All You Need to Know about Visiting the Palace of Versailles
Versailles is one of the best Paris day trip destinations and a one-of-a-kind place you should visit at least once in your life. The Palace of Versailles is visited by 10 million people every year and tens of thousands in one day. Although the estate spreads over an unimaginably massive 2,000 acres, the Palace is ALWAYS overcrowded.
Don’t be too quick to scratch off this tourist-ridden place from your bucket list! This post is all about the strategies to make the best out of your day trip to Versailles. I will cover how to get to Versailles from Paris, the best day to visit Versailles, where to get tickets and skip-the-line access to buy, how to beat the crowd in summer, and all other valuable tips you need to know before visiting Versailles.
>> Pssst…Are you planning your first trip to Paris? I’ve got a perfect Paris itinerary for you here! Also, check out how to save with Paris Museum Pass.
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Versailles Open Hours
Palace: 9 am – 6:30 pm (Closed on Mondays.)
Estate of Trianon: 12 pm – 6:30 pm (Closed on Mondays.)
Park: 7 am – 8:30 pm
Gardens: 8 am – 8:30 pm (closes at 6 pm during the low season)
**Special Event Days: Musical Fountain Shows (2022)
April 2 – Oct. 30 | Every Sat. & Sun. Except May 1
May 3 – June 28 | Every Tue.
April 15 (Fri.), April 18 (Mon.), May 26 (Thurs.), July 14 (Thurs.), Aug. 15 (Mon.)
**Special Event Days: Night Fountain Shows (2022)
June 11 – Sept. 24 | Every Sat.
May 28, July 14, Aug. 15, Oct. 30
The garden is closed at 5:30 pm for event preparation.
Versailles Ticket Price (2022)
*Special event days: Musical Fountain Shows, Musical Gardens, Fountains Night Show, etc.
**Reduced Rates: Some reduced rates are available for eligible visitors. (e.g., Paris Museum Pass holders, EU residents 6-25 yo, or non-EU residents 6-17 yo). Check your eligibility for free entry and reduced rates.
Don’t forget to book your time slot here! It’s mandatory now.
How to Get to Versailles from Paris
Paris to Versailles by Train
RER C Train: Saint-Michel Notre Dame – Versailles Château Rive Gauche
Taking the RER C Train is the most common and easiest way to get to Versailles. RER C Train runs east to west along the Seine River. Head over to one of the RER C stations. From Saint-Michel Notre Dame, it takes about 40 minutes (one-way, Paris-Versailles zone 5) to reach the Versailles Château Rive Gauche station. Walk 10 minutes to the Palace, or take the TRI bus.
SNCF Train TER N: Montparnasse – Versailles Chantiers
If you are staying in the south of Paris, take TER N from Gare de Montparnasse towards Gare de Rambouillet and get off at Gare de Versailles Chantiers. The non-stop train zooms you in 15 minutes. Walk 20 minutes to the Palace.
SNCF Train Line L: Saint Lazare – Versailles Rive Droite
If you are in the North or near 8e arrondissement, take train Line L from Gare Saint Lazare to Gare Versailles Rive Droite. The ride takes about 35 minutes. Walk 20 minutes to the Palace.
Check your train trip costs here.
Insider’s Tip: The T+ tickets (Paris metro ticket) is only valid for Paris zone 1-3. For travels from Paris to Versailles, buy a Billet Île de France.
Paris to Versailles by Bus
RATP Bus: From Pont de Sèvres station (the last station on the Metro line 9), take bus #171 and get off at the last stop. The journey is about 30 minutes with no traffic.
Why Should You Visit the Palace of Versailles?
Just the outskirts of Paris in the Île-de-France region, Château de Versailles was the principal residence of the French kings from Louis XIV to Louis XVI. Europe’s most opulent royal palace is where you can glimpse the lavish life of the French monarchy.
It is an invaluable UNESCO cultural heritage site. The Palace of Versailles is an exceptional model of European royal residence, showcasing the power of the French monarchy. The Estate of Versailles has been embellished by several generations of architects, landscape artists, ornamentalists and various artists.
Versailles is truly a fascinating place filled with history, architecture, arts, gossip, rumors and drama. Who can resist?
Fun Facts about the Palace of Versailles
- It was originally a hunting lodge for Louis XIII until Louis XIV constructed the Palace of Versailles in 1661.
- It took 40 years for André Le Nôtre to perfect and complete the French formal gardens.
