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Things to do in Versailles

Things to do in  Versailles

Welcome to Versailles

The grand 17th-century Palace of Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, entices visitors with its splendor, history, and decadence. Just 14 miles (23 kilometers) to the southwest of Paris, Versailles ranks among France’s top tourist attractions, as travelers come from around the world to admire the opulent suites and manicured gardens. Book a half-, full-, or even multi-day skip-the-line tour with an experienced guide to beat the entry queues. Follow your guide through the beautiful Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Grand Apartment, and the Royal Chapel. For a truly special experience, join a small-group VIP tour to enter through a reserved door and visit Louis XVI’s private library and Royal Quarters. Outside in Versailles Park, explore the flowerbeds and avenues on foot, by Segway, or by traditional horse and carriage. Here, attractions including the Grand Canal, the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet shine a light on life for Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette away from the confines of the palace. Visit in the summer to catch one of Versailles’ classical music concerts in the gardens, or double your adventure by adding a trip to Claude Monet’s famous gardens in Giverny. You’ll take in an extensive collection of Impressionist works and wander through the famous lily garden for a memorable day.

Top 10 attractions in Versailles

#1

Versailles Gardens (Jardins de Versailles)

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The most acclaimed example of formal French garden design, Versailles’ vast chateau gardens are famed for their geometrically aligned terraces, tree-lined paths, ponds and canals. Spreading west of the palace, the Versailles Chateau Gardens cover 800 hectares (1,976 acres) in the style of garden landscape artist, Andre Le Notre. One of the most special aspects of the gardens is the 50 fountains which act as focal points, enhancing the geometrical design. From late spring to early autumn, the fountains come to life as part of the annual Grandes Eaux water spectacles. Garden highlights include the horses and chariot of the Apollo Fountain, the Grand Canal stretching off to the horizon, and the detailed parterres of the Orangerie. Wherever you stroll, you’re bound to come across a grove, colonnade, fountain or sculpture that will surprise, delight and take your breath away.More
#2

Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces)

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Built during the reign of Louis XIV in the mid-17th century, the Palace of Versailles nearly emptied the kingdom's coffers as 30,000 workers and soldiers toiled to flatten hills, move forests, and drain marshes to create the fantastical palace and gardens that so effectively projected the absolute power of the French monarchy at the time. The opulence of Versailles reaches its peak in the central gallery known as the Hall of Mirrors — a 75-meter-long ballroom with 17 huge mirrors on one side and, on the other, an equal number of arcaded windows looking out over the formal gardens. Designed by architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart and decorated by painter Charles le Brun, construction of the Hall of Mirrors began in 1678, and it has quite the history: this was the setting for 17th- and 18th-century royal ceremonies, and it was also the location for the signature of the 1919 Versailles Treaty that formally ended WWI.More
#3

Neptune Fountain (Bassin de Neptune)

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Versailles’ chateau gardens are vast, laid out in formal French style and famed for their geometrically aligned terraces, tree-lined paths and, notably, their ponds. Of all the lovely fountain pools gracing the Versailles gardens, the Bassin de Neptune is the largest. Designed by famed landscape artist Le Notre and laid out between 1661 and 1700, the fountain features three groups of statues, including Neptune and Amphitrite. A new fountain installed by Louis XV in the 1730s was acclaimed for the force and variety of its jets water playing over the sculptural groups. In all, the fountain boasts 99 water effects and is fronted by the lovely Dragon Fountain. In summer, Bassin de Neptune is a focus for a display of choreographed fireworks, spectacularly reflected in the fountain’s expansive pool.More
#4

Grand Trianon

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The pink-colonnaded Grand Trianon was built in 1687 by the famous architect Mansart, as a tranquil getaway from court life for Louis XIV. Setting the benchmark for Italianate garden conservatory design, the elegantly long and low palace of pink marble and porphyry features geometrically ordered rows of columns and windows, topped by a balustrade roof. The original furnishings were plundered during the Revolution. Today, the palace is furnished in Empire style, reflecting the decoration installed by Napoleon, who was particularly enamored of the building. Surrounding the palace is a lovely flower garden. While the Grand Trianon is open to the public, it is also an official residence of the French President.More
#5

