Once frequented by King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette, the Palace of Versailles is one of the world’s largest and grandest historic royal residences—little wonder it’s one of the most popular day-trip destinations from Paris. Here’s how to spend a day at the landmark, from its iconic Hall of Mirrors to its sweeping gardens and fountains.
Hop aboard an early morning train from Paris, or, if you sign up for a private or small-group tour, travel in the comfort of a private vehicle. It's a quick trip to the Palace of Versailles, 10 miles (17 kilometers) southwest of the French capital. Upon arrival, soak in the palace’s grandeur before heading inside for a tour. Whether you explore with a guide or with an audio tour, you can walk through the chandelier-filled Hall of Mirrors, Royal Apartments, Apollo Room, and more. For a splurge, enjoy a decadent lunch at Ore, Alain Ducasse’s on-site restaurant.
Though sprawling and lavishly decorated, Versailles’ main palace building is just one of the palace complex's many highlights. Save time to stroll its sweeping gardens, designed by landscape architect André Le Nôtre in the classical French style—they cover a vast expanse of 1,976 acres (800 hectares). Seek out the Grand and Petit Trianons—two separate, on-site palaces—and venture to a bucolic retreat once favored by Marie Antoinette, the Hamlet. Alternatively, bike or Segway tours provide a zippy way to navigate the grounds.
Cap off your day of regal decadence with one final flourish: a Versailles fountain show. Held on select days between April and October, the performances see the palace’s grand fountains “dance” in time, accompanied by a musical soundtrack (separate, music-only garden walks are also hosted in the same time period). Alternatively, venture into the charming town of Versailles for a traditional bistro dinner before returning to Paris proper.