Come and discover the Palace’s most famous spots, or see them from a new point of view! The Hall of Mirrors, the State Apartments, the King’s Bedchamber, and the Royal Chapel await you…
The Main Courtyard and Royal Courtyard
After the first security check at the Main Gate:
- if you benefit from free admission or already have your printed ticket, go straight to entrance A with your ticket or document.
- If you are not entitled to free admission and have not reserved your ticket in advance, go the main ticket office on the left side of the Ministers’ Wing South, then head for entrance A.
Go through the Dufour Pavilion to enter the Royal Courtryard. Climb the five steps to your left as you cross the courtyard; you will see the ground is entirely paved in marble! You are now in the Marble Courtyard, at the heart of the first building constructed by Louis XIII, characterised by the contrasting colours of the materials: red brick, white stone and grey slate, highlighted with gold decoration. Louis XIV decided to enlarge his father’s hunting lodge and moved there on a permanent basis from 1682.
The King's Chambers are located on the first floor at the centre of the central pavilion, which is the most ornate part of the building and boasts a clock at the top and a balcony supported by twin columns of red marble. The chambers lie along the axis of the sun, as the Sun King had the habit of rising in the east, just like the sun. This east-west axis gives a relative symmetry to the whole of the Palace, and also to the Gardens.
The Gallery of the History of the Palace
Go down the steps again and, on your left, enter the Palace. Here, you can pick up your audioguides free of charge. Go past the entrance to the Royal Chapel on your right and begin your visit to the gallery in the Gallery of the History of the Palace. This gallery is located at the beginning of the tour of the State Apartments, on the ground floor of the north wing. This multimedia space traces the history of the Palace of Versailles through the centuries and offers an excellent introduction to your visit. Then take the stairs at the end of the Gallery of the History of the Palace to reach the first floor and dive into the heart of Court life by exploring the King's Apartments.
The King's State Apartments
On the first floor, you walk through the Louis XIV rooms or the Upper Statue Gallery, depending on which is open, before returning to the Royal Chapel, this time from the royal gallery where the king and his family attended daily Mass.
The next room is the Hercules Room, the first of the King's Chambers but actually the last to be created, at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. It is followed by the Hall of Plenty and then five other rooms, each associated with a divinity.
In addition to the use of precious materials (gold leaf, marbles...), many symbols refer to the French monarchy (the fleur de lys) and in particular to Louis XIV (the sun). In each room, you can see planets and deities depicted on the ceiling. Indeed, the other name for the King's Apartments is the “Apartment of the Planets”, since the seven planets known in the seventeenth century were originally depicted there, associated with their corresponding divinities (in the order in which the King's Apartments are visited: Venus, Diana/the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Apollo/the Sun. The rooms dedicated to Jupiter and Saturn no longer exist.
Take a pause in the Apollo Room…
This place was once the main room, and therefore the most sumptuous, of the King's Apartments, since it served as the throne room from 1682. The hooks that used to support the “dais”, a sort of fabric roof above the King's throne, can still be seen.
A picture that is often used to illustrate history textbooks is displayed in this room: the portrait of Louis XIV in Ceremonial Dress by Hyacinthe Rigaud. This portrait proved to be of great influence over the years, providing the model for later official portraits of the king, with the fleur de lys, crown, sceptre, sword and hand of justice.
The Hall of Mirrors
At the end of the King's Apartments, at the corner of the Palace, the War Room overlooks the Hall of Mirrors. Take a look at the decor designed by Charles Le Brun to the glory of Louis XIV; the painted decoration is embellished with stucco and gilt wood, complemented by the 357 mirrors of the Hall of Mirrors. Do not forget to turn and enjoy the view of the gardens. At the centre of the gallery, you can look through the windows down the Grande Perspective created by Louis XIV’s gardener, André Le Nôtre, along the east-west axis already noted from the courtyard.
Did you know? This 73-metre-long gallery linking the King’s and Queen’s Apartments replaced a terrace, which explains this stunning view of the gardens.
In the first third of the Hall of Mirrors, on your left there is a mirror door leading to the King's Chambers: the Council Chamber provides access to the King’s room to reach the King’s chamber, previously spied from the Royal or Main Courtyard. At the south end of the Hall of Mirrors, the Peace Room responds symmetrically to the War Room, which also lies at the corner of the Palace, overlooking the Queen's Apartment (currently closed for work). According to which rooms are open, you will finish this circuit of the State Apartments by visiting either the Queen’s Apartment or the King’s apartment.
The Gallery of Great Battles
At the end of the tour of the State Apartments, finish your visit of the Palace via the Gallery of Great Battles. This gallery is located in the south wing of the first floor. Follow the signs indicating how to reach it: go past (and not down) the Queen's Staircase (if necessary, the stairs take you down to the garden level of the Dufour pavilion, with the exit and toilets in the basement); go through the three rooms devoted to the history of France, and go past (again without going down) the Princes' Staircase, which overlooks the Gallery of Great Battles.
After it was abandoned as a royal residence, the Palace was transformed between 1833 and 1837 by Louis-Philippe into a historical museum dedicated to “all the glories of France” (this inscription can still be seen above the entrance pavilions of the Palace). The Gallery of Great Battles is its finest feature.
Go back towards the exit via the basement of the Dufour Pavilion (shop, lockers and toilets), where you can also return the audioguides.
The Marvels of the Palace
At this point, you can enjoy a well-deserved lunch break or refreshment!
- Several catering services are available throughout the Estate.
- Picnics are not allowed in the gardens of Versailles. Picnics are also permitted in the Park on the Saint Antoine Plain (in the direction of the Trianon from the Palace), and at the Lake of the Swiss Guard (opposite the Orangery, outside the Estate on the town side down Rue de l’Indépendance Américaine or on the Park side via the Sailors’ Gate).
Extend your visit!
- If you still have half a day or time for another visit: go on a voyage of (re)discovery of the the Gardens or the Trianon Palaces and the Estate of Marie Antoinette.
- If you only have an hour or two: come and discover the Louis XV's daughters Apartments, take the opportunity to visit one of the temporary exhibitions, , or follow the contemporary art itinerary or visit the Coach Gallery.
- To find out the best time to visit the Palace, see the peak hours table.
- Caution, please take care to avoid pickpockets inside and outside the Palace.
- In the rooms, photographs without a flash are permitted, but selfie sticks are not allowed.
- Some items (large bags, suitcases, backpacks, umbrellas, strollers, baby carriers with metal frames...) are not allowed in the rooms and can be left at the cloakrooms.
- There are two free Wifi points: in the Main Courtyard and the entrance to the gardens. You can make use of them to download the Gardens of Versailles app.
- Before the Palace... there used to be a mill! The Palace and grounds can be windy and draughty so bring something warm, even in summer.
Make the most of your discoveries
Take a guided visit to learn more and see some rooms that are closed to the public on self-guided tours!
For the visit to the Palace, the audioguide in 11 languages is free. The audioguides can be collected at the start of the Palace tour. Their content is also available through the mobile app.
After more than three years of restoration work, the Queen’s State Apartment is being reopened to the public, providing a great opportunity to revisit three of the Palace of Versailles’ key female characters: Marie-Antoinette, who lived in the Queen’s State Apartment, Marie Leszczynska and Madame de Maintenon.
From the 4th of May to the 3rd of August 2019, the Upper Stone Gallery of the Palace of Versailles will be presenting a unique collection of architectural projects, which were developed for the Palace and its gardens between the 17th and 19th centuries.