Marie-Antoinette's Estate

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Marie-Antoinette left a mark on Versailles larger than any other left by the queens of the French monarchy, and the physical embodiment of her maverick ways can be found at her estate on the grounds of the Gardens of Versailles. The Marie-Antoinette Estate is comprised of several elements. There is the Petit Trianon, which served as her palace away from home. Often frustrated by the politics of her husband's court, Marie-Antoinette would escape to her royal residence, where no one could enter without her express invitation – not even the king himself. There are also Marie-Antoinette's personal gardens, through which visitors can stroll today and see that they are much unchanged from the time of the queen's reign. She also had a hamlet – a glamorous, picturesque take on the rustic country homes that the aristocracy at the time had on the grounds of their own estates – with a kitchen garden and a working farm in addition to its mill, decorative gardens and charming lake.More
#6

Grand Canal

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As you exit onto the back terrace of the Palace of Versailles, the breathtaking view of the royal gardens is dominated by the Grand Canal, which leads your eye to the farthest perimeter of the grounds. But although it is a spectacular feature of the park, it was designed and is used today as a practical feature of the gardens. Constructed over the course of a decade in the late 17th century under the reign of Louis the XIV, its original name – Little Venice – came from the canal's inaugural gifts from the Doge of Venice: a full set of gondolas, complete with Venetian gondoliers. Also moored there were various ships and yachts built to the scale of the canal and used in elaborate water shows and recreations of famous battles. But the canal is also the main feature of the irrigation systems for the gardens, used to drain off water from the higher elevations and pumped back uphill to re-water them – a genius move for its time.More
#7

Versailles Royal Chapel (La Chapelle Royale)

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There have been five chapels throughout the history of the Palace of Versailles, but today only the last of them remains – the Royal Chapel, the exterior of which can be seen from the entrance courtyard as it disrupts the otherwise symmetrical design of the palace. Although it was officially completed in the early 18th century under Louis XIV and consecrated in 1710, there continued to be improvements and renovations well into the 20th century. However, the majority of its use took place throughout the 1700s with daily masses, royal weddings – including that of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette - and birth announcements and baptisms. Because the French monarchy was heavily entrenched in Catholicism, the chapel played a large part in Louis XIV's reign although today it is a deconsecrated space. Today classical concerts and other special events are hosted in the Royal Chapel, but it is closed for daily viewing by the public with the exception of VIP tours.More
#8

Versailles Fountains (Les Fontaines)

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There are over 30 fountains at Versailles, the most famous being the Apollo fountain, with its horses pulling the god’s chariot, and the Neptune fountain featuring the god of the oceans with his wife, some dragons and a smattering of sea life. Neptune took over a century to complete and was therefore officially opened by the next generation, King Louis XV. Other fountains represent the four seasons: Saturn for winter, Flora for spring, Ceres for summer, and Bacchus for autumn. During the weekends from April to October, the fountains run in full play to musical accompaniment. This Grandes Eaux fulfills Louis XIV’s ambitious dream of water at play, leading you through the expansive gardens and amazing you with the height of the jets and visionary scale of the themed fountains. In July and August this water show also runs in the evenings with the fountains spectacularly lit. There are eight paths you can follow for different musical and visual experiences.More
#9

Orangerie of Versailles (l’Orangerie de Versailles)

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The lovely Orangerie building was designed by Mansart in the 1680s, surrounded by ordered walkways and patterned parterre gardens. Citrus trees were stored here over winter, and today some of the lemon and pomegranate trees are more than 200 years old. The Orangerie’s row of arched windows look onto a circular pool and lines of potted trees, including palms, oleanders and orange trees. The statues that once decorated the walkways are now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.More
#10

Royal Opera of Versailles (L'Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles)

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Recently renovated to its original splendor, the Royal Opera at Versailles is fit for a king, and one can imagine the spectacles performed here over the centuries. But its history is a bit rockier than you might expect from a monarchy. Louis XIV was the first to conceive of the idea of a dedicated performance space for royal performances in the late 17th century, but the ensuing historic troubles that plagued the monarchy meant that Louis XV put a stop to its construction. But that doesn't mean there were no shows at the palace. Instead, for every concert and performance, an entire theater was built from scratch and then dismantled. Finally, faced with the spectacle that would be the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the Dauphin's grandfather completed construction and is the Royal Opera house we know today.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day at Versailles

How to Spend 1 Day at Versailles

Summer at Versailles: Musical Fountain Shows and Fireworks

Summer at Versailles: Musical Fountain Shows and Fireworks

Top activities in Versailles

Paris Museums 4 Days Pass

Paris Museums 4 Days Pass

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68
From
$99.32
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour

