A half hour outside of Paris, the Palace of Versailles is one of the world's grandest historical museums. In 1624, Louis XIII, the king of France, began the building of a hunting lodge in the small village of Versailles. By 1682 he had moved the entire court and government of France to Versailles. Then Louis XIV enlarged and enrobed the old lodge, turning it into the great Chateau we know today. In 1837, Louis-Philippe converted the whole deal to a museum of French history in what may have been the historic starting point for the development of mass tourism.
World War I ended here (and some say World War II was started) with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
There are 18,000 square meters of history in the Palace of Versailles, surrounded by perhaps the most famous garden in the world surrounds Versailles.
- Versailles Picture Gallery
Getting to Versailles
Versailles is several kilometers southwest of Paris. Trains reach Versailles in 30-40 minutes, from the Gare St Lazare station. Versailles is on the RER local rail service, which is free if you have the Paris Visite transit pass, or you can take the number 171 bus from Pont de Sèvres.
See also: Which Paris Train Station Will I Need?
- Paris Visite Buy the Paris transit pass before you arrive in France
- Paris Passlib' Unlimited travel and museum entry in Paris.
- Interactive Rail Map of France Plan your itinerary and get journey times and ticket prices
Guided Tours of Versailles
If you're in Paris and you'd like to do a no hassle trip to Versailles (and wish to skip the lines of tourists waiting to buy tickets) a tour may be in order.
- No-Frills Coach Transfer from Paris to Versailles
- Skip-the-Line Versailles Tour with Transfer and Audio Guide
- Versailles by Bike Tour
Visiting Versailles and Monet's Giverny in One Day
Giverny, home to the gardens that inspired Monet's most famous impressionist works, is about an hour north-west of Paris and is easily reach from Versailles by car.
However, as there are no trains connecting to the two, if you're relying on public transport to do your day trips, you'll need to do a guided tour to visit both Versailles and Giverny on the same day:
Where to Stay in Versailles
Most people don't stay in Versailles: they visit as a day trip from Paris. However, as lodging tends to be cheaper than Paris, it may be an idea to stay overnight
The Chateau is open from Tuesday to Sunday, except on certain French public holidays:
9am to 5.30pm The ticket office closes at 4:30pm.
Current information is available on the Official Versailles Chateau website.
There are numerous ticketing options, including buying tickets online.