Things to Do in Versailles

This post will cover some of the most interesting things to see and do in Versailles, all of them family-friendly and some available after dark or entirely free to enjoy.

Don’t forget to check our other posts about ways to save money on popular activities in and around Paris:

 

 


SELF-GUIDED TOUR OF VERSAILLES

Located less than an hour from Paris, Versailles is a must-see destination in France.

Whether you’re a French Revolution enthusiast, a lover of Marie Antoinette, or simply interested in seeing the most opulent palaces in the world, Versailles is sure to please.

This self-guided tour can help you navigate this 17th-century marvel. There are also many companies offering fully-guided tours of Versailles Palace, including information about the following notable exhibits and attractions within:

Check out our Guide to Versailles, where we compare all the various walking, bike, Segway, and bus tour companies that visit the Palace!


1. TAKE A TOUR OF THE PALACE

When you purchase a ticket for entrance to Versailles Palace, you’ll receive a free audio guide that provides information about the estate.

 

 

  • King’s Apartment
  • Hall of Mirrors
  • Peace Room
  • War Room

For more information, please read our post covering Versailles Palace tickets and tours.


2. VISIT THE VERSAILLES PALACE GARDENS

The gardens of this palace are stunningly beautiful, and they’re actually free to visit on most days.

That said, they do often host special events which are ticketed, so you won’t always be able to see this area without paying admission.

 

 

There are a lot of interesting things to see in the Versailles gardens, including a variety of fountains, sculptures and even a section filled with orange, lemon, oleander, palm, and pomegranate trees (during the summer).

The Versailles Palace Gardens are massive, so you might want to plan to spend a lot of time wandering around this area and wear comfortable shoes.


3. EXPERIENCE A FOUNTAIN SHOW

As if the many fountains in the garden weren’t beautiful enough on their own, the Palace of Versailles hosts special fountain shows from April – November each year.

These performances sync the fountains to a variety of classical music as the water plays all kinds of tricks, pulling off interesting visual effects as well.

 

 

During some special night shows, they also have fireworks displays to make the experience even more memorable!

Admission to the fountain shows is included with both the 1 and 2 day passports, but you can also purchase individual tickets for just €9.50.


4. VISIT THE TRIANON PALACES

In addition to the Versailles Palace, there are other palaces in the area that you may want to see.

The Estate of Trianon is made up of four buildings: The Grand Trianon, The Petit Trianon, the Queen’s Hamlet and the Queen’s Theatre.

 

 

This is the section of Versailles most closely associated with Marie Antoinette, as she was the wife of Louis XIV who had both the Grand and Petit Trianon constructed.

These buildings were designed for intimate moments, and as such, they reflect some of the more impressive architecture of Versailles.

Admission is included with every passport ticket offered by the Versailles Palace.


5. GO ON A BIKE TOUR

If you’re hoping to cover more ground than you can on foot, there are a variety of bike tours you can take which will take you to both the Versailles Palace and the nearby town as well.

 

 

Visitors coming from Paris can actually sign up for a bike tour which includes transportation to Versailles, admission to the palace and more.

While on a bike tour, you can expect to see some of the other sites surrounding the palace, including the marketplace, old town Versailles and more.


6. TAKE A SEGWAY TOUR

A Segway tour is an excellent alternative to a bike tour, and it’s definitely a unique way to experience Versailles.

Ranging from 1-2 hours long, you can expect to visit Versailles Park and see a variety of notable landmarks in the area.

 

 

Sadly, admission to Versailles Palace is not included with these tours, so you’ll have to purchase tickets for that attraction separately if you want to enjoy both activities.

Although you can’t go inside the palace, you will be able to see it from afar, in addition to several other locations such as the Trianon Estate while taking a Segway tour of Versailles.


7. VISIT THE VERSAILLES MARKETS

There are three marketplaces in Versailles you may want to check out: the Notre Dame market, the Porchefontaine market, and the flower market.

Each of these marketplaces is open all year long, and they all offer a variety of different goods you might want to pick up.

 

 

The Notre Dame market is like a traditional farmer’s market, selling a variety of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and other food items.

Porchefontaine market is very similar, but it is located in Lamôme public garden, so you might enjoy the surrounding scenery a bit more.

