The Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles) is Europe's most spectacular castle, conveniently located just outside of Paris.  It belongs at the top of your "must-see" bucket list for the City of Light and is easy to reach for a day trip - or even a half-day visit.

No other place in the world can match Versailles Palace's combination of dazzling beauty, historical significance, and over-the-top extravagance.  It has been open for tours since 1793 and today receives around 15 million visitors each year.

Once you see Versailles, you probably won't feel surprised to learn that Louis XIV put France on the road to eventual bankruptcy and revolution when he created it. Today, it's hard to realize that this vast estate worthy of the "Sun King," as Louis liked to be called, started as a simple hunting lodge.

Within the Palace, fully-restored rooms such as the King's and Queen's sumptuous apartments, the soaring Grand Chapel with its breathtaking vaulted ceiling and golden pipe organ, and of course the dazzling Hall of Mirrors give you plenty of reasons to linger.  Plus, there's lots more to see inside, as well as elegant restaurants where you can relax over a meal and savor Marie Antoinette's favorite drink: chocolat chaud (hot chocolate).

But the Palace, magnificent as it is, occupies just one small part of the chateau's immense 2,000+ acre estate you can explore today.  Two other smaller châteaus, vast gardens filled with numerous statues and fountains, a mile-long body of water called the Grand Canal, and even a replica of a small French village created for Marie Antoinette and her friends give you many more fascinating places to see.

As an added bonus, you can enjoy 21st century pleasurespaddle boats in the Canal's basin, concerts, art and Musical Fountain shows, including a beautifully illuminated version with fireworks on Saturday nights.

Musee d'Orsay, from the ground floor up; the museum's entrance stairs are under the clock
Gate to Versailles

But here's the challenge when visiting Versailles:  with many attractions, how do you choose what to explore if you don't have time for everything? 

We can't answer that question for you because we don't know what you'll like best- but we have compiled a list of 13 fantastic things to consider. 

Want to see and do them all?  Plan to spend 2 or 3 days at Versailles.  Otherwise, pick the attractions and activities you like the most!

Top photo:  Palace of Versailles

The 13 Most Fantastic Things to See at Versailles

The most thing you should know when you're planning your visit to the Palace of Versailles is that the domaine (ie, property) is huge and sprawling. 

Not only does the domaine include the vast 2,300-room main Palace, but it also contains two smaller ones, the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, and Queen Marie-Antoinette's Hameau, or hamlet, a collection of rustic buildings and cottages surrounded by gardens and what was once a working farm. 

Then there are the famous gardens, the mile-long Grand Canal, pools and fountains, grassy expanses, and beyond all of this, a huge park filled with trees and winding paths.

The following list features just 13 of the many things to experience at Versailles.  You're sure to find many more things to love here.

1.  The Dazzling Hall of Mirrors (Galeries des Glaces)

The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles' magnificent ballroom
The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles' magnificent ballroom

By far, the most famous attraction at the Palace of Versailles is the unforgettable, dazzling, over-the-top splendid Hall of Mirrors.  Photographs do not do it justice.  The experience of being there and seeing the reflections of light, the massive quantities of gold and crystal, and multiple images in the silvery mirrors wherever you look is totally unique.

Look up, and you'll see vivid paintings - 30 in total - spread across the room's vaulted ceilings. In the 21st century, their meaning isn't readily apparent. But 17th century viewers would have instantly understood their purpose: a celebration of Louis XIV's military and diplomatic victories.

In case you're interested in numbers, the 17 arches stretching across the wall opposite the windows contain a total of 357 mirrors - a spectacular effect, as well as a not-so-subtle boast about France's manufacturing capabilities.

What did Louis XIV and other French kings use the Hall of Mirrors for? Not as much as you might imagine, given its splendor. On a day-by-day basis, courtiers and visitors used it as a passageway. It also came in handy for the lavish balls held after royal weddings.

However, the most significant event in the Hall of Mirrors happened long after the French had rid themselves of the royalty. In 1919, German delegates came here and signed the Treaty of Versailles before representatives from France, the U.S., Great Britain, Italy, and 28 other nations to officially end World War I.  Unfortunately, historians now consider that the treaty set in motion the conditions that led to the rise of fascism and World War II.

2.  The King's State Apartments

Starry Night Over the Rhône, painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888
The Mercury Room in the King's State Apartments at Versailles

Your visit to Versailles will likely include walking through the King's State Apartment.

