18 Must-see sights in Versailles
In the middle of the 17th century, Louis XIV decided to turn his father’s hunting lodge into a monumental palace, which to this day remains the most famous and majestic complex in France.
Located in the picturesque suburb of the same name 22 km southwest of the center of Paris, this magnificent Baroque château was the political capital of the kingdom and residence of the royal court from 1682 until the fateful events of 1789, when revolutionaries slaughtered the entire palace guard. Louis XVI and his companion Marie Antoinette were eventually taken back to Paris, where they were beheaded.
So you decided to visit Versailles. What to see and what to look for? About this and not only in our review article.
Palace of Versailles.
Palace of Versailles.
This magnificent palace, surrounded by elaborately decorated gardens, was built in the mid-17th century during the reign of “Sun King” Louis XIV. It was supposed to symbolize the absolute power of the French monarchy, which, incidentally, was then really at its peak.
The Château has undergone relatively few changes since its construction, although during the Revolution almost all the interior pieces were taken out and during the reign of Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) many of the rooms were reconstructed.
Address: Château de Versailles, Versailles, France.
Gardens and Park
Gardens and Park.
To the west of the palace complex stretches the royal gardens in the elegant French style, they appeared here between 1661 and 1700.
The gardens are world famous for their neat terraces and flower beds, paths lined with trees, and numerous ponds and fountains.
Four hundred-plus statues of marble, bronze and lead were made by the most talented sculptors of the era. The gardens of the Petit Trianon (Jardins du Petit Trianon), decorated in the English style, look more provincial. Marie Antoinette herself liked to spend time here.
Address: Parterre de Latone, Versailles, France.
The Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon.
In the center of the park, about 1.5 km north-west of the main palace are two small complexes surrounded by neatly manicured flower beds and terraces.
The Grand Trianon of pink marble was built in 1687 especially for Louis XIV; he liked to spend his free time here resting from the vanity of the big palace. Napoleon later ordered the rooms to be furnished in Empire style.
Address: Le Grand Trianon, Versailles, France.
Royal Opera of Versailles
Royal Opera House of Versailles. | Photo: Département des Yvelines / Flickr.
The Royal Opera of Versailles, designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, is located in the north wing of the Palace of Versailles and is built entirely of wood. This is said to be the reason for its excellent acoustics.
The opera house seats up to 1,200 people and today you can enjoy ballet, orchestral pieces and classical theater operas there. From time to time it is transformed into a ballroom – its magnificent chandeliers and antique surroundings create a truly fabulous atmosphere.
Address: Opéra Royal de Versailles, avenue de Paris, Versailles, France.
Mirror Gallery | Photo: Jorge Láscar / Flickr.
The Mirror Gallery, an ornament of the Palace of Versailles, once served as a passageway connecting the apartments of the king and queen of France.
The hall has more than 350 mirrors, 17 huge windows on one side and 17 window-shaped mirrors opposite. All this creates a magnificent light ensemble of gold and crystal.
To go to Versailles and not visit the mirror gallery is unforgivable. We recommend to come here early in the morning because already at noon there is no room to spare.
Address: La galerie des glaces, Place Armée, Versailles, France.
The Royal Chapel
The Royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles was built in 1689. With its brightly colored marble floor, gigantic sculptures, and magnificent paintings, it became the benchmark by which many European churches were guided.
According to ancient religious beliefs, the king of France was considered the chosen one of God, so the monumental columns and exquisite altars of his chapel were to reflect all the divine splendor with which the Almighty rewarded the monarch.
Today, the chapel is often used as a venue for music concerts or private events.
Address: Chapelle royale, Place Léon Gambetta, Versailles, France.
Church of Our Lady
Church of Notre Dame.
The Church of Notre-Dame de Versailles is just a short walk from the central market and gardens. It was built in 1686 to meet the needs of a growing city and was originally a simple parish church.
Looking at the elaborate vaulted arches, large arcades, and dome, it is clear why this small building is considered a shining example of Neoclassicism. Until recently, all marriages, births and deaths of members of the French royal family were registered in the church.
The church features sculptures by Pierre Madzelin and Noël Jouvain, and since August 2005, it has been officially designated a Historical Monument.
Address: Paroisse Notre-Dame de Versailles, Rue Baillet Reviron, Versailles, France.
The Petit Trianon
Petit Trianon. | Photo: Sam Nabi / Flickr.
The Petit Trianon, located on the estate of Marie Antoinette, was built in the 1860s.
In 1867, the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, restored the decoration of the palace, adding Louis XVI style furniture and personal effects of the executed empress Marie-Antoinette, whom she venerated.
Address: Le domaine de Marie-Antoinette, Versailles, France.
