Day trip from Paris to Versailles: info, tips, tours, tickets and photos!

The Palace of Versailles is one of the largest castles in the world! Every year, more than five million visitors flock together to this marvellous building that's located only twenty kilometers (12,5 miles) from Paris. This results in long queues (which you can fortunately bypass, I'll tell you in this article how), but still a day trip to Versailles is worth all that effort.
The golden gates that welcome you, the sumptuous luxury in the beautiful interiors and the perfectly manicured gardens with golden fountains are a feast for the eyes! But did you know that there is much more to see and do around the palace of Versailles? In this article I'll tell you everything about the most beautiful castle in France... And maybe even in the world!

 

visit versailles castle

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From Paris to Versailles   |   Things to do in Versailles?   |   Versailles tickets   |   Tips for your visit

A little bit of history

Although the palace is best known because of the Sun King (Louis XIV), it was already his father (Louis XIII) who laid out the foundations of the palace. In 1607 he discovered this domain and he immediately fell in love with it. That mainly had to do with the many animals that he could hunt for here. For that reason, the king built a small hunting lodge. Louis XIV was as fond of this place as his father, and decided to extend the hunting lodge into a real ‘chateau’. These expansion works lasted all his life, because until the day of the death of the Sun King, this grand castle was being changed and adapted almost non-stop. After his death, Versailles fell into disrepair because the new king, Louis XV, went back to Paris to act as the king from there. He mustn’t have liked Paris a lot, because only seven years later he again decided to return to Versailles. From then on he often stayed here, but also spent a lot of time in other castles in France. He extended the park with the Grand and Petit Trianon and gave this part of the domain to his wife; Madame de Pompadour.
The next Louis, Louis XVI, stayed in the castle of Versailles all his life. He had a lot in common with his grandfather, because he too was very fond of the grandeur of Versailles. He even built a new (beautiful!) opera house on the domain, and later on he married the famous Marie-Antoinette (who inherited the old home from Mrs. de Pompadour). This last Louis was also the last king of France, because during his reign the French revolution was proclaimed. You might say that it’s a miracle that almost nothing of the castle was destroyed. This was in fact because the revolutionaries also knew that this palace was a masterpiece and could later on be used for other purposes. However little was destroyed, there were some adjustments made to the castle. If you’re taking a guided tour, you’ll get to see some of these changes, for example: the king’s initials that have been scraped away or replaced by some revolutionary emblem.

versailles paris

Bienvenue au Château de Versailles!

From Paris to Versailles

Chances are that you will visit Versailles from Paris. This grandiose castle is about a 45 minute commute from the French capital and is very easy to reach with a tour, public transport or with your own car.

Paris to Versailles day trip

The easiest option is to have everything arranged for you. With a full-day tour from Paris to Versailles and back, you don’t have to worry about anything, but of course you’ll pay a bit more for this.
Either you opt for a day trip in which skip-the-line tickets, a guide and free time are included (€112), or you choose a tour where your transport and priority tickets are arranged, but where you have no guide (€ 60).

paris versailles tour

Your tour from Paris to Versailles will be unforgettable!

Taking the train to Versailles

From Paris it’s very easy to commute to Versailles by train.

If you’re afraid that you can’t arrange the train ride yourself, then it might be a good idea to book a guide who takes you from Paris to Versailles by train. For this you pay €55 and that includes the return train ticket and a priority ticket for Versailles.
With Google Maps you can easily find out how to travel from Paris to Versailles by public transport, but I’ll explain it for you guys as well:

From Paris you have to take the ‘RER C’ train towards Versailles. A return ticket for Paris >< Versailles costs €7.10 per person. Ask the help of the counter clerk if you don’t know how the machines work and don’t forget that you get two tickets (one to go and one to return). Also don’t forget that you have to validate the tickets before you hop on the train.
The train station of Versailles is the last stop and you’ll immediately notice that everyone gets off here. From the train station in Versailles it’s about 10 to 15 minutes walking to the Palace of Versailles. There are plenty of signs leading the way and if you just keep following the crowds, you’ll be there in no time.

Taking the car to Versailles

You can also travel to Versailles by car. With a GPS you can get there very easily, but don’t forget that the way to the castle of Versailles can get very busy.
You can park your car near the castle, but keep in mind that parking in Versailles is very expensive. You pay between €0.50 and €1 per fifteen minutes…

train paris versailles

Are you taking the train from Paris to Versailles? Then get on quickly, because otherwise you have to stand the entire journey!

