The ultimate day trip from Paris to Versailles

Uncover the magic of Versailles on a day trip from Paris. This guide ensures you won't miss a thing.

The mythical and magical air of the Palace of Versailles makes it a must-see destination on almost every Paris travel guide. When it comes to over-the-top luxury and intriguing remnants of past royalty, this 17th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site, just 10 miles from Paris, is one historical French monument that’s worth a day trip.

Considering the palace alone contains over 2,000 rooms, planning ahead is worth it. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to plan your day trip from Paris to Versailles, including what to see inside and beyond the palace, transportation options, and tips on tickets and tours.

Overview of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is a massive complex spread out on over 2,000 acres.

As an unwavering symbol of extravagance and royalty, the Palace of Versailles was designed to do nothing less than impress. It was a showcase for King Louis XIV, the Sun King, who wanted to uphold the idea that French kings had a divine right to rule.

In 1682, Versailles became the Sun King’s primary residence, and the result was a world beyond Versailles’ rustic roots as a hunting lodge.

In addition to the palace itself, Versailles has sprawling gardens, a massive park and canal, and two smaller palaces — the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon. Even a quaint village called the Queen’s Hamlet was created for Queen Marie Antoinette.

The grounds also include the Royal Tennis Court, the Small Stables with the Sculpture and Moulding Gallery, the Great Stables with the Gallery of Coaches, the National Equestrian Academy, and Campus Versailles.

Experience the Palais of Versailles from Paris

How to spend a day at Versailles

See gold decor in the King’s State Apartments

The King’s State Apartments feature intricate tapestries, ornate gilded furnishings, and elaborate ceiling paintings.

The seven rooms of the King’s Apartments are staterooms where the king would receive official visitors. Here, you’ll find a showy display of tapestries, marble paneling, ceiling paintings, and more crimson and gold than you can imagine.

Discover the elegance of the Queen’s Apartments

The Queen's Apartments have witnessed significant moments in royal history, including births, private audiences, and intimate gatherings.

The Queen’s Apartments have an identical layout to the King’s State Apartments. Amidst rich tapestries and furnishings, you’ll find the Queen’s Bedchamber, where moments of royal history unfolded against a backdrop of timeless elegance.

Walk along hundreds of mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors

The Hall of Mirrors is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

The Hall of Mirrors is the most famous room in Versailles: a long, spacious hall with 17 arched windows and 357 mirrors reflecting chandeliers set on gold pedestals. Not only did it dazzle courtiers and visiting dignitaries, but it also highlighted France’s skill in manufacturing mirrored glass, an expensive luxury product in the 1600s.

Look up at the painted ceilings in the Royal Chapel

Paintings at the Royal Chapel depict scenes from the life of Christ.

In 1770, a 14-year-old Marie Antoinette married the future king of France in the Royal Chapel. At 144 feet high, the Royal Chapel is an airy space with elaborate columns, a painted ceiling, and a pipe organ crafted by famed organ maker Robert Clicquot.

Admire the refined interior of the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera still hosts extravagant events like galas, ballets, and concerts.

The Royal Opera House was once Europe’s largest concert hall and has since remained one of the grandest theater spaces in the world. Featuring intricate architecture by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, this elegant theater with velvet seating hosted grand performances, celebrations, and parliamentary debates.

Explore epic narratives at the Gallery of Great Battles

The Gallery of Great Battles is the palace’s largest room.

The Gallery of Great Battles is filled from the floor panels to the ceiling with vivid paintings that depict France’s military history. Here, history enthusiasts and art fans alike can immerse themselves in pivotal moments of French warfare, spanning from ancient times to the 19th century.

Other things to see at the Palace of Versailles

The Palace Gardens

Hidden within the labyrinthine paths of the Palace Gardens are over 400 marble, bronze, and lead statues.

Your first glimpse of the breathtaking Gardens of Versailles will probably be from the windows of the Hall of Mirrors, but getting out and exploring the paths, groves, statues, and fountains is also part of the fun.

For the immense project of creating the grounds and gardens — some 2,000 acres — the Sun King entrusted master gardener Andre Le Nôtre, who spent 40 years developing a botanical vision worthy of accompanying this lavish chateau.

The Musical Fountains

Originating from Louis XIV's love for grand spectacles, Musical Fountain Days showcase a special show of water, light, and music.

Musical Fountain Days, usually on Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays from April to October, are a melodic way to experience Versailles. Synchronized water displays set to music let you fully embrace the truly magical ambiance of the gardens.

The Grand Trianon

The 1920 Trianon Treaty was signed at the Grand Trianon, adding historical significance to this elegant structure.

Sometimes, one palace isn’t enough. Seeking a hideaway where he could spend time with his love, Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV did just that, building the Grand Trianon on the Versailles grounds. Only this was the Sun King, so it was no simple hideaway. Expect pink marble, courtyards, checkerboard tiles, and a graceful colonnade.

The Petit Trianon

Marie Antoinette often sought refuge at the Petit Trianon.

