Versailles is not just a palace, but an entire city built especially for the royal court. Louis XIV wanted something so luxurious that no one could compare to him in wealth and beauty. You can admire the ambition of the king these days in the suburbs of Paris.
Who built Versailles and when?
Versailles originally existed as a small village on the outskirts of Paris. In the 17th century this place was given to King Louis XIII (the one from The Three Musketeers). The king liked the local woods very much and resolved to build himself a hunting lodge here modest in size – only 6 by 24 meters.
His son Louis XIV, also called the Sun King, was not very fond of Paris and the eternally rebellious Parisians. He chose Versailles to build his main palace. This palace was to embody all the power, glory, and wealth of both the king himself and France. After all, it was Louis XIV who declared the state to be his.
There was plenty of space to build it and it was far enough from Paris. The king thought that the revolutionaries would definitely not get here.
The architect Louis Le Vau and the painter Charles Le Brun were invited to build the palace. The garden was designed by André Le Nôtre. The idea of the king was successful, and the most magnificent palace of Paris was created – and copied by all monarchs, and continues to be copied to the present day.
Construction began in 1623 and the royal court settled here in 1682.
What is Versailles famous for and what to see there?
The palace complex consists of several areas with several palaces, a huge park, and, of course, fountains! And one of the palaces is now a hotel where you can spend a royal night.
The Royal Palace
The main residence of the French kings is a pompous and incredibly chic building for its time. The magnificent building embodied all the dreams and whims of the famous Sun King Louis XIV.
The Mirror Gallery
All of Versailles is pure luxury. The Mirror Gallery is the main gem. The gallery served the same purpose – to impress guests from distant countries and elevate the king.
Everything in it speaks of prosperity: gold, silver, statues, silks, and even orange trees. The ceiling paintings tell about Louis’ heroic exploits – battles won, fortresses taken, and treaties beneficial to France.
Nearly four hundred mirrors (a real treasure in the 17th century) were used to decorate the gallery. The internal layout was designed so that the columns in the center of the hall, magnificent paintings, and huge French windows would be intricately reflected in the mirrors, creating an infinite perspective, an unusually airy and light space.
There are several other interesting places in the palace, such as the Battle Gallery and the Chapel, decorated with the same wealth. And of course, you can’t miss the room of the king himself, which is located in the center of the palace.
The price of the admission ticket includes an audio guide. See here. The audio guide is informative, but frankly a bit officious and nerdy. We recommend booking a guided tour. It will be more interesting.
The Grand and Petit Trianon
The Grand and Petit Trianon palaces are slightly different in style. While the Grand Palace where the king lived was designed in the style of classicism, the apartments of the king’s wife are distinguished by their elegance and good taste. Both were built for recreation and amusement, meetings with minions, hunting, and other whims of the royal family.
The Petit Trianon could be called a feminine realm, decorated in the coquettish Rococo style. It was used as the retreat and resting place of the Marquise de Pompadour, and later of Queen Marie Antoinette. Its halls are distinguished not so much by their luxury as by their coziness and atmosphere.
The Village of Marie Antoinette
To escape the overly regimented and sumptuous life of the court, Queen Marie-Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI, requested a small secluded corner of Versailles. Thus a royal village appears.
The pond and garden are no longer square – times have changed and naturalism has become fashionable.
This is a mixture of a royal summer house and theme park. Here Marie Antoinette could play in the ideal village life and relax from the bustle of Versailles, gossip and feast in a small circle of her closest friends.
It had nothing to do with the real countryside. Everything here was expensive and luxurious, though it was not an empty scenery. The servants worked here and produced some foodstuffs. There were even special rat catchers and molesters on the staff so that no one would dare to spoil perfection.
Marie Antoinette’s village is accessible with a general ticket to Versailles. So don’t stop to see just the palace and the main fountains. A little further is perhaps the most tranquil and romantic place of the French royal court.
How many fountains are in Versailles?
2,000 fountains were conceived in Versailles. There are now 1,700 working fountains with about 50 large fountains.
The fountains of Versailles are also an engineering marvel, although that part of them is not visible. They were built in a time without electricity in a relatively waterless area – there are no major easily accessible sources such as the big river. Engineering tricks and a lot of work – water wheels, a system of reservoirs and canals, lots of pumps, all scattered for miles around the palace – made the miracle happen.
One of the reservoirs was on the roof of the palace itself, and more than 30 kilometers of pipes stretch underground in the park.
The palace complex is surrounded by gardens and a park designed by the landscape architect André Le Nôtre. The Temple of Love, the Empress Theater, the Belvedere, the grotto, and many other buildings are on their grounds, not to mention a hundred fountains, sculptures, flowerbeds, and alleys.