As you explore the series of seven sumptuous rooms, you're following in the footsteps of countless officials and sovereigns from across Europe back in the days when Louis XIV received visitors here.

Each opulent chamber practically drips with crimson and gold Italiante furnishings, priceless paintings, and crystal chandeliers, all designed to impress.

But did Louis actually live in the King's State Apartment?  No.  It existed primarily for ceremonial purposes and formal entertainment.

So instead, he occupied a smaller, more intimate suite of rooms designed for his personal use.   Here, he displayed his favorite paintings and enjoyed more privacy. His successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI, later expanded these private quarters by creating new rooms, including libraries, dining areas, laboratories, scientific galleries, and even a game room.  (These small rooms are not normally available to see.)

3.  The Queen's State Apartments

Still lifes of flowers in vases painted by Cezanne (the two on the left) and Monet (right)
Still lifes of flowers in vases painted by Cezanne (the two on the left) and Monet (right)

Although the Queen's Apartment once mirrored the layout of the King's State Apartment, it now consists of only four splendid rooms. 

When you enter the Queen's Bedchamber, you will immediately notice a striking difference in decor. The King's quarters featured rich dark tones and ornate paneling in vogue during the 17th century. In contrast, this area practically glows from the light floral prints and pale tones favored by Queen Marie-Antoinette when she redecorated the apartment nearly 100 years later.  

What is remarkable is the room's authenticity. The fabrics used for wall and bed hangings are exact copies of the original, re-woven in Lyon. The jewelry cabinet belonged to Marie-Antoinette. You can still gaze at the paintings she put up of her mom, Empress Maria-Theresa of the Holy Roman Empire, and her brother, Emperor Joseph II.

Marie-Antoinette spent most of her time in the spacious bedroom when she was at the Chateau. This is where she slept, received guests, and even gave birth on a temporary bed brought in for that specific purpose.

However, when she wanted to dine and relax with her friends, she retreated to her own special place, the Hamlet. More about that in a moment!

4.  The Royal Chapel

The Royal Chapel at Versailles Palace
The Royal Chapel at Versailles Palace

The Royal Chapel that you see today is actually the fifth one to be built at Chateau. Its construction took over two decades, with more than 110 sculptors and other artists working on the ornate sculptures, paintings, and ornamentation, and completed in 1710. Master organ-maker Clicquot designed the Chapel's renowned pipe organ.

The Chapel soars to 144 feet in height, making it the tallest part of the palace. Like Sainte-Chapelle and other French palace chapels, it features two levels.

The royal family attended mass on the upper level, which would have given them excellent close-up views of the magnificent painted ceilings and domes. However, according to the custom of those times, other court members and the public watched from the ground floor.

When you look at the Royal Chapel from the upper-level observation point used for public viewings, take a moment to imagine the Royal Chapel during its most famous event.

In 1770, 14-year old Marie-Antoinette married the 15-year old Dauphin (later known as Louis XVI) here in front of over 5,000 guests. She wore a lavender dress adorned with diamonds and pearls, and he sported a silver suit. After the ceremony, a crowd of 200,000 watched fireworks on the Estate's grounds.

5.  Art at Versaille Palace

Renoir Seascape
Ceiling painting in the Room of Abundance in the King's State Apartments

As you explore the Palace of Versailles, you'll see superb paintings, sculptures, and other art everywhere you look. In fact, the Estate contains about 6,000 paintings and 3,000 sculptures. But if you also count frescos, furnishings, tapestries, and other decorative items, the total swells to approximately 60,000 pieces of art. Not bad for a former hunting lodge!

When Louis-Philippe became the King of France in 1830, four decades after Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI fled from an angry mob, he transformed the former Palace into a museum.  

Renoir Seascape
Paintings in the Gallery of Great Battles commissioned by Louis-Philippe, France's "citizen-king," in 1833 and created by the top historical painters of that time including Delacroix and Vernet

With so many beautiful things competing for your attention, focusing on individual pieces of art can feel challenging.

So what's the best approach for appreciating the Palace's extensive art collection?

