Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles | Planning a Versailles day trip from Paris

How to Take a Versailles Day Trip from Paris (6 Different Ways to Do It!)

This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase or book something through them, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).

Paris is one of the most-visited cities in all of Europe, and you could easily spend a week or more exploring its arrondissements (neighborhoods) without ever getting bored. BUT, if you want a taste of some French history beyond Paris, then you need to budget in some time to take a day trip to Versailles.

Of all the day trips from Paris you could take, a visit to the Palace of Versailles is definitely the most popular. And I’m here to tell you all about how to plan the very best Versailles day trip from Paris!

Main fountain in Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles will blow your mind
Painted ceiling inside the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is pure opulence

What and where is Versailles?

Versailles can actually mean two different things, depending on who you’re talking to and how lazy they’re being.

Technically, Versailles is a charming little French city located about 30 kilometers (less than 20 miles) outside of Paris. But “Versailles” is also shorthand vernacular for the Palace of Versailles (or Château de Versailles), which is the former palace for French royalty made famous by the Sun King, King Louis XIV.

The Palace of Versailles actually began as a small country hunting lodge used by King Louis XIII to escape the city life of Paris in the 1600s. It was transformed by Louis XIII’s son and successor, King Louis XIV, in the mid-1600s, being expanded into the sprawling, gold-coated palace with more than 2000 rooms that we know today.

The palace was the official royal residence of the kings of France from 1682 until the French Revolution in the early 1790s.

Palace of Versailles | Versailles day trip from Paris
Not even half of the present-day Palace of Versailles

Today, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most-visited attractions in all of France. You can tour the opulent palace rooms (well, a very small selection of them; to see them all would take ages), and wander through the 2000+ acres of gardens.

You can also visit smaller palaces like the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, and explore the fairytale-esque Queen’s Hamlet – all still technically part of the Estate of Versailles – as well as stroll along canals in the Park of Versailles.

And I’m going to tell you how to do it all!

Is taking a Versailles day trip from Paris worth it?

Even though the palace can be busy and even though you have to plan ahead in order to do it, YES, taking a day trip to Versailles is absolutely worth it.

The Palace of Versailles itself is jaw-droppingly stunning. (You only have to get a glimpse of a couple rooms to understand why the people of France got so mad at the frivolous overspending of French royalty that they rose up and beheaded them all.)

Inside the Palace of Versailles
I mean… yeah.

And if you aren’t really excited about sparkly palace rooms, then know that the gardens, fountains, and canals in the Park of Versailles are equally as impressive. Shopping at a local market and picnicking along the Grand Canal inside the Park of Versailles is one of my favorite memories from my trip to Paris – but more on this later!

Best day(s) to visit Versailles

Okay, so you’re definitely convinced to plan a trip to Versailles. Now what? Well now you need to decide which day to visit – because the day of the week matters for this day trip!

The important thing you need to know is that the Palace of Versailles and the Trianon Estate (where the Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet are) are closed on Monday. Every Monday.

The Park of Versailles and the Gardens of Versailles are open and free* to visit on Mondays – but I don’t really recommend planning a Monday visit since you can’t visit the Palace!

*Access to the Gardens is only free on days when there are no fountain shows or “musical gardens” days planned – which is daily November-March, but basically just on Mondays from April through October.

Palace of Versailles Gardens
The Gardens of Versailles are open daily year-round

If you’re visiting April-October, you’ll be visiting during the months when there are things going on in the Gardens that you might want to plan around. These events are:

  • Musical Fountains Show – When the fountains throughout the Versailles Gardens are turned on and accompanied by Baroque music. The fountains are on every Saturday and Sunday from March 30-October 27, 2024, as well as every Tuesday from May 7-June 25, 2024.
  • Musical Gardens – When Baroque music is piped through the Gardens (but the fountains are not running). Dates for this are Tuesday-Friday from April 2-May 3, 2024; Wednesday-Friday from May 10-June 28, 2024; and Tuesday-Friday from July 2-October 31, 2024. (So basically every day during the summer season that the Fountains Show doesn’t run.)
  • Night Fountains Show – Every Saturday evening starting at 8:30 p.m., you can see the Gardens and fountains transformed by colorful and dramatic lighting and laser effects set to music. (Just note that you’ll need to kill some time between when the Palace closes and when this show begins.)