This artificial village, consisting of ramshackle cottages, a pond and a picturesque mill, was built in 1775-1784 specifically for Marie-Antoinette’s leisure time.
Address: The Queen’s Hamlet, Versailles, France.
Royal Tennis Hall
Royal Tennis Hall | Photo: Fred Romero / Flickr.
In May 1789 Louis XVI convened the States General, consisting of over 1,118 deputies, representing the nobility, the clergy and the so-called “third estate.
When the Third Estate was prevented from entering the hall, they gathered in this hall (where the King of France played a game similar to modern tennis), formed the National Assembly, and took the Serment du Jeu de Paume (“Oath in the Ballroom”), promising not to disperse until Louis XVI had adopted a new constitution.
Address: Salle du Jeu de Paume, Rue du Jeu de Paume, Versailles, France.
Académie Riding de Versailles
Academy of the Horse of Versailles.
The Grandes Écuries (The Grand Stables) is home to Versailles’ Academy of Equestrian Arts. It hosts spectacular equestrian shows Reprises Musicales, tickets to which sell out in no time.
There is a new arena in the main courtyard of the stables where horses and their riders train. With a ticket to the show you can explore the stables themselves.
Address: Versailles Academy of Equestrian Arts, Versailles, France.
Neptune Fountain. | Photo: shogunangel / Flickr.
300 meters to the north of the palace there is the 17th century Neptune Fountain, delighting the tourists with a game of 99 gushing water jets.
On one side there’s a small pond, adorned with a winged dragon (Grille du Dragon). The Neptune Fountain begins its 10 minute water show at 17:20 on special days called the Grandes Eaux Musicales.
Address: Bassin de Neptune, Versailles, France.
Grand Canal | Photo: Nomadic Lady Chris / Flickr.
The Grand Canal is 1.6 km long and 62 m wide, crossed by a smaller canal 1 km long and together they form a bizarre cross-shaped water body with a perimeter of over 5.5 km.
Address: Grand Canal 78000 Versailles France.
Fountain of Apollo
Fountain of Apollo.
In 1688 the Apollo Fountain appeared on the east side of the Grand Canal. In its center we see the chariot of Apollo as if bursting out of the watery depths.
Address: Le char d’Apollon, Versailles, France.
The façade of the Orangery and the adjacent Versailles Park.
On the southwest side of the palace, under the so-called South Parterre, there is an orangery that stores tropical plants from the garden in winter.
Address: Orangerie du château de Versailles, Place Armée, Versailles, France.
Monument to Louis XIV
Monument to Louis XIV.
This majestic statue of King Louis XIV guards the gates of the Palace of Versailles.
Address: Statue équestre de Louis XIV, avenue de Paris, Versailles, France.
Markets of Versailles.
Notre Dame market. | Photo: Wally Gobetz / Flickr.
Versailles is not only about lavish palaces and residences, but about a multitude of bustling markets and street stalls. Market stalls have been a constant companion of the place since the 17th century, replaced in 1841 by a covered market, which is still in operation today.
Perhaps the most popular market of Versailles is Notre Dame market which sells a variety of French delicacies from buns to frogs’ legs. It’s also worth a visit to the local flea market.
The address is Notre-Dame Market, Place du marché Notre-Dame, Versailles, France.
Museum Lambinet.| Photo: tyalis_2 / Flickr.
If we talk about the disadvantages of Versailles, crowds of tourists and endless queues immediately come to mind. You’ll be all the more pleased to know that there are places in Versailles that are relatively quiet. The Lambinet Museum is proof of that.
Museum Lambinet is located on Boulevard de la Rhine, in a mansion built for Joseph-Barnabe Porchon, one of the building contractors of Louis XV.
The museum has more than 550 pieces, including ceramics, musical instruments, furniture and paintings by artists such as Alfred Sisley, all of which are in one way or another about the history of Versailles.
The collection also features original artifacts on the theme of the Revolution, including several portraits of its two main protagonists, Jean-Paul Marat and Charlotte Cordet.
Address: Musée Lambinet, Boulevard de la Reine, Versailles, France.
Palace of Versailles in France
The high season lasts from April 01 to October 31. Main Palace: Tuesday-Sunday from 09:00 to 18:30. Trianon: Tuesday-Sunday from 12:00 to 18:30. Stables: Tuesday-Sunday from 12:30 to 18:30. Park and Gardens: daily from 08:00 to 18:30.
|Bus||Stop. Chateau de Versailles, no. 171; Versailles Express.|
|RER||Station. Versailles – Chateau / Rive – Gauche (L C5)|
|Train||Station. Versailles Rive Droite, Gare de Versailles Chantiers|
The Palace of Versailles is considered one of the most important historical sites in France and Europe as a whole. It was among the first to be included in the list of world heritage protected by UNESCO in 1979. Versailles Palace, built on the orders of Louis XIV became a symbol of the greatness of the French crown. Today it is a must-see for most tourists vacationing in Paris. The place is impressive in its scale and certainly will not leave anyone indifferent. You can come to Versailles on your own or as part of a tour group.