Here's a pro tip: imagine that you're an art collector and just focus on one passion.  Here are a few suggestions (but feel free to substitute your own favorites):

  • Painted ceilings - you'll spot them in almost every room
  • The 33 huge paintings depicting 1,500 years of French history in the Gallery of Great Battles, the largest room in the Chateau
  • Fabric art, including tapestries, wall coveries, bed panels, and upholstery (hint: the Queen's Apartments offer many wonderful examples, thanks to Marie-Antoinette)

6.  The Royal Opera House

Inside the Royal Opera House at Versailles - Photo credit:  Tanya Hart
Inside the Royal Opera House at Versailles - Photo credit:  Tanya Hart

By the time Louis XV's reign began after his great-grandfather's death, the Chateau boasted many splendid things: 2,143 windows, 1,252 chimneys, 67 staircases, and enough space for 3,000 residents and up to 10,000 visitors in its staterooms. 

But to Louis's embarrassment, the Palace of Versailles lacked an opera house.  So, despite France's increasing financial difficulties, Louis ordered construction of the Opéra Royal.  At its completion in 1770, just in time for the wedding of his son (the future Louis XIV) and Marie Antoinette, it became the largest concert hall in Europe.

Today, the magnificent Royal Opera House continues to be used for ballet, concerts, and operatic performances.  When you visit, observe the elaborate decor, sparkling chandeliers, tiered seating, and spectacular painted ceiling featuring Apollo.  If you have the opportunity to attend a performance, you'll love the superb acoustics.

Although Louis XV made other changes to the Palace, such as adding rooms in the attic to house his various mistresses, the Royal Opera is his signature contribution.

7.  Palace of Versaille's Gardens

In 1661, famed landscape architect André Le Nôtre began a project to totally transform the Palace's wild grounds.

Over the next 30 years, he created formal gardens with paths, planting beds, hedges, specimen trees, and water features.

La Carmencita by expatriot American artist John Singer Sargent, painted in 1890
"La Carmencita" by expatriate American artist John Singer Sargent, painted in 1890; although Sargent identified with Realism, elements of Impressionism shaped much of his work after 1880

After reshaping the land, Le Nôtre used tall hedges and trees to create a grid of garden rooms divided by broad gravel paths and punctuated with pools and fountains.

Within the rooms (called "The Groves"), he positioned statues, planted themed gardens, and installed fountains.  One, called the Ballroom Grove, even contains a sunken amphitheatre with an 8-tiered cascading fountain.

Almost four centuries of revolutions, neglect, storms, and time took their toll. But happily, recent restoration efforts have repaired much of the damage, and the gardens you'll enjoy today are much like the original.

When you stand with the Palace at your back and look out at the expansive garden area, you'll see a grand tree-lined allée (alley) leading your eyes to the horizon.

La Carmencita by expatriot American artist John Singer Sargent, painted in 1890
"La Carmencita" by expatriate American artist John Singer Sargent, painted in 1890; although Sargent identified with Realism, elements of Impressionism shaped much of his work after 1880

Near the Palace, you'll see broad swaths of statue-lined formal gardens. However, the magnificent walled Groves are hidden from sight - so if you want to see them, plan to spend some time exploring the grounds.

You can do this on foot, by hopping on the little train that circles the grounds, or on one of the bikes offered for rent by the hour.  Golf carts are also available for rent, but sensors confine them to the main paths.  However, you can easily pull over, park your cart, and walk into the "hidden" gardens.

The Groves continue down the entire length of the Grand Canal.  Beyond that point, Versailles' massive park continues to the west.

8. The Grand Canal

Latona's Fountain with the Green Carpet, Basin of Apollo (barely visible), and Grand Canal in the background - Photo credit: Patrick
Latona's Fountain with the Green Carpet, Basin of Apollo (barely visible), and Grand Canal in the background - Photo credit: Patrick

The grand allée called "The Royal Drive" forms an axis through the landscape.  It begins as a gravel-paved path bisected by a 4-tiered fountain.  Past the gravel is an expanse of grass called "The Green Carpet," with marble statues lining the hedges and trees that form the walls of the "Groves," Versailles' hidden gardens.

The grassy portion of the allée ends at a large round pool called the Apollo Basin.  At its center, surrounded by water falling from a fountain, is a chariot by the Sun God himself.  Apollo bears a striking resemblance to Louis XIV as he holds the reins of galloping horses half-rising from the water.

The Basin of Apollo, with the Grand Canal in the background
The Basin of Apollo, with the Grand Canal in the background

And finally, beyond the Apollo Basin, the Grand Canal stretches for more than a mile (1.65 km) to merge with the horizon - one of Le Notre's most brilliant landscape designs.

