What to visit in Versailles?
Updated: May 31, 2022
The preciousness of Versailles is visible as soon as you set foot in the city. Located 20 kilometers from Paris, the royal city holds many jewels that deserve to be visited. The majesty of the castle, the sumptuousness of the gardens, the extraordinary cultural and natural heritage, and epoch museums will allow you to go deeper into centuries of French history breathing in the opulence of the French monarchy. Take your crown and follow our tips, you will be the royal visitor!
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What not to miss?
Palace Of Versailles
One of the most well-known landmarks in France, why not in the whole of Europe. It was constructed in 1623 by Luis XIV. Surviving over time, the Palace of Versailles is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many reasons the place is such a famous tourist destination nowadays. The complex is a big part of French history and it was one of the grandest theaters of European absolutism. You can enjoy walking in the corridors where Queen Maria Antoinette lived her life before her dramatic end. You can get lost in the 2 000 rooms of the Palace and each of them holds its own story. Today it is possible to visit half of the rooms. However, you will enjoy rich interiors in all of them. The Palace is considered by many people as the place where the French Revolution started, reminding us that in 1789 the royal family was forced to leave.
The thing that makes the Palace a favorite touristic location is the water shows. The fountains in the garden of Versailles offer happiness for the eyes. The most famous is the Latona one. The first thing you will notice about these fountains is how tall they are. They range from 20 to 30 feet high. The water on top of these fountains is flowing through pipes, so it looks like it has been flowing for hundreds of years. Another great thing is that they are very easy to see at night. The lighting on them makes them stand out from all the other things around them. Surely you will be enraptured by the brightness!
What else to visit?
The whole complex is full of amazing sights, including the famous Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Opera, the Grand Trianon, and more.
As we mentioned a few times, the gardens of Versailles are incredible and they are a must to visit. This is the kind of place where you can walk for hours and keep finding new things to look at. The gardens are famous for many reasons, but one of the main ones is that there is a large amount of water on display. There are canals, fountains, and even an ‘enchanted’ island. When you visit the gardens, you can take a guided tour or if you prefer you can explore by yourself. It is quite large so it is probably best to have a map so that you don’t get lost!
Hall of Mirrors
The Mirror Hall is a very important part of the Palace with a magnificent interior. The Hall was completed in 1770 and was used for balls, celebrations, and banquets. The purpose of this room was to impress and show off the power of King Louis XIV. The hall is decorated with 2,000 mirrors on the walls and ceiling, and it has a magnificent parquet floor made from exotic hardwoods.
Le Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon is a masterpiece of French classical architecture. Located in the park of Versailles, it was built between 1687 and 1689 by Louis XIV as a place of relaxation for the Royal family. Described as a "Little jewel", the Grand Trianon, is a magnificent building made of pink porcelain material and it is inspired by Italian architecture. The Grand Trianon is set within its park, which includes the Petit Trianon. Nowadays they are the most refined places in the entire Palace. Walking around you will think about how is possible for such a beautiful building to be built.
The Queen's Hamlet: This is a small village, that was built for Queen Maria Antoinette, with the purpose of a place for her to relax. The village is located around three sides of a lake, which makes it a great place for relaxing. There are small houses typical of the temple architecture.
Known as "the greatest royal construction project for housing horses" Royal stables are built in the record time of 3 years between 1679-1682 and were designed to house 400 horses. During that time the horses had an important role as representatives of the power during the Ancien Régime. Today the Royal stables are home to the National School of the Architecture in Versailles and other establishments.
Another magnificent building part of the complex is the one of the Royal Opera. During the time of Louis XV, it was the largest concert hall in Europe. The Royal Opera follows the design of the Palace and also presents the luxurious decor shown in the whole complex. The interior decoration by Augustin Pajou is constructed almost entirely of wood, painted to resemble marble in a technique known as faux marble. The excellent acoustics of the opera house is at least partly due to its wooden interior.
Versailles has a lot to offer even outside of the palace. Several museums are definitely worth a visit, but there are also several monuments, including Notre Dame de Versailles, Saint-Louis Church, and many more.
Are you traveling within France? Then definitely check out our related article - 'What to visit in Paris?'.
When to travel there?
The Palace is beautiful all around the year, but we recommend you plan your trip during spring or summer when the gardens are in full bloom and the colors of the magnificent flowers can cheer your soul.
How to travel there?
The close location of Versailles from Paris allows many tourists that visit the capital city to jump for a day trip to The Royal Palace. The easiest way is by train from Paris which goes for approx. 30 min from the city center. The station you arrive at is Versailles Château Rive Gauche which is 10 min away by walk to the Palace.
The ticket to get into the complex is 20 euros. In the summer days, we recommend you pay additional 7 euros and enjoy the fountain show with music. The complex offers free entrance for students under 18 years from all around the world and all EU citizens under 26 years old. We advise you to buy your tickets in advance, especially if you are going to visit the complex with a group.
What to be aware of?
Be aware that the Palace is closed on Mondays, 25th December and 1st of January. The busiest days are Tuesdays and weekends. We advise you to buy the tickets in advance to avoid queues. The visiting of the whole complex takes approx. 3h and a half: one hour and a half for the Palace and 2 more hours for the gardens. Of course, depending on how many photos you would like to take because the place is very picturesque.
What to eat?
After a long visit to the nearby castle of the Sun King, you will certainly be looking for a place to relax and recharge your batteries. In this respect, we recommend places where you can enjoy the local cuisine.
Find out the food and drinks from Île-de-France (Versailles's region)!
Le carré aux Crêpes
Just a few steps from the Palace you can find a restaurant with typical Brittany cuisine. The pancakes of this region are famous all-around France. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday and serves Sweet and savory crepes.
The restaurant is famous for its fancy interior in the spirit of Versailles Palace. The place brings you back to the time of Royal dinners. The menu is inspired by French cuisine from the XVIIth & XVIIIth centuries. For the full experience, even the staff wears clothes in Baroque style. The most interesting about Restaurant Reminisens is that you can enjoy a Unique Boutique Show full of historical anecdotes, played in French or English. Do not miss to visit this restaurant and go back with a time machine to the time of Louis XIV.
Grand mask ball (June)
This is the most iconic event of Versailles. Taking part in the latter is like reliving the era of refined royal parties organized by the court. In fact, the dress code is for elegant baroque dresses with classic lace masks.
Le Mois Molière (June)
This is the festival of theatre and music that takes place throughout June at the city's historical sites. The protagonist is the city that becomes a sparkling, lively open-air theatre with a program full of performances (puppetry, circus, music, and dance) for adults and children.
Nocturne Electro (September): electronic music will be the soundtrack of your late summer evening; the fountain, gardens, and royal palace will shine in the background while you are immersed in the sounds of the best French DJs.
This was our short guide for Versailles. Traveling through the baroque city and dive into an enchanted place stuck in the era of the French Revolution. Paris is right next to Versailles, don't hesitate to read our article on what to visit in Paris, but also never stop exploring beautiful places and check our other articles! If you're curious about traditional dishes, take a leap in our blog and follow @thewalkingparrot to keep up to date with our travel tips.