The Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
It took fifty years and tens of thousand workers to turn a hunting lodge in the middle of a swamp into a castle amazing enough to dazzle the French nobility and the world. Why rush?
Versailles is a lot more than a gilded palace, as the gardens, the Grand and Petit Trianon, the village of Marie Antoinette are an integral part of an immense site needing a day long visit to appreciate.
The gardens are an immense open air work of architecture dominating the forces of nature, given life and order by the sun, the ancient god Apollo, that is the Sun King Louis XIV. Wandering through the gardens is essential to understand the reasons why Versailles exists, and to comprehend the efforts and cost of building and maintaining such a place.
King Louis XIV succeeded at taming the nobility but in bequeathing a costly Versailles and absolute power to his successors Louis XV and Louis XVI, he also set in motion the French Revolution.
Two Revolutions played in Versailles, the American obviously first, and the second one in 1789, and we will discuss the link between the two. In the charming farm village Marie Antoinette had built in the 1780's, so she could play being a milk maid, where marble and gilded interiors hide behind a modest looking exterior, we will ponder at the consequence of being perceived as being "Madam Deficit". The overspending and extravagance of the Queen, real or imagined, sealed the fate of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
The hameau de la Reine Marie Antoinette is one of the highlights of a visit of Versailles palace. Strolling down gardens, admiring fountains, small palaces and a Queen's domain, a day at Versailles would bring lasting memories.
Our private tour of Versailles castle comes with a timed reservation for the castle.
The Grand Trianon, part of a visit of Versailles castle and gardens. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
The Petit Trianon, part of Marie Antoinette's domain. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
To discover Versailles with a private, officially qualified guide, do not hesitate to contact us for availability. The visit includes :
- In the palace, the King's State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the King's bedroom, the Queen's State Apartments.
As licensed guides we do have the credentials to obtain a reservation for the castle, in other words the method to Skip the Line, that is taking care of the tickets and reservation for you. On top of that the visit is also timed to get around the crowds. Entrance tickets are extra.
- In the gardens we will see the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Hameau de la Reine, the charming farm village of Marie Antoinette.
The tour is for a day, as half a day visits of Versailles do not allow time, in our experience, for a good visit. The best way to deal with crowds at Versailles is to see both the castle and the gardens.
Marie Antoinette's hamlet, part of a visit of Versailles gardens. A charming place with a farm, ensuring a visit of Versailles would be a great day for both children and adults. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
Furthermore we do also have the accreditation to visit, subject to an additional fee, the smaller Private Apartments of Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Chapel or the Opera.
Opening times - The castle of Versailles opens every day except Mondays, from 9 am till 5.30 pm for the winter season, and till 6.30 pm for the summer season.
Water displays - Between April and October the gardens are in summer mode, and on week ends, with the water displays, the important Bosquets, the groves hiding the stunning carved fountains are exceptionally visible.
The Night fountain shows with fireworks, every Saturday evening from mid-June to September, are great but the private tours of Versailles can only take place in daytime.
Transport from Paris to Versailles - Not included, but the recommended method of transport is the suburban train, cheap and reliable, taking on average one hour from the center of Paris. We'll be happy to book for you a taxi to and from the castle, depending on traffic about 30 minutes to Versailles from the center of Paris. It is possible to book a van-like taxi that can comfortably seat six people.
Enjoying a picnic in Versailles gardens - Having a relaxing outdoor meal in the gardens is possible, in summer, during the discovery of Versailles estate. Please inquire about organizing a picnic during a private tour of Versailles palace and gardens.
Only visible during the 'water displays' weekends, the Bosquets -groves- hide impressive carved fountains. The reward for spending the day at Versailles and walking through its gardens is to admire what most visitors don't take the time to see. And to understand the cost and work needed to turn a swamp into a gigantic open-air work of art. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
Private tour? Semi-private tour? Half a day? Skip the line? VIP tour?
If you are confused with all the different offers for Versailles tours, here is an explanation :
- Half-day visit - means you only see the castle, as the sheer size of the domain makes it impossible to see anything else.
- Day long visit - the only way to discover Versailles properly, meaning visiting not only the palace, but the gardens, the domain of Marie Antoinette, the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the rustic village built for Marie Antoinette, with an actual farm, a charming part of the visit, both for children and adults.
- Skip the line - Being officially recognised we of course visit Versailles castle with a reservation time, through a dedicated entrance, in other words the method to Skip the line, by having a professional taking care of both the tickets and reservation for you. The entrance tickets are extra (free for children) and we need advance notice to request a reservation time for the castle.
- Private tour - A private tour is only for you, be it one person, a family, or friends up to five persons. For a family of six persons, please inquire.
- Semi-private tour - A 'semi-private' tour is a small group tour. Individuals who might want to see different things are grouped together for a one-size-fits-all tour.
- Walking, cycling, taking the little train, renting a golf cart - The number of options given to discover the gardens of Versailles should give an idea of their size.
The Art Journey Private Tour of Versailles castle and gardens is done on foot, whatever the weather conditions, as not only many sites can only be visited on foot, but it also is the most agreable way to discover Versailles, and to comprehend the cost and effort behind building such a site. If you run out of steam, it is possible to take the little train from the Petit Trianon back to the castle.
For visitors with mobility issues, it is also possible to rent a golf cart to visit the gardens, and to borrow a wheelchair for the castle visit. The golf cart can be rented with a discount for those in possession of a disabled card. More details on the small electric vehicles.
- VIP tour; chauffeur driven private car ? - VIP treatment doesn't mean arriving to Versailles in a high-end chauffeur driven car or walking on a red carpet. It is what happens once there, being treated the way we would like to be if the roles were reversed. It means receiving advice on the best times to visit, how to avoid crowds, and the ideal duration of a tour.
In our experience the best way to avoid crowds at Versailles is to visit for a day, and see both the castle -with reservation- and the gardens and small palaces, the Grand and Petit Trianon, as well as the charming hamlet of Marie Antoinette.
You're on holiday, and we are trying to show you one of the most amazing castles in the world. The choice of travel to Versailles is entirely up to you. It can be by train, around 1 hour door to door from Paris. By taxi both to and from Versailles, we'll be happy to book it for you. Or by chauffeur driven car.
- Is Versailles a castle or a palace ? - In one of the many ways Versailles is unique, it is in fact both! A palace, coming from the Palatium of ancient Rome, is inside a city. A castle, coming from Latin castrum, meaning "fortified camp", "fortress"; implies it is located in the countryside. We will see why Versailles is both a palace and a castle...
For example, Vaux le Vicomte, also designed by Le Vau, Le Brun and Le Nôtre, the architect, painter and garden designer who built Versailles, is a castle. Don't hesitate to inquire too about a visit to Vaux le Vicomte.
- Photo tours of Versailles castle - We can also combine a photographic tour of Versailles with our private tour of the castle and gardens. To give you an idea of the sites and photos that can be taken, please visit either our Art Journey Flickr, or our Instagram.
Photo tours are open to beginners as well as advanced photographers, from a crash course into the basics of photography technique to composition, that is working on the art of seeing. Please ask in advance about taking photos at Versailles. A great complement of a visit of Versailles castle is a private visit of the Louvre to admire the Apollo Gallery, a prototype of Versailles Hall of mirrors, the private art collection of Louis XIV, as well as furniture and objects owned by Marie Antoinette.
The gardens of Versailles reflected in the Hall of Mirrors. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
To inquire about a private tour, please mention the date of the visit as well as the number of participants, using the form below, thank you.