Formerly a humble hunting lodge, the Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles) is the extravagant creation of Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King. Embellished to epitomize royal decadence (the inequality of which tindered the French Revolution), Versailles features 700 rooms replete with frescoed ceilings and carvings, plus the Versailles Gardens (Jardins de Versailles), which brim with geometrically designed walkways and fountains. No visit to France is complete without experiencing the grandeur.
Visiting every one of the palace's 700 rooms would take days, so a Versailles guided tour that visits the highlights is indisputably the best option. Gold-framed windows let light into the Hall of Mirrors, while priceless antique furniture decorates the King's Grand Chambers. The Royal Chapel features a number of columns, and in the gardens, the Grand Canal dominates while the Musical Fountains dance to classical music.
Lines can be long, often exceeding two hours, so purchase a skip-the-line ticket to spend less time waiting and more time exploring the Versailles Palace and Gardens. Various combo tours include skip-the-line entry at both the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum and a Versailles Palace tour, allowing you to maximize your time in Paris. History buffs should consider a private tour for tailored insight into the residence's history, particularly Marie Antoinette's exile in the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, while active travelers can tour Versailles by bike to cover more ground in less time. On a full-day tour, fans of Impressionist art can combine Versailles with a visit to Giverny, the village that inspired Claude Monet's water lily paintings.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get to the Palace of Versailles
- The palace is incredibly popular—book a skip-the-line ticket to save time.
- The majority of tours from Paris include hotel pickup and drop-off.
- Select a tour that combines round-trip transport with an audio guide for a self-guided experience.
The palace is set in the small township of Versailles, 13 miles (21 km) outside of Paris, and is easy to reach by train. Catch RER C from Paris to Versailles Rive Gauche station, only a 10-minute walk from the palace. You can also catch the SNCF train from Paris Montparnasse station to Versailles Chantiers or from Paris Saint Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite station.When to Get There
At night, when the palace lights are illuminated and the sun has set, the gardens' Musical Fountains are at their most magical. Visit the Versailles Gardens on a Saturday evening between June 17 and September 16 to see a particularly special fountain performance crowned with a fireworks display.