- Did you know that the gigantic Palace was not just a home for the King? The Sun King built this glamorous property to entertain and captivate nobles to prevent them from plotting against him.
When is the Best Time to Visit Versailles?
High Season: April to October
The Palace and gardens are the most beautiful in summer. Flowers and lush green trees decorate the elegant gardens more lively and vibrant. It is a great time to go picnic. There are musical gardens and other events.
The only downside is that the entire place would be jam-packed with tourists. (I have never experienced a crowd like this anywhere in Europe!)
Low Season: November to March
If you want to avoid the crowds, winter is the time to go. The gardens might not be as lively and grandeur as in summer. However, if your main interest is the Palace, you may benefit from having less crowd.
Insider’s Tip: The Versailles Estate is open free of charge on the first Sunday in the low season.
When is the Best Day to Visit Versailles?
Thursday has the least crowd. Avoid weekends like COVID-19! Between 11 am and 3 pm is the busiest time because most tourists will get there from Paris.
Where to buy Versailles Tickets?
1. Guided Tours (Strongly Recommended)
See <<How to Skip the Line at the Palace of Versailles>> below to understand why I strongly recommend joining the guided tours.
2. Online (Recommended)
Buy here>> Passport Tickets: Palace of Versailles & Gardens entry
3. On-site ticket: (NOT Recommended)
Go to the Main Ticket Office in the South Ministers Wing for regular tickets. You may also book a guided tour at the information desk in the same building. The ticket office closes at 5:45 pm.
4. Paris Museum Pass: (NOT Recommended)
Paris Museum Pass grants free access to the Palace and Trianon Estate. HOWEVER, based on my personal experience, I do NOT recommend using the Museum Pass for Versailles. I learned it the hard way by wasting 2.5 hours in the line to get in. (The Museum Pass was effortless to use at other museums and monuments with skip-the-line privileges.)
Most people spend an entire day at Versailles. Considering a passport only costs €20-27, using a one-day worth of the Museum Pass on Versailles is not the most efficient.
However, if you want to use Paris Museum Pass, combine it with a Passport to take advantage of priority access to the Palace). Paris Museum Pass holders are eligible to get it at a reduced rate (€10).
Should I buy Versailles Tickets in Advance?
Absolutely yes! The tickets online get quickly sold out. If you want to buy the ticket on-site, expect to wait in line for at least an hour.
Booking a time slot is mandatory here to access the Palace of Versailles. Now, most of the popular museums and attractions in Paris require you to book a time slot.
Paris Museum Pass Holders & Visitors Eligible for Free Admission: Everyone MUST issue a ticket to reserve a time slot. Choose “Palace Ticket,” date of visit, time slot, and then select “FREE ADMISSION.”
How long is the line for Versailles?
We traveled from Paris to the Château de Versailles in July (in the middle of the busiest season). Due to the RER train disruptions, we wasted one full hour on a detour. By the time we reached the gate, it was 9:30 am. We waited in line for 2.5 hours under the blazing sun (no shade). We learned that having the Paris Museum Pass was not good enough to skip the line at Versailles.
Insider’s Tip: While waiting in line, you can use a restroom inside the cafe on the left side of the castle entrance. The line to the bathroom inside the ticket office is insanely long.
Palace of Versailles Map: Entrance
How to skip the line at the Palace of Versailles?
Estimated Wait Time in High Season
- Ticket office: 1 hour
- Gate A: 2-3 hours
- Gate B: 15-20 minutes
So who can use Gate B? Gate B is only reserved for guided tour groups who reserve a time slot. All the other visitors have to line up at Gate A.
Gate A is reserved for:
- Visitors who buy tickets on-site (Purchase tickets before getting in line.)
- Standard admission tickets
- Passport tickets
- Free admissions (Must present proof of eligibility and photo ID card)
- Paris Museum Pass holders
Gate B is reserved for:
- Guided tours with reservations
Joining a guided tour is the ONLY surefire way to beat the crowd at Versailles. I only had Paris Museum Card. And thinking I would be on the fast-track entry was the biggest mistake that cost me nearly a half-day. I STRONGLY recommend joining a guided tour, especially if you visit the Palace in the high season.
Winning Strategies: Beat the Crowd at Versailles
In a nutshell, the best strategies to beat the crowd I recommend are:
1. BEST: Guided Tours
No other efforts are needed. Sign up for one of the guided tours. Show up at the booked time slot. After a quick security check, you are in! Following the guided tour, you can explore on your own and spend the rest of your day at Versailles.
