The palace and gardens of Versailles are located near Paris and if you wish you can book an organised tour because it is really worth it. Both the building and its surroundings are so impressive that today it is a must-see (it has approximately 15 million visitors a year) and has been declared a World Heritage Site.
In this post I give you the tips you need to follow to avoid mishaps and enjoy your trip to the fullest.
1. Book your ticket in advance
The Palace of Versailles is a very popular tourist attraction. I advise you to buy your ticket to the Palace in advance by choosing one of these options: visit the palace with the gardens included, for which you can book your tickets now, or take advantage of your visit to see the palace, the gardens and the estate of Maria Antoñeta, booking these tickets. If, on the other hand, you plan to buy them at the ticket office, bear in mind that you may find a very long queue.
On the first Sundays of each month in high season (from May to September) entry to the Palace is free, but even so, booking your ticket in advance is essential. My advice is that, if you can fit the dates in, choose another day to visit the Palace.
The Palace of Versailles is open every day except Mondays. The gardens and park are open daily and can be visited free of charge. As the gardens are so large, this is a free visit that you can take advantage of and enjoy without any problems.
2. If you are coming from Paris, book an organised tour
If your visit to Versailles is a short trip from Paris, you have the option of booking an organised tour.
This is a very convenient option, as it saves you time in organising transport and deciding what to see. What does this tour include? With the help of a specialised guide who will tell you all the details, the history, the anecdotes...
You will visit every corner of the palace, chambers, corridors... You will leave Versailles with a complete idea of the spectacular 17th century palace. In addition, with this tour you can also visit the famous Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and the gardens, with 800 hectares of surface area where you can enjoy its fountains, ponds, plants? An unforgettable visit!
In short, this is a comfortable option where you can get to know everything about the place in depth, make a comfortable and safe transfer, and have your ticket in advance so you don't have to queue or wait for long.
- Transfer: by bus from Paris.
- Departure: 22 Rue Jean Rey, 75015 Paris, France.
- Duration: Approximately 5 hours.
- Price: From 109 €.
2. Take advantage of the Paris Pass
Another option to travel to Versailles from Paris is to **take advantage of the entrance to the palace included in your Paris Pass. In this case you won't have to pay the entrance fee, but you will have to pay for the return trip and lunch.
If you decide to do this, I recommend downloading the Palace of Versailles app, so you can arrive with the information you need to enjoy your visit (I tell you all about this app in tip number 7. Keep reading!).
4. Decide before you travel how long your visit will last
I recommend you to dedicate at least 4 hours for your visit to the Palace of Versailles and the gardens. Keep in mind that the Palace of Versailles is neither a single museum nor just a stroll. It is one of the world's greatest cultural heritage sites. If you want to spend 6 or 7 hours there, you won't get bored.
During your visit you can enjoy more than a hundred rooms, the painting and sculpture collections of the Museum of the History of France, the Hall of Mirrors, the royal chapel, the Gallery of Battles... and get lost in the 30 hectares of gardens. What I mean is that there is a lot to see.
For example, I advise you not to miss the stables. As well as the carriages, you can see the prams of Marie Antoinette's children, or their sleighs. It is a part of the Versailles site that may go unnoticed next to the grandeur offered by other rooms in the Palace, but it is very interesting.
- Opening hours: The palace is open from 9:00 to 17:30. The gardens have a slightly longer opening hours, from 8:00 to 18:00.
5. Wear the most comfortable shoes you have
It is inevitable to associate Versailles with period films, but to visit its 787 hectares it is better to wear comfortable shoes, don't you think?
The visit to the Palace lasts 1 hour and a half (although I recommend that you give it the time it deserves and stop to enjoy it at your own pace), to which you have to add the walk through the park and gardens and the return trip to Paris.
In short, a visit to Versailles takes up the whole day, and although the following tips will give you some tips to help you rest or take it easy (such as renting an electric car to visit the gardens or stopping for a picnic in the park), don't let uncomfortable shoes stop you from enjoying this unique setting.
6. Organise lunch on your visit to Versailles
Is it possible to eat inside the grounds of the Palace of Versailles? Of course it is! And you have several options that are sure to meet your expectations. The price reflects the situation of these places (it's a bit more expensive than what you'll find outside), but you can eat something simple at a reasonable price without leaving the grounds. But when to eat during your visit to Versailles? You can organise your visit around the entrance to the Palace, which has a set time and duration. A good option is to visit the gardens in the morning, sit down for lunch on a terrace or in one of the picnic areas and then visit the Palace.
Here are some places to eat on the grounds, although you can also bring food from outside and eat at your leisure.
