The gardens of the Palace of Versailles are almost as iconic as the palace itself. A masterpiece of French landscaping and a joy to behold where nature and art combine in perfect harmony.
After seeing the rooms and luxury of the Palace of Versailles, the next stop on your tour of the complex are its famous gardens filled with lakes, fountains, flowerbeds and flowers.
If the architecture and ornamentation of the palace itself has left you stunned, the gardens will not be less. All this is what you can see in the gardens of Versailles, read on!
1. The flowerbeds
During the visit to the gardens of the Palace of Versailles you will see several water parterres reflecting the imposing facade of the building.
It was designed so that the sunlight would reflect on the water and thus illuminate the outer wall of the famous Hall of Mirrors.
It is divided into two pools decorated with sculptures of nymphs and children representing the great rivers of France.
From here you will have an amazing perspective of the groves, gardens, fountains and paths that lead to the Grand Canal.
North and South Parterre
Both parterres can be seen from the Water Parterre and border the base of the Palace of Versailles.
Inside the North Parterre you can see the bronze statues of Venus and The Windmill as well as a large pond adorned with the Pyramid Fountain.
The South Parterre is known as the flower garden and has spectacular views of the Orangery from its balustrade. Take a look because from there you will be able to take some of the most beautiful pictures of your visit to the Palace of Versailles Gardens.
Located in the heart of the Versailles Gardens, the Parterre de Latona and its fountain is one of the most striking and beautiful of the complex.
It was inspired by 'The Metamorphoses of Ovid' and tells the myth of the goddess Latona, mother of the gods Diana and Apollo, who asked Jupiter for help to take revenge on the peasants of Lycia whom she ended up turning into lizards and frogs.
2. The Orangerie
La Orangerie is a beautiful greenhouse located under the South Parterre. Protected from the cold winds, it is a fantastic place to grow citrus fruit trees and other species such as olive trees, oleanders, palms and pomegranate trees.
Many of these trees are more than 200 years old and came from southern European countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. King Louis XIV loved to show off the trees of the Orangerie to his guests. Versailles even had the largest collection of orange trees in Europe.
Today, many of these plants are planted in pots that are taken out of the Orangery to be displayed in the flowerbeds from the arrival of spring onwards, while when winter sets in, they are returned to the interior of the building.
3. The fountains
The fountains of Versailles are one of the greatest spectacles that you can contemplate during your visit, along with the gardens themselves.
They are scattered throughout the complex and there are more than fifty fountains whose design was inspired by themes from classical mythology.
Some of the most impressive that you can see during the tour of the gardens of Versailles are the Fountain of Neptune, the Fountain of Latona, the Fountain of Apollo, the Fountain of the animal fight or the Fountain of the Dragon.
When can I see the Great Musical Waters exhibition at the fountains of Versailles?
Every year the fountains of Versailles recover the splendor they had centuries ago at the time of King Louis XIV when they are put into operation between late May and late October to delight tourists with a wonderful spectacle of music and water called Great Musical Waters.
In addition, every Saturday in summer, the spectacle of Great Musical Waters at night is joined by fireworks, making the experience even more special and amazing if possible. If you have the chance to see it, I highly recommend it.
What are the opening hours of the show at the fountains of Versailles?
- Great Musical Waters: Saturdays and Sundays from May 22 to October 31 and some holidays such as the French National Day (July 14).
- Great Musical Night Waters: Saturdays from June 12 to September 18 and holidays such as the French National Day (July 14).
What is the entrance fee?
Although, in general, access to the gardens of Versailles is free if you want to visit the fountains during the period when the Great Musical Waters show is held , you will have to pay an entrance fee.
The price is from € 9.50 for general admission and from € 8.50 for reduced admission. Children from 0 to 5 years old can enter for free.
4. The groves
Along the walk through the gardens of the Palace of Versailles you will be surprised to see so many groves of trees and during the reign of Louis XIV there were no less than fifteen, which were adorned with statues, vases and fountains.
The groves of Versailles were like open-air salons where the monarchs used to stroll and entertain themselves celebrating lunches, dinners and balls among other social events.
Today you can visit several of these groves such as the Queen's Grove, the Ballroom Grove, the Girandole Grove or the Encelado Grove.
5. The sculptures
For Louis XIV, the gardens of Versailles were not only a place to stroll, relax and enjoy nature, but also a symbol of his power.
