The Palace of Versailles – Insider Tips on the Best Tours and Tickets

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An extraordinary architectural feat, the Palace of Versailles attracts between 8 and 10 million visitors each year. Situated just 30 minutes outside Paris, in the village of Versailles, this elaborate complex once thrived as an epicenter of political power for the Kingdom of France. Built in the late 1600s, the Palace of Versailles was initially constructed as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. In 1682, Louis XIII’s son, King Louis XIV, decided to move the royal court from the bustling city of Paris, to Versailles, transforming his father’s old hunting pavilion into a magnificent castle. It wasn’t until the French Revolution, in 1789, that the royal court was forced to move back to the capitol.

Illustrating more than five centuries of French history, the Palace not only houses remarkable works of art – it stands as a work of art itself. A remarkable example of 17th century European art, the exquisite palace contains 2,300 rooms, including the famous Hall of Mirrors and the glamorous King and Queen’s apartments. Equally as impressive as the castle are the estate’s stunning gardens. Spanning over 230 acres, the Gardens of Versailles feature 50 fountains, 620 water jets, hundreds of sculptures, approximately 200,000 trees and more than 210,000 flowers. While the Palace of Versailles is without doubt worth a visit, navigating this Parisian landmark can be quite daunting – the entire royal estate spans over an impressive 800 hectares (2,014 acres)! To ensure you make the most of your time, it’s imperative you have a plan of action before arriving at the royal estate. To help you do so, here’s your guide to demystifying the Palace of Versailles, so that you can choose the perfect ticket and have the best experience.

How to Make the Most of a Trip to Versailles


Depending on your priorities – whether that be optimising your time, money or comfort – there are multiple ticket options to best suit your desires. From guided tours of the Palace of Versailles including hotel transfers from Paris to priority access skip-the-line tickets, there’s a perfect Versailles experience for everyone.

For those pressed on time


While you could easily spend an entire day roaming around the palace grounds, it is also possible to explore the most popular areas of the estate in as little as two hours. With that being said, the time it takes to tour the palace is not your biggest concern – the entrance line, on the other hand, is.

The are two solutions when it comes to avoiding the long lines. First: pre-book your tickets on-line. Second: opt for a skip-the-line ticket. For those who arrive without a ticket, there are a total of three entry lines at the Palace of Versailles: the ticket box office, the main entrance queue and the security line. The box office line can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Afterward, you will need to again queue at the main palace entrance, followed by the security check, which can collectively take another 1-3 hours. With pre-booked, skip-the-line tickets, which will only cost you €8 more than the basic entry ticket sold at the palace box office, you can avoid the hassle of waiting in long lines and maximize your time at Versailles.​

Versailles Skip the Line – Priority Access Entry with Audioguide

€25

Versailles Castle Entry Ticket + Audio Guide + Priority Access (skip-the-line entry)
Includes Access to:
– The Castle (+ all exhibitions presented at the Castle)
– The Gardens (excluding days of Garden shows)
– The Park
– The Carrosses Gallery

Book Now

Another huge time saver is to choose a guided tour of the palace. Being that the estate is so large, it’s quite easy to get a bit lost as you wander around. A professional guide will be able to take your around to all the hot spots in the most efficient manner.

palace-of-versailles-tickets

Versailles Priority Access Guided Tour – 75 Minutes

€38

Versailles Castle Entry Ticket + Professional Guide + Priority Access (skip-the-line entry)
Includes Access to:
– The Castle (+ all exhibitions presented at the Castle)
– The Gardens (excluding days of Garden shows)
– The Park
– The Carrosses Gallery

Book Now

For those looking to save money


The cheapest ticket possible to enter the Palace of Versailles is the basic entry ticket, available for purchase (in-person only) at the palace box office for €18. However, keep in mind that while you might save a little bit of money with this option, you’ll pay for it with time. For just €2 more, you can avoid the box office line and pre-purchase a basic entry ticket to Versailles on-line. Even better, add €5 more and enjoy a skip-the-line priority access ticket.

All of the tours above include an audio guide and grant access to the most popular places within the royale estate. If you prefer a guided tour, you will have to spend around €38.

