Why the Palace of Versailles is a must visit in Paris

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Paris is on the bucket list for so many people for a reason, and the Palace of Versailles needs to be part of that visit. This article shares everything you need to know about visiting Versailles, from the must-sees to the skip-the-line lowdown.

The Palace of Versailles courtyard featuring ornate golden accents, large windows, and detailed sculptures, with people sitting and walking on the checkered floor under a clear blue sky.
Photo credit: Honest and Truly.

Why you should visit Versailles

You may have visited palaces before, but Versailles isn’t just another palace. It’s a whole level above with extravagance beyond what you’ve likely seen before. The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most well-known parts of the compound, but there is so much more to see. You can explore the bedrooms where kings and queens slept, the chapels where they worshipped and the public spaces where court intrigue occurred and history-shaping treaties were signed.

Ornate hall with crystal chandeliers, gilt decorations, and large frescoed ceiling. The room features columns, mirrors, and large windows. People are visible in the background, admiring the architecture.
Photo credit: Honest and Truly.

Versailles is more than just opulent halls, however. When you make this day trip from Paris, you must leave time to explore the sprawling gardens, meticulously landscaped with geometric precision, dotted with fountains, statues and even a funky little grotto. There are several smaller castles on site, as well as cafes to grab a snack and walking or biking trails.

Paris is filled with museums and experiences to fill your vacation, and you don’t want to miss the Eiffel Tower, a boat ride on the Seine or a food tour in one of the famous neighborhoods, but Versailles contains it all. It’s a museum with artwork, as well as a gorgeous palace with lush gardens and so much more.

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The benefits of using a tour guide

Versailles is vast. There is so much history and so many places to explore that having a tour guide really adds to the experience. The Tour Guy skip-the-line Palace of Versailles tour also means you don’t have to wait for tickets either.

Tour groups used to mean that you were herded from room to room and often struggled to hear the guide, but times have changed as technology evolves. You will receive brand-new earbuds and a receiver so that the guide speaks in your ear, and you can range a bit further without spending time trying to have the guide corral everyone.

The guide will also point out details you might miss, like the symbolism woven into the artwork or the scandalous whispers behind certain portraits. They know how to navigate the crowds to get the best views and which rooms have security workers who will hustle you through.

Tour guides bring the history to life and answer questions you may have, making it more than just a collection of fancy rooms. When the organized tour is over, you will have the opportunity to stay and explore the rest of Versailles on your own. The guide can then provide personalized recommendations for what you will most enjoy for the remainder of your day. With so much to see and do at Versailles, it’s impossible to experience it all in just a few hours or a single day.

The Tour Guy tour also includes a ticket to the gardens in the price, so you can skip that additional line when you’re ready to head out. Note that the tickets to Versailles and the ones for the gardens have the same design on the front but are not interchangeable, so do not confuse them.

Is skip-the-line worth it?

Waiting in lines can seriously eat into your precious palace time. Is the skip-the-line option worth the extra bucks?

Lines can easily be up to two hours and sometimes up to five hours just to purchase tickets and enter Versailles, so make sure to book a tour that avoids that vacation downer. You still have to go through security, but it’s a different and shorter entrance, so the tour saves you a ton of time. 

The Tour Guy meets at a central location in the city of Paris, making it much less stressful to get to Versailles, a suburb of Paris and saving you from a lengthy Metro or car trip. If you’re on a budget and have patience, the regular line might be manageable during shoulder seasons.

For any major monuments in Paris, book skip-the-line tours, whether it’s for the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower or the Palace of Versailles. There’s far more to do in Paris than the time you have on your vacation, so don’t waste it.

Do you have a limited amount of time at Versailles?

The good news is that once your formal tour is over you can stay and explore Versailles and its gardens and other buildings until the grounds close for the day. For that reason alone, I recommend that you book a tour early in the day so you have as much time as you wish to explore the rest of the site. It’s also less likely to be crowded than in the middle of the day.

Your tour lasts a few hours, so a mid- or late-morning tour means it ends just in time to have lunch before you start exploring on your own. You cannot bring any food or drink into the Palace of Versailles, but there are plenty of options to purchase once your tour ends.

A symmetrical garden path lined with trimmed, green hedges leading to a classical white building under a partly cloudy sky.
Photo credit: Honest and Truly.

Be sure to hold onto your ticket to access the gardens, as you have to scan it when you enter other buildings like the Grand and Petit Trianon. You definitely don’t want to have to purchase an additional ticket or have to skip it because you misplaced yours.

Why you can’t skip visiting the gardens

The gardens at Versailles are a masterpiece in themselves. They contain massive, sprawling lawns, perfectly symmetrical flower beds blooming in a riot of colors and fountains that come alive with choreographed displays set to music.

“Visiting Versailles was a highlight of my first trip to Paris. We made sure to visit when the fountains were on for the musical fountain show. Don’t miss Trianon and the Queen’s Hamlet. It’s a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes.”

— Lisa Wells, Coastal Wandering 

The peaceful gardens are the perfect way to unwind after ogling the palace’s opulent interiors. Pick up a lunch from a takeaway restaurant on-site, find a shady spot in a designated picnic area and soak in the atmosphere after your guided tour.

Exploring the gardens also allows you to appreciate the sheer scale of Versailles. Getting lost amidst the hedges and fountains offers a different perspective of the palace, reminding you that it wasn’t just a luxurious home, but a self-contained world unto itself.

Take advantage of the little train. For just €9 for those 18 and older, it’s the best way to see the vast gardens, especially on a hot day. You can hop on and off at each stop, giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

A green and white tour tram labeled "Les Petits Trains" is parked in front of a historical building with arched windows. Three people are visible through the tram windows, conversing.
Photo credit: Honest and Truly.

A timeless treasure

Versailles is more than just a palace; it’s a symbol of French grandeur, a testament to a bygone era. Walking its halls is like stepping into a living museum, a place where you feel the magnitude of its impact and importance around every corner. Whether you’re a history buff or simply someone who appreciates beauty, Versailles has something to offer everyone.

Versailles awaits, ready to transport you back in time for a truly unforgettable experience. To maximize your time at this awe-inspiring French landmark, remember to wear comfortable shoes and consider a skip-the-line tour and the little train for the gardens.

Michelle Price is a food and travel writer at Honest and Truly who almost has an empty nest. She loves to provide both the inspiration and the confidence you need to help get you into the kitchen and on the road to enjoy new flavors and experiences.

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