Discover lots of things to do in Versailles France: the palace, the garden, the Petit Trianon, the Grand Trianon, the Village of Marie Antoinette and more! Learn how and when to go, schedules, tickets and many other super useful tips.
One of the most famous palaces in the world, the Palace of Versailles France unites history, culture, an imposing architecture and beautiful gardens. Because of its immense importance, it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site more than 30 years ago. It is impossible not to love it.
The history of Versailles began in the seventeenth century as a hunting lodge. Later it became the seat of the court and from century XIX on, it is a France Museum of History.
Palace or Castle? Beginning in the Renaissance, the term “chateau” was used for luxury residences in the rural area, while “palace” designated those in the urban area. Thus, the Louvre in Paris was referred to as “palais” and Versailles, being in a village in the interior was a “chateau”.
I guess that majority of you will probably be in Paris and will only spend the day in Versailles. Find here some real-time lodging promotions in Paris.
1) THE PALACE – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Believe me, the Palace of Versailles France has 2,300 rooms scattered at 63,154 m 2! Not everything is open for visitation, but even so, the visit is long.
2) THE ROYAL CHAPEL – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
The Royal Chapel is beautiful. It has 2 floors, with an imposing colonnade on the first floor, clearly inspired by antiquity.
Every day the King attended Mass, usually at 10 a.m. He and his family stayed in the second-floor gallery. The ladies of the court occupied the side tribunes. Officers and public were placed in the nave, on the first floor.
The king only went down to the nave in religious celebrations, when he took the Communion, baptisms and marriages of princesses and princes.
3) THE HALL OF MIRRORS -THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
The Hall of Mirrors is the most famous room in the entire Palace of Versailles France. It was built where there was an open terrace, exposed to the weather, situated between the King’s Apartments to the north and the Queen’s Apartments to the south.
It has 73m in length and pay tribute to the political, economic and artistic success of France.
On the ceiling, 30 panels glorify military and political victories. The 357 mirrors that embellish the 17 arches demonstrate the economic power, symbolizing that French manufactures could rival the monopoly of Venice in the production of mirrors. Also, they are a beautiful artistic detail, reflecting the view from the great windows. Even those with their backs to the windows could see the landscape.
It is impossible not to be impressed by the bronze-adorned pilasters (pictured above), which supported the chandeliers, decorated in “French Style”.
Court members and visitors crossed the Hall of Mirrors daily. It also served as a waiting room, meetings and rarely for official ceremonies. It was in the Hall of Mirrors that the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of the First World War.
4) THE WAR ROOM – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Its walls are magnificently covered with marble panels decorated with trophies and bronze weapons in commemoration of the military victories.
In the roof dome, France is personified, armed and seated in a cloud, surrounded by her victories. Their enemies are in the bows: Germany, Spain and Holland.
5) THE PEACE ROOM – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
It is situated in symmetrical position to the War Room and with the same decoration of the walls. However, the dome and the arches show scenes in benefit of the peace brought to Europe by France. In this room, there were musical concerts, an important part of the musical life of the court.
The last time we went to the Palace of Versailles France, there was an exhibition of “modern art installations” scattered throughout the property. The Peace Room was opened to the Hall of Mirrors and in it was the installation of the photo below. In my opinion, a total mismatch with the historical, cultural and artistic importance of the place.
6) THE KING’S CEREMONIAL APARTMENTS – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Seven very luxurious rooms, used for the official ceremonies and therefore decorated in the Italian style with many marble panels and painted ceilings, are called the King’s Ceremonial Apartments.
It was allowed the presence of people who wanted to see the king and his family passing by on the way to the chapel.
At night, several times a week, they were used for festive gatherings.
The King’s Ceremonial Apartments are included in the basic ticket of the Palace of Versailles France.
– HERCULES ROOM -THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
What impresses the most in the Hercules room is the gigantic painting of Veronese, The Meal in the House of Simon, a gift from the Republic of Venice to King Louis XIV, but brought to the Palace of Versailles France by Louis XV.
The ceiling is also beautiful, painted by Lemoyne. It is from a technique called marouflage, where the painting is done on canvases, which are then glued to the ceiling. Exhausted after 4 years in this project, even having been named the First Painter by King Louis XV, Lemoyne committed suicide.