The Sun King wasn’t the only French king seeking a love nest. Decades later, Louis XV, the Sun King’s great-grandson, had another palace constructed, the Petit Trianon. It was built in a Neoclassical style for his mistress, the Comtesse Du Barry.

Today, it’s better known as Marie Antoinette’s favorite retreat, one of the few places she could escape with her friends from the court's critical eyes.

The Queen’s Hamlet

The functional farm of the Queen's Hamlet served an educational experience for the royal children.

Marie Antoinette was nothing if not original. Enamored with an idyllic image of rural life, she was exceedingly fond of her second retreat, the Queen’s Hamlet. She’d use this space to host small gatherings, go for walks, and enjoy the idea of country living. To give it an authentic feel, she had cottages built, added a decorative windmill, and brought in farmers, sheep, and cows.

The Park and Grand Canal

The cross-shaped Grand Canal extends for nearly a mile (about 1.7 kilometers).

Spanning nearly 2,000 acres, the Park surrounds the estate of Versailles and features lush groves and the iconic cross-shaped Grand Canal. You can stroll along tree-lined paths, admire fountains, and even rent a rowboat to glide along the canal.

The best way to experience the Palace of Versailles

Millions of people visit Versailles every year: it’s the number one day trip from Paris and only a short and inexpensive train ride away. Due to its popularity, it’s best to book your tickets and tours ahead.

A Palace ticket includes access to the palace and any exhibitions on display. The Gallery of Coaches is also included in the ticket and is open on weekends. To access the Gardens, you’ll need a Passport ticket or Garden ticket.

A Passport ticket is a full-access ticket that includes extra perks like a rowboat ride and equestrian show. The Estate of Trianon is included in the Passport ticket, or you can purchase a separate ticket to access the Trianon Palaces.

Some visitors are entitled to free palace entry, so check the official palace website for specific information. The estate offers free entry on the first Sunday of the month from November to March. The Park is included in all ticket options.

If you want to learn everything about the estate, a tour is your best bet. Expert guides will lead the way and fill you in on the palace's history and stories. Tours have their own perks, too, like skip-the-line privileges and transportation.

Experience the Palais of Versailles from Paris

Best ways to get from Paris to Versailles

To reach the Palace of Versailles from Paris, you can purchase roundtrip train tickets from your departure point to a Versailles train station or utilize a pass covering zones 1 to 4, such as Navigo, Mobilis, or Paris Visite. Note that T+ tickets are not valid for this journey.

The closest train station to the palace is the Versailles Château Rive Gauche Station (a 10-minute walk). This station gets busy, so buying your departure and return tickets well in advance is a good idea. Other train stations you can use are the Versailles Chantiers and the Versailles Rive Droite (a 25-minute walk to the palace).

Upon arrival, head to the palace's main entrance through the Cour d'Honneur.

If you are coming by car or motorcycle, there are additional fees for parking.

Palace of Versailles Address:

Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France.

Summer hours (April-October)

Main Palace:

Open 9:00 AM-6:30 PM every day except Mondays.

Palace Gardens:

Open 8:00 AM-8:30 PM every day.

Trianon Palaces and Marie Antionette’s Estate:

Open 12:00 PM-6:30 PM every day except Mondays.

Park:

Open 8:00 AM-8.30 PM every day.

Winter hours (November-March)

Main Palace:

Open 9:00 AM-5:30 PM every day except Mondays.

Palace Gardens:

Open 8:00 AM-6:00 PM every day.

Trianon Palaces and Marie Antionette’s Estate:

Open 12:00 PM-5:30 PM every day except Mondays.

Park:

Open 8:00 AM-6:00 PM every day.

FAQs

How many rooms are there in the Palace of Versailles?

The Palace of Versailles contains over 2,000 rooms, including notable spaces such as the King's State Apartments, the Queen's Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and the Royal Opera House.

What is the significance of the Hall of Mirrors?

The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most significant rooms within the Palace of Versailles. Designed during the 17th century, it served as a venue for grand events and ceremonies, including the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. With its 17 arched windows and 357 mirrors, the Hall of Mirrors symbolizes the wealth, power, and artistic achievements of the French monarchy.

Who designed the gardens of Versailles?

The gardens of Versailles were designed by André Le Nôtre, a renowned landscape architect of the 17th century. Commissioned by King Louis XIV, Le Nôtre transformed the landscape into a masterpiece of symmetry, elegance, and grandeur. His meticulous planning and design principles created a botanical wonderland that perfectly complemented the opulence of the palace.

What is the history behind the construction of the palace?

Originally a hunting lodge, the Palace of Versailles has a rich history dating back to its construction in the 17th century. King Louis XIV transformed it into a symbol of absolute monarchy, becoming the center of French political power and cultural influence.

Are there any special events or exhibitions held at Versailles?

Versailles hosts various special events and exhibitions throughout the year, including temporary art exhibitions, musical performances, and historical reenactments. These events provide unique insights into the palace's history, art, and architecture, enhancing the visitor experience and showcasing its enduring legacy.