The National Estate and Palace of Versailles is one of France’s best-known treasures, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated 20km west of Paris. This former royal residence is surrounded by 787 hectares (1,945 acres) and welcomes almost 15 million visitors each year to admire its lavish rooms, art collection and splendid gardens. Versailles also serves as a national historical building, where the French Parliament meets in congress.
What is there to see at Versailles?
One of the greatest achievements in French 17th-century art, the Palace itself contains a staggering 2,300 rooms, with over 100 bearing witness to the lavish luxury of the former royal residence, and another 100 displaying the remarkable collection of paintings and sculptures of the Museum of French History, created by Louis-Philippe in 1837.
In addition to the Palace, the kings of Versailles built more intimate spaces in an attempt to gain some brief respite from courtly etiquette. The Grand Trianon is a spectacular colonnaded structure of pink marble opening onto a central courtyard. Here the Hall of Mirrors is particularly impressive, at 73 metres long with 357 mirrors, where courtiers and illustrious guests were received at the time of Louis XIV. The neo-Classical Petit Trianon was a home at the heart of the gardens affording even more privacy, eventually given as a gift to Marie Antoinette in 1774.
Marie Antoinette went on to build the Queen’s Hamlet, a model village inspired by the rustic architecture of Normandy and primarily used for educating her children – although her performing passions were indulged at the Queen’s Theatre, inaugurated in 1780, the only building to have survived fully intact and unchanged since the 18th century.
Versailles’ famous garden designed by André Le Nôtre is also the largest museum of outdoor sculptures in the world, with 221 works, dominated by great figures from Greco-Roman mythology and crowned by the famous Dragon Pool with its 27-metre-high fountain.
What type of ticket should I buy for Versailles?
There are three ticket types for visitors: the Palace ticket (access to the Palace itself, temporary exhibitions, the Coach Gallery, the gardens and the park); the Trianon estate ticket; and the all-inclusive Passport, which grants access to the whole domain of Versailles and Trianon. Tickets can be bought online in advance and guided tours are available, during which a speaker from the Palace invites you into lesser-known locations otherwise close to visitors.
In high season (from April to late October), admission to the gardens is charged on Musical Fountains Show and Musical Gardens days, i.e. on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as on a few additional days (certain French national holidays). Admission to the Park of Versailles is free for pedestrians and bikes.
Is Versailles wheelchair-accessible?
Yes. In the gardens of the Palace, four walking tours dedicated to people with reduced mobility were inaugurated in 2007 by the Minister of Culture. Wheelchair users can now use a lift to get to the gardens and follow a route to the four courses.
How do I get to Versailles from Paris?
From Paris city centre, the RER line C arrives at Versailles Château-Rive Gauche train station, just 10 minutes’ walk from the Palace. SNCF trains from Gare Montparnasse arrive at Versailles-Chantiers train station and SNCF trains from Gare Saint-Lazare arrive at Versailles-Rive Droite train station, both under 20 minutes’ walk.
Find out more:
- Visit the Palace of Versailles
- Opening times
- Rates and online tickets
- Discover the essential sites with the Paris Museum Pass
- 24 hours at Versailles with Marie-Antoinette
- Ducasse at Versailles, or a feast fit for a king
- 5 keys to understanding the Palace of Versailles
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