For those looking to splurge


If you have a whole day to explore Versailles, a full-day guided tour is well worth the investment of your time and money. The Versailles VIP private tour with transfers from and to Paris is as good as it gets. Kick off your royal treatment as you make your way to the palace in a private car. At the estate, enjoy skip-the-line entry, tour the palace with a professional guide, explore areas off limits to the rest of the public and catch a Musical Gardens show.

palace-of-versailles-tickets

Versailles Private VIP Tour + Transfers

€115

Versailles Castle Entry Ticket + Professional Guide + Priority Access (skip-the-line entry) + Transportation via Private Car
Includes Access to:
– The Castle (+ all exhibitions presented at the Castle)
– The Gardens
– The Park
– The Carrosses Gallery
– Marie-Antoinette’s Estate (Petit and Grand Trianons)
– Access to the Gardens during the Great Musical Waters and Musical Gardens displays (jump link to Garden Shows)

Book Now

Another excellent option for those who can afford to spend the time and money on an upgraded tour is the Palace of Versailles guided bike tour with transfers from and to Paris. There’s no better way to explore the 63,000m² royal estate than by bike. Bike through the Château grounds and its network of fantastic trails and tree-lined paths, stop at the local market and pick up picnic supplies for lunch, enjoy skip-the-line entry to the palace and learn all about the secrets of the palace from your professional tour guide.

palace-of-versailles-tickets

Versailles Private VIP Tour + Transfers

€99

Versailles Castle Entry Ticket + Audio Guide + Priority Access (skip-the-line entry) + Transportation via Train + Bike Rental and Helmet
Includes Access to:
– The Castle (+ all exhibitions presented at the Castle)
– The Gardens (excluding days of Garden shows)
– The Park
– The Carrosses Gallery
– Marie-Antoinette’s Estate (Petit and Grand Trianons)

Book Now

For those who’d like a tour with transfers from and to Paris


Naturally, a tour that includes transfers from and to Paris will cost you a little more. But, with that being said, they also include a lot of other perks, like skip-the-line entry and a professional guide. In addition to the two tours with transfers mentioned above, there is also a full-day guided tour for €75. This is the least expensive Palace of Versailles tour with transfers.

palace-of-versailles-tickets

Versailles Priority Access – Full Day Guided Tour from Paris

€75

Versailles Castle Entry Ticket + Professional Guide + Priority Access (skip-the-line entry) + Transportation via Train
Includes Access to:
– The Castle (+ all exhibitions presented at the Castle)
– The Gardens (excluding days of Garden shows)
– The Park
– The Carrosses Gallery
– Option to upgrade to the Behind the Scenes Tour, which gives you access to areas of the Palace off limits to the general public.

Book Now

Guided vs Self-guided tour


All self-guided tickets to the Palace of Versailles include a complimentary audio guide, available in 11 languages (Spanish, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese and Russian). For those who prefer to roam around solo, or would like to save some money, an audio guide can certainly relay the bulk of information in terms of historical facts and stories of the royal family. However, a professional guide will be able to personalize your tour by answering questions and going more into depth on the areas that most interest you. In addition, touring with a guide will help you maximize your time. The Palace grounds are no small feat to cover; a guide will save you time and ensure your tour is efficient.

For those visiting on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday


During the spring and summer months (from April – October) a variety of musical fountain shows take place in the Gardens of Versailles on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are three types of shows: the Great Musical Waters, Musical Waters and the Great Nocturnal Waters.

The Great Musicals Waters take place on the weekends. A combination of music and fountain displays, witness the basins, the groves and their waters come alive to the rhythm of Baroque style music in the Gardens of Versailles. The Musical Gardens take place on Tuesdays and Fridays. With an emphasis on classical music, enjoy a mystical walk through the groves as you roam about the heart of Versailles’ French gardens.

To access the gardens and attend these shows, you will need a Versailles Passport ticket or a Versailles Guided Tour with Priority Access + Passport ticket.

The Great Nocturnal Waters is an exclusive light and water spectacular that takes place Every Saturday evening from June 17th to September 16th at 8:30PM to 11:05PM. At 10:45, witness a grand finale firework show that lights up the Grand Canal sky. To be a part of this show, you will need a Royal Evening at Versailles guided tour with Great Nocturnal Waters ticket. This tour includes transfers from and to Paris.

Navigating the Palace of Versailles


The Royal Estate (Domaine) consists of five main areas:

The Palace
Get a glimpse of life during the French monarchy as you roam the Grand Apartments, Hall of Mirrors, Royal Chapel, Royal Opera, Congress Hall and mant other rooms of the Palace.

Carrosses Gallery (The Royal Stables)
Step back in time as you browse through the works showcased at the the Carrosses Gallery. Created by Louis-Philippe, the gallery houses a valuable collection of carriages, sleds, cars and harnesses.