Weekends are always busier than weekdays at Versailles, and days when Musical Fountains Shows take place also tend to be busier. But chances are you want to visit the Gardens of Versailles when the fountains are running if you can!

If that’s the case, then the ideal day of the week to visit Versailles is on a Tuesday in May or June! (Or just go on the weekend, and plan to visit early.)

Latona Fountain at Versailles
Seeing the fountains running is definitely worth it!

Can you visit Versailles in the winter? Absolutely! And it’s the best time to go if you want to avoid the crowds. But just keep in mind that you won’t find any running fountains in the Gardens or boats on the canals during the winter months.

ALSO READ: How to Plan Better Day Trips: 26 Insanely Helpful Tips to Maximize Travel Time

How to take an independent day trip to Versailles

If you want to plan your Versailles day trip on your own, you absolutely can. There are three different ways to get to Versailles from Paris.

Paris to Versailles by car

You *can* drive from Paris to Versailles, though this would be my least-recommended way to visit, unless you are planning your visit as part of a longer France road trip. (Because you don’t really need a car in Paris!)

The drive from central Paris to the Palace of Versailles will take you 45 minutes on a good traffic day, and there are several paid car parks near the palace and gardens. See a map of all the car parks here, and a list of parking prices here.

Just know that the main entrance to the Palace of Versailles is through the Cour d’Honneur, on Place d’Armes.

Paris to Versailles by bus

There is one bus line that runs directly from Paris to Versailles. It’s the RATP bus line 171 (Château de Versailles / Pont de Sèvres), which runs from Pont de Sèvres (reachable on Paris metro line 9) to the Palace of Versailles. Travel time is about 30-40 minutes without traffic, and it drops you off right at Place d’Armes.

If you go to the RATP website and type 171 into the bus page, you can download a current timetable and map. This option will cost you €4 each way.

Palace of Versailles exterior details
Exterior details on the Palace of Versailles

Paris to Versailles by train

By far the fastest and most popular way to travel from Paris to Versailles is by using the local RER Line C train. This train runs from several RER stations in central Paris (including St-Michel, Musée d’Orsay, Invalides, Pont de l’Alma, and Champs de Mars – Tour Eiffel) to the Versailles Château – Rive Gauche train station, which is a 10-minute walk to the Palace entrance.

The journey on an RER train takes about 40 minutes (with departures roughly every 15 minutes), and will cost you €7 round trip. Look for the platform marked “Versailles Chateau RG” when you’re boarding in Paris.

There are also two SNCF trains you can take from different Paris train stations to other stations in Versailles. These trains are faster (the Line N option takes just 12 minutes), but they cost more and require more walking once you get there.

The SNCF options are:

  • SNCF Line L train from Gare Saint-Lazare or La Défense to Versailles Rive Droite train station (15-minute walk to the Palace)
  • SNCF Line N train from Gare Montparnasse in Paris to Versailles Chantiers train station (20-minute walk to the Palace)
Town of Versailles | Versailles day trip from Paris
The town of Versailles is very cute!

Going via train is also the most eco-friendly option, and is my choice for your Versailles day trip from Paris!

Buying tickets for Versailles

This is super important, so don’t skip it: it is highly recommended that you purchase tickets for the Palace of Versailles in advance. This is one of the most popular places to visit in all of France, and it does get very busy! You also need timed tickets to enter the Palace, so you don’t want to risk showing up and having all the upcoming time slots be sold out.

There are several different ticket options for the Palace of Versailles, including Palace-only tickets, Estate of Trianon-only tickets, and Gardens-only tickets when one of the shows is happening.

However, since I’m guessing you want to, you know, see it all, then I’d recommend you get the Versailles Passport, which gets you access to the entire Estate of Versailles (timed entry to the Palace, the Gardens including during fountains/music shows, the Estate of Trianon, the Park, and some special exhibits).

The Passport costs €32 per person during high season. You can pre-book yours here.

Versailles entrance ticket in front of the Palace of Versailles entrance
Versailles ticket

Just note that this sort of ticket is entirely self-guided, including inside the Palace. For guided options, keep scrolling further down in this post!