– THE HALL OF ABUNDANCE – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Here, during the night festivities, coffee, wine and spirits were served.
– VENUS ROOM – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
The ceiling decoration is based on Venus, the Goddess of Love, relating it to the planet in Ancient Greece.
In this room, what appears to be marble is actually false. It’s a painting technique. This can be seen in the photo above, on the pilasters that surround the statue of Louis XIV.
In the night festivities, here were placed pyramids of rare fresh fruits like oranges and lemons, marzipan and candied fruits.
– DIANA’S ROOM – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
- Here, the paintings on the ceiling show Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt, watching the navigation and hunting scenes. In the nightly events, this was the pool hall, a game in which Louis XIV was an expert.
– MARS ROOM – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
- This room marks the beginning of the king’s private apartments. Here stayed the sovereign’s guard. Therefore, the choice of the God of War as the theme of the paintings is very appropriate.
- In the festivities, until 1750, there were 2 platforms, one on each side of the fireplace, for the musicians to play. It was in this room that people danced.
– MERCURY ROOM – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
This was the King’s Room in the Ceremonial Apartments. However, early in the winter, the bed was removed to make room for game tables.
Who used this room for a few days, was the grandson of Louis XIV, when he was named King of Spain.
Initially the balustrade that separated the bed from the rest of the room was of solid silver. Also the brocade, woven with gold and silver thread, covered the walls and the bed. This luxury had a sad end: they were melted down to finance wars.
It was in this room that the coffin with the body of Louis XIV was exposed from September 2 to 10, 1715.
7) THE PRINCESSES APARTMENTS – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
King Louis XV had six daughters, known as the Madams of France. They lived in these apartments since 1752. However, only Adélaïde and Victoire remained until the French Revolution, because they had not married and were already in advanced age.
Due to extensive recovery work, the apartments were closed to the public from 1980 to 2013.
Nowadays, you can visit them with the basic ticket of the Palace of Versailles France. Access is through the ground floor in the Royal Pateo, through the yellow doors of the first photo of this post. Most people do not even realize they exist.
8) THE GALLERY OF THE GREAT BATTLES – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Created by Louis-Philippe, the Gallery of the Great Battles covers almost the entire first floor of the southern wing of the Palace of Versailles France and is considered the most important of the historic galleries.
I loved it. It was a surprise. About 30 paintings depict 1500 years of France’s military successes, from Clovis to Napoleon.
The Gallery of the Great Battles is the largest room of the Palace of Versailles France. It is 120m long by 13m wide. I loved the richness of details from the ceiling.
To access it, you will climb a huge staircase. Look up and you’ll see what’s in the picture below.
9) THE GARDEN -THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
The construction of the garden, begun in 1661 and was quite laborious, taking 40 years to be completed. That’s because the terrain was marshy and with many trees. Louis XIV entrusted André Le Nôtre with the task of making the gardens, which he thought was as important as the palace.
The fountains and the Grand Canal were excavated, with great earth movement. Thousands of people have worked on this project. Sometimes whole regiments.
Because it extends for over 800 hectares, it is interesting that you have at least an idea of what interests you. There is a profusion of fountains, lakes, statues and different nooks and crannies. So, wear very comfortable shoes, like sneakers, as you will walk for miles.
If you want, it is possible to rent bicycles, electric cars or take a little train to get around the garden. One of the times I went, I used the little train to go from the Palace to the Grand Trianon. I gave up using it to go to the Petit Trianon and return to the palace, since the waiting line was enormous!
10) THE PARK – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
It’s gigantic. Immense. Perfect for long distance runners to train, not for ordinary tourists. The big highlight is the Grand Canal. Take a sarong and lie down to rest, because it will be a long and wonderful day.
11) THE GRAND TRIANON – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
The Grand Trianon was built in 1697 where formerly was the Trianon de Porcelain of Louis XIV. It was used for the sovereign to escape the pomp and ceremony of the court and to be with his mistress, Madame de Montespan.
The small pink marble palace has Italian influence, while the gardens are typically French.
Several generations of the French monarchy used it and embellished it. Even Napoleon Bonaparte, after organizing his restoration, stayed with his wife innumerable times hosted in the Grand Trianon.