With transportation to/from Paris
Considering the Versailles official palace-only guided tour costs €75 for a 90-minute tour, I think paying a little extra is reasonable and worth it for convenient transportation and hand-holding.
>> Versailles Palace & the Trianons Tour by Shuttle Van: This full-day guided tour with lunch takes you to the majestic Palace and the Grand Trianon. You can spend the rest of the day in the picturesque gardens.
>> Palace & Gardens Tour by Bus (optional Musical Gardens & Fountain Shows): Catch a bus ride from Paris to Versailles for a 90-minute guided tour to discover the opulent Palace. Enjoy some free time strolling the gardens.
>> Versailles Tour by RER Train (optional Musical Gardens & Fountain Shows) Escorted by a local guide, hop on a train to Versailles for a 3-hour guided tour of the Palace and gardens.
>> Versailles Bike Tour: Hop on a train to/from Paris. Once you arrive, you can explore the massive estate of Versailles on a bike. Another unique thing about this tour is that you visit a quintessentially French market to pick up fresh produce for a picnic lunch.
Without transportation to/from Paris
>> Skip-the-Line Versailles Tour: Explore Versailles Palace on a 90-minute guided tour, then marvel at the gardens on another 45-minute guided tour.
>> Versailles Half-Day Tour: Join this 3-hour guided tour of the Palace and gardens to learn how the Kings and Queens lived their lavish lives.
2. GREAT: Take an Afternoon Tour from Paris
By mid-afternoon, the crowd slowly dies down. If you arrive around 2-3 pm, you may be able to go in without waiting in line too long. Mind you, though, that the Versailles Estate is humongous. Even a full day might not be enough to appreciate the entire estate. Since you will only have a few hours to explore the highlights, I recommend taking an afternoon tour from Paris with a professional guide and shuttle service.
>> Last Entry: Versailles After the Crowd: Enjoy the Palace as peacefully as possible, as this brilliant tour visits the Palace of Versailles and its gardens after the crowd leaves.
3. GOOD: Passport with Timed Entry
The Versailles offers a Passport with Time Entry. If you don’t want to join the tours, this time-stamped ticket grants access via the middle door within 30 minutes of the booked time. Make sure you get there on time!
4. ALTERNATIVE: Free admission or Paris Museum Pass holders
Be there super early, WAY before the opening, like 7-7:30ish. This strategy comes with a huge drawback, though. It’s challenging for most people staying in Paris to get there that early.
I would consider staying a night at a nearby hotel the night before. On the footsteps of the Palace, you will find many hotels of all budgets, such as Waldorf Astoria Versailles, Hôtel le Versailles, Le Louis Versailles Château, Ibis Versailles Château and Hôtel du Jeu de Paume. Also consider these beautiful apartments: Les Demoiselles à Versailles and Le Logis Versaillais.
Another hack is to purchase a Passport with Time Entry at a reduced rate (€10), which grants priority access to the Palace within 30 minutes of your booked timeslot.
How to Visit Versailles Like a Pro
Download Mobile App
If you’d like to understand each room’s history and hidden symbolism, you need a guide. It’s challenging to read a small display of explanations in a room full of tourists.
You can rent an audio guide in multiple languages. But mobile app is more interactive and comprehensive.
Download interactive mobile apps (iOS, Google Play) BEFORE you get there. Wi-Fi did not work very well on site so I couldn’t download them. The app includes an interactive map and audio guide. It is also helpful to locate free toilets, restaurants, etc.
Leave Prohibited Items Behind
The following items are not allowed:
- Selfie sticks and tripods
- Baby Stroller with metal frame
- Kick Scooters
- Large baggage
- Sharp items
- Food & drink (allowed outdoors)
Palace of Versailles: Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors is the most famous room in the Palace. It is one of the most lavish and ostentatious throne rooms ever! And this glitzy room is full of history, arts, and symbolism.
If you are the first few inside the Palace, skip everything and go straight to the Hall of Mirrors, located in the middle of the first floor (i.e. the second floor in American terms). Unless you are the first to arrive, it is almost impossible to take photos without the crowd or their reflections all over the mirror! (You can backtrack other rooms.)
Palace of Versailles: The King’s Chamber
The King’s Chamber is the ceremonial apartment of the Kings of France. The daily routine of royal life at Versailles was ritualized. Attending the King and Queen wake up and go to bed was a privilege. The highest-ranking gentleman in the room got to hand over clothing to the King.
