10+ Tips for Visiting the Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

10+ Tips for Visiting the Palace of Versailles

Get expert tips for visiting the Palace of Versailles without spending all your time waiting in line.

The Palace of Versailles (also known as the Château de Versailles here in France), is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country – and perhaps the world! 

As a result, it can be a little overwhelming to visit the grounds of this gorgeous estate. If you’re visiting at peak times in the spring and summer, you can definitely expect to wait in long lines and navigate large crowds.

But don’t worry! There are many tips on visiting Versailles that can make your trip more enjoyable. Keep reading from our full guide to visiting Versailles, whether you’re a local (like me) or just exploring for a day.

Ornate paintings and architecture in the Palace of Versailles
Ornate architecture in the Palace of Versailles

The History of Versailles

The Château de Versailles is one of the most visited palaces in France, and a celebrated work of the 17th century. Its history began when the Sun King, Louis XIV, decided to turn his father’s hunting lodge into France’s new royal seat of power.

The palace remained until the French Revolution, when it became the Museum of the History of France. There are more than 2,300 rooms in the chateau, and 800 hectares of gardens and park to discover.

Today, the palace of Versailles sits within the limits of the city of Versailles. Together, they offer so many opportunities for sightseeing, shopping and tasting local food. 

I’ve lived in Versailles for more than 5 years now, and the palace grounds are still one of my favorite places to visit!

Molly Wilkinson in Versailles Palace
One of my many visits to Versailles

Best Tips for Visiting the Palace of Versailles

Ready to visit the Château de Versailles? Use the tips below to plan a better trip.

Book Tickets In Advance Online

You can buy tickets to the Château online up to three months in advance. If you want to visit the palace, gardens and entire grounds, purchase a “Passport with timed entry” ticket. 

This allows you to head straight to the public entrance, present your ticket and effectively skip the line. Timed entry used to be optional, but today it is a requirement, which has gone a long way toward reducing wait times in line.

One key thing to know about timed entry is that there is a 30-minute time buffer for the tickets. If your ticket is for 3pm, you can enter anywhere between 2:30 and 3:30.

Try a Private Guided Tour

Want to experience even fewer crowds? Buy a guided tour of the King’s Private Apartments. This is probably one of the lesser-known ways of visiting the chateau, and my preferred way. 

With a private tour, you’ll be whisked behind the scenes with a small group to see rooms not open to the public. In each room you visit, your group is the only group there- making this a crowd-free, stress-free way to see Versailles.

Even better? With this ticket you can skip the long entry line! After the tour, you are released into the public section!

Inside the Palace of Versailles
Inside the Palace of Versailles

Arrive Early or Late 

The palace gets more crowded as the day goes on, especially during peak tourist seasons. The palace opens at 9am most days and the gardens open at 8am). Arriving early in the morning can help you beat the crowds and give you more space to explore. If you’re visiting Versailles in summer, a morning visit also helps you beat some of the heat. You can also arrive late in the day for fewer crowds. Usually around 4pm the crowds start to thin out before the chateau closes at 6:30pm.

Download the Mobile App 

Prepare for your visit in advance by downloading the Château de Versailles mobile app. The app includes downloadable audio tours, real-time opening information, event details and an interactive map.

Plan Your Route

There’s something magical about exploring the beautiful grounds of a palace without a plan. But with the potential for overwhelming crowds, it’s a good idea to go with a general plan when visiting the Palace of Versailles. At the very least, I recommend deciding which parts of the palace and gardens you most want to see, so you can prioritize and make the best use of your time while you’re there.

Visit During the Week

If possible, plan your visit for a weekday to avoid the largest crowds, which are typically seen on weekends. Early morning hours and late afternoons when the crowds are typically smaller are also good times to visit.

Inside the Palace of Versailles
Inside the Palace of Versailles

Try Visiting Versailles in Winter

The spring and summer months are often considered the best times to visit Versailles. But a winter visit can be absolutely beautiful and much less crowded! 