More recently, Charles de Gaulle restored it, creating an area for guests of the French Republic and another for the President.
12) THE PETIT TRIANON – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Built between 1762 and 1768, the Petit Trianon was the private place of King Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour.
In 1774, King Louis XVI gave it to Marie-Antoinette. This has become her preferred place to stay. Initially, she turned some of the gardens into an English-style park. Later she created a small model village, known as the “Village of Marie-Antoinette”.
Subsequently, several other royalty members lived in the Petit Trianon. In 2008, it was restored and fully opened to the public.
Inside the Petit Trianon, you will see the billiards, dinner, mirrors and music rooms, Marie-Antonieta’s room, the room to reheat the food before serving it to the king and several others.
We prefered the outside, where are located the French Garden, the French Pavilion, the Temple of Love, the Rock and the belvedere by the lake.
13) THE VILLAGE OF MARIE-ANTOINETTE – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Contrary to popular belief, Marie-Antoinette and her guests did not “play of being farmers” in the small village set up. The queen used as a place for relaxing walks and for small parties.
In fact, everything really worked. An important point the queen insisted on. Thus the domains of Marie-Antoinette had an educational purpose for the children of the royal family.
Although of rustic exterior, the interior of the premises was carefully decorated and richly furnished, so that the queen could use them.
You will find the mill, the barn, the fisherman’s hut, the guardhouse and even a farm with cows, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. I loved it. I found everything very curious. However, I agree that this is an unusual place in the Palace of Versailles France.
14) WHERE TO EAT – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
If you want to save money, bring a snack and have a picnic by the lake in the park of the Palace of Versailles France. That’s what we did the first time. Then, we slept like babies lying on the lawn. Hundreds of people had this same idea.
In other visits, we prefered to eat at Angelina, which is located on the first floor of the south wing, inside the Palace of Versailles France, as soon as you climb the staircase that goes to the Great Battles Room. Angelina is famous. They say that in Angelina at Rue de Rivoli is where you find the best hot chocolate in Paris. At Angelina’s palace restaurant, I ate one of the best salads of my life. The sweets there are also delicious.
THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE TIP: IF THERE IS NO PLACE FOR YOU TO SIT NEAR THE COUNTER, WALK DOWN THE CORRIDOR TO A LARGE ROOM FULL OF TABLES AT YOUR DISPOSAL.
In addition to Angelina, there is a restaurant with outdoor tables by the lake.
15) WHEN TO GO – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
- The most important thing is to go! The Palace of Versailles France is always wonderful!
- In summer, there are more flowers. Actually, there are only 2 large raised flower beds, the rest of the garden is of pruned shrubs and trees. In addition, another advantage of summer is that you can have lunch outside and rest on the lawn.
- Of course in winter, if it is raining, it will be very difficult to visit the garden, the park, the Petit Trianon, the Grand Trianon and the domaine of Maria-Antonieta.
When I went in the winter, some statues were covered with protective plastics and all the fountains were off.
It is during the summer that you can see some music festivals, fireworks and the fountains working full time.
16) TIMETABLE – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
-Tuesday to Sunday: from 09:00 to 18:30;
– Closed: Mondays and May 1st.
-Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00 to 18:30;
– Closed: Mondays and May 1st.
-Day from 08:00 to 20:30.
On concert days they close at 17:30.
17) HOW TO GET THERE – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
In Paris, take the RER line C. It will drop you off at the Versailles Château – Rive Gauche train station. From there it is only a 10min walk.
Buy the return ticket to the Palace of Versailles France at the ticket booth at the RER C station in Paris or use your Navigo, Mobilis or Paris pass. Visit zones 1-4.
T + tickets, are the common subway tickets in Paris and can not be used, since Versailles is another city.
Guided visit of the Palace of Versailles with a pre-booked entrance time and priority access!
Includes transportation in luxury air conditioned coach, guided visit of the Palace of Versailles, Petit Trianon, Grand Trianon, Marie-Antoniettes’s Hamlet and lunch.
18) OTHER WONDERFUL PLACES TO VISIT IN FRANCE – THINGS TO DO IN VERSAILLES FRANCE
Paris is always wonderful! As it has many attractions, we did a super guide of 05 days: museums, gourmet food stores, the best views, gardens, architecture and even the subway stations!
See you later!