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Gardens of Versailles – tickets, free entry, history and facts

The Palace of Versailles gardens is one of the most extensive gardens ever created.

Work on the gardens started simultaneously as the work on the palace and lasted for around 40 years.

The gardens are famous for their grand scale and intricate design, featuring a variety of fountains, sculptures, and other decorative elements arranged in symmetrical patterns.

When the Versailles Gardens were complete, they included 372 statues, 55 fountains, and over 32 kms (20 Miles) of canals.

Visitors to the Gardens of Versailles can explore a range of different areas, including the Parterres, which are the formal gardens located closest to the palace; the Orangery, which houses a collection of citrus trees; and the Petit Trianon, a small chateau situated on the grounds of the gardens that was once used as a private retreat by Marie Antoinette.

Over the years, the Gardens of Versailles have become a popular haunt for the locals, people from Paris, and visiting tourists.

Everybody who visits the Palace of Versailles also steps into the Gardens.

This article covers everything you must know before booking tickets for the Gardens of Versailles.

Versailles Garden tickets

Versailles Gardens are part of the Versailles Estate.

Since Versailles Estate has many things to see, the tickets are available in many combinations.

Each of these tickets includes entry to the Versailles Gardens.

Some of the tickets even include transport from Paris.

Palace of Versailles tickets

With this ticket, you get access to the Palace of Versailles, including the Grand Apartments, Hall of Mirrors, King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber, and Apartments of Mesdames.

Once you have explored the Palace, you can walk into the Gardens.

Tickets to Palace of Versailles + additional sites

This ticket is everything the previous ticket offers plus more.

Besides everything in the Palace of Versailles, you can also explore the Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate with this access ticket.

Access to the Versailles Gardens is also part of this ticket.

Tickets to Palace + Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens

Musical Fountains at Versailles Gardens
Musical Fountains at Versailles Gardens. Image: Parisperfect.com

If the focus of your visit to the Palace of Versailles is the gardens, we recommend this ticket.

Take a day trip from Paris to the Golden Age of French luxury.

You can book this ticket only for Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday during the summer months when the Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens are on.

Guided tour of Palace of Versailles

This is a guided tour, so you get into the Palace of Versailles through the priority entrance (and skip all the lines).

Once the guide has taken you around for 75 minutes, you are free to hang around in the Palace or walk up to the gardens for a leisurely walk.

Guided tour of Palace of Versailles + transport from Paris

If you can’t manage your own transport from Paris to Versailles, we recommend this tour.

This ticket offers you a guide and a luxury coach, who pick you up from a central location in Paris and after your Versailles tour is over drop you back.

The guide takes you around the Palace for around two hours, after which you are free to explore the Versailles gardens.

Visual Story: 12 must-know tips before visiting Versailles Gardens

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History of Versailles Gardens

While planning the Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV gave equal importance to the garden around it.

He handed over landscaping and the garden around the Palace to French landscape architect called André Le Nôtre.

The landscape architect was also given the title Controller General of the King’s Garden.

When the work had begun, the ground around the Palace of Versailles was just meadows and forests.

This meant, double the work.

Gardens at Versailles Palace

Le Nôtre began revamping the grounds of Versailles in 1662.

His design for the garden had an east-west axis forming a crucifix. In addition, he added two formal French gardens close to the Palace.

Image: Bonjourparis.com

Even though André Le Nôtre handled every aspect of the work on the gardens, the King himself reviewed every detail.

Creating the Garden of Versailles was a monumental task.

The Earth had to be dug up to level the ground, the design partitions had to be made, the fountains and canals had to be dug up and filled with water, the Orangery was to be built.

Appropriate trees had to be imported from different parts of France and re-settled in the Garden of Versailles.

No wonder it took André Le Nôtre 40 years to give it the present-day look.

Recommended Reading: History of Versailles Palace

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Gardens of Versailles facts

With so much history, there is so much interesting information about Palace of Versailles.

In this section, we share some exciting facts about the Versailles Gardens.

1. Andre Le Notre had trained at Les Tuileries garden

Andre Le Notre wasn’t new to working with the Royalty. He had started his career working for Gaston of Orleans, Louis XIV’s uncle.

He was born into a family of gardeners, who had been working for the Kings for the last 100 years.

He had trained at the garden of Les Tuileries near Louvre Palace (which is now the Louvre Museum).

