Versailles is quite popular for palace and the beautiful gardens. Located in the Ile-de-France region, it is a majestic French city with deep royal roots and rich cultural heritage to it. The city has a number of UNESCO heritage sites along with the palace and gardens that are a must see. Also, the city is known for various treaties that happened here which includes the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Versailles. And, do not forget about the famous Sun Castle built here along with the other spots, only locals know of. While you are here, there are quite a few things to do in Versailles to make that most out of it.
Best time to visit Versailles
While it is a year around destination to visit, the summer months are quite hot with the large number of crowds coming in. While you explore the place well during summers, be prepared to bare with the large number of people coming to visit this beautiful city. If you do not mind a bit cold weather, then winter is the best time to visit Versailles with less crowd and also lower prices on stay due to off season.
Winter serves as the off season and offers you the perfect opportunity to explore Versailles with your family or friends. Also, it is during this time, you can meet locals and explore Versailles like never before with them. Apart from the summers and winters, autumn and spring is a great time to visit as well. The gardens are blossoming to the fullest during Spring time making it one of the best places to visit. Thus, depending on your time and comfort, winter is the best time to visit Versailles.
Top things to do in Versailles
1. Visiting the Palace of Versailles
Regarded as the best palace museum in entire Europe, The Palace of Versailles is a marvel of architecture and culture. It has been a UNESCO world heritage site for more than 30 years now. Standing tall as the as a stunning example of French art, the palace is constructed in 1623. Louis XIV, finished the construction during his prime role in French revolution.
The whole palace is quite an example of royalty with gold, crystals and precious gems. While you are here, do not forget to explore the different rooms in the palace. They adorn different paintings by different artists from French revolution. There are numerous activities to do around the palace for which online booking can be done. Thus, visiting the Palace of Versailles is one of the best things to do in Versailles.
2. Admiring the Gardens of Versailles
Gardens of Versailles are a dazzling accompaniment to the popular palace. With the total area of 800 hectares, Gardens of Versailles is full of sculptures, rare flowers and vividly beautiful greenery. Gaining the status of a UNESCO heritage world site in 1979, a large number of people started visiting it since then. You must visit the gardens to witness the beautifully manicured lawns and grand fountains.
The numerous sculptures and fountains here are real example of French revolution and the artists that flourished during that time. Visiting the garden will allow you to experience of living in a French royal court. If you happen to visit it during the summers, you will also witness the beautiful water shows that happen on a daily basis. Thus, visiting and admiring the beautiful Gardens of Versailles is one of the top things to do in Versailles.
3. Visiting Grand Trianon
Specially constructed on the request of King Louis XIV, the Grand Trianon is a hamlet located in the outskirts of the city. It served as a place of refuge for monarchs during French revolution. The location of the Grand Trianon allowed king to wine and dine while forgetting the strict etiquette of court and stay away from the crowds. Also, the Grand Trianon is surrounded by thick forests and a closed private park. This allowed kings to isolate themselves from outside world. The place is quite remarkable with its architecture of white and blue tiles in the interior while red marble on the exterior.
You can explore the Grand Trianon on your own or with the help of a guide , if you wish to understand the history more. The palace is nowadays used as a French Republic presidential residence which is used to host foreign officials. Also, while you are here, do not forget to admire the French- style geometrical gardens brimming with orange blossoms.
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4. Visiting and attending the Royal Opera of Versailles
The Royal Opera of Versailles is designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel and is located in the north wing of the palace of Versailles. The whole construction consists of wood which is regarded to generate the best of acoustics throughout the buildings. The building is big enough to accommodate 1200 spectators at a time.
While you can go visit the building and admire the beauty of its construction and rich history, you can also attend an opera session. The Royal Opera is a host to diverse performances. It includes ballet dance,orchestral pieces and classic theatrical opera. The experience of sitting in an old opera hall, listening to the acoustics is something you will cherish forever. Also, the magnificent chandeliers and traditional dancing generates a fairytale atmosphere in the hall.
5. Visiting the great Versailles Cathedral
Regarded as the french national monument, Versailles Cathedral is among the Versailles’ pre-eminent Roman Catholic Church. It was earlier constructed as a simple paris church, when Louis XV laid its founding stone in 18th century. In spite of suffering through a number of turbulent times, the church was consecrated as a cathedral in 1843.