Fountains of Versailles.
Palace and park ensemble in Versailles was called to glorify France, so the engineers were entrusted with a difficult task, which was to develop a grand for that time the project, which included a complex system of pipes and underground reservoirs for water. Hundreds of kilometers of pipes are still in operation today.
The fountains have their own name, which reflects the main idea of the composition. One of the most famous is the “Fountain of Latona” with the mythical goddess in its center. Another recognizable attraction of Versailles is the Grand Canal, made in the form of a cross-shaped pool.
Versailles Park and Gardens
Versailles’ huge park with its neat French gardens begins just outside the main palace. It is characterized by straight geometric lines popular in that era. Many plants and their appearance have been restored from the historical archival documents of the museum. In addition to traditional plants, tropical fruit trees and flowers brought from other countries are used in its design. In winter they are transported to greenhouses in order to protect them from low temperatures.
Today the Versailles Park is the largest in Europe and is considered a work of garden art. Less pompous are the gardens around the Grand Trianon Palace. As it was a more secluded royal residence, the local landscape was intended for the quiet pastime of Louis XIV and the courtiers. Their total area reaches just over twenty hectares. Years later, thanks to the efforts of the king and his mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour, the garden of the Petit Palais Trianon appeared a bit to the north. Today practically nothing has remained of it, because under the new owner, Queen Marie-Antoinette, a large-scale renovation was carried out here, transforming it into a typical English garden.
The Palace of Versailles is one of those tourist places, which is difficult to walk around in one day. The area of the gardens alone is about nine hundred hectares of land. There are three palaces on the territory of the museum complex: the Main Palace, the Grand Palace and the Small Trianon. Also popular with tourists are the royal stables and the village of Marie Antoinette.
The Petit Trianon Palace
The name of its last mistress Marie Antoinette is most closely associated with the Petit Palais Trianon. The young queen spent almost all her time away from the main palace and the courtiers who disliked her. Access to its park was allowed only by invitation of the queen. Built in 1768 under the previous ruler, it was almost completely remodeled. Next to it appeared a theater building and a small utopian village, where she immersed herself in a non-existent rural life.
Marie Antoinette’s Village
Queen Marie Antoinette was a creative, enthusiastic person. She was burdened by palace life and surroundings, so after she was given possession of the Petit Trianon palace, she ordered a staged village of 12 houses to be built for her. Cattle and poultry were brought here to recreate the peasant way of life.
Now many tourists love to visit this place. It is striking for its beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Almost all of the cute little houses are located around the pond. The village itself is a 10 minute walk northeast of Trianon.
Grand Trianon Palace
The Grand Trianon or Marble Palace was built especially for the king and his entourage. It was considered a privilege to travel here. After the revolution, it was chosen as the residence of Napoleon and General Charles de Gaulle. It is remarkable for its pink marble exterior facades and the flowering gardens around it.
Halls of the Palace of Versailles
The halls of the main Palace of Versailles were often rebuilt when a new monarch came to power. In their decoration there is a praise of this or that king, a description of French history and a demonstration of the desire to show their superiority over other countries. Now visitors to the palace can observe the result of painstaking work on the restoration of the interiors and the return of lost relics from the years of the revolution.
The Palace of Versailles has also become a repository for hundreds of works of art: paintings, statues, furniture and jewelry. To pass all the halls available to tourists, you must move according to the map of routes issued to visitors at the entrance to the main palace. The most famous are the mirror room and the throne room. The other salons are named after Roman or Greek gods, goddesses and mythical heroes: Venus, Hercules, Diana, Mercury and Mars, etc.
Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors, or the Great Gallery, is one of the most popular places in the Palace of Versailles. It is world famous for being the place where the signing of the treaty at the end of World War I took place. In its long history it has hosted a huge number of lavish receptions and state meetings. But most of all tourists are attracted by its rich decoration and chic interior.
History of the Palace of Versailles
The history of the Palace of Versailles began with the order of Louis XIII to build a small hunting lodge in the suburbs of Paris. Then his heir, Louis XIV or “Sun King”, starts to build a grand palace complex. Work on the implementation of the ambitious plan began in 1661. They continued during the reign of the next king Louis XV, but less actively. During his reign, the construction of the Petit Trianon Palace, the Opera House and the Neptune Basin was completed.
