To prepare your Versailles Palace visit, consult our information mentionned below.
History of Versailles Palace
Before visiting Versailles Palace discover why and how it was built :
- King Louis XIII
After having purchased the seigniory of Versailles (the present day Vieux-Versailles district), Louis XIII became the owner of the neighboring hunting ground, a game preserve on a butte surrounding several windmills. He had a hunting lodge built there in 1624, and expanded it shortly thereafter. However, it was labeled a "castle of cards" by his contemporaries, due to its unpretentiousness. The king died young and Versailles was soon forgotten again.
- Louis XIV the Sun King
It was not until the 1660's that the young Louis XIV began to grace Versailles with his presence, and to start building and holding parties there. The first building project, headed by the architect Louis Le Vau, led to the construction of the commons on the city side (the present day "old wing" and its former facing building, since replaced by the Gabriel wing) and to the start of André Le Nôtre's laying out of the gardens. After which, the famous "envelope" surrounding the old castle got underway, completely modifying the garden side part of the castle, to give it what was then a fashionable Italianate look. New buildings were built for the commons (the current ministers' wings), linking the prior ones to the palace and refurbishing them to suit the king's needs.
But the most significant work started by the Sun King was undertaken in 1678, once he decided to make Versailles the seat of his government. Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the king's lead architect, then oversaw construction of the sparkling hall of mirrors, with the decoration headed by Charles Le Brun. With the building of the south and north wings, the palace, designed to house the princes and courtesans, took on its definitive appearance at that time, while the "outside" was rising from the earth: royal stables around the parade ground, Grand Commun for services "of the Mouth," sumptuous Orangerie ... The court moved in on May 6, 1682, before the work was finished. The present day palace chapel was not built and decorated until 1699 to 1710, and was used more by Louis XV and Louis XVI than by the one who commissioned it.
- The XVIII ° century : Louis XV, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette
Subsequently, the work undertaken under Louis XV and headed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel focused mainly on interior decoration, and led to the creation not only of the refined decor of the private apartments, but also the Hercules Salon, particularly the admirable Opera. In that period, the king also had the Petit Trianon built, not far from the Grand Trianon, for the respite the Sun King required from the pomp of court life. Louis XV had the same desire, plus a passionate interest in the sciences, leading to a renowned botanical garden, later replaced by Marie-Antoinette's English garden. This queen, who was, herself, passionate over this enchanting domain, had a delightful theater built a little later and a Norman village set up, thenceforth referred to as the Queen's Hamlet (architect: Richard Mique). The kingdom's finances were in poor shape, and King Louis XVI himself limited the work to the palace, which underwent few changes during his reign.
- French Revolution
The French Revolution might have significantly damaged the emblem of absolute monarchy Versailles had become. But the presence of a large staff, plus assignment of the palace to the department's Ecole Centrale, meant that the worst was avoided. The park was turned into farmland, the courtyards unpaved, the insignia of the monarchy felled, and the furnishings dispersed.
- Napoleon 1st and Louis XVIII
Napoleon 1st, for his part, was only interested in the Trianons: He refurnished the larger one and made it his spring house after his split with Joséphine (1809). Its refined layout, only slightly changed later on, on the occasion of the stays of Louis-Philippe and his family, can still be visited. The Petit Trianon was dedicated by the emperor to his sister Pauline Borghesi. But it was later refurbished, thanks to the Empress Eugenia, who devoted part of her activities to clearing the name of the unfortunate Marie-Antoinette.
To restore the symmetry of the palace's facade on the town side, broken with the addition of the Gabriel wing under Louis XV, the Dufour pavilion was added to the palace, uninhabited after the Revolution, once Louis XVIII took the throne.
- Museum of the History of France and modern History
But it was Louis-Philippe, in particular, who set the palace on a new path by transforming it into the Museum of the History of France, opened in 1837 (architect: Frédéric Nepveu). Many of the Eighteenth Century interiors disappeared at the time, and in their place large numbers of paintings and sculptures were installed, illustrating the major periods of national history, from the Middle Ages to the most recent times. Some of these installations remain, such as the renowned gallery of battles, the halls of the crusades and the galleries of stone. The museum’s layout was momentarily disrupted at the end of the Nineteenth Century when Versailles once again became the seat of government, and the offices of the ministries and the Chambers occupied the palace. At this time the Salle du Congrès was built in the Midi wing, where presidential elections were held until 1953. This is where the National Assembly and the Senate continue to meet for changes to the French Constitution.
