Visiting Versailles from Paris with a qualified guide
There are few places in the world as well known as Versailles.
In its many halls and gilded rooms, royalty and aristocrats of a different time experienced the height of luxury.
In France, we are proud of our history. We have maintained this famous palace so that visitors like you can appreciate the architecture, art, and gardens. What was once exclusive to the very few is now available to you.
We are eady to offer you a private guided tour of Versailles. On your next trip to Paris, we can meet in Paris and take the transportation to this palace together, hassle-free.
We can explore the Palace in different ways : See only the highlights, or spend the whole day to get the most of it, or go behind the Locked Doors and get inside the King's apartment with a trained tour guide. It is up to you !
What is Versailles?
Versailles is a complex of buildings and elaborate gardens situated in the middle of a forest outside of Paris city center. This palace once served as the center of the French government, beginning with King Louis XIV, but it is now maintained as a historical site and a wonderful destination.
For that reason, the buildings and the grounds have been expertly maintained to almost perfectly resemble the state they were in when the royal family finally left in 1789. Today, inside is also a museum of French history. You can also occasionally visit fine art events here.
The palace also still plays a part in diplomacy and international politics. Foreign dignitaries often visit Versailles when they come to Paris. And there is a secret retreat house on the grounds for the French President : called La Laterne.
Versailles is an especially popular place for royalty to visit — like the king of England or the queen of Holland. It has also hosted European Union meetings and negotiations between France and the United Kingdom.
Most famously, it was the place where the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 — the document that ended World War I. The armistice included the controversial “war guilt” clause that laid the blame for all damage and losses in the war at the feet of the Germans and their allies.
Versailles is also the name of the town where the palace is located.
Going to Versailles from Paris center
If you are looking to visit Versailles while in Paris, you’ll find you are only a short trip away.
We can go by train, it’s typically an hour and a half ride from the center of the city.
If we use a cab, we can usually get there in 40 minutes depending on the driver.
We can hire a professional driver who can takes us from Paris hotel to Versailles. The driver can make us cruise in the huge gardens seamlessly.
Because Versailles is such a popular destination for people visiting Paris, there is frequently some traffic, so please plan ahead with the driver.
Why visit Versailles when in Paris?
1 - A major part of Versailles’s reputation comes from the way it is preserved.
Beginning in the garden, the plantings are all based on historic designs, and the sculptures are mostly original. Entering into the palace, the extensive architectural detailing and works of art have all been meticulously cared for.
It is perhaps the best place to see with your own eyes the reality of royal opulence at its absolute height. There is a reason that Versailles became an icon of the excesses of monarchical luxury!
2 - The extreme level of detail is a major draw for visitors.
It is important to remember that everything was handmade — requiring the top craftspeople of the time working in large numbers to accomplish such a never ending task.
3 - Versailles shows what France does best!
It is the culmination of generations of skilled architects, artists, and artisans, all of them working to make this the finest place on earth.
4 - The museum element of Versailles emphasizes the palace as a place people actually lived, presenting preserved treasures to give you an even more intimate look into the lives of the aristocrats and royals who once walked through these beautiful halls.
5 - There are, of course, paintings and sculptures everywhere, as well as Art Deco objects, furniture used by kings, exacting landscaping, and working fountains that use the same mechanisms created by engineers for Louis XIV.
Hiring a qualified tour guide
We are always excited to bring you to Versailles. It is often one of the favorite parts of a trip to Paris, but it is more memorable and more rewarding when you visit with a licensed tour guide.
Advantages of having a licensed guide for Versailles
Safe pick up & drop off at your Hotel
+ Easy Navigation
Our quality tour guide service includes pick up at your hotel lobby. That means you do not have to worry about fighting Paris traffic or negotiating the RER train system. Our English-speaking driver has you taken care of.
When you get to Versailles, you can also take advantage of having a driver by seeing more of the grounds all from the comfort of a car.
*Driver fees are extra, but we always recommend hiring a private driver. This makes for a safer and more comfortable time.
+ Getting live Answers
We are experienced tour guides with an annual training program with Versailles Museum. We are both educated in art history with an extensive specialized knowledge about French Art and Versailles stories. This means that we can answer any question you might have on your visit to Versailles.
You will hear stories about the kings, queens, lords, and ladies who once lived so decadently at this pleasure palace. You will also have the opportunity to learn about:
how architects created such a big masterpiece
French fashion from centuries past
the daily routine of the palace
how Louis XIV’s state worked and why he ran it out of a palace
how the French elite used to dance and party
how they ate (the Art of the Table)
and so much more!