Watching the royals eat was also a ceremony to attend. Louis XIV gave the “privilege” to a select few to be the gallery of his royal breakfast ceremony. The nobles would sit on the stools to watch him eat. I say it was the 17th-century Meokbang, the pay-to-watch-others-eat concept on YouTube.
Interestingly, he is said to contribute to coining the french word for breakfast, “petit-déjeuner.” He woke up late to have breakfast past noon. While all the servants and nobles waited to attend the royal highness’ breakfast, they had to snack on a “small breakfast (petit-déjeuner).” Who dares to have déjeuner before the King? Therefore, while déjeuner is technically translated to breakfast in English, it became lunch in today’s French.
I think Louis XIV is truly a fascinating character. He was only 5.4 feet (162 cm) tall. And he frequently wore red high heels so that people could look up to him. The red heels became the most coveted fashion item in the palace; only certain nobles were allowed to wear them. (Christian Louboutin, ring a bell?)
Palace of Versailles: Gallery of Battles
The Gallery of Battles is the largest room in the Palace of Versailles, created by Louis-Philippe in the 19th century. The gallery celebrates nearly 15 centuries of French military successes through thirty monumental paintings.
Estate of Trianon
The Estate of Trianon consists of the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet.
The Grand Trianon is a pink marble palace, built by Louis XIV in 1670 as a place to meet his lover, Madame de Montespan. Later on, Napoleon Bonaparte stayed here with Empress Marie-Louise many times after the restoration.
The “Marble Trianon” is surrounded by tens of thousands of trees and lush shrubs in its French Formal Garden perfectly manicured and organized in geometrical patterns. The garden is also filled with colorful and scented flowers.
The Petit Trianon is a Greek-style pavilion with English-style gardens used by Queen Marie-Antoinette.
The Queen’s Hamlet is a rustic retreat built near the Petie Trianon for Marie-Antoinette to host her guests.
Park & Gardens
King Louis XIV was the mastermind behind designing the gardens at Versailles, which became the epitome of the French-style garden with the help of his gardener André Le Nôtre. He even sketched out a plan for how guests should visit the park.
In the lavish forest of well-manicured trees, you will notice that the garden is decorated with majestic Greek God statues such as Apollo. The Sun King purposely placed them in reference to himself.
The highlights of the gardens are the monumental fountains. It is impressive to learn that the water-jetting fountains with grandeur bronze centerpieces still run on the original system from 300 years ago!
Use means of transportation
The Versailles estates stretch over whopping 2,000 acres. Planning to walk over the entire royal grounds on foot is an ambitious goal most people won’t be able to achieve. And I’m pretty sure that it was never designed to have royals and nobles walk.
Just to give you an idea, from the Palace of Versailles to the Estate of Trianon is a 30-minute walk. The Grand Canal from the Palace is a 15-minute walk.
Mini Train travels between Palace North Terrace – Petit Trianon – Grand Trianon – top of Grand Canal (near Little Venice) – Palace North Terrace. A single journey is €4.60, or €8.50 for a return ticket. Free for children under 12. More info
Rent a bike to discover the nooks and crannies of the park. Note that no bikes are not allowed in the gardens. The minimum rental period is a half-hour at €7, €19 for 4 hours, or €21 for 8 hours. More info.
Cruise on a golf cart to explore the gardens and park with comfort. €38 per vehicle per hour (additional €9.50 per 15 minutes). 40% discount for disabled people. The driver must be 24 years old and present a driver’s license.
Go Picnic at the Park
Bring your picnic supplies and relax at the park. You can even bring dogs to the park as long as they are on a leash. Note that alcoholic beverages are not allowed. Also good to know that you are not allowed to bring food and drinks inside the Palace. No professional photography on the property. Only drones with proof of professional insurance are permitted.
Row a Boat in the Grand Canal
Want to play royals? Row a boat and cruise along the Grand Canal. Rental costs €14 per half-hour or €18 per hour (an additional €4.50 per 15 minutes).
Frankly, visiting the Estate of Versailles was a bit overwhelming and chaotic experience for me because I underestimated its scale and was underprepared. I experienced the worst crowd, having seen this overcrowded site in its highest season.
Nevertheless, I do believe that the Palace of Versailles is not a place you should miss out on. I felt awed by its scale, majestic presence, and tastefully opulent and glitzy decor I have never seen anywhere else! Without being there in person, you can’t have that feeling, and I hope you can see and feel it yourself.
I wish I had known what I learned about the Palace of Versailles before my visit. I shared it with you in this post, so your experience is much more enjoyable. So good luck!
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