In the contemporary period, the palace was also the theater of another major event : the signature, in the Hall of mirrors of the Versailles treaty which ended the First world war, on June 28th, 1919.
Since these events, the palace has once again become a full-fledged museum, whose areas, including the gardens, have gradually been done over to receive the public, with some 4 million visitors per year.
Tickets, rates and subscriptions:
To explore Versailles in full detail, a practical option is to purchase a single ticket for admission to tours of the palace, the park and Marie-Antoinette's Estate, an audioguide (just for the Palace) in 11 languages and admission to the Grand Musical Fountain display on Saturday, Sunday and certain public holidays.
- 25€ on the days of the Grand Musical Fountain display or musical gardens in high season on week-end, public holidays and on tuesdays. (See the complete program on www.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr)
- Free to people under 26 (from the European Union), to anyone under 18, and to those in specific situations (click here to see the list).
Admission for the following tours (special closings excepted):
▪ King's and Queen's Suite, Hall of Mirrors, king 's room
▪ Chapel and Seventeenth Century Galleries
▪ Galleries of the History of France
▪ The Dauphin (The Prince) and Dauphine's Suites
▪ Suites of My Ladies, the daughters of Louis XV (Only on Weekends)
▪ Grand Trianon
▪ Marie-Antoinette's Estate
TICKET TO PALACE
- €15 (Audioguide included in 10 languages)
- Free to people under 26 (from the European Union), to anyone under 18, and to people in specific situations (Click here to see the list).
Admission to the following tours (except specific closings):
▪ King's and Queen's Suite, Hall of Mirrors, king's room
▪ Chapel and Seventeenth Century Galleries
▪ Galleries of the History of France
▪ Dauphin (The Prince) and Dauphine's Suites
▪ Suites of My Ladies, the daughters of Louis XV, weekends.
TICKET TO MARIE-ANTOINETTE'S ESTATE
- Free (without audioguide and Grand Musical Fountain dislay): to people under 26 (from the European Union), to anyone under 18, and to people in specific situations (Click here to see the list).
During High Season admission to the following tours (special closings excepted):
▪ Grand Trianon
▪ Petit Trianon
▪ Queen's Hamlet
▪ Théâtre de la Reine (Queen's Theatre)
▪ Temple of Love
▪ English Garden
▪ Laiterie de propreté (Refreshments Dairy)
▪ French Pavilion
During Low season admission to the following tours:
-Temple of Love
GARDENS (Where the fountains are)
Free admission except on days of Grand Musical Fountain display (€8.5) and Musical Gardens (€7.5).
Free admission for pedestrians and bikers.
€5/Car, 6€ on weekends and public holidays from march 1 to october 31.
The season ticket « one year in Versailles » gives:
- a free and limitless access to all the areas opened to the public (Palace, Grand and Petit Trianons, Marie-Antoinette's estate)
-a free and limitless access to temporary exhibitions (including audioguide), to the musical Gardens and Grand Musical Fountain display.
- a rate reduces on visits conferences / themes / families visits
- a cultural information exclusively reserved for the possessors of this card (previews, invitations, newsletters...)
- possibility for close relations to buy tickets so as to reception case subscription- trade benefits to partners
Rate: 50 €
Valid one year (date to date)
The palace is open daily, except Mondays, certain holidays and when there are official ceremonies.
High Season from April 1st to October 31, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., no admission after: 6:00 p.m.
Low Season from November 1st to March 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., no admission after 5:00 p.m.
During high season: Marie-Antoinette's Estate is open from 12:00 noon to 6:30 p.m. (access to interior areas until 5:45 p.m.) from Tuesday to Sunday except for certain holidays or official ceremonies.
During low season: Marie-Antoinette's Estate is open from 12:00 noon to 5:30 p.m. (no admission after 5:00 p.m.) from Tuesday to Sunday except for certain holidays or official ceremonies.
The Garden (Petit Parc) and the Grand Parc:
The gardens and the Grand Parc are open every day, except for inclement weather or official ceremonies.
High season : 9:00 a.m to 8:30 p.m
Low season : 9:00 a.m to 6:30 p.m
Vehicular traffic authorized in certain areas (please inquire); 5€ entrance fee per car (6€ on weekends and public holidays) and 30€ per bus. Entrance from the boulevard de la Reine or the Saint-Antoine gate. The park is open to cars from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in high season and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in low season.
Best days to come:
■ Try to avoid long waiting lines: come on Wednesdays, Thursdays (except school holidays).
■ A little train provides shuttle service between the Palace and the Trianon: handy for going to Marie-Antoinette's Estate and to the Grand Trianon (surcharge on all tickets).
