A visit to the Palace of Versailles, France

Versailles

Versailles is a palace and park ensemble in the suburbs of Paris, the former country residence of French kings. Versailles is a center of world tourism, its palace and park have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

How to get there

  • RER train, line C – Versailles-Rive Gauche station.
  • From Gare Montparnasse to Versailles-Chantiers station, from Gare St-Lazare to Versailles-Rive Droite station. From the stations, it is about a 5-minute walk.

Opening hours in 2019.

Everyone goes to Versailles to see the fountains. But unlike Peterhof, the fountains of Versailles are open only on certain days and hours during the summer (see below). On these same days there is an especially large number of tourists in the palace. So if you have already seen the fountains and want to visit just the palace, it is better to choose days when they are not working.

If you want to see the fountains and the palace in the same day, it is better to buy a ticket “Passport” on the official website in advance. Otherwise you will need to stand in two queues – at the ticket office and the palace itself, which will take at least two hours.

Note that most of the fountains work only one hour in the morning and 2.5 hours in the evening. You have to be in pretty good physical shape to see them all (before they are turned off) because they are quite far from each other. We also recommend that you have an electronic off-line map on your smartphone, so that you can quickly navigate between the fountains and choose the ones that interest you most. A Passport ticket entitles you to only one pass into the park. That is, to see the fountains in the morning, then the palace, and then return to the park is not possible (without extra charge).

The craziest crowds on Saturday and Sunday between 12:00 and 15:30. During this time, the palace is filled with tourists from Asia, who behave very brazenly. The density of visitors is close to the Moscow subway at rush hour. Therefore, it is better to see the palace in the morning or evening, or even better on weekdays.

Visiting the palace’s ceremonial halls takes about two hours. Listening to the entire audio guide to the palace can stretch for a day. On a tour of the most beautiful fountains of Versailles can take 3 hours, and to get around all the corners of the park, including the Trianon and the Carriage Museum – a day.

  • In summer (from April 1 to October 31)
    • Palace
      • 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., ticket office closes at 5:50 p.m.
      • Day off Monday
      • Museum closed on May 1st
      • daily from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm, last admission 7:00 pm
      • April 6 through October 27 Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m.
      • May 21 through June 25 on Tuesdays, and: April 19, May 8, May 30, and August 15 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.
      • Palace
        • 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., box office closes at 4:50 p.m.
        • Day off Monday
        • Museum is closed on January 1 and December 25
        • Every day from 8:00 to 18:00. The last admission is at 5:30 pm. May be closed during snowfalls and strong winds
        • The fountains are not open during the winter!

        Ticket prices in 2019.

        • An all-inclusive ticket for the Palace, the Park, the temporary exhibitions in the Palace, the Carriage Museum and the Trianon (Passport)
          • On days when the fountains are open: €27
          • During days when the fountains are closed – 20 euros.
          • For all types of visitors – 18 Euros
          • Adults – 9,5 euros
          • Children from 6 to 17 years and students – 8 euros

          History

          Anyone who hasn’t even been to France has heard of this famous suburb of Paris. And it all began with a small hunting castle owned by Louis XIII in a dismal, unsightly place in the marsh – without forest, water and land. The manor was so small that there was no room for the rooms of the Queen Mother and the Queen Wife. But Louis XIII was happy with it and his son also liked the castle, but he decided to rebuild it.

          The idea of creation of a royal residence became the King-Sun’s life work, and even on his deathbed he bequeathed to posterity not to get down to building works, as well as others bequeathed not to start wars.

          Versailles is two hundred years of French history and a bit of world history. Important documents were signed here, including the treaty that ended the U.S. War of Independence in 1783 and the Declaration of Human Rights in 1789. The creation of the German Empire was proclaimed here in 1871, and a peace treaty ending World War I was signed in 1919.

          Versailles was created from 1661 under the leadership of Louis XIV, who wanted to build an estate that would eclipse the property of Finance Minister Nicolas Foucault, located in the Paris suburb of Vailles-Vicomte. The Sun King invited the same craftsmen who had created the palace at Vaux-le-Vicomte – the architect Louis Leveau, the painter Charles Lebrun and the master of the park ensemble André Lenôtre – and ordered them to create a residence in the same spirit, only a hundred times larger.

          The Sun King built not just a royal residence, it was the second capital of France, where thousands of people lived and thousands of people came here every day. To enter, one had only to wear a hat and carry a sword, which, however, could be rented.

          The distances in the park were so imposing that wealthy visitors hired porterage – covered armchairs carried by porters that acted as cabs. And the servants of the elected lords who lived in the palace had the added income of allowing other lords to use the palace toilet.

          The Sun King, who proclaimed “The State is Me,” created Versailles and ruled there; his residence has become a symbol of monarchal triumph and a monument to the era of the Sun King.

          But Versailles is also a symbol of the decline of this era, associated with the names of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who in 1789 were forced to move to Paris.

          Tips for visiting

          Even now to visit Versailles you need to have time and patience – the trip will take a whole day. To see the park, the Grand and Petit Trianon, the village of Marie Antoinette, it is possible to use the tourist train or rent a bicycle.

          Or you can simply follow the instructions of King Louis XIV himself: “When you leave the palace through the Marble Court, go to the square. At the stairs you must stop to appreciate the parterres, the water feature and the fountains. Then go to the fountain of Latona and there pause to admire it, the sculptures in the Royal Walk, the Apollo, the canal, and then you must turn around to see the parterre and the palace.” Who better to advise than the host himself?

          During the Louis XIV era, Versailles was considered an unsurpassed example of artistic creativity and many architects recreated similar residences. Peter the Great had also been here and he was so enchanted by the beauty of the complex that when he returned to Petersburg he decided to create in Peterhof his own palace and park ensemble, not inferior to Versailles.

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