All you need to know to plan a visit to the Palace of Versailles

JUAN MARTINEZ

February 5, 2023

All you need to know to plan a visit to the Palace of Versailles

From tickets to the best times to visit, here is a complete guide to everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Palace of Versailles in France. 

Known as one of the most magnificent palaces on earth, the Palace of Versailles is probably ranked very high by every traveller in Europe. The history behind its walls, the beauty of its vast gardens and the magic of its architectural style make it one of the most visited places in Europe. I have been to Versailles many times, and I wish I had known I learned a new tip or secret each time. 

Should I hire a guide or travel independently, is the standard ticket enough for me, or should I wake up and try to get first to avoid crowds. All these questions will be answered in this article.  

Versailles from outside
This is the classic postcard picture view of Versailles

Understanding Versailles

The Palace of Versailles has a rich history that spans several centuries. It began as a small hunting lodge built by Louis XIII in the early 17th century. However, his son Louis XIV, also known as the “”Sun King,”” transformed the palace into a grand residence for the French monarchy. He began construction on the palace in 1661 and completed it in 1682.

Louis XIV wanted to make the palace a symbol of the absolute power of the French monarchy, and he succeeded. The palace was designed by the renowned architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, and it features several grand halls and rooms, including the famous Hall of Mirrors. The palace also features extensive gardens, including the famous Latona Fountain.

During the reign of Louis XIV, the palace was the center of political power in France and the residence of the French royal court. The palace was also the site of many grand events, such as the famous Hall of Mirrors, where Louis XIV would entertain foreign diplomats and dignitaries.

During the 18th century, the palace fell into disrepair and was used less frequently by the French monarchy. However, it was restored and renovated during the 19th century by King Louis-Philippe and it was opened to the public as a museum.

During the 20th century, the palace underwent further renovations and restorations, and it continues to be a popular tourist destination today. The palace and its gardens are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is considered one of the most important examples of French Baroque architecture.

What kind of ticket should I buy for Versailles?

Visitors to the Palace of Versailles can purchase tickets to enter the palace and explore the various sights and attractions. These tickets will give you access to the palace and the gardens.

There are several types of tickets available for purchase:

  • Standard tickets: These tickets give you access to the palace and the gardens. They are the most popular type of ticket and are suitable for most visitors.
  • Skip-the-line tickets: As the name suggests, these tickets allow you to skip the line and enter the palace more quickly. These are ideal for those who are short on time or do not want to wait in long lines.
  • Guided tour tickets: These tickets include a guided tour of the palace and the gardens. They are a great option for those who want to learn more about the palace’spalace’s history and architecture.
  • Special access tickets: These tickets give you access to areas of the palace that are not normally open to the public, such as the royal apartments or the palace’spalace’s art collection.

While you can get your tickets at the many tourist offices around Paris, the most convenient way is for sure online. The purchase of Versailles tour tickets can be done through your favorite platform or through the official site. Keep in mind that the palace is closed on certain days, so it is important to check the schedule before planning your visit. Companies like Viator, Get your Guide or local operators such as ParisCityVision offer an easy and fast way to get your tickets. With the last one, you can even get special discounts and offers.

Due to high demand, the palace can be very crowded, especially during peak season, so it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

Chanderliers in Versailles
Expect to see crowds of tourists at any time of the year. Therefore, as a photographer, you should focus on details.

What are the highlights when visiting Versailles?

With a lot to see and not much time ahead, these are some of the highlights you should be aware of when visiting Versailles.

  • Grand architecture and design: The palace is a masterpiece of French Baroque architecture, and its grand halls and rooms, such as the Hall of Mirrors, are truly breathtaking. Visitors can admire the ornate decorations, intricate details, and stunning chandeliers that adorn the palace.
  • Gardens: The palace’spalace’s gardens are another major draw for visitors. Designed by the famous landscape architect André Le Nôtre, the gardens feature a variety of features, including the Latona Fountain, the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon. Visitors can walk through the gardens, admire the sculptures and fountains, and take in the beautiful views.
  • Historical significance: The palace is an important piece of French history, and it played a significant role in the political and cultural life of France during the 17th and 18th centuries. Visitors can learn about the palace’spalace’s history and how it served as a symbol of the absolute power of the French monarchy.
  • Art and artifacts: The palace is home to a collection of art and artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, and furniture. Visitors can see works by famous artists such as Veronese, Rubens and Le Brun, among others.
  • Entertainment: The palace was a center of entertainment and culture during the reign of Louis XIV, and visitors can learn about the grand events that took place at the palace, such as the famous Hall of Mirrors where Louis XIV would entertain foreign diplomats and dignitaries.
  • Scenic view: The palace is located in the Île-de-France region of France, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the surrounding area.

Read more: How to prepare for a interrail trip in Europe

Gardens of Versailles
For many travellers, the gardens of Versailles are one of the biggest highlights when visiting.

Is Versailles worth a visit? 

There are several reasons why the Palace of Versailles continues to be a popular tourist destination and why more and more people are visiting the palace:

  • Renovations and restorations: Over the years, the palace has undergone several renovations and restorations, which have helped to preserve the palace’spalace’s architectural and historical significance. These renovations have also made the palace more accessible to visitors, with new areas of the palace being opened to the public.
  • Increased tourism to France: In general, France is a popular tourist destination, and as more people visit the country, more people are also visiting the Palace of Versailles.
  • Social Media: Social media has been a major factor in increasing the popularity of the Palace of Versailles, as more and more people are sharing pictures and videos of the palace on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
  • Cultural events: The palace often hosts cultural events such as musical performances, art exhibitions, and historical reenactments. These events help to attract more visitors to the palace and to make their experience more interesting and engaging.
  • Educational and cultural value: The Palace of Versailles has a great educational and cultural value, and it is increasingly being used as an educational resource for schools and universities.
  • Marketing and promotion: The palace has been heavily marketed and promoted, both in France and internationally, which has helped to attract more visitors to the palace.

In conclusion, The Palace of Versailles continues to be a popular tourist destination and attracts more and more visitors each year. The palace’spalace’s renovations and restorations, increased tourism to France, social media, cultural events, educational and cultural value, and marketing and promotion all contribute to its popularity.

Yes! It’s worth a visit!

Read more: Exploring the South of France and Northern Spain on a road trip

Interior architecture of Versailles
Each room of Versailles fascinates in its own way.

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