Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
- A fascinating look into the life and surroundings of kings and courtesans of France in the 17th and 18th century.
- An educational and historical attraction that adults will love, although it is not the most exciting place for a toddler.
- The gardens (reviewed in a separate post) are a great place for children to run around, and the buildings should delight both young and old.
9:00 am – 6:30 pm (Closed Mondays, last admission at 6:00pm)
Versailles offers different tickets, based on what you’d like to see. If you plan on seeing everything on the grounds, including the musical garden and fountain shows (available March 31 – October 31), the Passport ticket is your best bet. Passport tickets are €27 with the musical garden and fountain shows and €20 without the shows. There are also two-day passes available, only Palace tickets, and other ticket options. Visit the Versailles website here for more ticket pricing information.
Entry to the Palace of Versailles and Trianon is free for those under 18 and for EU residents under 26. However, if you also wish to see the musical fountain shows that day, you must pay for those outdoor garden shows. Only children under 6 are free to the outdoor shows. You can buy all of your tickets for Versailles online. Below is an infographic from the palace’s website.
The easiest way to get to Versailles 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 Château-Rive Gauche. You will have about a five minute walk to the château from the train station.
Keep reading for more information and find my travel tips at the end of the post!
Touring the Palace of Versailles
If you are spending more than a couple of days in Paris, I highly recommend a visit to Versailles. The Palace of Versailles contains 2,300 rooms, is a world renown palace of French art and architecture, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 30 years.
Visit the infamous palace and grounds that:
- were once home to King Louis XIV (as well as other Kings of France), his 20,000 royal courtiers, and the French government.
- was once the home of Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France and wife of Louis XVI.
- was the location where Benjamin Franklin negotiated a treaty in 1778 with Louis XVI obtaining support from the French military during America’s fight for independence.
- was also the location where the Treaty of Paris was signed and America finally won it’s independence from England (1783).
- was the site in 1871, when Wilhelm I became the Emperor of Germany (in the Hall of Mirrors) and the German Empire was founded.
- was the place where the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, bringing WWI to an end.
From 1789-1799, Versailles was damaged during the French Revolution. Eventually the furniture remaining in the palace was sold and the building later fell into disrepair. However, today the palace of Versailles is a museum that has been restored and hosts millions of visitors every year.
Whether you take an independent or guided tour of Versailles, there is much to take in and enjoy. If you are touring without a guide, I highly recommend that you use an audio tour. You can download the official audioguide from Versailles at iTunes or I recommend you download the Rick Steve’s Audio Europe App and listen to his Versailles tour. The palace also has audioguides to use for free, with 11 different languages available.
The Palace (aka The Château)
Upon entering the grounds of the palace, tourists can appreciate the size and splendor of the structure. Gold leaf adorns the front gate and accents the château; everything on the grounds is incredibly ornate in detail.
Individuals with tickets purchased online line up at entrance A; entrance B is only for groups tours. Once you enter the building, there is a mandatory security screening. Large bags, suitcases, and selfie sticks are not allowed in the palace; however there is a luggage desk to leave such items.
There is an assigned route for touring the rooms of Versailles, allowing tourists to walk from room to room with ease. After viewing some history and general information of the palace, the first major site you will see is the Royal Chapel. This is where Louis XIV and his courtesans attended mass.
Throughout your tour, you will walk through majestic hallways filled with natural light, see exquisite architecture, beautiful sculptures, and amazing paintings. My family and I bypassed a lot of the educational history on the ground floor (just after entering at 9am) and were fortunate enough to get these great photos without visitors.
There is much information to learn about all of these rooms: why and how they were built; who designed and decorated them; what the room’s purpose was; as well as explanations on paintings, sculptures, and more. Only a guided tour or audio tour will help provide you with that information. Very little information is given in the rooms.
You will see many grand rooms within the State Apartments, including the Hercules Room, Mercury Room, Apollo Room, and the War Drawing Room.
The most majestic room within the entire château is the infamous Hall of Mirrors. Once a large terrace, the Hall of Mirrors was designed to celebrate France’s success in art, economics, and politics. Within this room, 357 mirrors hang across from the room’s windows, allowing in ample light and reflecting back the beautiful arched windows that overlook the manicured gardens outside.
Shortly after visiting the Hall of Mirrors, you’ll encounter the Battles Gallery. This long, narrow room is larger than the Hall of Mirrors, and showcases paintings from 15 centuries of French military triumphs.
Once you finish your tour, you will find yourself outside the château, looking out towards the enormous grounds of the gardens. If you plan on continuing to the gardens and Trianon, be sure to find a rest room and perhaps grab a quick snack. This is a great opportunity to do so.
Tips for Visiting the Palace of Versailles
- I highly recommend you buy tickets online. This permits you to stand in the entrance line, thus skipping the line to purchase tickets. (One less line to stand in!) Go directly to Entrance A at the entrance to Versailles if you’ve purchased tickets online. If you don’t have tickets, at least have someone in your party stand in the line to Entrance A while you purchase tickets on site.
- I also recommend coming early. The palace opens at 9am and you can guarantee there will already be a line forming well before then. My family and I arrived about 15 minutes before 9 (on a Thursday in June) and were about 200 people back from the front of the line. Overall, I was pleased with the size of the crowds within the palace at our time of touring.
- Be wary of pickpockets within the palace. Keep your belongings close at all times, especially if the touring rooms are packed with visitors. Also, don’t wear any valuable jewelry to Versailles that can be easily taken off with a swift brush up against you (bracelets, watches).
- Be sure to wear good walking shoes. The palace is HUGE and you will be on your feet most of the day, especially if you are touring the gardens and Trianon palaces. Dress comfortably and wear good shoes.
- I recommend bringing a water bottle while touring the palace. There are places to eat and drink in the palace, but they are not within touring areas.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts, as I will be reviewing the gardens of Versailles, as well as Grand Trianon. If you’re heading to Paris, you can also check out my favorite things to do in this amazing city!
sources: wikipedia.org, en.chateauversailles.fr