I visited the Palace of Versailles for the first time this summer, and it was everything I had ever imagined. The grandeur, elegance, history, and magnificence of the grounds were extraordinary. My fiancé Matt and I spent two and a half days exploring everything we could, and we had the most incredible time. The only thing that kept it from being the perfect trip was the heat. We were there during the so-called “heat apocalypse” when temperatures soared to and held between 101–104 degrees Fahrenheit (38–40 degrees Celsius) for several days on end. It was brutal on our first day, but we made the most of it by creating a visiting strategy that made the most of the experience while helping us bear up under the heat better. The following two days were wonderful.
Here are ten tips to keep in mind when visiting the Palace of Versailles at the height of summer, plus how to get there, and where we stayed.
1- Buy your tickets in advance.
Buying your tickets in advance is the first tip. Not only will it save you time, but it will keep you from having to stand still in one spot for what could be a very long time. When you visit the Palace of Versailles website and click on tickets, you will see several options. Don’t be confused: There are three main areas to tour at the Palace of Versailles, and each requires its own ticket.
- The Palace
The first area is the Palace itself. Apart from the ticket to enter the Palace, there are special programs that happen inside it that may or may not cost extra.
- The Gardens
The Versailles gardens are spectacular and feature many fountains and groves. The gardens also offer a fountain and musical gardens show, which also costs extra.
- The Grounds
The Estate of Trianon I call the ‘grounds’ because they include many things to do that are not officially part of the Place experience, even though they are all connected. The Estate of Trianon, as you will see on the map below, includes a plethora of attractions. Additional costs include tickets to enter the two estates—the Grand Trianon and the Petite Trianon—and the Queen’s Hamlet. Access to this area is available with the ‘Passport’ ticket or the ‘Estate of Trianon’ ticket.
Tickets for these areas can be purchased in advance, and they can also be purchased in packages, which I recommend. This link shows all the tickets side by side.
2- Arrive early.
On our very first day, we arrived in the afternoon. The lines were long, the heat was at its most intense, and everything was super crowded. I recommend arriving right when things open, if possible. Arriving early and renting a small electric car will let you see all the Gardens before the hottest part of the day and then enjoy the cooler interiors out of the afternoon sun.
3- Rent a small electric car to view the gardens and the grounds.
The gardens and the grounds are massive, and while you can walk the entire thing, I highly advise renting a small electric car (SEC) to get around. The SECs are especially handy if your time is limited. The SEC allows you to get around the entire garden and estates in about an hour and a half. They cost €38 per vehicle per hour ($37), and €9,5 ($9.26) per additional 15 minutes. Please check exchange rates when making plans. The cars are discount for disabled people (-40%) and subscribers (-20%). The SEC also provided some much-needed shade during the excessive heat, leading me perfectly to the next point.
4- Prepare to be in the sun a lot! Bring hats, umbrellas, sunscreen, cool clothing, and bottled water.
There is no single place to get a break from the sun while exploring the gardens. Tickets for the gardens are also purchased outside; unless something has changed by the time you read this, there is no shade to be found. We arrived at Versailles on the first day without having bought tickets in advance, and we had to stand in a very long line in 99-degree heat under a punishing sun. We had no water either, which was another big mistake. Renting the SEC was a game changer.
5- Rent the bicycles when visiting the grounds.
When you visit the Estate of Trianon (the ‘grounds’, as I like to call it), you can rent bicycles. They weren’t expensive, and biking is a great way to cover more of the grounds. Plus, biking is a lot of fun!
6- Plan your meals.
Visiting Versailles can be an all-day affair, and having a general idea of when and where you want to eat will make for a smoother visit. There are five different ways to eat in and around the Palace.
- The Palace cafeteria. We didn’t eat there, but I did pass by it while searching for a bathroom. The food looked ok, and my guess is that it was expensive. There were also a lot of people in line. Considering that it was air-conditioned and convenient, the long line-up made sense.
- There is a lovely restaurant on the grounds, with a delicious menu, and it got hectic at lunchtime. We went there at 11:30 and beat the crowds.
- Pack a picnic lunch. There are designated areas where you can unpack it and enjoy it.
- Grab a snack at several locations in the Palace and around the grounds.
- Eat at one of the many delicious restaurants in the town. More about this in the next point.
7- Explore the town of Versailles.
The town of Versailles is beautiful, with architecture as stunning as what you would see in Paris and just as rich a history. It’s easy to forget that there is an entire town to explore beyond the Palace and the gardens. There are gorgeous parks, museums, and lots of delicious dining options. One place we loved was the Creperie La Place – a relaxed and charming spot featuring local cuisine and delectable crepes. This is the link to the official town of Versailles tourism website.
8- Visit the gift shop.
What museum experience is complete without a visit to the gift shop? There are a few gift shops to explore, and they all sell lovely souvenirs and gift-idea items. Tableware, books, candles, home accessories, and garden items are just some examples. Want to shop beforehand? Here is the link to one of the shops.
9- Content creators should come with a game plan.
Everything about Versailles is a Tik Tok or Instagram opportunity. If you intend to create content there, my only advice is to arrive with a plan. There appeared to be a few content creators the day I was there. I am guessing they were creators because they wore beautiful but impractical footwear and had someone photographing them a lot. Changing outfits, make-up touch-ups, and avoiding having other people stray into your shots are challenging to pull off, especially in the main garden area.
10- Soak in everything and have fun.
We had the most incredible time in Versailles, and I am sure you will too. Soak it all in, take all the pictures, rent the bicycles. Cherish every second of being in such a spectacular place.
Here are a few more photos.
How to get to Versailles from Paris.
Getting to Versailles from Paris was surprisingly easy. Trains run from Paris to Versailles many times throughout the day and take about an hour to get there. The train itself was very pleasant. We used Google maps to learn how to find it and get on it. Here is a photo with more information. Another way to get to Versailles is by hailing an Uber taxi. We tried this method and it cost about $35, which was much less than I expected.
Where we stayed.
There are no shortages of wonderful hotels in the town of Versailles. We were budget-conscience and stayed at the Ibis Versailles Chateaux, which was a 10-minute walk to the front gates of the Palace.
I took a lot of videos on this trip, and you can see my reels on Instagram at @angietravels. I would love to hear from you. If you have been to Versailles, I invite you to share your experience in the comments. Did I leave out any tips? I would love to see your Versailles photos, so feel free to tag me on your Instagram.