2. One-third of the budget was spent on fountains

King Louis XIV had allocated one-third of the total budget of the Palace of Versailles to the fountains in the garden.

The Gardens of Versailles have 11 main fountains built around Roman and Greek mythology themes.

During your visit, don’t miss out on the four seasons fountains, Fight of the Animals fountain, Dragon fountain, Latona’s fountain, Apollo’s fountain, etc.

3. Garden of Versailles has a 1-mile long canal

Versailles Gardens includes a large canal 1.6 Kms (1 Mile) long and 62 meters (203 feet) wide.

This Versailles canal took 11 years to complete – from 1668 to 1679.

This canal is so big that the Kings sailed small boats on this water body.

In winter, the inhabitants used the frozen canal for skating and sledding.

Visit the Louvre, cruise along the Seine, and discover the Eiffel Tower with the Paris City Card and save around 17% on your tickets cost.

4. Venice gifted two Gondolas to the French King

In 1674, the Republic of Venice gifted the King two gondolas and four gondoliers.

Venice wanted the King to make full use of the long canal in the Palace of Versailles gardens.

Italian gondoliers lived in buildings at the end of the canal.

That’s why this part of the Palace of Versailles had another name – ‘Little Venice’.

5. Versailles Garden has Europe’s largest Orangery

An Orangery is a place where orange trees go to survive the winter.

In the days of King Louis XIV – the King who built Versailles – it was good manners to gift the King one’s own orange trees.

Besides, the King had also obtained many orange trees from Portugal, Spain, and Italy for his garden.

Along with orange trees, the King was also interested in Lemon, Oleander, Palm, and Pomegranate trees.

These trees didn’t do well in winter and needed warmer conditions.

That’s why the King commissioned architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart to build an Orangery in the Palace gardens.

This Orangery is 150 meters long with a 13-meter-high vaulted ceiling. It has 4 to 5-meter walls to keep the cold out.

6. Palace of Versailles Gardens stank so much that people fell ill

Along with the Palace of Versailles, even the gardens were open to the public. Anybody could walk in and enjoy the beauty of the gardens.

However, in the 17th century, the Palace of Versailles gardens had a powerful smell that overpowered the visitors.

The combined smell of all the flowers and trees was so strong that the visitors fell ill.

Madame de Maintenon wrote in a letter dated Aug. 8, 1689: “The tuberoses drive us away from Trianon every evening. The excess of fragrance causes men and women to feel ill.”

7. Fountains still use the 300-year-old hydraulic systems

Palace of Versailles gardens has numerous fountains.

These fountains jet water high up into the air, thus enthralling the public and the special guests who come to see the spectacle.

Even today, many of the fountains use the same hydraulic systems from over 300 years ago to enthrall the people who visit in droves.

8. King Louis XIV had his own fruit and vegetable garden

King Louis XIV had a fruit and vegetable garden built for himself as part of the Versailles gardens.

He loved having fresh fruits and vegetables on his dining table daily, and that’s why he had requested La Quintinie to create a separate garden.

The garden was called ‘Potager du Roi’ and is today open to tourists.

The King loved gardening and visited this vegetable garden often.

He would also bring along visiting dignitaries to show off his gardening exploits.

Did you know that the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace has 357 mirrors?

9. Harry Potter has a connection with Gardens of Versailles

Want to know what’s the connection between Harry Potter and the Gardens of Versailles?

It is Alan Rickman.

British actor Alan Rickman was a talented wizard Snape in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

In 2014, he directed a well-received movie called ‘A Little Chaos’ based in Versailles.

The movie was about two talented landscape artists who fall in love while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s Palace at Versailles.

10. Every 100 years, Versailles Garden gets replanted

The Versailles Garden gets replanted once every 100 years to ensure the plants and trees stay in place and stick to the intended design.

Louis XVI became the King in May 1774 and replanted all the trees immediately after.

The next replanting was done by Napoleon Bonaparte when he was the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870.

In Dec 1999, a massive hurricane hit France, and the Palace of Versailles gardens suffered severe damage. More than 10,000 of the 200,000 trees were affected.

After this devastation, the garden got its third replanting.

FAQs about the Gardens of Versailles

Tourists planning a trip to the Versailles Gardens have a lot of doubts and questions.

