The Château de Versailles (often known simply as Versailles) is a royal palace just over 20km outside of Paris, and as France’s most famous château it’s popular with day trippers.
The Palace was initially built as a hunting lodge in 1623 by Louis XIII (who became king at just 8-years-old, when his father was assassinated). A couple of decades later his own son, Louis XIV, transformed it into the Château we know today.
The French Kings didn’t enter into the project lightly. It’s estimated that they spent over $2billion constructing, extended and decorating the Palace—a task requiring 30,000 workers. It’s worth over $50billion today. 50 BILLION DOLLARS.
Want to see this spectacle for yourself? I decided that on my fifth visit to Paris (I know) it was time I did. This is what I found—make a cuppa and settle down for a big post!
How to get to Versailles from Paris
It’s easiest to get to the Palace of Versailles using public transport, alighting the train at Versailles – Château Rive Gauche. Check before you travel: there was no service on that route the day we visited, so we had to go to Versailles Chantiers instead.
Once you get off the train at either station, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Palace. The whole journey takes around an hour, depending where you’re staying in Paris.
Two single tickets (i.e. an outbound and an inbound ticket for your return journey) cost €7.10 per person.
Tickets and practical info
A ‘Passport’ ticket includes entry to the whole estate. It costs €20+ and booking in advance is recommended. Access to the Gardens is free for pedestrians and cyclists, except on days when the Musical Fountains Show is scheduled, and they’re open every day (unless there’s bad weather).
The estate is huge and you’ll need a full day! We visited the Gardens in the morning and the Palace in the afternoon, in retrospect I’d do it the other way around—there was no queue for the Palace in the morning but in the afternoon we had to wait a while, even with pre-booked tickets. (For reference we visited on a Saturday in February.)
The Château de Versailles is closed on Mondays. See all ticket options and prices.
Things to see & do
Château of Versailles | The Palace “contains 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 m²”. Highlights include the King’s Apartments and Hall of Mirrors.
The Gardens and Park | Covering 800 hectares, the Park features a Grand Canal on which Louis XIV used to sail boats in summer and ice skate in winter.
Grand Trianon | This smaller palace, constructed primarily from pink marble, was basically built as a place for Louis XIV to escape the courts and conduct his affairs.
Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet | Hameau de la Reine was my favourite part of our visit. This mock village of cute thatched cottages was built between 1775 and 1784 “for the amusement” of Marie-Antoinette.
We somehow missed Petit Trianon, the Appartements des Mesdames and the Coach Gallery, but you can read about them on the official Versailles website.
Food and drink
There are several food and drink establishments within the grounds but you can also bring your own refreshments into the Park—we spotted lots of people enjoying picnics.
What I wore
Told you this is a big post! Hope you enjoyed visiting Versailles with me :) I’ll be back soon with most posts from Paris…