Marie Antoinette’s Estate (Domaine de Trianon)
Visit Marie Antoinette’s Estate and tour the buildings constructed for her to escape the rigors of courtly life. Visit the discret Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet, and get a glimpse into her private life.

The Gardens
Spread across hundreds of acres, roam around the serine French Gardens and admire the Versailles fountains, ponds, sculptures and groves.

The Park
Situated around the Grand Canal, the Versailles Park offers incredible views of the Gardens and Palace. Picnic on the lawn or ride around on a Segway tour as you take in the grandeur of the Royal Estate.

For additional tips on how to navigate the palace and a more detailed description of each area within the estate, scroll to the bottom of this Palace of Versailles tours and tickets collection page.

Main Entrance to the Castle


The main entrance to the Palace of Versailles is through the Court of Honor (Cour d’Honneur). Upon entering the courtyard, you will find 3 entrances that take you into the Castle:

Entrance A
(at the top of the courtyard to the left)
For guests who have already purchased tickets online (this applies to all Headout tickets).

Entrance B
(at the top of the courtyard to the right)
For groups with a reservation. (If you book any Headout Guided Tours, your guide will direct you to this entrance.)

Entrance H
Reserved for guests with disabilities.

The entrance to the Gardens can be found further left of Entrance A, in the Court of Princes. Extending beyond the main Castle and the Gardens, you will find the Grand Canal and the Park. (The Grand Canal separates the Park and the Gardens.) To the left of the Grand Canal is Marie-Antoinette’s Estate (the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon).

Getting to the Palace of Versailles


The Palace of Versailles is located approximately 12 miles (30 minutes) West of Paris, in the village of Versailles.

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By car
If you’re driving there by car, you’ll want to get on the Peripherique (the Paris beltway) and exit, direction, Rouen on the A13. With no traffic, you can make it to Versailles in about 20 minutes. However, that’s usually not the case. Especially on summer weekends, plan on a minimum of 45 minutes. There is metered public parking lot in front of the chateau. You pay when you exit, using either a credit card or cash.

By public transport
To reach by train, you have several options:
* Take RER line C to Versailles Rive Gauche. From the station, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Palace.
* From Paris Montparnasse train station, SNCF trains arrive at Versailles Chantiers station, an 18-minute walk to the Chateau.
* From Paris Saint Lazare train station, SNCF trains arrive at Versailles Rive Droite station, a 17-minute walk to the Château.
You can find RER and SNCF trains schedule at www.transilien.com.

Logistical Information for Visiting the Palace of Versailles


Palace of Versailles Hours

Palace/ Castle Hours
Tues – Sun from 9AM to 6:30PM (high season) 5:30PM (low season)
Last entry to the palace is at 6pm (high season) and 5PM (low season)
Carrosses Gallery (The Royal Stables) Hours
Tues – Sun from 12:30PM to 6:30PM
Last entry is at 6PM.

Marie Antoinette’s Estate (Domaine de Trianon) Hours
Tues-Sun from 12PM to 6:30PM
Last entry is at 6PM.

The Gardens Hours
Daily from 8AM to 8:30PM
Last entry is at 7PM.

The Park Hours
Daily from 7AM to 8:30PM (last entry at 7PM)

When to Visit

During high season, from April through October, it is recommended to visit the Palace early in the morning, right when it opens. It is likely the entry line will already be long; however, with skip-the-line tickets, you can enter immediately and enjoy your tour before the crowds pour in. In addition, your priority access tickets will ensure you’re among the first to go through the security line – another long wait if you arrive during busy hours. Tuesdays and weekends generally see the most traffic, especially on days of water fountain shows.

Visit the Palace of Versailles today


The Palace of Versailles offers a unique peek into the lives of the French monarchy’s most influential figures. From the glittering Hall of Mirrors to the stunning portraits that sweep the ceilings of the Royal Apartments, tour the Palace and travel back in time. A place of immense beauty, Versailles stands as a symbol of France’s monarchy and lives on as the location of several important peace treaty signings, including two treaties of the 1783 Peace of Paris, by which Britain recognised the independence of the US, as well as the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended the First World War.

For more tips on how to navigate the palace and get the best deals on tickets, refer to our Palace of Versailles tours and tickets collection.

The post The Palace of Versailles – Insider Tips on the Best Tours and Tickets appeared first on Headout Blog.

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