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Here between the walls of Versailles, lies a fascinating history.

They say it is questionable whether the future Louis XIV remembered his first encounter with Versailles in France at the age of three during October 1641, when his father Louis XIII sent him and his brother to Versailles to flee an epidemic of smallpox.  In 1651 he returned taking a “hunting group” to the chateau.

I read that there were moments in history that the chateau was abandoned although in 1919 it again became the center of attention with the signing of “the peace treaty”.

According to their website; “In 1924, everything changed for the Palace of Versailles. The billionaire and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. falls in love with this threatening ruin castle, and offers financial assistance to the French State, for the restoration of the national heritage (Reims, Versailles and Fontainebleau).”

Unknowingly, Rockefeller took the first steps towards a philanthropic tradition that still continues in Versailles today.

After a terrible storm in 1999 as well as a previous hurricane, the gardens needed to be restored.  Obviously the Chateau itself required extensive restorations.

versailles palace

Versailles today

Today it is back in all its splendor and open for tours to the public.

“ A large number of shows are now offered at the Royal Chapel , the Royal Opera and the Equestrian Academy of Versailles.”

A visit to Versailles in France

Undoubtedly, it is the real life experience of this grandeur palace that takes your breath away. 

With magical and musical gardens all around it is so difficult to decide when to do what.  Fortunately their website is very helpful and within minutes you can put together your own itinerary to ensure you get to see everything.  I would recommend that you do everything you can possible fit in.

However there are quite a lot of “rules and regulations” on the entrance fees and what it includes, so best to check with the website and ticket office regularly to get the most up to date info.

versailles garden

We recommend

In my opinion it is advisable to do a guided tour and then give yourself enough time to just stroll through the gardens.  You need to give yourself at least one full day, just an hour or two will definitely not do.  Especially because guided tours also gives you access to areas that are otherwise closed to the public. 

Travel Tip:  You can download the free mobile app with all the audio guides and information before you go. (The audio tours are available in different languages.)  Furthermore the app will also show you where you can find “Charging stations” on the Estate.

Musical Fountain Shows

Usually from June to November you can explore the display of fountains which is set to the rhythm of musical masterpieces:

  • The four seasons fountains, Fountains of the fight of the animals, Dragon fountain, Neptune fountain, Latona’s fountain as well as Apollo’s fountain.

Furthermore there are the ‘groves’ with their water features, of which I think the Ballroom grove is the most spectacular.  

  • Queen’s grove
  • Ballroom grove (Designed as a garden amphitheater.)
  • Girandole grove
  • Colonnade grove
  • Chestnut grove
  • Grove of the domes
  • Enceladus grove
  • Obelisk grove
  • Apollo’s baths grove
  • Star grove
  • Water theater grove
  • Grove of the three fountains
  • Triumphal arch grove

The Orangery  Parterre – My favorite

In spring the magical garden comes to life as more than 1055 trees are transported out to the gardens (The Orangery Parterre).  The trees are all housed in the Orangery during winter to protect them from frost and snow. They move the big wooden boxes filled with orange trees from Portugal, Spain and Italy,  by forklift to their precise position in the garden.  Also trees like Oleander, Palm, Pomegranate and Eugenia bushes, some more than 200 years old.  To me the design of the garden is spectacular and seen from above it makes a perfect picture. In my opinion this is definitely a must-see as it covers more than 3 hectares.

Fountains by night

During summer you can also attend the “Night Fountains Shows”.  I think this is truly spectacular.  We do recommend that you buy your tickets in advance online.

mirror room

Hall of mirrors

Certainly the most impressive thing when you enter is the “Hall of mirrors”.  This very grand Baroque style gallery and the adjoining salons were intended to illustrate the power of Louis XIV.

Clearly, having three hundred and fifty-seven mirrors, it will give any event a special flair of glamour. This room was used as a setting for grand ceremonies, weddings and diplomatic receptions.  With this in mind make sure you don’t miss it on your tour.

Indeed, the palace will leave you breathless as its beauty overwhelms you.  In my opinion a tour to Chateau Versailles in France is definitely worth a visit.

versailles trianon

Travel Tip:  Don’t forget

  • Don’t forget to download the Palace’s app for free to find your way around the estate.  This gives you access the audio guides of the gardens directly on your smartphone.   The interactive map of the estate can be used without internet access.
  • Timing of the various water displays may change due to weather. Therefore we recommend that you check their website regularly for any updates.
  • I think it is best to buy your tickets online – in order to skip the queues which can be very long.
  • They do allow you to photograph without a flash in the Palace rooms.
  • You may not use selfie sticks.
  • Certain items are also prohibited in the Palace, eg. Large bags, suitcases, rucksacks, umbrellas, pushchairs, baby carriers with metal frames, sharp objects etc.) However there is a “luggage desk” where you can leave these items, but be prepared.
  • I would recommend comfortable shoes for walking and taking a jacket with you (even in summer).

In conclusion, the Chateau Versailles in France is spectacular and definitely worth a visit even if you only have a few hours.  Furthermore, should you be looking to include a garden tour of France, do read our article on gardens you simply must visit in France.