There's no better place to experience the majesty of Louis XIV's France (r. 1638-1715) than the Chateau de Versailles, its magnificent gardens, the fountains, the Trianon Palaces, and Marie-Antoinette's Estate. From the decadence of the Grand Apartments to the stunning Hall of Mirrors and the opulent Royal Quarters, it's a must-see attraction when you're in Paris. Of course, it's also immensely popular.
As you know by now, we don't like to wait in lines — in fact, we hate it. That's why we always book a skip-the-line tour that also includes the services of an expert guide who can make the past come alive with stories of palace life. Our top choices are the tours that also provide transportation from Paris, so that everything is taken care of. It's the way we do it. Here are our top recommendations.
Instead of worrying about trains, tickets, and guide books, choose to visit Versailles this easy and relaxing way. Your driver picks you up at your Paris address for a quick trip directly to the palace, where you arrive refreshed and ready to explore. First up, a morning tour of the chateau itself.
Later, after a classic French lunch near the Grand Canal, your guide leads you through the magnificent gardens to the Queen's Hamlet, Marie Antoinette's private rustic farm. You also visit the Petit Trianon, the mini-palace where Louis XV and Louis XVI liked to relax and escape hectic court life. There's free time to wander through the gardens, surrounded by statues, fountains, and marble vases. This full-day tour is very popular, so be sure to book early.
• Includes transportation from central Paris
• Full-day, 8-hour activity
• Classic French lunch included
• Visit the chateau & gardens
• Includes the Grand Trianon & Queen's Hamlet
• Private guide at the chateau
Our guide was prompt and precise in picking us up and she did a great job all day of providing just the right amount of commentary to make the tour of Versailles, the gardens and the Trianon come alive. Being able to bypass the lines to get into the palace was terrific. I highly recommend this trip.”
– 5-Star Review
The morning begins in central Paris where you meet your driver for a small-group (maximum eight people), priority-access visit to Versailles. A professional guide introduces you to the best rooms in the chateaux, including Hall of Mirrors and the Royal Apartments. Although this is a shorter visit than the full-day tour (above), there is still plenty of time for you to explore the amazing gardens. Also available as a private tour, for just you and your group.
• Transportation from central Paris
• Half-day, 5-hour activity
• Air-conditioned, luxury Eurovan
• Priority access
• Guided tour of the chateau
• Free time int he gardens
This tour was fantastic! The driver/guide was very knowledgeable about the art and history of Versailles. The small group made it very personalized, the guide was able to answer questions and give extra details based on our questions and interests. It couldn't have been easier, we were picked up and dropped off at the door to the apartment where we were staying."
– 5-Star Review
We love this full day of art & history that includes two historic and iconic sites. First stop, Giverny, the home of Claude Monet's famous gardens, his house, and his studio. It's an amazing feeling being in the place when Monet painted some of his most-famous Impressionist masterpieces.
Before your afternoon at Versailles, you stop for a classic French lunch (included). Next up — visit the magnificent chateau with your guide leading you to the the Hall of Mirrors, the royal apartment, and other rooms in the royal palace. Available in the flower seasons, April to October !
• Transportation from central Paris
• Full day, 10-hour activity
• Small group, 8 people maximum
• Gourmet lunch + wine
• The route takes you through picturesque countryside
• Skip-the-line entrance & professional guide
It was a perfect trip with a great tour guide! The day was well paced with Versailles in the morning and Giverny in the afternoon. My tour group was a lot of fun. I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in these two sites. The hotel pick up was also ideal and went smoothly."
– 5-Star Review
This tour is immensely popular with visitors… and with Paris Insiders Guide readers. It starts in Paris, where you meet up with your expert guide and catch the RER urban train to Versailles. There you pick up your bike. First stop — the bustling city market to buy ingredients for lunch. Then you ride through the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles, along tree-lined trails, past fountains, through the forest, leaving walkers behind!
The French royal families used to enjoy picnics by the Grand Canal, and that's exactly what you will do. You're not done yet, there's still the palace itself to explore before you return to Paris on the RER. The 9-hour tour includes everything. This activity runs in most months, with a break from December to February.
• Guided round-trip train transportation from Paris
• Full day, 9-hour activity
• Bikes, helmets & audio guides are provided
• Includes market visit in Versailles
• Picnic lunch by the Grand Canal
• All entrance fees
I cannot say enough about this tour, it was more than I could have imagined or hoped. Our guide gave just the right amount of historical context. I thought the stop at the market would be a quick part of the overall experience, but it totally blew me away and turned out to be a huge highlight!”
– 5-Star Review
Water has been an important design feature of the royal estate since the very beginning. In its heyday, there were 2,400 fountains operating in the garden and park. Today there are only 50, yet they still contribute to the glory of Versailles. Come with us on a virtual stroll as we visit the most popular fountains as well as other important water features.
The Versailles estate covers nearly 2,000 acres and includes the chateau (natch), a collection of formal gardens, and a large woodland park. Learn about these gardens and the park in our guide. By the way, did you know entrance to the gardens is (usually) free?
Before you hop in the Eurovan and head out for the royal estate, it's nice to know a bit about its history. Like, who built Versailles? And, who lived there? We also share five highlights of Versailles that you don't want to miss.
When you don't have to wasted time by standing in line you have more time to learn fascinating details about Versailles. Here are nine things we learned on our recent visit.
It really takes a full day to explore Versailles. (For instance, is takes an hour to walk from the chateau to the far end of the Grande Canal. Plus there is the Trianon & Marie Antoinette's toy farm to to explore.) So, you're going to need refreshments, bathroom breaks, and rest. Taking time for a meal in one of the eateries on site will take care of all three of those needs.
On a recent visit to Versailles we had a chance to explore the options — from a high-end restaurant to a tea salon to casual dining. We'll share our findings.
The chateau itself is open daily (except Mondays) from 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM. Plan for a minimum ninety minutes for your visit. During the summer months, it's certainly recommended to arrive by 9 AM to avoid the crowds. (The crowds are why we recommend skip-the-Line tours.
These include the Petit Trianon, the Grand Trianon and the Queen's Hamlet. Hours are noon to 6:30. Always closed on Mondays.
It's the perfect place for a walk, renting a boat on the Grand Canal, going for a bike ride. The Park is open free of charge daily from 7 AM to 8:30 PM. In the winter months the park opens at 8 AM and closes at 6 PM.
The gardens are also free of charge except for days when there are a fountains show or Musical Gardens show. The gardens are open daily from 8 AM to 8:30 PM, closing at 6 PM in the winter months. Sometimes the gardens close at 5:30 for special events. Plan for at least 2 hours for your visit.
• Top Ways to Visit Versailles…
• History & Highlights…
• The Fountains of Versailles…
• Versailles Gardens & Park…
• Restaurants of Versailles…
• 9 Things We Learned…
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