Low season is considered January to April, so if you can plan to visit the palace of Versailles during those months you’ll experience fewer crowds. While the gardens won’t be in bloom, there’s still plenty of beautiful architecture, landscaping and history to explore.

Explore the Gardens of Versailles

While the Palace of Versailles is often the main attraction for tourists, it’s also often the most crowded part of the estate. The gardens surrounding the palace are beautiful, spacious and free from November to March. From April to October, access to the Gardens are charged from Tuesday to Sunday, when the musical Fountains show is held. And while the chateau isn’t open on Monday, the gardens are, so that’s a great day for fewer crowds!

The gardens of Versailles
The gardens of Versailles

Pack a Picnic

There are numerous dining options within the Château de Versailles, including sit-down restaurants and grab-and-go snack carts. But one of my favorite ways to enjoy the estate is with a picnic in the parks. There are only certain areas open for picnicking, but they’re easy to spot on the map. I love to head to the grand canal where the row boats are and picnic alongside.

You can also explore the Notre Dame farmers’ market or the boulangeries on Rue Satory, a cute pedestrian-only street right outside the chateau. My favorite boulangerie has the pink awning and is at the end of the street. They have tons of great baguette sandwiches perfect for picnicking!

Picnic in the gardens of Versailles
Picnicking in the garden of Versailles

Be Prepared for Pictures

Flash photography is not allowed in some areas of the palace, but you can always take pictures with your phone (and you’ll definitely want to!). Make sure to snag a spot at the free phone charging area to the left of the public entrance, which leads to the Alain Ducasse restaurant. You can even leave your phone there while you continue to explore – simply choose a box, plug in your phone, close the box and take the key!

Inside the Palace of Versailles
Inside the Palace of Versailles

Explore Beyond the Palace

Visiting the Palace of Versailles can easily fill hours of time, but don’t miss the expansive gardens and other buildings within the estate. The Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon palaces and the Queen’s Hamlet are more intimate living spaces close to the main palace. Think of them as vacation homes within the grounds of Versailles. 

Another hot tip: the free sculpture/mold museum and carriage museum on the grounds are completely free and open only on weekend afternoons!

Molly Wilkinson in the Chateau de Versailles
One of my many visits to Versailles

Getting to The Palace of Versailles

Ready to use this guide to visiting Versailles? Explore the best ways to get to the palace, no matter where you’re coming from.

Is Versailles in Paris?

Versailles is not technically located in Paris, but rather in the Île-de-France region of France, which surrounds Paris. It’s basically a suburb of the French capital. 

While not in the city of Paris itself, Versailles is easily accessible from Paris by train or car. It’s a wonderful day trip if you’re staying in Paris or a surrounding area.

Visiting Versailles via Train

The closest train station to the Palace of Versailles is Chateau Versailles Rive Gauche. When you exit the station, go against the flow of the crowd and turn left, then right walking down a tree-lined boulevard (way less populated than the one on the right of the train station) until you see the Chateau come into view.

Visiting Versailles Via Bus

Thanks to a collaboration with Tootbus, you can purchase a combined ticket that includes a bus ticket from Paris and a Passport ticket to the grounds of Versailles.

Explore Beyond the Château de Versailles

One of my favorite tips for visiting Versailles actually has nothing to do with the palace or estate itself. I highly recommend giving yourself time to walk around the actual city of Versailles, particularly the Notre Dame and Saint Louis neighborhoods.

I love the city so much I even created my own map of Versailles with my favorite spots to visit so you can make the most of your trip!

Map of Versailles
My map of Versailles with favorite places to visit

A trip to Versailles is also a great opportunity to take a private pastry class with me in my pastry atelier! Learning how to make French macarons or other masterpieces in a classic Versailles apartment is a truly memorable way to end a visit to the Château.

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Hi Molly
Congratulations on your wedding! You looked beautiful.
I love your posts and blog. I have a hard time reading all the text over the pictures. I’m also old 🙂
My daughter is starting a masters program in the fall and I would love to visit Versailles and your establishment while I’m there.
Take care,
Jen

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