You have finally made it to Paris, and you decide you must visit Versailles, but you only want to do a day trip. Insert major groan and head shake! There are two type of travelers – those who want a high count and rush through countries, hell they may even count the airport as a visit. Then you have those that want to embrace the culture and take their time. I fall in the second camp, I am all for maximizing time, I get it, two weeks of vacation is not a lot, BUT not at the expense of the experience!
You will hear me on this blog say many time…SLOW THE HELL DOWN. I have been that traveler who just wanted to rush through places to say I had been and then when asked about it I had no real experiences. I promise you will thank me later. Now to why you are reading this article, you want to know why the gardens of Versailles need a whole day. Let me say that the Palace of Versailles is HUGE like 2014 acres big! You cannot rush this place and enjoy it; you must slow down.
I love the Palace, it’s a work of art and being a historian the history here is second to none, but the gardens don’t get enough love. For sake of this article, I am including the gardens as anything outside of the Palace. That would be The Grand Trianon, The Petit Trianon, Queens Hamlet, and the Gardens. Now fun fact the gardens are FREE to visit! Yep, you can go any day the only day they charge is when there is a fountain show.
Now you’re ready to explore for a few days let’s go over what you can do!
As I mentioned the Gardens are free to visit any day unless there is a fountain show. These gardens are HUGE like you could take a day just in the gardens and not even touch the Estates of Trianon. However, if you only have a day to dedicate to the grounds, I would spend 2-4 hours in the gardens. I suggest splitting your time and visit early in the morning and then close to sunset.
The fountains are literal works of art, they have huge groves and you can even rent a golf cart to drive around. You also have to see the Parterres which are huge designs by water and shrubs. One of my favorite memories was meeting a group of girls and spending the day with them. Losing out way in the garden lead us to discover so much!
Outside of the palace is the Estate of Trianon which is has three different areas.
The first area is the Grand Trianon which was created as an escape from court life. It’s really funny to think of this as an “escape” when it’s a huge palace made of pink marble. I mean if that was my escape from real life, I would be one happy camper.
Inside is just as gorgeous as the outside with rooms that have mirrored walls. Take a walk outside to the Peristyle which is a huge outdoor courtyard.
The second area is the Petit Trianon created in 1768 and then redone by Marie Antoinette. It was given to her as a gift from her husband. She was unhappy with court life, and it became one of her escapes. It now stands as a museum that remembers Marie Antoinette. It’s not as large as the Grand Trianon but it’s still an impressive structure worth exploring.
The third area is the gardens or “The English Gardens”. This is the home of the iconic Love Monument which was commissioned by Marie Antoinette. Inside the gardens is also The Belvedere and The Grotto.
Constructed by Marie Antoinette, she had a small village created to replicate farm life. The story is, when she wanted to feel “normal” she would go to her village which was a working farm and “unwind”. I mean it just makes me laugh, she legit created a village…ahh I wish but moving along. It was under renovation from 2015-2018 and the Queens house just reopened. You can walk the whole property as well as see inside the home.
This is a small sample of what can be done in Versailles, not including all the things outside of the Palace! I hope I have convinced you to spend a few days in Versailles and at least give the Gardens their own full day!
Drop a comment below if you have been to the Palace of Versailles and if you agree that the Gardens deserve a full day!