Finally, as you might expect, you can expect to find a lot of great floral arrangements at the flower market.


8. DISCOVER OLD TOWN VERSAILLES

Everyone visits the historic palaces, but there are typically far fewer people who choose to spend time in the town itself.

Aside from a variety of great cafes and restaurants, you’ll also find some excellent architecture in the area.

One of the most beautiful examples is the Versailles Cathedral, an excellent model of the baroque style which includes a domed roof.

 

 

In addition to that, you may also want to pop into Musée Lambinet, a museum with 30 different rooms to explore which might just transport you back to the Victorian era!

If you’re looking for more great architectural feats, check out the Hôtel de Ville for a great example of Renaissance Revival design.


9. SEE THE COACH GALLERY

Located on the grounds of the Versailles Palace, this museum houses some of the most notable coaches from throughout the history of France.

 

 

Visitors can expect to see carriages used by famous French leaders such as Napoleon, Louis XVIII, the Duke of Bordeaux, Charles X and many others.

See how the design of these vehicles changes over the years to reflect the artistic vision of different eras throughout the history of the country.

Admission to the Coach Gallery is included with each passport ticket.


10. VISIT THE EQUESTRIAN ACADEMY

Located in the Great Stables of the Palace of Versailles, this institution provides special equestrian ballet performances throughout the year from February – December.

In addition to the main show, there are also live musicians performing, examples of stage fencing, kyudo and more.

After the entertainment, you’ll also have an opportunity to take an unaccompanied tour of the stables.

 

 

Admission is included with some passports, but you can also get combo tickets which include admission to both Versailles Palace and the Equestrian Academy.

Alternatively, you can purchase individual tickets for €16-€25 per person.


11. SEE THE ROYAL OPERA

Inaugurated in 1770, the Royal Opera at the Palace of Versailles remains one of the most impressive venues in all of France.

To this day, they still host amazing operatic performances here throughout the year.

 

 

Audiences can expect traditional operas, ballets, and concerts with classical music from historic musicians such as Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and more.

Admission prices range from €38 – €140 depending on where you choose to sit, and there are reduced rates for visitors who are under the age of 26.


12. SEE A SHOW AT THEATRE MONTANSIER

If you’re more interested in plays and musicals, the Theatre Montansier hosts a lot of great shows in Versailles that you might want to see.

In addition to a variety of traditional theatrical performances, this venue also welcomes operas, dancing shows, concerts and much more.

 

 

This theatre is not part of the Versailles Palace estate, so there aren’t any combo tickets available and you’ll have to purchase individual admission.

Tickets range from €15 – €40 on average, making this a fairly affordable family-friendly activity in Versailles.


13. VISIT THE ESTATE OF MARLY

Located just outside of Versailles (7 km northwest), this estate is yet another historically significant location that was previously owned by King Louis XIV.

While it was once used for leisure and restricted to very few privileged visitors, the Estate of Marly is now free for everyone to enjoy and you don’t need tickets to enter.

 

 

In addition to an incredible garden, the architecture on display here is quite beautifully spread out in a way that breaks from the artistic designs of the era.

If you’re looking for something free and family-friendly to experience near Versailles, this is one location you absolutely have to see.


14. GO TO THE ROYAL TENNIS COURT

Although you probably won’t be able to play a match of tennis while you’re here, you may still want to take a look at the Royal Tennis Court at Versailles Palace.

This location was actually used for a game called Jeu de paume, which was an earlier version of modern-day tennis.

Since it was built in the late 1600s, the court has also been used for a variety of other purposes.

 

 

Sadly, even though there have been attempts made to either modernize or restore the Royal Tennis Court in the recent past, this is one area of the palace that remains something of a multipurpose room.

Luckily, it doesn’t cost a thing to visit this site and it’s open to the public from Tuesday – Sunday from 14:00 – 17:45 (2PM-5:45PM).

 


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About the author

Christina studied art history and French literature at the Sorbonne for a year in Paris as an undergrad. Now based in Washington, DC, she visits Paris as often as possible and loves introducing family and friends to her favorite places there. She has worked as a travel writer, museum professional, English tutor, and editor, and her favorite French cheese is Pont l'Eveque.