What are the top things to do in Versailles?

Many people think that in Versailles you can only see the castle and the famous gardens. But there is much more to see!
What should you see for sure? I sum up everything for you and also added some pictures of this impressive domain.

The castle of Versailles

The castle is probably the part of Versailles you most want to see, so of course you can’t skip this.
It starts already at the golden gates that protect the courtyard from the ‘ordinary people’. After you’ve walked through the side entrance you immediately feel like royalty, because now you can look at the many waiting tourists behind the golden fence.
When you decide to explore the castle of Versailles on the inside, you’ll immediately get an overdose of more luxury than you can ever imagine. Explore the royal bedrooms, walk past the impressive sculpture gallery or explore the private rooms of Louis XV and Louis XVI (only with a guided visit).
The most impressive part of the castle? That is undoubtedly the Hall of Mirrors. This elongated hall is filled from head to toe with chandeliers, mirrors, beautiful sculptures and a wonderfully beautiful ceiling painting. It can be quite busy here, but take your time… Because there is a lot to discover!

hall of mirrors versailles

The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles!

versailles kings room

Did I mention that there is a lot of gold in Versailles?

gallery of battles versailles

The Gallery of Battles shows all the great battles of the French kings.

visit versailles palace

The royal rooms are connected by beautiful corridors full of sculptures!

The gardens of Versailles

After you’ve visited the palace, it’s time to visit the gardens of Versailles.
A domain of several miles long stretches behind the castle and is perfectly maintained by the many staff that work here.
The perfectly cut shrubs are impressive and sometimes it seems like you’ve landed in the maze of Alice in Wonderland. The many fountains (of course these are also in gold!) are also all beautiful. Especially the view from the stairs just behind the castle makes you dream of being the Sun King yourself. Only here you really start to realize how big this domain is!
From April to October, fountain and music shows are organized every week in the gardens. On the tones of classical music, the golden images spout out gallons of water and provide a beautiful spectacle.
At the very back of the domain is a large lake where you can also rent a little boat. If you walk to the right from here, you end up at the Grand Trianon or the estate of Marie-Antoinette.

versailles gardens

The gardens of Versailles are impressive! Don’t you think so too?

gardens versailles

You’ll get the most beautiful view of the gardens from this spot in my opinion.

The Grand Trianon

The Grand Trianon is just a few miles away from the castle of Versailles, but it’s definitely also worth discovering.
This small version of Versailles was added to the domain of Versailles in 1687 by Louis the fourteenth, but it were mainly his successors (Louis XV and Louis XVI) who expanded this pavilion.

Although the Grand Trianon is still impressive, you notice that it’s less luxurious than the Palace of Versailles. The lavishly decorated interiors are perfectly in tune with each other and often are decorated with cheerful colors. The covered colonnades linking the two parts of the Grand Trianon were in my opinion the most beautiful part of this landmark. The gardens that you can visit from here are also very beautiful.

grand trianon versailles

The Grand Trianon, the ‘little’ home of Marie-Antoinette.

grand trianon interior versailles

The interior might be a little less extravagant than in Versailles, but still… It’s gorgeous!

paris to versailles grand trianon

Isn’t it beautiful?

The estate of Marie-Antoinette

Near the Grand Trianon lies the estate of Marie-Antoinette. First, you step through the Petit Trianon (a smaller house) and eventually you walk outside into the estate of Marie-Antoinette. This gigantic park is much less manicured than the gardens of Versailles, but that doesn’t make it less beautiful.
Go explore the beautiful pavilions, or explore the imitated medieval village a bit further. In good weather this is the perfect place to rest, because it really is amazing here and much less crowded than in the Versailles gardens.

domain marie antoinette versailles

On the estate of Marie-Antoinette you can find this cute copy of a medieval village.

versailles petit trianon

On the domain of Marie-Antoinette you can also visit the Petit Trianon. Even more luxury!

How can you explore Versailles?

On foot

Most of Versailles can be visited on foot. It goes without saying that there’s no other way to visit the interior of the palace and the estate of Marie-Antoinette.
You should definitely expect to walk a couple of miles!
The castle itself is gigantic and there are also several floors to explore.