What is the area of Versailles?
The area of the palace is 63,000 square meters. Incidentally, it is not the largest in the world. Local guides offer a lot of interesting excursions on Versailles. Children are very welcome on these walks. Look at all the offers of guides on the site.
The palace complex, park and other buildings in the town are open at different times depending on the season. The busy season is from April 1 to October 31. This is when the palace is open from 9:00 to 6:30, the park from 7:00 to 8:30, and the Trianons from 12:00 to 6:30.
The slow season is from November 1 to March 31. During this time the palaces open at the same time but close an hour earlier, at 5:30. The park is open from 8:00 to 6:00.
When do the fountains in Versailles work?
Much to the surprise of visitors to Paris, the fountains of Versailles are not always open.
- The fountains don’t work on Mondays.
- On other days the fountains don’t work all the time. Each fountain has a schedule – five to seven minutes every 15 to 30 minutes. See this link for tickets.
- The richest schedule of fountain performances is on Saturdays and Sundays.
- There is an evening show with fireworks only on Fridays and Saturdays.
Check the schedule of the fountains on the official website of Versailles and download the palace app. Some fountains stop working in the afternoon.
How to buy tickets to Versailles
A ticket to the palace for adults costs €18, children under 18 and EU students under 26 go free. Entrance to the gardens on weekdays (when the fountains do not work) is free for everyone. Every visitor can download a free palace app with an audio guide.
Since 2021 the visit to the palace must be booked in advance, so the ticket must be bought online. If you want to bring children, you must book a free ticket for every child online.
Visits to individual buildings in the park and entrance to the gardens during the music program and fountain show cost extra. You can buy a ticket with the set of entertainment you are interested in. Tickets for the park alone can be bought for 8-9 Euros at the palace ticket office, but during the summer there are often long lines. Cash is not accepted, only cards and vouchers are.
To avoid standing in line and being refused a visit due to overcrowding buy tickets online. We are happy to help you with this. Options for filling your ticket are below.
This ticket will only include admission to the Palace of Versailles (on a specific day at a specific time) and all free offerings, i.e. audio guide and gardens on weekdays.
To visit the Petit Trianon as well book your ticket for €22.50 at this link.
Versailles with a visit to the musical gardens and fountains
Many travelers go to Versailles to see the fountains more than the palaces. But it is important to know that the fountains are not open 24 hours a day or even every day. All the fountains will work on weekends, and in July and August their day off is Monday. In September and October their days off are Mondays and Wednesdays. You can see the schedule of the fountains on the official website and app.
Included is a visit to the palace and Petit Trianon, a visit to the gardens, and an audio guide (not including the evening show). Choose your date of visit on the calendar below:
Versailles puts on special performances for those opposed to walking the halls with an audio guide and simply strolling through the gardens. On Saturdays you can see a real ball in Louis XIV costumes in the Mirror Gallery. The show takes place from 6:30 in the evening. Tickets cost 23 Euros, children up to 5 years go free.
The highlight of Versailles – an evening light and music show with fireworks of splashes and lights – is held once a week on Saturdays at 20:30 during the summer season. Tickets cost 28 Euros. Book your ticket in advance here.
Versailles is a monument of a decent size. To run around it all in search of a toilet or a cafe would be problematic. So download the free app on the official website before your visit. The app has a map showing all the toilets and changing areas, Internet access points, places to charge phones for free, buffets and restaurants, picnic areas, parking lots, lockers for strollers or bags, and souvenir shops. It’s a very useful thing!
How to get from Paris to Versailles
There are several ways:
- The most popular is to take the suburban trains RER line C. Go to the terminal station Versailles Château Rive Gauche. All passes up to zone 5 are valid. Or you can order a ticket with transfer by train here.
- Another way is a city bus. From the metro station Pont de Sevres, line 9, there is a bus number 171 to Place d’Armes in Versailles. Tickets cost €2 and the buses depart every 15 minutes from 5:30 (6:30 on Sundays) to 01:00.
- Another way is by a TER train. Trains go to Versailles station from Gare Saint-Lazare and Gare Montparnasse.
- Buy your ticket with a bus transfer in a comfortable air conditioned bus to save you choosing your means of transportation and organizing your trip. The offer is available here.
- If you do not want to use public transport, you can get to Versailles by taxi. You can book a cab at this link.
- In your own or a rented car you can take the road A13. To choose a car and know the prices click here. Paid parking lots are located near the Grand and Petit Trianon palaces, the Place d’Armes, and the avenue de Bailly.
- You can stay in the town of Versailles. There are hotels in various price categories from medium to luxurious.
Enjoy your trip to Versailles!