The entire palace and park complex is designed in a single classical style. It was designed by architects Jules Ardouin-Mansard and Louis Lévaux. The magnificent park with fountains and garden objects was created by André Le Nôtre. Up to the Revolution of 1789, the Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the French kings. After the overthrow of the monarchy it fell into disrepair, many of the valuables were sold at auctions. Restoration work began only with the advent of Napoleon to power. It is believed that the Emperor Peter I had long studied and inspired by the Palace of Versailles, and then created his own Peterhof.
Prices in 2022
Prices for entrance tickets to the Palace of Versailles depend on the day of the visit. A standard one-day pass for admission to all the sites on the grounds costs €20 on normal days and €27 during the Musical Fountains or Musical Gardens shows.
Two-day passes (two consecutive days) are 25 euros and 30 euros, respectively. They include an audio guide. Tickets to the main palace include temporary exhibitions as well as visits to the gardens, on days when there are no shows there. Their price is 18 euros. Admission to the Trianon Manor together with the gardens is 12 euros.
Buy tickets for Versailles palace and park complex in the ticket offices near the main palace. Because of the large flow of tourists probably have to stand in a queue for about an hour. For the convenience of tourists also provided the option of buying tickets online. To do this, you need to know the date of visit in advance. Read more about all the offers of the museum better on the official website.
In the Palace of Versailles there are tickets as to visit individual rooms, and acting on the entire territory of the palace. You can visit the Palace of Versailles, the Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s Estate and Gardens, the Main Hall and the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chambers, as well as all the temporary and permanent exhibitions.
Versailles tickets and tours
The Versailles palace and park complex consists of four key sites: the main palace, the Trianon estate, the garden park with fountains, and the royal stables. All of them operate in two modes. The schedule for the tourist season is from April 1 to October 31:
- The palace is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m;
- The Trianon is available Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 to 18:30;
- The park area is open every day, seven days a week from 08:00 to 18:30;
- Royal Stables, Tuesday through Sunday, 12:30 to 6:30 p.m.
In low season, all but the park closes an hour earlier and you can visit the gardens until 6:00 pm sharp.
How to get there
The legendary palace and park complex is located 20 kilometers from the center of Paris in the small town of Versailles. Due to the high popularity among visiting tourists, they are connected by public transport, and the stops are located near the main gate to the palace grounds. It is also not too difficult to reach the destination if the traveler chooses to travel independently in a rented car or cab.
In Paris and its suburbs you can travel freely on high-speed trains. Its underground network of platforms connects to the subway lines. The RER system crosses the capital, connecting the eastern and western suburbs. The station in the immediate vicinity of the Palace of Versailles is called Versailles – Chateau / Rive – Gauche. It belongs to the yellow line C5.
So from the station near the Eiffel Tower – Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel you can reach Versailles in half an hour. Then you have to walk the distance of one kilometer through Avenue de Paris/D186. It is about 10 minutes more. The cost of tickets depends on the area where the passenger is going. Paris refers to the first and you can move through it by train with a regular metro ticket. The city of Versailles because of its remoteness belongs to the fourth zone. Tickets must be kept until the end of the trip, because turnstiles are installed at the entrance and exit lines.
The SNCF train stations are about the same distance from the palace and a little farther than the electric trains. A twenty-minute walk is the Versailles Rive Droite, where trains arrive from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris. Trains run frequently, on average three per hour. The trip takes about 40 minutes. The second station – Gare de Versailles Chantiers is designed for trains coming from Montparnasse station. It is located closer to Versailles, so the trip will take no more than half an hour.
Another way to get to the Palace of Versailles is to use the commuter bus routes. It is also the cheapest and most interesting. As a rule, buses in France are very comfortable, have air conditioning and a heating system, so the trip on them will be pleasant at any time of year. The main route connecting the capital with Versailles – № 171.
Its terminus is located directly in front of the palace, and departs from the metro station Pont de Servres (L9). To get directly from the subway to the bus station, follow the signs with the words “Chateau de Versailles. Flights leave four or more times an hour. After buying a ticket at the ticket office, it must be inserted in the validator before the trip. The trip takes a total of 30 minutes.
Express to Versailles
Direct buses to the Palace of Versailles depart from Paris’ main attraction, the Eiffel Tower, on its days of operation. The place of their stop is Port de la Bourdonnais. Fares range from 24 to 59 euros and depend on the number of services provided. There are tickets that include access to the area and tours. You can read more about the company’s fares on the official website.
To rent a car in France you will need an international driver’s license. The trip from the center of Paris to the Palace of Versailles will take no more than 40 minutes. When leaving the city, take the southwest direction on the Route des Gardes/D181. The distance between points is about 16 – 25 kilometers. You will be able to leave your car only on a paid parking lot.
You can always take a cab from Paris to Versailles. For this purpose, it is convenient to use a mobile application from KiwiTaxi. The service provides transportation services for a few passengers and a group of up to 19 people.