A licensed tour guide trained by Versailles Museum can also separate the many myths from the facts. A place like Versailles has accrued plenty of suspicious stories since it was built, and we can set the record straight.
Choosing the right tour
+ Reservation of tickets
Tickets to Versailles are complicated to choose and purchase. There are many options, and if you don’t have experience visiting the monument, they won’t make a lot of sense.
By phone or email, we can take care of everything for you, matching your needs with the ticket options. We look at the tour you’ve selected and your particular interests to find you the best reservation possible for annex services such as Bike or Golf cart rentals on site, hiring a driver ...
Options to visit Versailles with a guide
Below, we’ve put together some of our favorite tour options to visit Versailles in the best conditions.
Versailles has different ticket options, trails, and the garden shows vary depending on the weather and the season.
Which visit works best for you will depend on the interests, time, and energy you have.
I will help you choose by email from the 4 common Versailles tours :
Details of our private tour of Versailles
1 - Highlights Tour of Versailles Palace
Quickest way to see the Castle
This brisk tour of the palace and the grounds usually takes one and a half hours. It is highly recommended that you hire a private driver for this tour. That way you can spend less time and attention on traffic!
The Highlights Tour takes you to every major sight and point of interest at Versailles, and combined with transit, should only take up about half of the day.
2- Half Day Tour of Versailles
Revel in History
This much longer visit takes anywhere from three to four hours. With all the extra time, you’ll be able to experience:
More anecdotes and a greater depth of history
See the famous Hall of Mirrors
Visit the general apartments of the kings and queens
Visit the grand ballrooms, reception rooms, and other fascinating places
Take in much more art, including portraits, ceiling murals, and sculptures
See the later Art Deco pieces created by the leading artisans and architects in France
The added time also allows you to really get to know the palace, with your guide answering any questions you might have in detail.
3 - Full Day Tour of Versailles
Total immersion into the life of the Palace
The full day visit to Versailles includes everything mentioned above and so much more.
With the added time, you can get a much greater appreciation of the grounds. You can see the garden sculptures up close, one of the finest collections in the world. This is also the best place to learn about French landscape architecture, which found its strongest expression here at Versailles.
(If you have mobility issues or want to save energy for exploring later, you can rent golf carts and bikes to enjoy the gardens.)
There is also so much more to be seen away from the palace itself. First and foremost is the Queen’s Hamlet, as well as watching the fountains — depending on the time of year.
The full tour includes a lunch break. We can help you choose the best restaurant depending on your dietary needs and budget.
4 - Little apartment of the King
This a high-budget visit of the little apartment of the King. We will explore his bedroom, the height of comfort of mid 18th century, his beautiful hunting room, the queen marvelous bathroom. We will talk about the intimate lives of the Kings, their passions, their taste in Art.
I will go into details about the secrets of the furniture. I will show you the Rococo style and the Louis XV style, the materials decorating the rooms, explain the Art, the paintings, the portraits and the ingenuity behind the clocks.
*This is an extraordinary visit of a high security area that needs a special reservation from Versailles that can be made by your licensed tour guide or an accredited travel agency.
The Versailles Grounds
When many people think of Versailles, they think only about the main palace. But the entire complex offers endless sights to see. A few of the main highlights are collected below.
Versailles was the place where the French formal garden style reached its height. The style creates extremely orderly gardens, which were all the rage for generations after the success of Versailles.
The Gardens have been maintained based on their original designs. They are so large that, from many spots in the palace, they seem to extend on and on to the horizon.
The Queen’s Hamlet
While most of the buildings at Versailles have a Neoclassical bent to them (with columns and repeating features), the Queen’s Hamlet is something altogether different. It has a more rustic appearance, looking like something out of a fairy tale story.
It was built when, in 1783, none other than Queen Marie-Antoinette wanted her own little area to retreat to in the beautiful gardens. She hired Richard Mique to design the entire thing.
In royal fashion, the project went far beyond a single home. The Queen’s house itself is really two different houses connected by a covered walkway, and all around her building are the makings of a small village, including: a mill, barn, dairy, tower, and guard house.
Because it is based on the back-to-nature impulse popular at the time, it takes on many charming, rustic features that make it very unique among the other buildings at Versailles.
The Fountains of Versailles
The fountains run from the spring through the fall (the pipes would freeze during winter), and they use the same mechanisms designed in the 17th century.
Going to the fountain shows gives you an appreciation for the ingenuity and talent of engineers from centuries ago. Because the palace and gardens are built on drained marshland, the water table enabled fountains that still dazzle audiences.
The Grand and Petit Trianon
The Grand and Petit Trianons are other little châteaux on the grounds of Versailles, both boasting Neoclassical architecture.
