Queen Elizabeth II slept there), it was the residence of the Emperor Napoleon I and it was appreciated by Eugenie de Montijo, the wife of the Emperor Napoleon III. It is 3 centuries of history of decoration, furniture and of course history of France that we discover in Trianon whose colonnades, very Italian, and the garden, are an enchantment. 

Colonnes du Grand Trianon / Photo andre quinou/Schutterstock.comColonnes du Grand Trianon / Photo andre quinou/Schutterstock.com

 

The little Trianon

Le temple de l'amour dans les jardins du Petit Trianon / Image Jacky D/Schutterstock.comLe temple de l'amour dans les jardins du Petit Trianon / Image Jacky D/Schutterstock.com


A gift, at first. The one that Louis XV made in 1769 to the Countess du Barry, his mistress. Designed by the architect Gabriel, in the middle of a plant garden and not far from the menagerie (Versailles has long had its own zoo, open to the public, in which was seen a rhinoceros), the estate was offered by Louis XVI to his wife Marie Antoinette who made it his privileged and private place.

The Countess du Barry in "flore" by François-Hubert Drouais (1769) collections of the Palace of Versailles / By Jean-Pol GRANDMONT - Personal work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia

Eager for tranquility, she who could not stand the "Etiquette" (the protocol of Versailles) had her apartments fitted out, invited her friends, and did not hesitate to have the windows covered so that she could not be seen. An ingenious system allows, by a set of pulleys, to make the windows come out and hide the outside while "virtually" enlarging the inside. 

The Little Trianon / Image Pack-Shot/Schutterstock.comThe Little Trianon / Image Pack-Shot/Schutterstock.com

This is one of the most beautiful and peacefull places in Versailles. A delicate place, imbued with the art of living of the aristocracy of the Age of Enlightenment. You have to visit it at least once, especially since you will discover many rooms and that most tourists who rush into the Hall of Mirrors do not go that far. You might even find yourself alone and, who knows, run into Marie Antoinette as English tourists did in the 1900s. They described a woman and her children sitting peacefully on the grass before a gentleman in a rolling wig came to announce that they had to return to the château because a large crowd was arriving at Versailles. They said that they thought it was a reenactment. Several times questioned, they never deviated, which makes some say that the small Trianon is a little "haunted" or a corridor of time... So many mysteries!

Marie Antoinette and her children, by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. One can distinguish the future "Madame Royale" Marie Thérèse (eldest daughter of the Queen), the first dauphin (who died in 1789 of tuberculosis), the young duke of Normandy (who became dauphin and died in the prison of the temple at the age of 12). The empty cradle indicates the absence of "Madame Sophie", the last child of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who died as a child and very recently when the painting was done by the Queen's official painter. 

It is in Trianon that Marie Antoinette's little theater is located (difficult to find and difficult to visit), designed by the architect Richard Mique and inaugurated in 1780. It was there that the Queen indulged her passion for the theater and gave a few plays in front of her intimates. Louis XVI saw some of them and, very much in love with his wife, applauded each time. Much of the interiors simulate marble or gilding when in fact they are paper mache and copper. It is very amazing. 

Le temple de l'amour Petit Trianon Domaine de Versailles / Photo by Fabianodp/Schutterstock.comLe temple de l'amour / Photo by Fabianodp/Schutterstock.com

You will also discover the French pavilion, of original shape, which is in the middle of the alleys of the French garden, the fresh pavilion (with its green trellis) in which the Queen used to rest to drink some fresh milk in the beautiful summer days, and, further on, going towards the hamlet of the Queen, you will come across the very moving temple of love, above the water, columns, a rounded roof and inside which is a copy of "Hercules cutting his mace" by the sculptor Bouchardon. Further on, going towards the hamlet of the Queen, you will discover the English garden. It is very poetic... 

 

The hamlet of the Queen. 

For once, we have not invented anything: the 18th century had a passion for nature long before us. Marie-Antoinette gave in to this fashion for country living by offering herself a "hamlet" like Condé, her cousin by marriage, did in Chantilly. There is a kind of ideal farm (for the time), inspired by the Norman farms, where the queen came to see her chickens (which were sometimes served at the royal table), her cows, and had fruits and vegetables "brought in" to be served to her children. In a way, she invented the short circuit from producer to consumer... 

the marlborough tower and the queen's hamlet / Image by Takashi ImagesThe marlborough tower and the queen's hamlet / Versailles / Image by Takashi Images

The Queen's hamlet is notably made up of a small lake, on which they used to fish in small boats, and 11 houses, including the Queen's house (which has just been restored), the "cleaners' dairy" and the famous Marlborough Tower. This is where Marie-Antoinette was taken when the Parisian crowd arrived in October 1789. Note, around the small houses, the vegetable gardens. 

