Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
For my post on visiting the Palace of Versailles, click here.
Grading – A
A fascinating look into the grounds and gardens meant for kings and the noble French in the 17th and 18th century. The gardens are a great place to spend a leisure day, enjoy the scenery, and let children run around.
Gardens – 8:00 am – 8:30 pm (last admission at 7:00pm)
Park (area just outside the garden grounds) – 7:00am – 8:30pm (April til October), 8:00am – 6:00pm (November til March)
For information on ticketing for the Palace Versailles, click here for a previous post. Versailles offers a few different tickets, based on what you’d like to see. If you plan on spending the whole day at Versailles, the Passport ticket is a good deal at €20 without the garden shows and €27 with them.
The musical garden and fountain shows have performances March 31 – October 31. During this high visitor season, shows are usually on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with occasional performances added on other days. Click here for more information. These musical gardens and musical fountain shows occur all day on these select performance days. If you are buying garden tickets separately from the palace tickets, please remember, there are TWO DIFFERENT tickets for the garden shows. They are:
- Musical Gardens ticket -€8.50 (adults) and €7.50 (children aged 6-17 and students)
- Musical Fountains show ticket – €9.50 (adults) and €8.00 (children aged 6-17 and students)
- Entrance to both of the above shows is FREE for children under 6
- Admission to the Park (the area outside the Gardens) is FREE for all
The easiest way to get to Versailles from Paris is by taking the Paris RER train (which is NOT the Paris Metro). Train stations that serve RER trains include St. Michel-Notre Dame, Museé d’Orsay, and Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel. Buy tickets for Versailles Chateau-Rive Gauche. You will have about a five minute walk to the château/palace from the station.
Keep reading for more information and find my tips at the end of the post!
The Versailles Gardens
After walking out the doors of the Palace of Versailles, you’ll be stunned with the immense size of the gardens and park, stretching out as far as the eye can see. The palace grounds are impeccably manicured and incredibly detailed. If you are fortunate enough to tour on a nice, temperate day, you could find yourself spending hours in this beautiful atmosphere.
If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and take a look at Versailles on Google Maps. Only from a birds-eye view can you appreciate the artistic details in the gardens and the immense size of the grounds!
Because the park and gardens of Versailles are so large, different modes of transport are offered to tourists on the grounds. If you’re not into walking all day, you can rent a bike, hop aboard a little train, or rent a golf cart or Segway. You can even rent a rowboat and coast down the Grand Canal! Check out more information on transportation within the gardens at Versailles’s website.
Throughout the gardens, you will see many fountains, topiaries, statues, and manicured hedges. You’ll notice many areas of the Versailles gardens to be symmetrical and majestically detailed. After all, King Louis XIV considered the gardens to be just as important as the palace. Construction of this outdoor masterpiece was a massive undertaking, taking approximately 40 years to complete.
Around the grounds, you will find various places to eat, shop, and you’ll also find free restrooms. Most of the dining options out in the garden are from small buildings or carts with limited offerings. (There are more dining options in the palace.) If you’d like to pack a picnic, you must leave it in the bag deposit room in the palace (while touring there), and you’re only allowed to eat it in the park area, not the gardens.
As you explore the groves and gardens, you’ll find beautiful sitting areas, decorative fountains, and pools tucked away. Be sure to stop at the Colonnade, Versailles’s version of a Roman ruin, complete with statues and 64 marble columns. Take your time and enjoy the luxurious surroundings in the gardens; around every corner you’ll find something architecturally, sculpturally, or aesthetically pleasing.
Tips for Touring Versailles Gardens
- Come early if you are visiting the palace before the gardens. Even if you visit during the high season, while you’re in the garden, you’ll only usually find crowds near food stands and fountains. The grounds are large and most people are spread out, so touring during the busier hours is fine. It’s best to go to the Palace first (and early) and then visit the grounds.
- Wear good walking shoes. The gardens are very large and wearing good shoes will ensure you have a good day visiting (and no breaks for bandaids!).
- Download an audio tour if you’re interested in learning more about the gardens. The palace has an official Versailles app at iTunes and I also recommend the Rick Steves’ Audio Europe app. Be sure to bring headphones to use while you listen.
- Bring water. Food and drinks are available in the gardens but there aren’t a ton of options. Better to carry your own water so you have it when you need it.
- If you are visiting in the summer, be sure to bring sunscreen! There is little shade in the gardens of Versailles. (The park area does have trees, however.)
- It also doesn’t hurt to bring a light coat or sweater. Due to the large expanse of open area on the grounds, it can get a little breezy. Be sure to check the weather forecast before arriving.
- If you are visiting the Palace of Versailles and then spending the day on the rest of the grounds, I highly recommend you buy tickets online. This permits you to stand in the ‘palace entrance’ line, thus skipping another line where you first must purchase tickets. (One less line to stand in!) Go directly to Entrance A at the entrance to Versailles Palace if you’ve purchased tickets online.
The Versailles gardens and its park are immense. My family and I didn’t even scratch the surface of the grounds before getting tired. Be sure to set at least one whole day aside to explore this amazing World Heritage Site.
I hope this helps you in your travels to Versailles. Have you visited the Versailles Gardens? How much were you able to see? Share your story in the comments!
sources: en.chateauversailles.fr, ricksteves.com
cover image: citywonders.com