These are very fun places for children to visit, and we love making these exciting for kids by relating it to their favorite cartoons and movies. After all, so many magical castles are based on these buildings, and the princesses and princes that inhabit their beloved stories find their real world counterparts right here!
History of Versailles
When you visit Versailles, you will no doubt be wondering why such an extravagant palace was built. Yes, kings are known for wanting the best of the best, but this place seems like a fantasy come to life.
To understand why Versailles was built, you have to dig into the history, And when you do, you discover a fascinating story.
Creating Versailles : Louis XIV’s Big Idea
King Louis XIV was raised to believe that he should be the unquestioned ruler of the French state. And his experiences as a child made him paranoid of the aristocrats. They were in more or less constant revolt against his father, and one mob almost killed Louis XIV when he was only a child.
So he knew he needed to wrest control from these wealthy and powerful people. But doing so through the might of his army or explicitly by law would likely provoke them more. So Louis XIV came up with a better idea: seduce them to Versailles — a pleasure palace that they would never want to leave.
There, he and his most loyal servants could keep an eye and an ear on the aristocrats. And while they were distracted by the indulgences available, Louis could carry out many actions behind their backs.
How did he come up with such a brilliant and devious idea? It all started — as many royal ideas do — with a party. The Marquis Nicolas Fouquet held a grand celebration at his house, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. It was such a big to-do that Fouquet invited the king himself.
When Louis arrived at the château, he could hardly believe his eyes. The house and gardens were delightful, grand, and fit for a king. And because Fouquet was a member of the royal court, he’d built this palace using all the tools Louis had at his disposal.
Louis left with a belly full of the finest food and a head full of big plans. As for Fouquet, he was thrown into prison that next autumn. Apparently along with a beautiful estate, he’d also built himself a private army!
The palace Louis imagined required a large piece of land not too far away from the center of his country, Paris. The best place for this seemed to be Versailles, a swampy area where his father had built a château for hunting. Though to really be fit for a royal residence, he would need to expand it greatly.
Louis’s court architect Louis Le Vau and royal gardener André Le Nôtre led the charge, completing larger and larger projects from the 1660s on through the next two decades. Things slowed down due to war and bad harvests.
Though the actual architects and artisans no doubt did the lion’s share, Louis’s ideas were actually a major part of the early design process. He directed the project like any other major act of government.
And a major act it was. The palace proved to be a tremendous undertaking, one that kept going and going.
First and foremost, water had to be diverted to dry up the land, and the unfathomable amount of building materials and finery all had to be shipped in from far away. Just getting the gardens and exterior into some kind of order took up much of the 1660s. By the end of the decade, there was enough progress that a city named Versailles was royally chartered to surround the palace and provide it with the laborers, goods, and industry necessary to keep the king well stocked.
But by the 1670s, work had retreated mostly to the interior. The Franco-Dutch War that broke out in 1672 gave the budget a hiccup, but by 1674, Louis hired a new architect to charge forward and make up for lost time. Jules Hardouin-Mansart was responsible for some of the most grand features of the palace — including the Hall of Mirrors.
When Louis XIV died in 1715, Versailles was a magnificent achievement. His son Louis XV made a few additions and renovations, though frequent wars in Europe kept using up the bulk of his funds.
Louis XVI had even fewer resources to add anything to the palace. By that time, many renovations were required, and so the royal residence actually left Versailles for a number of years. But the deepening crisis in France during the late 18th century meant those renovations never happened. What happened instead was the French Revolution, and an end to the monarchy.
Leaving and Returning to Versailles
The Revolutionary government had little use for Versailles, far away as it was from the action of Paris. It was also the ultimate symbol of royal decadence, something no Jacobin wanted to be associated with!
Later on, Napoleon named himself Emperor, and he desperately wanted to live in the palace, but by that time, the buildings and the land needed so many renovations that it just couldn’t work.
It wasn’t until Napoleon fell and the Bourbons were restored to power that King Louis XVIII began renovations on the palace that his great grandfather built. But the work was vast, and so he and his successor Charles X never lived there. When Louis-Philippe was rushed into power in 1830’s July Revolution, he tried to turn the entire thing into a museum.
Versailles became the site of stately events once again under Emperor Napoleon III, and after he lost power, it continued to be used as a site for important political events. These include the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.
Through the 20th century, renovations gradually brought the palace to its full glory. And in the 1950s, it became a true museum.
Pascal & Alix & Flora
We are a team of guide-lecturers from Paris.
Alix and Flora offer private tours of Versailles.
To contact the team, you can send an email to Flora or use the direct contact form below.
Send us your inquiry or request, we always answer our emails in the next few hours.
It is possible to schedule a phone call as well.