The Palace of Versailles, known in France as the Château de Versailles, was the royal residence of the French kings.
Versailles is 19 km from Paris and is now a museum of the France history, where precious works of art created to decorate Versailles rooms are exhibited, with huge and wonderful gardens, musical fountains, frescoes and curiosities.
The Versailles Palace was commissioned by Louis XIV, the Sun King, who lived and reigned here for over 70 years. It was built around a pre-existing dwelling, the Trianon, hitherto considered as a bourgeois country residence.
Louis XIV decided to move his entire court away from chaotic Paris and give the idea, through the concept of Versailles, of an absolute monarchy centralized around the figure of the king. It is said that in particular in kings he did not want to get too far from the capital, but he wanted to get away from his people whom he considered fearful and dangerous.
After the death of the Sun King Versailles never again had the same pomp and prestige. Two other kings, until the advent of the French Revolution, inhabited it and also added transformations and works to make changes in step with the times and with the renewed needs of the court, but court life was now in decline.
During the siege of Paris the Prussian army camped there and several times throughout history it was subject to destruction and looting. Today it shines in a renewed splendor and after long and various restorations it is possible to visit its most important rooms, exhibitions showing the works and objects of use of the palace and its unparalleled gardens.
What to See in Versailles?
The palace rooms are 372 but obviously, not all of them can be visited. On Google Arts and Culture, you can take a virtual tour of the entire building discovering its many secrets. The rooms open to the public are only the most important. Wherever you look you will lay your eyes on a small or large masterpiece of art. Consider that to visit the whole palace, the palaces of the park and gardens take at least 2 days. A whole day is enough for a pleasant though not in-depth visit: visit the palace in the morning and then calmly dedicate yourself to the gardens and park in the afternoon.
Below you will find the things to see absolutely on a visit to Versailles.
1. Hameau(The Queen’s Hamlet)
To live a little out of the boring court etiquette, Marie Antoinette had the Hameau built, a sort of country house in the Versailles park where she lived with her children. It can be visited with the ticket that gives access to the visit to the park.
2. Versailles gardens
The Versailles gardens are the largest gardens connected to a palace in the world and a unique example of French Baroque. They have 42 km of trails and 55 water basins. Very often the gardens host shows and concerts. The gardens are perhaps the most beautiful part of the entire palace to visit because they are endless, less crowded than the rest of the palace, and more peaceful. Don’t miss the musical fountains, a hydraulic masterpiece of the period.
3. Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most important rooms of the King’s residence. Here was signed on June 28, 1919, the treaty that bears the same name as the palace and put an end to the First World War. Even today this room is used by the French president to receive distinguished guests.
4. The Grand Trianon
The Trianon is a sober and elegant palace, a sort of outbuilding, where the king went to retire temporarily from the intense court life of Versailles and to meet the lady of Montespan. Today it is partly used as the residence of President of the French Republic.
5. Little Trianon
The Little Trianon is a miniature palace where Madame de Pompadour was in charge of keeping the king company.
6. Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is a huge expanse of water which at the time of the Sun King hosted 2 gondolas and 4 gondoliers and which is now used by tourists’ pedal boats.
Hours and Openings
The Palace of Versailles is open from 9:00 to 18:30 in summer and until 17:30 in winter. In summer the gardens remain open until 20:30. The Royal Palace is closed on Mondays, May 1st, January 1st, and December 25th and always open on the remaining days of the year.
Before planning your visit, inquire on the official website of the Palace of Versailles on the calendar of events and concerts, because on special appointments there are restrictions on visits, schedules or you have to pay a supplement.
Prices and Tickets
The visits are free for children under 18 years or for European visitors under 26 years (only 0 to 5 years of age enter the water games in the gardens for free).
There are several tickets and entry arrangements to the Versailles Palace.
The Passport ticket saves time in the queue and gives access to the palace (with audio guide), the Trianon residence, temporary exhibitions, gardens and park with Marie Antoinette’s house, gallery and music and games shows garden water. Starting from 21dollar for a day and starting from 26dollar for 2 days.
The best way to visit Versailles is by purchasing tickets online, so you only have to deal with the queue of security checks. Online you will find all the tickets and the possibility to buy. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online at the various tour operators that offer guided tours of the palace.
It is advisable to choose carefully the day of the visit to the palace by choosing a day when the Louvre museum is not closed and possibly a midweek day.
How to Get to Versailles
The Palace of Versailles has located about 20 km from Paris, in the Versailles city, in the Yvelines department. How to get to Versailles?
Versailles can be easily reached by car from Paris and by parking in the large parking lots dedicated to buses and cars near the entrance to the building.
Most foreign tourists who visit Versailles reach the palace by public transport from Paris. If you are one of these, you have two possibilities: the RER, regional train network that completes the Paris metro network, or the train.
Reach Versailles by train
Versailles with the RER
The RER line C5 is a very convenient alternative because you can take it from the main stops in the city (Champ de Mars, Porte Maillot, St. Michel, Orsay, Gare d’Austerlitz) and get off at Versailles Rive Gauche station which has the bus stop close to the palace. The journey is long but the nearby stop saves time and energy to devote to visiting the palace.