One of the most spectacular attractions near Paris, maybe even in all of Western Europe, Château de Versailles, in all of its awe-inspiring glory, offers visitors a top quality experience. The price of admission is a great bargain considering all there is to see. This is one tourist attraction we highly recommend visiting.
A palace to rival all palaces, Versailles is the epitome of royal extravagance. Originally a hunting lodge built for King Louis XIII, it was greatly embellished by his flamboyant son, Louis XIV, who made the ‘new’ palace the seat of the Bourbon Empire in the 17th century. Successive rulers made their own improvements and additions to the palace, and extensive renovations were done in recent years thanks to post-WWI financing from American philanthropist, J.D. Rockefeller, Jr. The result is a stunning residence turned museum that, in many ways, is quite ‘over the top’, yet jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
The entire Versailles Estate covers over 2,000 acres of land in the city of Versailles, a suburb of Paris, and consists of several areas open to visitors. These include the main palace and its gardens, the Grand Canal, the Grand Trianon and its gardens, the Petit Trianon, and the Queen’s hamlet.
To get a good idea of the sheer size of it all, take a look at the models on display at the beginning of your palace tour, and prepare yourself for what can easily be a full day here. If time is a factor, consider visiting with the Paris Museum Pass and see only the areas that are of particular interest to you.
A tour of the palace alone can take several hours. You’ll have access to a number of rooms and halls, both at ground level and on the first floor. Some of the rooms that you may see during your visit include those of the
Grand Apartment of the King, consisting of the Hercules Salon,
the Abundance Salon,
the Venus Salon, Diana Salon, and the Mars,
Mercury & Apollo Salons;
The King’s Chamber, which includes the Œil-de-Bœuf or Bull’s Eye Salon, the Council Study,
and the Kings’ Bedchamber where Louis XIV slept and possibly also where he died in 1715;
The Grand Apartment of the Queen, containing the Queen’s Bedchamber,
the Nobles’ Salon,
the Antechamber of the Grand Couvert where the royal family dined, and the Guard Room;
And, the Mesdames’ Apartments, or Ladies Apartments,
which consist of the library, salon and private chambers of Louis XV’s daughters, most notably Madame Adélaïde and Madame Victoire.
Of course, a tour of the Palace would not be complete without seeing the glitzy Hall of Mirrors. This Grande Galerie decorated with painted ceilings, gleaming chandeliers and mirrored walls, was used as a receiving room for visiting dignitaries, as well as a hall for weddings and celebrations. In more recent history, the Hall of Mirrors, known in French as La galerie des Glaces, is where WWI came to its official end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
Other rooms you may see in the Palace of Versailles include the War Room, the Peace Room, and la galerie des Batailles or the Gallery of Battles.
This last is a long hall decorated with paintings depicting various French military battles.
Note: There are many more rooms in the palace, some of which may be closed to visitors due to renovations. Others are only accessible as part of special palace tours. Some of these may include the Royal Opera (a full scale theater!), the Royal Chapel, the private chambers of Kings Louis XV and XVI, Apartments of Marie-Antoinette, and the Apartments of the Dauphin and the Dauphine.
Once you’ve made your way through the opulent palace, consider a stroll through the manicured gardens and a visit to the buildings on the far end of the estate. Access to the outer buildings is easiest by way of the mini trains, which shuttle visitors to several drop off points.
For over 30 years, ‘the Palace and Park of Versailles’ have been listed jointly as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Adult Admission (Palace only) = 15.00€; includes the Hall of Mirrors + Grand Apartments of the King and of the Queen + King’s Bedchamber + Gallery of Battles + exhibitions
FREE with the Paris Museum Pass; includes access to all unguided tours, open according to the season: Palace of Versailles + Grand & Petit Trianon + the Estate of Marie-Antoinette + exhibitions
Combo tickets covering various areas of the Versailles Estate include the following:
Passport = 18.00€; covers Versailles Palace and grounds + Grand & Petit Trianon Palaces + Estate of Marie-Antoinette + Musical Fountain Show and Musical Gardens (April to October) + exhibitions
2-day Passport = 25.00€; allows entry for 2 consecutive days to explore the estate at your leisure
Ticket prices include audio guide.
Note: Transport service, in the form of a mini train, is available at an additional cost to visitors; NOT covered by the Paris Museum Pass.
The palace grounds are extensive and walking can be very time consuming. If you plan to see the Trianon Palaces and/or Marie Antoinette’s Estate/Hamlet, the quickest and easiest way to get there is with the mini train.