We answer a few of these concerns –

What is the difference between Versailles Park and Versailles Gardens?

The Versailles Park is a large expanse of an area located around the Grand Canal. It is accessible free of charge all through the year.
However, the Versailles Gardens is an area scattered with flowers and fountains and statues close to the Palace of Versailles.

What are the opening hours of Versailles Gardens?

During the high season (Apr to Oct) the Gardens open at 8 am and close at 8.30 pm, and during the low seasons (Nov to Mar) it closes early at 6 pm. Versailles Park also has the same timing.

Are the Versailles Gardens free?

The Palace gardens remain open seven days a week, and most of the time, you can enter for free.
However, there are some days when you must pay to enter the Palace Gardens. During Parisian summer – from 27 March to 30 October – Musical Fountains Shows and the Musical Gardens become additional attractions at the Palace of Versailles Gardens.
During these days you are expected to pay a small fee to enter the Gardens.

If I only want to access the Versailles gardens, do I need to stand in a queue?

If you only want to access the Versailles Gardens, you don’t need to wait in any queue.
You can quickly enter the gardens from the left side of the Versailles Palace. There is hardly any line at this entrance.
But, if you wish to see the Palace of Versailles, you will have to stand in a long line (if you buy your Versailles tickets online, you don’t wait as much).

Do we need to pay if we want to see only the Versailles Gardens?

No, you don’t have to pay if you only want to see the Versailles Gardens. However, on special days – when the Musical Garden and Musical Fountain Shows are on, you will have to pay to enter the garden.

Where can I buy Versailles Garden only ticket?

If you only want to access the Versailles gardens, don’t bother buying them online. Land up at the Versailles Estate and buy the tickets at the Gardens entrance. You can get to the entrance from the Palace by the Princes’ Courtyard or the Park by the Queen Gate.
If you want to explore everything in the Versailles Estate, check out the available ticket options.

What is the difference between Musical Fountains and Musical Garden?

There is a slight difference between the Musical garden and the Musical Fountain.
The musical garden is where there is music playing in the garden, and the musical fountain is a show in which all the fountains are on along with the music. And there is a synchronization between the fountains and the music being played.
Be aware that you have to buy tickets on the days of the Musical Fountains Show and when Musical Garden plays music for entering the garden.

When can I book tickets for Musical Fountain shows or Musical gardens?

These shows usually happen on Saturdays and Sundays from April to the end of October.
And on Tuesdays from mid-May to the end of June – this is to encourage additional tourists to check out the gardens. Book tickets now

Can we visit the gardens before we tour the Palace?

Yes, you can visit the gardens before you visit Versailles Palace. You can directly go to the gardens when you arrive at the Palace grounds. All you have to do is head towards the top left-hand side of the Cour d’Honneur and then enter into the Courtyard of the Princess.

Versailles Palace is closed on Mondays. Is it still possible to walk around the gardens?

Versailles Gardens is open every day from 8 am to 8.30 pm (6 pm in winters), and you can enter for free on Mondays as well. During extreme weather such as snow and violent winds, access to the Gardens gets blocked.
The last admission to the Versailles gardens is at 7.30 pm (5.30 pm in winters).

Can I see the Palace of Versailles, then visit the gardens, and then revisit the Palace?

No, you are not allowed to re-enter the Palace of Versailles. That is why it is best to land up early, explore the Gardens, and then get into the Palace.

Are dogs on leash allowed inside the Gardens?

No, you are not allowed to take your pets inside the Gardens of Versailles. However, you can take your pets to Versailles Park as long as they are on a leash.

Can I leave the chateau/garden grounds to go into town and then return to the gardens the same day?

Yes, you can leave the garden grounds and return whenever you want. However, if it is one of those special days when visitors have to buy tickets to enter, you must keep your ticket with you for re-entry.

Should we rent a bike at the Palace of Versailles gardens?

No, you can’t rent a bike to explore the Palace of Versailles gardens. However, you can rent an electric vehicle (Golf buggy) to go around the Gardens.

Is it ok to visit the Palace of Versailles Gardens in winter? November, December or January?

Yes, you can visit the Versailles Gardens in winter too. You won’t see many visitors in winters because of chilly and cold weather, but the garden will still appear incredible. The garden statues are covered, and the fountains are switched off, but it is still mesmerizing.

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Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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