L'un des batiments du Hameau de la Reine POC/shutterstock.comVersailles : Queen's hamlett / POC/shutterstock.com

 

And back to the castle by the Grand Canal 


When you are at the top of the Grand Canal, with the castle in front of you, do not take the main alley, but the parallel alley on your left. You will cross the beautiful bosquet de l'Enclade, or the bosquet de l'Obelisque. At one point you will pass in front of the sublime bosquet called "des bains d'appolon". There you can see Apollo (god of the sun) to whom the sculptor gave the features of Louis XIV, being bathed by nymphs after his day's work.  Finally, you will go back up to the castle to discover the northern parterre with its drawings and its waterfalls, and you will arrive at the esplanade.

 

And if you stay several days


Versailles is so vast, there is so much to discover, with more than 60,000 artefacts signed by the greatest artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, that you can easily spend two days there. You can take your time because one day to do the castle, the park and the Trianon is quite "fast". And in Versailles, there are treasures that you can only discover during guided tours. For example the king's office, recently renovated, and one of the most beautiful French furniture in history, the library of Louis XVI or the apartment of Madame du Barry... Also a must-see is the Opera House, which was for a long time the largest and most modern in Europe. Inaugurated for the wedding of Louis XVI (then Duke of Berry) and Marie-Antoinette, it is sumptuous.

There are many ways to discover the Domaine de Versailles. On reservation it is possible to visit the apartments of Madame du Barry (on the 2nd floor) or the small apartments of the king (including the magnificent bueau) and the Opera of Versailles of which here is a photo by Isogood_patrick/shutterstock.comThere are many ways to discover the Domaine de Versailles. On reservation it is possible to visit the apartments of Madame du Barry (on the 2nd floor) or the small apartments of the king (including the magnificent bueau) and the Opera of Versailles of which here is a photo by Isogood_patrick/shutterstock.com

 

3 places to see near the Palace of Versailles 


1 The carriage gallery 

La galerie des carrosses se trouve dans les Grandes Ecuries du roi à Versailles / Photo by UlyssePixel/ShutterstockThe carriage gallery is located in the Grandes Ecuries du roi in Versailles / Photo by UlyssePixel/Shutterstock

Located just in front of the castle, in the great stable, it shows some carriages that have transported during great moments of French history. The carriage of the wedding of Napoleon I, the carriage of the coronation of Charles X ... A collection born from the will of Louis Philippe, king of the French. One of the cars is very moving. It is the wheelchair of Louis Joseph, the first dolphin, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Born in 1781, he died of a long illness in 1789 on the eve of the Estates-General which were the starting point of the French Revolution. 

 

2 The king's vegetable garden 


An astonishing garden created by Monsieur de la Quintinie to supply the Court and especially the King's table with fruits and vegetables. A "square" garden made in the French style, in which the gardener succeeded in growing the peas that Louis XIV loved and which the Court made the fashionable vegetable. It is also here that the technique of espalier gardening for pears was invented. The mushrooms of Paris were also born there. To see for the pleasure and especially if you like botany. Horticultural training courses are also given there.

The entrance fee is 5 euros. Like all of Versailles, it is closed on Mondays. From January to October 10H-18H. From November to December 10H-17H and Saturday 10H-13H. The site is here.

Tulips were very fashionable under Louis XIV. They were even the cause of the first financial crisis in modern history: the tulip crisis. Prices rose so fast that buyers were buying bulbs before they even existed. When the hype died down, prices collapsed and fortunes fell with them. Photo by Claude Laprise on Unsplash

 

3 The city of Versailles: 


The administrative capital of France for over 100 years, Versailles retains some beautiful streets, with many, many mansions. You will find nice little restaurants on the right side of the castle. Not far from the estate, there is the antique dealers' district. The Cathedral Notre Dame, in Rocaille style, was finished in 1754 and is worth a visit. 

To know everything about tourism in Versailles, click here

excuse our translator for the mistakes, he drank a lot of champagne (very appreciated by King Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour who, it is said, gave the shape of champagne glasses by making a mold of her breast... 

Château de Versailles / De nuit / younes_bkl/ShutterstockCastle of Versailles / by night / younes_bkl/Shutterstock

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.