The Grand Canal  
The Grand Canal  

9. Fun Things to Do on the Palace Grounds

The Grand Canal  
Row boats on the Grand Canal  

With so much spectacular art, architecture, history, and natural beauty to absorb during your Versailles visit, it's easy to overlook all the fun things to do while you're at the Estate.  But that would be a mistake!

So set aside some time to enjoy Versailles' recreational offerings.  Paddle around the Grand Canal in a row boat.  Take a golf cart on a tour around the gardens and explore all their secluded "rooms."  Hop on a bike for a ride through the Chateau's extensive parklands.  Pick up some carry-out food and at the onsite cafe and find a grassy spot for a picnic.

These activities might be your favorite memories of your day at the Palace!

How to do it:  Boats, golf carts, and bikes are available to rent by the hour behind the Palace.

10.  Musical Fountains Shows & Musical Gardens at Versailles

Night Fountains show at Versaille's Grand Canal - Photo courtesy of Yann Caradec
Night Fountains show at Versaille's Basin of Apollo and Grand Canal - Photo credit: Yann Caradec

One of the best things to do at the Palace of Versailles is to experience a Musical Fountains Show, Night Fountains Show, or Musical Gardens.

During the Musical Fountain Shows, fountains in the Estate's gardens are programmed to spout water to the beat of Baroque music as you stroll along suggested paths.  The shows take place on Saturdays and Sundays from the last week in May through the end of October and on Bastille Day, July 14th.  Not all fountains will be on at all times during the day due to environmental considerations. To see all 32 functional fountains in play, be in the garden during late afternoon hours (3:30pm-5:30pm).

An evening version, the Night Fountains Show, takes place from 8:30pm-11:05pm on Saturday evenings from the second week of June through mid-September and on Bastille Day.  Lighting and special effects such as lasers bring the fountains to life. The evening concludes with a fantastic fireworks display in front of the Grand Canal.

The Musical Gardens show gives you access to groves and gardens not usually open to the public.  As you walk around admiring the beautiful flowers, sculptures, topiaries, and other hidden treasures, you'll hear Baroque music wafting through the air.  Musical Gardens takes place on Tuesdays through Fridays during July (except for Bastille Day) and August and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during September and October.

So what's the best show to see?  Choose Musical Fountains or the Night Fountains Show to see spectacular water displays set to music.  If you prefer to discover groves customarily closed to the public while listening to period music, choose Musical Gardens.

11.  Grand & Petit Trianon Palaces

Colonnade at the Grand Trianon
Colonnade at the Grand Trianon

As much as Louis XIV loved Versailles itself, he grew tired of the rigid protocols and lack of privacy imposed by court life. Perhaps equally important, he needed a private place to rendez-vous with his mistress of that time, Madame de Montespan.  So, he asked architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart to build him "A little palace of pink marble and porphyry, with marvellous gardens."

Although the small palace was ready for use in 1670, it rather quickly fell apart, as did Louis's relationship with his mistress.  The second iteration, completed in 1688, is what you see today. 

The Grand Trianon has two large sections divided by a long Italian-style colonnade specifically requested by Louis.  In fact, Louis dictated many aspects of the charming single-floor structure, including the multiple floor-to-almost-ceiling windows, which we now know as "French doors."  He also designed the palace so that all rooms look out over the gardens filled with fragrant flowers.

Louis-Philippe I's family room at Grand Trianon during his reign as King of France from 1830-1848
Louis-Philippe's family room, complete with game tables and sewing tables, at the Grand Trianon during his reign as King of France from 1830-1848

Through the centuries, the Grand Trianon has been home to various branches of Louis's family and their descendants, Napoleon Bonaparte and his second wife, and even King Louis-Philippe and his family after the Restoration.

Napoleon installed most of the First Empire decor and furnishings you'll see today, as the original pieces from Louis's tenure were sold during the French Revolution.

12.  Petit Trianon Palace at Versailles

Flower gardens in front of Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon - Photo credit: Herbert Frank
Flower gardens in front of Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon - Photo credit: Herbert Frank

Although Louis XV built the Petit Trianon in the 1760s for his mistress during that period, Madame de Pompadour, she died before it could be completed, so her successor, Madame du Barry, lived there instead.  A botanical garden, arboretum, and small ménagerie near Petit Trianon gave Louis, a devoted botanist, a place to pursue his hobby of creating rare plants.