PRO TIP: Download the free Palace of Versailles App before your trip. This app offers free audio tours and an interactive map of the entire Estate, and can be used offline. Download for Apple and Android.

How to structure your Versailles visit

If you’re planning your Versailles day trip independently, then you’ll want to go into your visit with a game plan. The Palace of Versailles, Gardens, Estate, and Park are all individually HUGE; together, they’re almost overwhelmingly massive.

Versailles Gardens and Canal
Just part of the Gardens, looking towards the Grand Canal!

Here’s how I would personally plan your Versailles day trip itinerary:

Get an early morning start, and either pick up supplies for a picnic lunch before you leave Paris, or stop at the Marché Notre Dame (Notre Dame Market) when you arrive in the town of Versailles. And then get to the Palace of Versailles when it opens, which is usually at 9 a.m.

PRO TIP: You should be fine bringing a small backpack into Versailles, and if you tuck your picnic food away it should be okay. BUT if anyone gives you an issue, there are free bag lockers available in the North Ministers’ Wing of the Palace. (It’s marked on the interactive map as “Automatic Deposits.”)

  1. Palace of Versailles – Make your way through the opulent rooms of the Château de Versailles. You’ll see ballrooms, dressing rooms and bed chambers, a chapel, and of course the famous Hall of Mirrors. Going early gives you the best chance of getting photos without hordes of people in them.
  2. Gardens of Versailles – After your Palace visit, spend time exploring some of the 2000+ acres of the Jardins du Chateau de Versailles. If you visit during a Musical Fountains Show, you’ll want to make sure to see Latona’s Fountain, Neptune Fountain, and the Water Theatre Grove – but there are so many to see!
  3. Grand Canal – You can exit the Gardens at the far end through the Little Venice Gate, which will bring you to the Grand Canal of Versailles (park of the Park). There are a couple restaurants right here, but if you packed a picnic lunch you can enjoy it anywhere along the canal.
    • An optional thing you can do before or after your picnic is rent a row boat on the canal. These cost either €16 for 30 minutes, or €20 for an hour. Boats can be rented right near the Little Venice Gate, and are available daily from March-November. (More info here.)
  4. Estate of Trianon – Past the Park you’ll find the Estate of Trianon, which is a more intimate side of Versailles that was built as a private escape for the monarchs from their courts. It includes the Grand Trianon (a smaller palace built by King Louis XIV), the Petit Trianon (built by King Louis XV, purportedly for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour), and the Le Hameau de la Reine, or Queen’s Hamlet (created as a bucolic escape by Queen Marie Antoinette), plus several more gardens.
    • You could technically visit all of these sites in about 3 hours – but you might be getting palace- and gardened-out by this point. If that’s the case, then I would recommend touring just one of the Trianon palaces and end your visit by strolling through the fairy-tale-esque Queen’s Hamlet.
Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles
The famous Hall of Mirrors inside the Palace of Versailles
Row boats in the Grand Canal at Versailles
Boats on the Grand Canal (and picnics along it)
Queen's Hamlet in the Trianon Estate at Versailles
Queen’s Hamlet in the Trianon Estate

GOOD TO KNOW: You could also do this itinerary in reverse, and END with your visit inside the Palace of Versailles closer to closing time. Just be sure to choose the appropriate Palace entrance time when pre-booking your ticket.

This will easily fill your entire day! So then it will be time to catch the train back to Paris.

How to get around Versailles

Have I iterated enough just how big Versailles is yet? Well, it’s very large.

To walk from the Gardens to the Trianon Palaces, for example, will take you a good 25 minutes. It’s absolutely do-able, especially on a nice-weather day, but you might want to give your feet a break.

There are two ways you can get around Versailles other than walking:

  1. Use the Little Train – This small train operates year-round every day of the week except Monday, and runs in a loop around Versailles. It makes stops at the front of the Palace, the Petit Trianon, the Grand Trianon, and the top of Grand Canal (near Little Venice and a Gardens entrance). Tickets cost €9 for a circuit ticket where you can get off and on. More info on the Little Train here.
  2. Rent a bike – You can rent a bike on the Versailles grounds to explore the Park and canals (NOT the Gardens or Trianon Estate, though). You can rent bikes daily in Little Venice on the Grand Canal, and they cost €16 per hour. More info on bike rental here.
Golden fountain inside the Gardens of Versailles
You have to walk through the Gardens, though; no bikes allowed!