■ To get around independently, electric vehicles leaving from the south Terrace are available for hire.
■ Segways and electric bicycles can be hired in the Palace Park beside the Grand Canal.
- Plain bicycles can be hired at the park entrance on the boulevard de la Reine side and beside the Grand Canal.
- You can rent boats on the Grand Canal except in winter.
Link to Leisure section (fun activities)
■ Baby pushchairs and metal frame baby carriers are not allowed in the rooms. Use a fabric baby carrier for children under one.
■ Animals are not allowed in the palace, but dogs on leashes are allowed in the parc.
■ In the rooms: turn off laptops; no flash photography.
■ No coat room but free checkroom for unauthorized objects (food, baggage, large umbrellas, tripods).
■ Picnicking in bad weather: tents are available near the North flower bed.
Phone : +33(0)1 30 83 78 00
By national museum lecturers (French or English). Options: private apartments of Louis XV and Louis XVI; Splendors of Versailles; private apartments of Marie-Antoinette…
Daily guided tours : Sign up on the same day at the entrance of lecture visits. Various themes are not provided every day.
For adults (from September to June).
Various theme tours on Court life, furnishings, interior design, music, etc. are available on weekdays and week-ends. (Please inquire at the palace).
Activities led by national museum lecturers are held on Wednesday afternoons and during school holidays from October to April. (Please inquire at the palace).
Information : +33(0)1 30 83 78 00 or on www.chateauversailles.fr
Guided tours by national museum lecturers, 25 people maximum.
Tours for adults: upon request, admission to all sections of the palace open to the public (subject to availability of lecturers).
Tours for young people: you may reserve a guided or studio tour year round. (Please inquire at the palace).
Tours for disabled individuals: lecturers provide special tours for people with reduced mobility or visual, auditory or mental impairment.
Self-guided group tours: King's and Queen's Suites (Hall of Mirrors, King's Chamber, Council Chamber).
The right to speak out loud in the museum's halls, subject to mandatory advance reservation (see rates below), is governed by law. Only the following are authorized to do so: instructors to their students, professional lecturers and docents, and curators.
Handling charge rates:
Up to 10 people: 25€20 (without palace tickets and without lecture fee).
From 11 to 30 people: 50€30 (without palace tickets and without lecture fee).
School age and under 26: 25€ handling charge in high season and free in low season (without lecture fee).
Additional fees for lateness: +50% on applicable fee.
The Versailles Tourist Office offers lecturers approved by the Ministry of Culture. Information at +33(0)1 30 97 89 82</o:p>
Bureau des publics spécifiques
Tel: +33(0)1 30 83 75 05
Fax: +33(0)1 30 83 77 90
Palace of Versailles spectacles
Faithful to its history, Versailles invites performers to recreate the spirit of the Grand Siècle (Great Century) shows.
- Musical Fountains show - promenade in the heart of the groves and fountains with baroque music.
From March 29 to October 27, 2013, Saturdays, Sundays and some Tuesdays) Click here to see complete program.
- Musical Gardens - musical stroll in the garden groves (fountains are off)
Tuesdays from April 2nd to May 14 and July 2nd to October 29
The Grandes Eaux Nocturnes and The royal serenades in the Hall of Mirrors, (every Saturday evenings from June 22nd to September 14th, and Fridays June 14th and July 12th, 2013)
To relive the flamboyant times of the reign of Louis XIV, visit the King's apartments to the sound of a serenade right before the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes. Come watch a Grand Siècle ball, with an ensemble of baroque musicians and dancing couples.
Then take a magical stroll through the gardens with lights and music, closing with a fireworks display . Click here to see complete program.
- A remarkable series of classical concerts and operas is being offered in emblematic locations such as the Royal Chapel, the Gallery of Battles, the Hall of Mirrors, and at the Royal Opera during the year.
- The Grand Caroussel Royal - For the first time since the 18th century, Versailles recreates a Royal Carrousel. Horses, costumes and music baroque opera, made this type of show the most popular of all court entertainment. The royal splendours shine during this magnificent parade.
July 4th, 5th and 6th of July 2003 - Book here
Grille du Dragon-Pavillon des Roulettes 78000 Versailles
Tel: +33(0)1 30 83 78 89
Fax: +33(0)1 30 83 78 90
Group reservations: + 33(0)1 30 83 74 44
Web site: www.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr
Opening and closing hours: Variable, depending on spectacles, please inquire.
For rates and informations please enquire.