A simple option: La Brasserie de la Girandole
In the gardens is the famous Brasserie de la Girandole, with two terraces where you can have lunch, breakfast or a snack
They also offer takeaway food, if you prefer to sit on your own or continue walking around while you kill your hunger. Would you like to take a look at the menu?
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 18:00h.
Have a picnic in a unique setting
You can also have a picnic on your own anywhere in the park (not in the gardens, mind you) except in the covered area. You can eat whatever you decide to bring on your own in the gardens or by the Canal. The best thing about this alternative is the view. A sandwich just doesn't taste the same in this setting.
Enjoy a chef's cuisine at Versailles
Although if you are a bit of a gourmet or want to treat yourself, you can enjoy the restaurant Ore, by chef Alain Ducasse, in the Palace of Versailles.
This is a more expensive option than the previous two: for around €60 you can eat in a 17th-century pavilion.
Take a pastry workshop
And if you have a sweet tooth, you can also take a pastry workshop in Versailles to learn how to make the most typical French pastries from a professional chef. It's located in a very easy-to-find area of the city and you're sure to have a great time with the experience. If you fancy trying this experience, book your place here.
7. Install the Palace of Versailles app
The Palace of Versailles app is free. You can download it onto a tablet or your phone and get an audio guide of the palace and gardens, as well as an interactive map of the entire Versailles site.
The audio guide is available in 12 languages (including Spanish) and you can use it offline, so it's perfect for the journey to Versailles.
Once you're there, it can help you decide the itinerary: it has information on curious things apart from the official visit, such as the trees of the Trianon and two audio tours for children (they've adapted the visit to the gardens and the musical fountains for the little ones).
It is a free and very useful resource for you to learn more about the history of the Palace of Versailles. A very well thought-out luxury that can enhance your travel experience. I recommend it.
8. Hop on the Petit Train to tour the gardens
If, despite your comfortable shoes, you need to take a break during your visit to Versailles, here's one of those tips to help you rest and take a breather.
The organisation makes it very easy for you: the Petit Trains are available to visit the gardens. This is a little train that takesyou around the gardens, connecting the different buildings on the tour.
The Petit Train stops at the Chateau, the Trianons, the Canal and the gardens. You can use them to go from one side to the other and see everything there is in the gardens of Versailles: or you can sit for a while and enjoy the view while you rest for a while.
- Timetable: The Petit Trains run very frequently, every 15 to 20 minutes. You are free to hop on and off.
- Price: Approximately 8€. Includes an audio guide in 10 languages (yes, also in Spanish) from €5.
- Route: The train runs from the North Terrace of the Palais to the Petit Trianon. It then goes to the Grand Trianon and continues to the head of the Grand Canal.
- Child-friendly: Of course! Seeing Versailles with children is a good idea.
9. Enjoy the show "Grandes Eaux Musicales"
In the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, every Saturday in summer (from the beginning of June to the end of September) between 8.30pm and 11.05pm, there is an amazing show of music and light: the " Grandes Eaux Musicales" or "Great Musical Waters".
Lights are projected onto the fountains in the gardens and groves to illuminate this unique setting. The choreographed water jets and light effects are not to be missed. The night ends magically with a fireworks display. It's the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of the gardens.
I advise you to check the weather forecast before booking your ticket as tickets cost approximately €30 and are non-refundable (even if it's pouring rain that night). However, it is free for children under 5 and there is a reduced rate for children under 17 or students.
- Timetable: Saturday evenings from the beginning of June to the end of September, between 20:30 and 23:05.
- Price: The price varies according to the show, but there are tickets from approximately 25€.
- Suitable for children: Yes, in fact it is an activity especially recommended for children.
10. Choose the perfect time for your visit
Visit Versailles in summer to fully enjoy the gardens and the setting of the Canal. The high season in the Paris area is from May to September. Temperatures are pleasant (between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius) and mild, so it's perfect for strolling and enjoying the scenery here.
This is also the only time of the year when you can enjoy the open-air shows in the gardens, such as the ones I mentioned in the previous tip.
If you go in winter, the average temperature is 6 degrees Celsius. Northern France is a cold area, and many of the places to buy something to eat on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles are closed.
This does not mean that the visit is not worthwhile - not at all! The interior of the Palace of Versailles has an enormous cultural richness, so you can spend the whole day touring these rooms. Only the visit to the gardens will probably be shorter, but it is a different perspective on this unique place.
I hope you enjoy your visit to such an amazing place as the Palace of Versailles with these tips. Have a nice trip!