However, the Petit Trianon is most closely associated with Marie-Antoinette, who received it and the surrounding gardens as a gift from Louis XVI when he ascended the throne in 1774.  They were only 19 and 20 at the time and already suffering from the royal court's constraints, pressures, and judgmental gossip. 

Flower gardens in front of Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon - Photo credit: Herbert Frank
Music room in Petit Trianon during Marie Antoinette's residence - Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

The Petit Trianon quickly became Marie-Antoinette's refuge.  No one was allowed to enter without her express consent, and she invited only her closest friends - which increased resentment among the court's nobility.

She changed the garden to a more naturalistic English-style design, where Louis XVI like to gather his own herbs.  Nearby, she added a small theater as a place to stage her own shows and a Greek-style "Temple of Love."

She was in her garden in 1789 when a page brought the news that an angry armed crowd would soon arrive from Paris.  She, Louis, and their children fled on the following day, never to return. 

Flower gardens in front of Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon - Photo credit: Herbert Frank
Temple of Love at the Petit Trianon

The Petit Trianon's furnishings, art, and ornamentation were sold at auction a few years later, and the property fell into neglect.  The palace remained unused until Napoleon had it renovated as a residence for his sister Pauline. 

Thanks to an extensive restoration a few years ago, both the palace and its gardens again look lovely.

13.  The Hamlet (Hameau de la Reine)

This Art Nouveau dining room paneling and furnishings made in 1900 by French sculptor and cabinet-maker Alexandre Charpentier uses only plant and flower decorative elements
The rustic Flemish-style mill house (the mill wheel is on the other side) and lavender garden in Marie Antoinette's Hamlet in the park of the Château de Versailles - Photo credit: Alexandre Breveglieri

Thanks to artists and philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Diderot who romanticized country life, creating one's own rustic farm hamlet, or hameau, became trendy among the late-18th century French aristocracy who owned large estates and had enough funds to indulge this vision of "the simple life." 

Marie-Antoinette jumped on board with this trend. Her picturesque Hamlet included a dozen rustic cottages and buildings including a barn, mill, dairy, and dovecote.  Although she retained five for her personal use, she turned the others into a working farm which she managed along with a head farmer, herdsmen, gardeners, and laborers.  The Hamlet's vegetable gardens, vineyards, fields orchards, and dairy produced much of the food consumed at the Palace of Versailles. 

Restoration efforts during recent years have brought several of the original buildings and gardens back to life.  The Hameau gives a fascinating glimpse of the charming rural landscape of the Queen's favorite part of Versailles.

How to Visit the Palace of Versailles - Susan

Here's our "cheat sheet" to all the best ways to experience the Orsay:

Guided Museum Tours

What's the best way to experience the Orsay Museum? 

To get the most from your experience, book a tour led by an expert guide.  Here are the best current tours:

Guided Bike Tour

  • Paris Highlights & Secrets - If you want to see the Orsay Museum (and other top Paris sights as well as some hidden gems from the outside only and hear interesting stories about them from your knowledgeable guide while biking through the city, this is the tour for you!  Book now