The cathedral today stands still with its unique baroque style and great architecture. You can explore the outside of the cathedral where beautiful gardens sit today. Also, the cathedral is home today to some of the most interesting period paintings that you can witness. Thus, visiting the Versailles Cathedral is among the best things to do in Versailles.
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6. Going on a food trial in Versailles
It is a great place to experience not only the rich culture and heritage of the city but also the different food items. While there are quite a few places to eat in Versailles, you cannot miss some places that serve authentic delicacies which you will not get anywhere else. While you are here, take out a day and go out on a food trial.
Start your day with the famous Creperie la Place which serves the best pancakes with different varieties. Also, sitting on the streets of Versailles while having some freshly made crepes is an experience you should not miss. In the afternoon, if you wondering where to have some lip smacking lunch, then go to Pizzeria O ’Bottega which serves some of the best wood fired pizzas and a large variety of continental food. And to end your day, visit the popular Banderillas which is among the best places to eat. The restaurant is quite small but with cozy and comfortable interiors. Also, you will get a large variety of European and Mediterranean dishes here. To top it off, they also have special discounts on some days.
7. Hall of Mirrors
Located in the Palace of Versailles, this hall serves as the passageway connecting the apartments of King and Queen. Around more than 350 mirrors are used in the construction of the hall. Also, there are 17 mirror decorated arches and 17 gilded and arcaded windows to witness. The whole palace is a magnificent creation of gold and crystal and reflects royalty in every corner.
Visit the Hall of Mirror early morning to escape the large crowd and witness the place all by yourself. You can explore the hall around to find some of the most exquisite art works and mirror works here. Also, the hall serves as the place where the famous Treaty of Versailles happened and marked the end of World War-I. Visiting this place literally feels like going back in time, with the great architecture and the amount of history it has preserved.
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8. Shopping in the Versailles Market
Versailles is quite famous for its open markets where you can find a number of things. Along with the luxurious palaces and residences, it is also home to some of the bustling markets and streets stalls. It all began in the 17th century during the revolution, these markets emerged. And, now the markets have become a lively part of the city and a must visit while you are here. Shopping in Versailles market is one of the best experiences you will ever have.
Some of the top markets includes the Market of Notre Dam, which offers its visitors a great variety of fresh French food items ranging from Brioche to frog legs. Also, do make a point to visit the Jussieu-Montreuil market which is the best place to shop organic produce in all of Versailles. Apart from these, there are quite a few stalls for shopping of antique artifacts.
Versailles, thus being a small city in France has a lot of offer to its visitors. May it be the royal Palace and Gardens or the shopping streets and endless food stalls, it has it all to make your vacation a memorable. Do not wait any further, plan your trip, book your tickets and head out to Versailles, to indulge yourself on an historic adventure like never before.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s) about Versailles
- When can you visit the palace for free?
Ans. The Versailles Estate is open and free of charge to visitors on the first Sunday of the month from November to March.
- Is there a single ticket to visit the whole Versailles Estate? Where to buy it?
Ans. The Passport ticket grants admission to the entire estate of Versailles including the palace, estate of Trianon (the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon and the Queen’s Hamlet), the gardens and temporary exhibitions. Passport ticket price- 20 Euros without Musical fountain and 27 Euros with Musical fountain.
- What is the best time to visit Versailles?
Ans. Although Versailles is a year around destination, Winter is the best season to visit. During winters, you will get the opportunity to explore the place with less crowds and also discounts on stay.
- Are the Guided tours for the palace worth it?
While you can always explore the palace on your own, if you go for the guided tour, you will be exploring the unseen areas too. Also, guided tours can help you visit the places faster than usual crowds with priority. And, guided tours are a great way to learn more about the place properly from the guide while seeing it. A Guided tour will cost you somewhere around 10 Euros along with the ticket price.
- What are the opening hours and admission fees for Palace of Versailles and the Gardens?
Ans. In low season, the Gardens are open from 8am to 6pm while in the high season, they are open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Palace of Versailles ticket- 18 Euros, Palace Gardens ticket with Musical fountain – 9.50 Euros.
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