Experience the Beauty of Versailles

Do you need help planning a visit to Versailles? From the stunning architecture of the palace to the exquisite gardens, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular destinations in France.  Whether you are a history buff or just a curious traveler, visiting the breathtaking palace of Versailles is an experience you will never forget, and you are sure to be impressed by the grandeur of this legendary palace!

Royal Residence at Versailles near Paris
In front of the Royal Residence at Versailles near Paris

The Palace

Versailles was the royal residence of the French monarchy from 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789.  The palace is renowned for its grandeur and opulence.  Inside the palace, you can explore the many stately rooms, marvel at the artwork and decorations, and learn the history of the French monarchy.  The gardens are a sight to behold, with the Grand Canal and the Grand Trianon providing a beautiful backdrop for a leisurely stroll.

The palace itself is a marvel of Baroque architecture and design, with ornate fountains, gardens, and sculptures throughout.  Inside, you can explore the many grand apartments, halls, and salons, which served as the epicenter of French political and cultural life during the time of the monarchy.  Versailles is a testament to the grandeur of the French court and to the power and influence of the monarchy.

The Gardens

The grounds of the palace are full of lush greenery, fountains, and statues, all of which work together to create a mesmerizing atmosphere.  The gardens are especially impressive during the warmer months, when the sun brings out the vibrant colors of the flowers and plants.  Everywhere you look, there is something new and breathtaking to take in.  During the summer months, you can even experience a Musical Fountains show on certain days. 

Fountain in Versailles Gardens
Fountain in Versailles Gardens

My favorite part of a visit to Versailles is the Queen’s Hamlet.  Built in 1783 by Queen Marie Antoinette, the hamlet was her place of refuge away from the hustle and bustle of the royal court.  The buildings were designed in an idyllic landscape of meadows, ponds, and woods, and were modeled after a small village.  It was here that the Queen could escape from her duties and enjoy a simpler life, with the help of her ladies-in-waiting.  The hamlet includes the Queen’s house, a dairy, a mill, a dovecote, and a variety of other buildings.

Tour Options

When planning your Versailles visit, there are a variety of tour options available that will give you the opportunity to explore the historic palace and gardens while learning about the rich history of this iconic destination.  The most popular tour option (and my personal recommendation) is the full-day guided tour of the palace and gardens.  This tour includes a guided walk through the palace, a visit to the Hall of Mirrors, and a tour of the extensive gardens.  Additionally, you will have the opportunity to explore the King’s and Queen’s private apartments and the Trianon estate.

When planning your visit to Versailles, include the Marie Antoinette Estate
Marie Antoinette Estate at Versailles Palace

For those looking for a more intimate experience, private tours are also available, which offer the same sights and experiences as the full-day tour but with a smaller group and more personalized attention from the tour guide.  If you’re looking for a more leisurely experience, you can also choose a half-day tour or a self-guided tour.  No matter which tour option you choose, you are sure to have a memorable experience exploring the beautiful sights of Versailles.

Tips for Planning Your Visit

Here are some tips to help you in planning your visit to Versailles and make it as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

  • Plan Ahead: When visiting Versailles, it’s important to plan ahead.  Check their official website here for opening times and special events.  The palace is currently open every day except Monday. The garden and park are open every day (access to the gardens is free except on days of fountain shows).  I highly recommend a guided tour to provide a more immersive experience (and I can recommend the best tour option for you).  Not only will you learn more about the history of the palace with a tour, but you will also have the opportunity to ask questions and get a better understanding of the palace’s architecture.  The palace can get crowded, so it’s best to take an early tour or get there as soon as it opens to avoid the afternoon crowds. PRO TIP: Tuesdays and weekends tend to be the most crowded days to visit.  If you’re doing a self-guided tour, try to arrive at opening time and proceed directly to the Hall of Mirrors first in order to see this stunning room before the crowds arrive.
  • Dress Appropriately: You will most likely do a lot of walking, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  Because the palace is surrounded by large expanses of open space, the wind can be quite strong, so you should dress in warm layers if visiting during cooler weather months.
  • Bring a Camera: You will want to take lots of photos to remember your visit, but remember that flash photography is not allowed inside.  You can also leave your selfie stick back at the hotel because they are forbidden inside the palace.
  • Available Services: The palace has automatic deposits where you can conveniently leave personal items while you explore the estate.  For a few euros per person, you can purchase a ticket to explore the grounds aboard the Little Train, which allows you to hop on and off at different stops within a single circuit.  At a much heftier rate, you can also rent a golf cart to explore the grounds on your own.  You can find the Little Train and golf carts behind the palace.  There are several restaurants located throughout the grounds and palace where you can enjoy lunch or take a coffee break during your visit.
  • Allow Plenty of Time: Versailles is a large and expansive palace. Allow yourself plenty of time to explore and take in all that the palace and its grounds have to offer.  If you really want to see all that Versailles has to offer without feeling rushed, you can also spend a night in the village of Versailles to allow more time to fully experience the palace and grounds.
L'Orangerie garden and point at Versailles
L’Orangerie garden and pond at Versailles Palace

Final Thoughts

Visiting Versailles is a wonderful way to appreciate the grandeur of the French monarchy and to take a peek into the culture of the past.  It is an experience you should not miss when visiting France, as it is a reminder of the fascinating history that shaped the country into what it is today.  With proper planning, your visit to Versailles will be one that you will never forget!

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