The royal château of Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France is huge (over 800 hectares!) To enjoy Versailles Palace to the fullest you need to plan ahead. Here are some great tips for visiting Versailles!
As mentioned above, the Versailles estate is huge. You will be walking many miles in the chateaux and the gardens. It is a blessing to have your bike ready to get around between the different areas of the estate, the palace, the gardens, the Trianons and the centre of the city of Versailles to have a great (and cheap!) lunch at the market hall.
How to get a bike in Versailles? This is how we did it when we visited Versailles:
Heaving a bike at your disposal has plenty of advantages; You don't have to pay and wait in line for the mini train or spend money on an electric golf cart.
You can go to the town's center for lunch, which gives you plenty of options and is much cheaper than what the palace has to offer.
Even with a bike you will be walking a lot! Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothes, you don's have to dress up in your dancing gear to visit Versailles nowadays!
Maybe it is obvious nowadays, but still a huge crowd is standing in line in the palace courtyard to buy an entrance ticket. Buying your ticket online is really advisable. Don't get me wrong, you will still end up in a queue once or twice during your visit, but at least your skipped that first one!
The advantage of buying your ticket in advance is you have the time to plan you visit. There are so many options! First, see how much time you can spend, how fit you are, and how exited the rest of the family or travel company is about this visit (nothing more exhausting than dragging around bored children through a crowded palace!).
If you have made your plan you start looking for the best options for your travel company. There are many possibilities, here is a selection:
You can get a passport for one or two days, and for a whole year!
This gives you access to the whole Estate; meaning: The Palace state apartments (with audio guide), The Estate of Trianon, the gardens and the coach gallery.
Do note that you will always have to pay extra for the Fountains Shows and Musical Gardens. If you did not pay for this and you are visiting on you will have to buy an additional ticket or are refused entrance to the gardens. Check here the days of the Fountains Shows and Musical Gardens. You can book separate tickets for the Musical Gardens
Skip-the-line Versailles Classic - This 75-minute guided tour will take you to the most important parts of the Palace, the Hall Of Mirrors and the King's and Queen's State Apartments. The best part, you get priority access!
Versailles Garden Ticket - Skip the buildings and just visit the gardens. You can enjoy the gardens of Versailles as they did in the 17th and 18th-century, and as intended by Louis XIV and André Le Nôtre. If you visit during the two periods a year (March 29 to May 17 and July 5 to October 26, Tuesdays only) when the groves and protected areas of the gardens are accessible to the public, you will have a full day trip. See all options here.
Estate of Marie Antoinette: Visit the Petit Trianon and Hamlet of Marie Antoinette; it is tranquil and quiet, and you cannot believe the crowds of tourists are just around the corner.
After you passed the security check and passed the main entrance, you will find yourself at the Cour Royale, where you can easily queue up in the next line that forms to enter the State Apartments.
Instead, turn left, cross the Marble Courtyard and enter the Ladies Apartments. Here we find the intimate rooms that were actually used by the inhabitants to live in, being the daughters of King Louis XV. Madame Vicitoire and Madame Adelaide have lived at Versailles almost all their life. Until the French Revolution of course, when they had to flee.
Most of the furniture you see in these apartments are not the orriginals since during the revolution most was trashed or stolen. But they did a great job capturing the atmosphere of the rooms during the days of the ancient regime. As oppposed to the state apartments it is quiet here. You can walk around (almost) by yourself and breath it all in.
There are several options to visit areas of the palace that are otherwise closed to the public. The private apartments of Kings Louis XV and XVI,apartments Opera House or the private chapel, they are all usually off limits but can be visited with this Versailles Half-Day Tour from Paris
Now available in the app store are several apps for both smartphones and tablets. Download the official Palace of Versailles mobile application and you don't have to get in (another) line to get the audio guide of the Palace, because you already have it on your phone! You can download it a while before your planned visit to Versailles and investigate the tour beforehand, figure out where to go first and what need-to-see areas you don't want to miss.
There are more apps to guide you through the estate, like the Versailles Gardens App and the Trianon App. This and more can be found in the Play store and on the official website of the Palace.
Some things to consider before you plan your trip to Versailles:
Period to visit
Time to visit
Camping Versailles - To get the best out of your visit I recommend that you stay in Versailles for a few days. We are huge fans of Huttopia Campsite's, and there is one in Versailles, just a few km from the gates to Versailles Palace. You can rent tents, mobile homes, hikers' cabins and bungalows. Roulottes are also available. If you are curious what that is, just visit their website. You can also rent bikes here (see tip 1) and there is a heated swimming pool.
Sleep in style at Versailles - You can't stay in the Versailles palace itself, but the 4-star hotel Trianon Palace Versailles is the next best thing! Hotel Trianon is located between the Palace and Marie Antoinette’s domain, you can be her neighbour for a few days.
Eat in Versailles - In the center of Versailles you will find the indoor-outdoor food market at the Place du Marché Notre Dame. Since the time of Louis XIV the people of Versailles have shopped their groceries here, so I suggest you do the same. You can eat there on the spot, or buy some delicious specialties and have a picnic in the Palace Park.
A day trip to a vast palace estate like Versailles may seem very expensive, but there are ways to avoid spending a lot of money.
Admission to some areas is always free of charge