Versailles Gardens Segway Tour

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109
From
$73.15
Paris Museum Pass 2 Days

Paris Museum Pass 2 Days

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73
From
$77.34

Recent reviews from experiences in Versailles

star-4
Fun to see the expansive gardens
gillianr626, Oct 2019
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour
Best way to see the gardens of Versailles - our operator knew we had been before so we chose to go further with less commentary.
star-5
Fun tour
L2858EFlindas, Dec 2018
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour
This is a fun way to see the grounds of the Palace of Versailles!
star-4
Did skip much of the line after the...
Cpbutler2, Jun 2016
Versailles Palace Skip-the-line Classic Guided Tour
Guide was knowledgeable and seemed to see that there were issues with getting into Versailles that were unusual.
star-5
This was a great way to see...
Maria F. R, Nov 2016
Versailles Palace Skip-the-line Classic Guided Tour
This was a great way to see Versailles.
star-5
Going on top of the Arch de Triomphe, the VIEW IS AWESOME.
lorenoldham, Jan 2020
Paris Museums 4 Days Pass
As we probably would not have paid the extra euros to see all of those site.
star-5
Wonderful day in Versailles...
NRFBeeley, Dec 2019
Versailles Palace & Marie-Antoinette's Estate Private Guided Tour with Lunch
We did the tour a few days after Christmas and although a little colder but very manageable with a coat - it was nice because it was much quieter than in the summer.
star-4
Good resource
Trail429004, Dec 2019
Paris Museum Pass 2 Days
I wanted to visit at least three and it turned out Versailles has free admission on Sundays, so only used it for 2.
star-5
Loved this personalized experience!
KristinS689, Dec 2019
Versailles Palace Skip The Line Access Half Day Private & Tailored Guided Tour
I'd recommend this tour to anyone, including families, who want to see Versailles and learn an incredible amount about it without being just another visitor in one of the enormous groups.
star-5
AMAZING tour thanks to Alex - He made the visit a memorable event
SAMKT2010, Sep 2019
Versailles Palace & Gardens Tour from Versailles - Optional Fountain Show
We did some walking but we didn't get to see it all.
star-5
Absolutely fantastic. A small group...
Hugh H, Jun 2015
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour
A small group with a great guide, the only way to see the outer gardens of Versailles.
star-5
Excellent day out and great way to...
Stephen G, Aug 2017
Versailles Domain Guided Day Bike Tour with Palace Entrance from Paris by Train
Excellent day out and great way to see all the main areas of the palace and gardens.
star-5
Really the best way to see the...
JEAN M, Aug 2015
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour
Really the best way to see the grounds of Versailles and the exterior of all the buildings, as well as learn the history of Versailles.
star-5
Paris has so many interesting paces...
Karin F, Oct 2017
Paris Museum Pass 2 Days
Paris has so many interesting paces to see, but we definitely wanted to see some of the museums, and of course Versailles.
star-5
the pass got me in with no problems...
Bb, Feb 2018
Paris Museums 4 Days Pass
Was useful at Versailles to see the smaller homes of the king and Maria Antoinette and the grand canal located further away from the chateau.
star-5
The Remarkable Palace of Versailles
Deborah_T, Feb 2020
Versailles Palace Skip-the-line Classic Guided Tour
We participated in the 75 minute guided tour (in English) and our guide's name was Clotilde.
star-5
I would highly recommend this guided...
Sareena S, Jun 2018
Versailles Palace and Gardens Skip-the-line Tour from Versailles
Honestly half day was just perfect for us as we got to see most parts of the palace and the gardens.
star-5
Very knowledgeable guide. It was...
Darlene H, Jun 2015
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour
It was wonderful to see the back gardens and begin to understand the way the gardens are laid out and the history of the Versailles.
star-5
Fantastic way to see the Versailles...
Christine G, Sep 2014
Versailles Gardens Segway Tour
Fantastic way to see the Versailles park and some of the town.
star-4
Good tour but very crowded!
Mark H, May 2019
Versailles Palace Skip-the-line Classic Guided Tour
Also, Tuesday is a day when there are fountain shows in the gardens, and many people come to see those.
star-5
Great tour, awesome tour guide! Audrey is super.
allharry, Oct 2018
Versailles Palace Skip-the-line Classic Guided Tour
She kept our interest all the way through, Know that Versailles is a popular place to visit and at times, the crowds were very thick and it was hard to move.

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