How to take a tour to Versailles from Paris

Don’t want to completely navigate a Versailles day trip on your own? I totally get it! Versailles has big history, a big reputation, and is just BIG all around. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to tackle it all on your own.

Plus, I honestly think having a guide here is well worth it so you can hear all the extra stories and juicy gossip that go hand in hand with Versailles. (And tour guides in France are some of the best; you have to get a university-style diploma in guiding to even apply for a guide license!)

Amanda and Elliot posing at Versailles
Without our guide, we would have never learned the story behind this iconic Sun King pose.

Here are the main ways you can take a guided tour of Versailles:

Skip-the-line tour of Versailles (get yourself there)

If you want to save a bit of money and don’t mind getting yourself to Versailles from Paris, book a guided tour for once you get there. There are several options for doing this, ranging from quick 90-minute tours to full day excursions, but they will all include skip-the-line access into the Palace of Versailles.

Guided tour groups with professional guides get to enter the Palace through a separate entrance, which usually means even quicker access. (You want this!)

Here are a few guided tour options from Versailles:

Versailles guide in King Louis bedroom
Our guide had the best stories to tell!

Fully guided Versailles day trip from Paris

Want someone else to worry about getting you to Versailles from Paris? These types of guided Versailles day trips are plentiful, too! These usually include either train or bus transport from Paris, and then a guided tour of different parts of Versailles.

A couple of these types of tours I’d recommend include:

PRO TIP: When booking a tour to Versailles from Paris, be sure to double check that you’re booking one with a live guide (at least for the Palace), and not just an audio guide! (The audio guide is fine, but if you’re paying for a guided tour, make sure it’s guided by a human!)

Bike tour of Versailles from Paris

Bike tour stopped along the Grand Canal at Versailles | Best Versailles day trip
Bike tour along the Grand Canal in Versailles

If you want a very unique Versailles day trip option, I recommend this one! This is how I personally visited Versailles. It’s similar to some of the above options in that it includes train transport from Paris, and then a guided visit to the Palace, Gardens, and Trianon Estate. But the main difference is that you mostly get around on bike, AND you get to see a little glimpse of the town of Versailles, too!

This is the bike tour I recommend. You’ll meet your guide in Paris and take one of the fast trains to Versailles, where you’ll get fitted for your bike. You’ll then ride to the Palace of Versailles (it’s a very easy ride!). The order of things may change, but you’ll get a guided tour of the Palace, walk through the Gardens, ride your bike through the Park, and visit the Queen’s Hamlet in the Trianon Estate.

Halfway through the tour you’ll ride back into Versailles town to shop for lunch at the Marché Notre Dame, and then ride your bike back into the Park to have a picnic lunch next to the Grand Canal. This was my favorite part!

Queen's Hamlet building at Versailles
I loved visiting the Queen’s Hamlet
Amanda with fresh baguettes along the Grand Canal in Versailles
Fresh bread for a canal picnic? YES PLEASE.

You can read my full Versailles by bike tour review here, and you can book this exact tour here.

What to pack for a day trip to Versailles

There are a few things you’ll definitely want to bring with you on this day trip. Things like:

  • A water bottle and plenty of water – Versailles is huge, and if you’re visiting in the summer it can get very hot out in the sun. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you! I always travel with my Camelbak Chute water bottle.
  • Sun protection – You’ve maybe noticed in the photos, but there’s not much shade in the Gardens of Versailles or Queen’s Hamlet. Come prepared with sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe a hat on sunny days.
  • Good walking shoes – I’ll say it one more time: Versailles is really, really big and even on a bike tour you’re going to be doing a ton of walking both indoors and outdoors. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

Resources for your Versailles day trip

Like this post? Have more questions about taking a day trip to Versailles from Paris? Let me know in the comments below. Have fun in Versailles!

Save this info, pin this image:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *