How to visit the Palace of Versailles, the estate and the park for free? Conditions, documents, how to order a free ticket. And also: the history of the Versailles residence and what to see.
It is well known that the Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France. And this is where travelers usually go after the first day spent in Paris.
However, not everyone knows that some categories of visitors are entitled to free admission to the Grand Palace of Versailles. And on some days, everyone can enter inside without spending a cent.
Do you want to know who exactly can enter the magnificent residence of the French kings and other buildings on the estate for free? Let’s tell now!
Free entry to Palace of Versailles and Trianon Manor
On the first Sunday of every month from November to March, the entire estate, including the Palace of Versailles and the Trianon estate, is open to everyone free of charge.
Upon presentation of an identity document, access to the permanent collections of the Palace, the Trianon estate and temporary exhibitions will be free for:
- those under 18 (0-17) regardless of citizenship
- those who are under 26 years old and are a citizen of one of the countries of the European Union,
- teachers of a French educational institution, upon presentation of a Pass Education card
- disabled people and their accompanying persons
- unemployed and recipients of social benefits upon presentation of documents, age no more than 6 months ago
- Ecole d’Art students
- Culture card holders and their accompanying persons (1 person) are entitled to free access to the Palace, the Trianon Estate, the Fountain Show and the Musical Gardens.
If you are eligible for free admission, you must order a free admission ticket online with a time stamp. More here – en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit/conditions-free-admission.
Free entrance to the gardens
The park and gardens are open every day and are free for walkers and cyclists. Access is free, except for the Musical Fountain Show and Musical Gardens (children under 5 only).
The audio guide and the application are provided free of charge only to persons with disabilities and their companions. The mobile application for visiting the palace, gardens and Trianon estate can be downloaded free of charge to your smartphone in the App Store and Google Play.
History of the Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles near Paris is the magnificent residence of the kings of France and the collective creation of the best French architects and landscape masters. Monument of a great era in the history of the country. Literally a memorial to the memory of the “Sun King”.
Initially a very modest hunting castle in Versailles, which became a huge palace complex, turned into a role model throughout Europe. The grandiosity of the idea and its implementation in practice cannot leave you indifferent!
A small hunting castle in the ancient village of Versailles, located just 15 kilometers west of Paris, arose in the reign of Louis XIII. The father of Louis XIV, who later reigned for so long, in 1624.
Then the castle in Versailles, designed by the architect Philibert de Roy, was turned into a small palace. During the subsequent numerous reconstructions of the building, this part became the center of the composition.
In 1661, after the death of Cardinal Mazarin, who ruled France in the role of first minister, King Louis XIV reconsidered the role of Versailles. The idea of turning a small palace into a grandiose residence is born in the head of a monarch who has finally received real power. Moreover, its location outside of Paris, the capital of France, is not at all accidental.
The king seemed to oppose himself to the largest city of the nation. Declaring that it is he who will now be the center of the universe for the French.
The court, however, finally moved to the Versailles residence only in 1682. Prior to this, the monarch lived in the Tuileries. In the now defunct palace that closed the inner courtyard of the Louvre.
Large-scale construction at Versailles began in 1669. It was then that the architect Louis Leveaux significantly enlarged the former, rather modest building, by lengthening the side wings.
in the construction of the Palace of Versailles begins after the Treaty of Nijmegen, in 1678. The construction was supervised by another outstanding French architect, Jules Hardouin Mansart.
Under Mansart, the building received the most significant increment. The northern and southern wings appeared, the famous Mirror Gallery appeared in the central part of the building. The ministerial buildings were completed, framing the third courtyard of the complex, the Ministerial.
At the same time, Andre Le Nôtre, an outstanding landscape architect, created a regular park. And the decorator Charles Brun worked on the interior decoration.
The next stage of construction, the last in the reign of Louis XIV, began in 1699 and ended in 1710. As a result, a number of interior interiors were rebuilt, and the most beautiful Royal Chapel arose. Conceived by Mansart and completed by Robert de Cotte, the court church is still being filmed in many historical films to this day.
It is impossible not to mention a separate palace in the park for the favorite of the king, the Marquise de Montespan. They called it simply and without frills – the Great Trianon (Trianon in French means pavilion).
Subsequently, during the First Empire, Trianon was turned into one of the official residences by Emperor Napoleon.
Regency and Louis XV-XVI
After the death of Louis XIV in 1714, the court moved to Paris. And delegations of foreign states began to settle in Versailles.
The French court returned to Versailles in 1722, after the death of the regent, Philippe d’Orléans. Alterations of the vast palace until the middle of the 18th century were minor and mainly concerned the interiors.
For the mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, the Petit Trianon Palace, Le Petit Trianon, was built in the vast palace garden. And the composition of the Grand Palace of Versailles was completed by the Opera House, designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel.
Under Louis XVI, the Petit Trianon Palace, presented to his wife, Marie Antoinette, turned into an exquisite pearl of the elegant Rococo architectural style. And the Queen’s Village, which arose nearby, became the first example of pastoral architecture in Europe.
During the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles lost some of its interior decoration, but the buildings were not damaged. After the restoration of the monarchy, in 1837, King Louis-Philippe turned the former residence into a national museum by decree.
Subsequently, the palace twice saw the German troops. In 1871 Wilhelm I was proclaimed Emperor of Germany in the Mirror Gallery. Here, in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, which ended the First World War.
- Length of the garden facade exceeds 670 meters
- Palace of Versailles has over 700 rooms and 67 staircases
- Total area of the building exceeds 67,000 m2
- And the whole complex with the park is spread over 8 km2
Palace apartments to this day amaze with the luxury of decoration. Particularly stands out is the Mirror Gallery, a hall 73 meters long, 10.5 meters wide and 12.5 meters high.
The amount spent on the construction and decoration of the Palace of Versailles only in the era of Louis XIV amounted to 26 million livres!
How to get there
The fastest and cheapest way to get to the Palace of Versailles is by RER line C. You need to get off at the station Versailles Château – Rive Gauche (zone 4).
The Navigo weekly pass is valid for this route. And it’s inexpensive: www.transilien.com/en/page-editoriale/navigo-week-pass.
Opening hours and ticket prices
The Palace of Versailles is open to the public every day of the week except Mondays. 9 am to 6.30 pm from May to September and 9 am to 5.30 pm from October to April. Closed December 25, January 1.
A complex ticket to the residence (palace, Trianon) in 2023 will cost 21.5 € – 28.5 € is access on the days of the Musical Fountains. A ticket only to the palace costs 19.50 € – en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices.
Visitors under the age of 18, regardless of citizenship and citizens of the European Union under 26 years of age, do not need to pay for a ticket. A free visit to the Palace of Versailles and the park for everyone, we recall, is possible on the first Sunday of each month from November to March.