Skip the Line Tickets

Combo Skip-the-Line Entry Tickets

Palace of Versailles Fun Facts

  • The beautiful golden gates you pass through when you enter the Palace grounds are a copy of the originals, destroyed during the French Revolution.
  • Versailles Palace covers about 721,206 square feet (67,002 sq m).  In comparison, the average single family house in the U.S. contains about 2,300 square feet (217 sq m).  You could fit more than three average U.S. single family houses into the Hall of Mirrors (8,256 sq ft/767 sq m). 
  • Louis XIV began using his father's hunting chateau at Versailles as a place to tryst with his mistress in the early 1660s.  He decided renovations, additions, and landscaping were necessary to make the place fit for a king.  One thing led to another and by 1678, Louis realized he could subdue the rebellious nobility and government officials by moving them, their families, and their entourages from Paris to the more isolated countryside - a "keep your enemies close" tactic that required additional expansions of the Palace.
  • Louis XIV believed he ruled by "divine right" and cast himself as the "Sun King."   Not surprisingly, you'll see lots of depictions of Apollo, the Sun God from Greek mythology, as you tour the Palace and Gardens.  So consider this:  Apollo was Louis's alter ego, and Versailles was the temple he created for himself.
  • In addition to becoming the center for much of France's best art (at one point, the Mona Lisa in the Kings State Apartments), Versailles Palace boasted over 100 libraries containing more than 200,000 books and manuscripts before the French Revolution, according to a post-Revolution inventory.  The palace even became a museum for a few decades starting in 1837.  Today, you can still see three of these libraries in the Royal Chambers - but most of the books are now fake.  The originals were moved to the National Library.  Although much of the art is now in the Louvre Museum, plenty of it remains on display at Versailles.
  • Although 17,182 pieces of the palace's art, furnishings, and decor were removed and sold after the Revolution, the French government decreed in 1962 that all items originally belonging to Versailles be returned from other museums throughout France.  An ongoing effort to acquire furniture and other objects from private collections continues today, as does the restoration effort to replace wall coverings and other ornamentation.  So when you tour the many rooms of the palace now open to the public, most of what you'll see (except for the books) is original and almost exactly like it was on October 6, 1789 when Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, and their son fled from the angry mob of Parisians who stormed the palace demanding bread.
  • Not sure if this is a "fun" fact about Versailles - but among all those rooms filled with gold and silver furnishings, priceless tapestries, and art during Louis XIV's reign, there were no bathrooms, no toilets, and certainly no modern plumbing or effective sanitation system for the 7,000 - 10,000 people who lived and worked there.  Only a few hundred of the top nobility had chamber pots, and chambermaids typically dumped the contents out the nearest window - so imagine if you happened to be standing below it.  Everyone else relieved themselves in communal latrines or wherever convenient - under stairways, in secluded halls or a momentarily unoccupied room, or perhaps outdoors.  You had to be very, very careful about where you stepped - and not become overwhelmed by the stench.  Something to think about when you use the clean, modern toilets available throughout Versailles today!
  • Sanitation began to improve under Louis XV, the great-grandson of Louis XIV.  In 1738 he installed a flush toilet ("water closet") imported from England that dumped water from an overhead tank into the toilet and then down into drains, which eliminated lingering odors from his apartment - although most of the castle continued to reek from open latrines still in use elsewhere.
  • In 1763 when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only seven, he played a concert for Louis XV's daughters, Adélaïde and Victoire, both of whom were accomplished musicians, in their private sitting room at Versailles.

FAQs:  Chateau de Versailles

Q:  How many people visit Versailles each year?

A:  Over 8 million during a typical year.  For context, Versailles attracts the second highest number of visitors in the Paris region, placing it behind the Louvre Museum and ahead of the Eiffel Tower.

Q:  How large is the Estate of Versailles?

A:  The Palace of Versailles and its grounds cover 2,014 acres.

Q:  How much did Versailles cost to build?  

A:  No one really knows due to the difficulty of 1) calculating the cost of materials and labor during that time, and 2) performing accurate currency conversion from the 1600s to present day value.  

But estimates by experts range from about $3.5 billion (in 2019 U.S. dollars) to perhaps as much as 100 times that amount.  Yes - that's a staggering $350,000,000,000, or about one third of a trillion dollars at the high end. 

The expendures, along with other disasterous losses to Great Britain during the Seven Years' War, destroyed the country's finances. 

You can draw a straight line from the excesses of the absolute monarchs to the bankruptcy of the French government in 1788 to the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.

Q:  How long did construction take?  

A:  Construction of Versailles began in 1661 and by 1682, expansion of the former hunting lodge progressed enough to enable Louis XIV to move his Royal Court plus the entire French government to the new palais.  However, additional construction and renovations continued up until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.   About 36,000 workers contributed the effort during the century-plus construction period.

Q:  How many rooms does the Palace of Versailles have?  

A:  When Louis XIV moved in:  Around 700, plus 67 staircases and about 1,250 chimneys.  Worth noting:  despite all those chimneys, the palace was notorious for being punitively cold during the winter - so frigid, occupants claimed, that glasses of wine placed on tables would freeze before they could be drunk. 

Today, after major expansions that continued up to 1789:  Around 2,300 rooms.  And, you'll be glad to know, ongoing updates have included an effective heating system.

Q:  How many people lived at Versailles during Louis XIV's reign?  

A:  During Louis XIV's tenure, the main palace could accommodate about 5,000, including servants, although another 2,000 - 5,000 worked there in the French government offices.  Another 17,000 soldiers and servants occupied annexes and quarters in the nearby town of Versailles.

