The Palace of Versailles, the former royal residence in France, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beyond the actual palace is a gorgeous garden that is home to a popular fountain show. While Versailles isn’t located right in Paris, it’s pretty easily accessible from the city and is one of the most popular things to do in Paris with kids.
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A Guide to Visiting the Palace of Versailles
Location of Versailles
Located about 40 minutes outside the city of Paris, Versailles is definitely worth visiting. If you don’t have a car or aren’t on a private tour, you can get to Versailles by train.
There’s enough to do at Versailles where you’ll probably want to spend a full day there. Arrive early to avoid the longest lines, and have lunch on site. Then, you can head back to Paris for a late dinner. Or, there are several hotels in the area if you’d prefer to stay local.
Palace of Versailles Tickets
When purchasing your Palace of Versailles tickets, you’ll want to do some research in advance to make sure you purchase the correct ticket. for most people, the Passport with Timed Entry ticket is probably your best option.
Passport Ticket: These tickets provide guests access to the Palace of Versailles (including an audio guide), the estate of Trianon, any temporary exhibits, the gardens of Versailles and park, and the Coach Gallery. These are not timed tickets. The Musical Fountains or Gardens show (if taking place during your visit) can be added on for an additional fee.
Free tickets: These are Passport Tickets that are offered to those under the age of 18 (or 26 for European Union residents). On the days where the Musical Fountains or Musical Gardens shows are taking place, only those 5 and under can get complimentary access to the gardens.
Passport Ticket With Timed Entry: I’d recommend this option, because you’ll save time during your visit. These tickets are the same price as the regular Passport tickets, but you’ll need to plan ahead.
If you are eligible for a free ticket but want the benefit of the Passport Ticket With Timed Entry, you can pay a small fee to upgrade.
There are other ticket options available, including Palace only, a two-day ticket, and an Estate of Trianon ticket.
Purchase these online if at all possible, because the ticket line can be long. Before you leave your hotel, you may also consider downloading the app that will give you access to the audio tour during your visit. While you will need WiFi/cell service to download the app, you won’t need it to access your app while you are at the Palace of Versailles.
Inside the Palace of Versailles
After getting tickets, you’ll walk right toward the Palace. On the site of a former hunting lodge is now an incredibly impressive palace.
Certain items, like strollers and umbrellas, aren’t permitted in the palace. You’ll need to leave these at the “left luggage” areas. Plan accordingly, especially if traveling with a very young child. There are also bag restrictions, so be sure to check the website for those before heading to Versailles.
Once you enter the Palace, you’ll be able to use the audio tour to explore. Kids will definitely be impressed with the famous Hall of Mirrors. It’s absolutely stunning in person, and is definitely a must-see. I’ve visited Versailles twice, and both times I was still dazzled as I walked into the Hall of Mirrors.
Although the Hall of Mirrors is definitely the most popular part of the palace, there are other things to see in the palace as well. These include the royal apartments, and several salons.
My kids, who were 12 and 14 at the time of our visit, enjoyed seeing such an important piece of French history. My son especially enjoyed the context of having seen the palace when he learned about the history of France and the Treaty of Versailles.
Younger kids, however, probably won’t want to spend too much time in the actual palace. Take things at their pace because it’s also a lot of fun to spend time outdoors in the park.
Within the palace, tours are generally self-guided with the audio tour. However, groups may enter the Palace of Versailles with their own guide. There’s also the option to book a guide for your group right through Versailles. During your visit, you are likely to see some guides, and some individuals doing the self-tour.
On property, you’ll also find smaller palaces – the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon. Admission to the estate of Trianon is included in the Passport tickets.
The Gardens of Versailles
During our most recent visit, we enjoyed spending some time outside in the gardens. The weather had been hot, but during our Versaille visit, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Being outside in the gardens was a nice change.
The Gardens of Versailles feature so many different activities well beyond learning about French history. The garden itself is known as a French former garden and can be seen both from the palace and outside the palace.
In addition to plants and trees, you’ll also see some beautiful fountains throughout the gardens. I took a long walk through most of the garden and was so impressed at how beautiful and clean it is.
Beyond the main gardens, you’ll find the Grand Canal in an area called Little Venice. There’s a lot to do in this area, so don’t miss it.
Activities at Versailles
It’s a bit of a walk from the Palace to the Grand Canal area, although it’s definitely doable. Versailles does offer the “Little Train”. The Little Train is a tram that travels around the property, making stops at the Palace, Petit Trianon, Grand Trianon, and Grand Canal.
It’s an additional fee to take the tram. However, little kids may enjoy the ride, and adults may appreciate the break from walking. It runs on a schedule, so you’ll want to check on that. The schedule varies based on the season and day of the week.
Golf cart rentals are also available. These include an audio guide and have a geolocation system.
If you’d like to bike around the Grand Canal area, bike rentals are offered. These are available from mid-February through mid-November. There are several different locations to rent bikes, and they can be returned at a different spot.
During our visit, we rented bikes for an hour and it was one of the highlights of our trip to France. The kids especially enjoyed the ride. Hours vary depending on the season.
Segway tours are also offered. These are only available to those aged 12 and over, and you’ll need to book in advance to ensure availability.
With all of the beautiful water of the Grand Canal, you may want to explore the actual canal. Row boats are available for rental. They can accommodate 4-5 people and can be booked by the half hour.
Amenities at Versailles
There are lots of different amenities at Versailles as well, which can help you enjoy your day there. These include the complimentary audio tour, the left luggage area, restrooms with changing tables, WiFi (only in specific areas), and mobile charging areas.
If you’d like to do some shopping at Versailles, there are some options. These include several book stores/gift shops. There’s also a Laduree location and two Angelina shops (offering chocolates and hot chocolate).
There are also several food options on property. During our visit, we ate outside at La Flottille, which is located right in the Little Venice section of the park. La Flottille has indoor and outdoor seating, and offers set menus and a la carte items.
We dined with a group, so we had a set menu. The food was delicious, and the setting was gorgeous. La Flottille also has a take out area where you can pick up light items like sandwiches and salads for a garden picnic.
There are other sit down restaurants on property as well. These include Ore, Grand Cafe D’Orleans, Brasserie de la Girandole, Angelina Petit Trianon, and La Petite Venise. Some are open only certain times of the year.
In addition to the sit down restaurants, there are also some places to grab a quick snack. Of course, my kids had to pick up some ice cream at La Buvette du Dauphin. It was a popular spot on the warm day we visited.
Where To Stay When Visiting Versailles
When we visited Versailles, we stayed in Paris at the Hilton Paris Opera and just took a day trip. Because we were on a group trip, we had a bus right to the front entrance. If you are considering staying at a hotel near Versailles, there are some options. We haven’t stayed at these properties, but they have good reviews: