The answer will depend on how much time you need to spend in the Palace and what kind of tour you are looking for. If you are a fast-paced traveler, then an hour is long enough. But if you are a slow walker, or if the weather could be better, two hours may be needed before deciding if it’s worth it. It all depends on your personality type and other circumstances of your trip.
Originally, the Versailles Palace was intended to be a humble hunting lodge located on the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles, owned by Louis XIV, one of the greatest monarchs and most powerful rulers in France during the 17th and 18th century. His ancestors also lived there for a while before him. Since it was originally built as a hunting lodge, there is no room for sleeping quarters. So Louis XIV used to visit this place during his hunting outings. Over time he decided to modify the place and made it his official residence in 1682. He invited artists and other creative people from around the world to come and live there to make Versailles the most beautiful Palace in Europe.
The Palace was fully completed by 1685 but had several extensions added on during the next few centuries, most notably by Louis XV (1725), Louis XVI (1775) and Napoleon (1803). The layout of the Palace is very simple. There are three main portals or entrances. The center one is called the Marble Gate, and it’s the grandest entrance. It leads you straight to The Cour Royale (Royal Courtyard), surrounded by many other buildings and palaces, including The Opera House, The Royal Chapel and Orleans’ Palace. To your left from the Marble Gate, you will find another entrance, The Carrousel Gate, which takes you straight to The Cour de Marly (Marly Court). The Petit Carrousel Gate’s last entrance, which leads you to The Pavillon de l’Horloge (Clock Pavilion). Various corridors, halls and passages connect all these entrances. The most elaborate place on Seine River Tour is The Grand Appartement of Louis XIV; actually, it’s an entire apartment itself.
The Grand Appartement, also called The Hall of Mirrors, is made up of 200 hand-crafted mirrors reflecting sunlight inwards. There are two main entrance doors. The one on the left is called The King’s Entrance, and the one on the right is The Queen’s Entrance.
The Palace is a big place, with vast areas of gardens, structures and rooms to explore. Various excursions take you to different parts of the beautiful Palace. A good tip would be to pick a destination and then decide what route to take you there. The Palace has many rooms, halls, galleries and passages. Each tour is different, and they all have their own recommended routes. So, planning your route will help a lot.
There are many different Versailles Palace Tour options available:
• Versailles Palace Tour with a Guide – This option is the best one providing you with all the information you need about the Palace. Depending on your language preference or nationality, you can choose from various tour guides (English, Spanish and French).
• Versailles Palace Tour – This walking Versailles palace tour allows you to see the whole Palace in one day. It can be interesting for some people because many other tours do not cover many parts of the Palace. However, it may not be the best option for you if you are on a short schedule.
• Guided Versailles Palace Tour – This all-day tour lasts from 10 am to 6 pm. It gives you more time to explore most parts of the Palace and has more stops than the Versailles Palace Tour with a Guide.
• Chateau de Versailles, Palace of Versailles & Gardens Tour – This combines many different tours that allow you to see The Grand Appartement, Marble Court and The King’s Staircase. It’s a long tour, but it also has more stops.
• Private Tour of Versailles Palace Gardens – This is your option if you have your car. It’s a good option if you want to spend some time in the park. It’s a good choice if you are on a short-time schedule. However, it’s a little bit expensive compared to other tour options.
• Versailles Palace Gardens Tour – This is a walking tour of The Versailles Gardens. If you are limited by time, this is not your best idea. However, if you have more time to spend in the park and want to see more structures and gardens, this option could be for you.
• Versailles at Night – This tour allows you to see The Grand Appartement with the lights on, including various art objects and statues. The admission ticket does not include a tour guide. You will have to move on your own through the Palace.
There are also various special events in the Palace during summer and winter. During summer, you can attend The Grandes Eaux Musicales Show, a fountain event of dancing fountains and light effects during the evening. In the winter, they have The Spectacle des Glaces Show, a skating show on an outdoor ice skating ring known as The Carrousel. During these events, there is a small fee for admission tickets. Most of the events take place from September to April.
If you ever travel to Paris, France and decide to spend at least part of your trip in this beautiful country, then Versailles Palace is something you should try. Irrespective of your schedule, it’s worth seeing and exploring, if only for a day or two.