Palace of Versailles has been on my travel bucket list ever since my AP European History class. I read about the grandeur of the Hall of Mirrors and I couldn’t wait to see it in person. So when a Paris trip came up, I knew I wanted to visit Versailles. With plane tickets booked, I went into research mode but found the official website to be incredibly confusing. It took me a long time to even figure out what the difference was between Musical Gardens and Musical Fountains Show. To save you from the same research, I created this guide to hopefully answer questions you’ll have when planning your own trip to Louis XIV’s beautiful creation.
Choosing the Right Day to Visit Versailles
I can’t give you an exact day of the week to visit but I can give you tips on how to choose the right day for you.
First things first, the palace (Versailles’ main attraction) is closed on Mondays, so you can quickly eliminate that as an option. While the gardens are open daily, the Musical Gardens and the Musical Fountains Show are only available on certain days of the week. The days vary by season so it’s best to check in with the official website here.
So what are the Musical Gardens and Musical Fountains Show? To put it simply…
- Musical Gardens: Music is played throughout the garden and additional groves are made public.
- Musical Fountains Show: Music is played throughout the garden and fountains are turned on for parts of the day. Also, don’t let the word “show” fool you, because the fountains are not synchronized to the music like the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. They are simply on.
As a follow up, is it worth fighting the crowds to see the Musical Fountains Show?
From my experience visiting, you don’t notice the crowds when you are walking through the gardens because the grounds are so big. However, you do notice the crowds when you’re visiting the palace, especially when you’re in line for security. We arrived around 10:30am (palace opens at 9am), and we waited in line for over an hour to enter. If you would like to avoid a long line, make sure you arrive at the palace before 9am to be the first to enter.
So what’s the best day to visit?
If you want to avoid the crowds and don’t care about the music or the fountains, Thursday is your best bet.
Otherwise, I would recommend going on a day with the Musical Fountains Show if it’s your first visit. While I barely noticed the music in the gardens, I did enjoy the fountains because I think it’d be hard to picture the grandeur of Versailles without it. See the comparison to decide for yourself!
If you can do it again, when would you visit?
I would visit Versailles when the Fountains Night Show is available. This is available on Saturdays between mid-June and mid-September. The gardens and fountains are lit up and there’s fireworks! And I absolutely LOVE fireworks. The only downside would be the even larger crowds.
Tips for Purchasing Tickets
If you purchased the Paris Pass, entrance to the Palace is included, but the Musical Fountains Show is not. You will have to purchase a separate ticket online for €9.50. Even with Paris Pass, Fast Track Entry is not included here and you will join the many others who also have their tickets.
If you’re purchasing tickets online, there are a few options you can choose from. I would highly recommend purchasing the Passport with Timed Entry. It costs the same as a standard ticket and it will ensure that you enter the palace within 30 minutes of the selected time.
How to Get to Versailles from Paris
The cheapest way to get to Versailles from Paris is by train via the RER C line. Tickets are only €3.70 one-way. Use Google Maps to find the closest stop near you and make sure to hop on the train headed towards Versailles Château / Rive Gauche.
TIP: Make sure to buy a round-trip ticket! Ticket lines at the Versailles station can be quite long, especially if you leave in the late afternoon.
Once you arrive at the Versailles station, use Google maps or follow the Chateau de Versailles signs to arrive at the Palace. Most people who get off at this stop are also headed to the palace, so feel free to follow the throngs of people exiting the train.
What to Eat at Versailles
There are restaurants on the grounds, but expect a wait for lunchtime. We did takeaway at La Girandole and still had to wait a long time for our food.
At the Palace
To avoid lines, there are a few options:
- Purchase the Passport with Timed Entry ticket (as suggested above)
- Arrive at the palace before 9am (we arrived by 10:30am and waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes on a Saturday)
- Visit the gardens first and circle back to the palace in the late afternoon
Tip for Audio Guides
Audio guides are included with your ticket. However, there is another line to get them. To avoid another line, you can download the app on your phone which includes the audio guide and an interactive map.
What to See in the Palace
- Hall of Mirrors
- Chapel of Versailles
- Grand Apartments
- Opera Royal
Side note, did anyone else find the Hall of Mirrors to be underwhelming?
In the Gardens
How to Explore the Garden
The gardens are quite impressive but overwhelming at 230 acres. You can absolutely explore the gardens by foot but if you’re trying to cover more ground, you can always opt to rent a bike (€8.50 per hour) or a small electric vehicle (€34 per hour). Yes, a golf cart!
If that wasn’t enough, you can also rent a rowing boat (€17 per hour) and take a trip along the Grand Canal for a different perspective of the gardens.
Musical Fountains Show
Musical Fountains Shows occurs at 11am-12pm and 3:30pm-5pm. From other helpful bloggers, I learned that more fountains are on from 3:30pm-5pm.
When 3:30pm came around, I was surprised to see that many of the fountains were not on. It turns out that due to water conservation, not all the fountains were on. If you have questions about the times for that day, don’t hesitate to ask one of the staff on site.
I spent too much time in the palace and gardens that I didn’t make it over to the Grand Trianon and the Queens Hamlet. It’s absolutely impossible to explore the grounds in a single day, it is 2,014 acres after all! This is why I’ll head back to Versailles another time to check out the rest and I’ll update this guide then.
I hope the guide makes your day at Versailles more efficient and if you have questions or tips of your own, please let me know!