The Petit and Grand Trianon are also worth discovering.

With a bike

You can also rent a bicycle in the gardens of Versailles. There are several rental points where you can pick up and drop off the bike. By renting a bicycle in Versailles you’re traveling the great distances much faster, but you can’t exactly call it cheap. For half an hour you pay €6.50, for an hour €8.50, for half a day (4 hours) you’ll spend €18 and you pay €20 for a full day (8 hours). Remember that you must give your ID card as a deposit for renting the bike.

With a golf cart

If you prefer to explore the gardens and park around Versailles with your own group, you can also rent a golf cart. For one hour this would cost you €34 and every extra fifteen minutes will ad an extra € 8.50 to the bill.
In a golf cart, 4 to 5 people can have a seat.

golf cart versailles

A super fun way to explore the gardens of Versailles!

With a train

From the gardens of Versailles there is also a tourist train that takes you from one domain to another. A return ticket costs €7.50 and a single ticket costs €4.30.
Depending on the season, this train runs every 10, 15 or 20 minutes.

With a boat

At the back of the Versailles gardens you can find a nice lake where you can rent a boat. Paddle between the ducks, swans and geese and see the castle of Versailles in a completely different way. For a boat you pay €13 for half an hour, €15 for forty-five minutes and €17 for an hour.
Don’t forget that you have to give your identity card as a deposit.

visit versailles boat rental

Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

Versailles tickets

Once you’ve arrived from Paris to Versailles, you must of course also have tickets to visit the rooms of the various kings of France and their wives and mistresses.
Depending on the season, the queues can be ridiculously long. When I went I had fortunately already bought a skip-the-line ticket online and I could get into the palace in only ten minutes. The person I traveled with did not have a priority ticket and had to wait in line for 2,5 hours… And believe me: you can use that time for better things here!
That’s why I advise everyone to buy an online skip-the-line ticket. The price is the same, but you can easily win a few hours and on top of that, you can enter before the castle gets too crowded. There are many possibilities to visit Versailles. You can buy separate tickets, as well as guided tours or excursions from Paris.
I will list all the possibilities:

Seperate tickets for Versailles:

  • Ticket to visit only the palace: With this ticket you can visit the Palace of Versailles, the gardens of Versailles and the gallery des Carrosses. A priority ticket costs €18 or €19.80 and as I said before I really recommend buying it online. Don’t wait too long with booking, because otherwise the tickets for your preferred day may already be sold out.
    A ticket costs €18 if you decide to wait in line and buy it at Versailles. Don’t forget that these tickets do not include entry for the fountain shows.
  • Visite Passeport to visit the castle and all other domains: With this ticket you can visit all domains of Versailles: the palace, the gardens, the gallerie des Carrosses, the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon and le Hameau de la Reine. Skip-the-line tickets cost €21.60. If you buy your tickets on the spot, you pay €20.
    This ticket doesn’t include access to the fountain shows (otherwise you pay €27).
  • Ticket to visit only the Trianon: Do you only want to explore the domains of Marie-Antoinette? Then you pay €12 per person.
  • Tickets for the ‘fountain show’: In the Versailles gardens, a fountain show is performed every Saturday and Sunday from April to October. On these days the many golden fountains of Versailles perform their best tricks for the general public. Besides an ordinary entrance ticket for the castle (and possibly the other domains) you have to order an extra ticket. That can be done on the spot for €8.50 or a combined ticket with a Visite passeport for €27. If you visit Versailles on one of these days, you are obliged to purchase this extra ticket on top of the normal entrance ticket. Don’t you want to see this show? Then choose another day to visit Versailles.
  • Tickets for the ‘musical fountain show’: Every Tuesday and Friday from April to October, beautiful classical music is played on top of the magical fountain show to make this event even more spectacular. Buying a ticket for this event on site costs €7.50. A combined ticket with a Visite passeport costs €27. If you visit Versailles on one of these days, then you are obliged to purchase this extra ticket. If you don’t want to see this show, then you have to choose another day to visit Versailles.
  • Tickets for the ‘musical fountain show’ + fireworks + dance in traditional clothing: Every Wednesday from April to October you can also visit the gardens of Versailles in the evening. Around 8 PM in the evening (exact time depends on the options you take) you can see these grandiose gardens while the sun goes down and when the darkness settles over the castle. To finish the day, a beautiful fireworks display takes place above the castle. Optionally you can also experience a beautiful dance performance in traditional and periodical clothing. A ticket for this event costs €26. It also includes access to the castle, and the nice thing about this evening visit is that all other visitors are already gone. You get the castle (almost) for yourself!
  • Free tickets: Don’t forget that everyone up to the age of 25 who has an identity card from the EU can visit Versailles for free! Make sure to use it.
long queues versailles