Versailles Visitor Information: Tickets, Hours, Location, & Map  BOTH

Ticket Information - SUSAN

At this time, all tickets must be bought online.  If you book a guided museum tour, your ticket will be included.

Admission is free to all visitors under 18 years old, EU citizens (or long-term residents) between 18 and 25 years old, and holders of a valid Paris Museum Pass (who must also reserve a date/time online).  

See the "How to Visit" section above for more options


Days open:  Tuesday through Sunday
Days closed:  May 1, December 25, all Mondays
Hours open:  9:30 - 18:00 Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday - Sunday; 9:30 - 21:45 on Thursday
Last admission:  45 minutes before closing

Musée d'Orsay Address & Public Transportation - ISABEL

Location:  1, Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 7th arrondissement 
Metro:  Line 12, Solférino station
RER C:  Gare du Musée d'Orsay station

Map Showing Palace of Versailles, Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Hamlet, & RER Train Station Locations

Louis-Philippe I's family room at Grand Trianon during his reign as King of France from 1830-1848
Map showing Versailles Palace, the Grand and Petit Trionons, Marie-Antoinette's Hamlet, the Gardens and Grand Canal, and directions from the RER Chateau Rive-Gauche train station  (click to view larger interactive map) - Map data (c)2021 GeoBasis-DE/BKG ((c)2009, Google

Things to Know Before Your Visit - ISABEL

  • The Orsay Museum is wheelchair accessible, and loaner wheelchairs are available. 
  • Free priority admission for disabled visitors and accompanying person is available upon presentation of proof of disability (usually at Entrance C, but check signs on the day of your visit).
  • Due to security considerations, suitcases, backpacks, and travel bags must be smaller than 56 x 45 x 25 cm (7.9 x 7.9 x 15.7 inches).   You may leave them in the cloakroom if space is available; otherwise, the cloakroom is restricted to objects not allowed in the museum areas.
  • Once you leave the museum, you can't re-enter with the same ticket.
  • SUSAN - Plan to spend about 2 hours here if you want to see only the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections, and 3-4 hours if you want to see the Special Exhibits and some or all of the other art.  If you opt for lunch at either of the two main restaurants and do a traditional 3-course meal, count on another couple of hours for that.  If your goal is to see the museum's most famous pieces and learn a little about them without spending at least half a day here, do consider one of the efficient 2-hour guided tours.

Where to Stay near Versailles Palace - SUSAN

List 3 - then link to Where to Stay Near Versailles article

The upscale 7th arrondissement near Musée d'Orsay offers you a wonderful base for your Paris visit, close to numerous museums, historic churches where you can hear classical concerts, superb shopping, and wonderful places to eat.  Here are several excellent choices within a 10-minute walk:

  • Hotel de Varenne - Charming 4-star boutique hotel with a secluded garden close to Musée d'Orsay, the Rodin Museum, and the Eiffel Tower
    Book best deals
  • Hôtel de Lille- Lovely 4-star boutique hotel in a fantastic location near the Orsay, the Louvre, the Seine River, surrounded by wonderful restaurants
    Book discount deals
  • Hôtel Montalembert - Excellent 5-star boutique hotel in Saint Germain de Prés near museums, the Bon Marché luxury shopping complex, and numerous small boutiques and antique shops
    Find best rates

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More Famous French Palaces & Chateaus to Visit - SUSAN

Explore the Orsay's storied Saint Germain neighborhood - home to famous artists, writers, jazz clubs, and fabulous boutiques and restaurants - on these fun tours:

Chocolate & Patisserie Walking Tour through Saint Germain - See the neighborhood's famous art galleries, boutiques, and passages as you enjoy pastries, macaroons, and chocolates at 8 tasting stops on this 3-hour small-group or private stroll.  Book now

Charming Nooks & Crannies Bike Tour - On this small-group bike tour, you'll ride through Saint Germain des Prés, the Latin Quarter, the Marais and other fascinating neighborhoods as you take in famous sights as well as serendipitous discoveries on quiet back roads.  Book now

Jazz Walking Tour with Live Concert - Start in Saint Germain with visits to famous cafes popular with jazz musicians, learn about the Paris jazz scene from your guide, and continue to a Latin Quarter club.  Cross over the Seine, and enjoy a light meal, concert, and perhaps champagne at Le Duc des Lombards club.  Book now