A skip-the-line ticket is not a luxury here! Just look at this queue…

Tickets for Versailles with transport from Paris:

Versailles tickets with guide:

Free audio guides are available in the Palace of Versailles, but I personally find a real life guide more interesting. Moreover, with a guided tour in Versailles you may visit places that you will otherwise not see. The opera house and the private rooms of Louis XV and Louis XVI can only be seen with such a guided tour, and those are some of the most beautiful places of Versailles!
There are many guided tours to book on websites such as GetYourGuide and Viator.

Some guided tours that I found interesting are:

Multi-day tickets + hotel

You can visit the Palace of Versailles for several days. There is so much to see that it is actually a bit difficult to cram everything in one day. There are also excursions where you can visit the palace and the rest of the domains for two days and where you also get one overnight stay in the city of Versailles.
For this option (with a 4-star hotel) you pay €131 per person.

opera versailles palace

During a guided tour you’ll see things that the general public doesn’t see like this beautiful opera.

Nice to know

How much time do you need for your visit to Versailles?

Count at least one full day.
The castle of Versailles is huge in itself, but also the gardens and the adjacent domains are gigantic. You can see everything in one day, but then you’ll not have much time to rest. If you prefer a more easy-going visit, I recommend to plan two days in Versailles.

Best time of visit?

From May to October is the busiest time to visit Versailles.
You don’t like big crowds? Then I advise you to plan your visit from (end) October to April, as it’s often much less crowded and you have to spend a lot less time waiting everywhere. Moreover, the winter months also have something charming, because then the beautiful gardens (sometimes) are covered with a layer of snow.

In any case, I recommend arriving at the castle early. That way you get the most out of your day and you don’t have to wait for hours before you can enter (if you don’t have priority tickets already).

Restaurants, food and drinks in Versailles

You are allowed to bring your own picnic or lunch to the domain of Versailles, but you can of course only eat outside the castle (in the gardens).
Have you not taken any food with you? Then you can also visit the various restaurants in and around Versailles. Do keep in mind that everything here is very expensive… For a bottle of water you pay €3 to €4, for a sandwich with chicken and vegetables you’re charged between €7 to €10.
Do you prefer a warm meal? Then you pay €20 for the cheapest option.

Backpacks and bags

You can take backpacks and bags to Versailles, but occasionally you have to zip them open at the checkpoints. But that is of course only a small effort for your guaranteed safety.

Taking pictures in Versailles

Everything that you’re allowed to visit in the castle of Versailles, you may also photograph. However, it’s sometimes asked not to take pictures with a flash.
Selfiesticks aren’t allowed, but the overseers don’t seem to be bothered by them too much…

visit palace of versailles gold

It’s unbelievable how much gold hangs against the ceilings, walls and doors here!

Some extra tips for your visit to Versailles:

  • Take good shoes with you. You quickly walk a few miles all around this domain! So make sure you have comfortable walking shoes when you’re planning to admire all this beauty.
  • Visit Versailles early enough. Don’t wait with your visit until noon, but try to leave early in the morning. The queues are then much less long (but as I said before: I really recommend booking priority tickets.) and inside the castle it’s not too crowded yet either.
  • Book your tickets online and in advance. I keep saying this, but this is perhaps the most important tip that I can give you. The queues for Versailles are more than two hours long on busy days. Those are two hours that you lose from actually seeing Versailles … There are better ways to use all this time! Moreover, a priority ticket costs (almost) nothing extra.
  • Plan at least one full day. Versailles is much more than just the castle and gardens! You definitely need a full day to visit all this beauty. I often travel very quickly, but with one day I found that I still had too little time to visit everything.
hall of mirrors from paris to versailles

The mirror hall of Versailles once again shows how rich the Sun King must have been.

Versailles tours

 

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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