That is why he made sure that they looked majestic and provided them with all kinds of ornaments. Countless trees, plants and flowers were planted (many of them exotic for the time) and numerous fountains and sculptures were installed to enhance their glory.
The theme of many of these sculptures revolved around gallantry and love (Eros), around the god Apollo as a metaphor for the king's own power and, as his reign progressed, also about childhood. That is why in the gardens you can see many statues of children playing with dolphins and tritons.
With more than 300 sculptures scattered throughout the gardens, this is the largest open-air sculpture museum in the world.
6. The Promenades
The gardens of Versailles were laid out along two axes: north-south and east-west. So that you can better locate yourself in the environment, take a look at this map when you go to make the route of the walks.
The Paseo del Agua is one of the most important parts of this north-south axis. It was designed in the 17th century and was adorned with fourteen fountains representing groups of children, tritons and satyrs.
If you want to do the tour of the north-south axis of the gardens of Versailles, it starts at the Fountain of Neptune, passes through the Water Walk and continues to the Orangerie and the Lake of the Swiss Guard.
The east-west axis is known as the Grand Perspective. It divides the gardens of Versailles as an axis of symmetry, passes by the Fountain of Leto and continues along the Royal Road to the Grand Canal.
The Royal Road dates back to the time of King Louis XIII although it looked totally different back then. Strolling along the Royal Road among horse chestnut, yew and hornbeam trees is a very relaxing experience before reaching the Fountain of Apollo and the Grand Canal.
7. The Grand and the Petit Trianon
If you continue walking through the gardens of Versailles you will come to the Grand and Petit Trianon, two palaces surrounded by flower gardens where monarchs liked to go to escape the hustle and bustle of the court or enjoy a few moments of rest.
The Grand Trianon
The Grand Trianon is a beautiful Italian-style palace built in green and pink marble that the king used to spend short periods of time during the summer or for his furtive meetings with his mistress, the Marquise de Montespan. The building is surrounded by beautiful flower gardens.
The Small Trianon
Located southeast of the palace complex of Versailles, the Petit Trianon is a Greek-style palace that King Louis XV ordered to be built as a gift for his favorite mistress Madame de Pompadour.
When King Louis XVI acceded to the throne he gave it to his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, on the occasion of their wedding. It also has several French and English style gardens. In the latter is the Temple of Love, a temple of classical style presided over by the statue of Eros.
8. The Queen's Village
It is a small farmhouse inspired by the rustic architecture of Normandy where Queen Marie Antoinette liked to go to enjoy summer days with her children and escape the pomp of the French court.
There she enjoyed a simple country life that contrasted with the opulence of the Palace of Versailles.
The farm of the Queen's Village consisted of a mill, a dairy and several orchards that supplied the royal kitchens with produce.
9. The Park of Versailles
At the southern end of the Grand Canal is located the Versailles Park, a large wooded and landscaped area that can be accessed free of charge and where it is possible to organize picnics to enjoy nature during the visit. You can bring your own food or buy it in one of the restaurants in Versailles.
You can access the Versailles Park by walking through the gardens (it takes about half an hour) or you can also ride the tourist train at the entrance of the gardens (it will take you there in about 15 minutes).
10. The Musical Gardens of Versailles
In addition to the exhibition of the Great Musical Waters in the fountains of Versailles, the palace gardens also host another very entertaining event where music is the main protagonist: the Musical Gardens of Versailles.
During this festival, you will have the opportunity to contemplate the gardens of Versailles to the sound of music while taking a pleasant stroll. This is a very special experience that is only held at specific times of the year.
When is it possible to attend the show in the Musical Gardens of Versailles?
Every year, during the summer and autumn season, this musical concert takes place in the heart of the Versailles countryside.
What are the opening hours of the show at the fountains of Versailles?
From the beginning of September to the end of October: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
What is the ticket price?
Although, normally, you can access the gardens of Versailles for free in case you want to attend the show of the Musical Gardens of Versailles you will have to pay an entrance fee.
The price of the general admission to this event is from 8,50 € and the reduced ticket is from 7,50 €. Children from 0 to 5 years old can enter for free.
When are the Versailles Gardens open?
The Versailles Gardens are open daily from 8 AM to 8:30 PM.
How much does it cost to enter the Versailles Gardens?
Access to the gardens is free except on the days of the Great Musical Waters where you can buy a general admission ticket from 9,50 € and a reduced ticket from 8 €. Children from 0 to 5 years old can enter for free.
If I want to visit only the Versailles Gardens, do I have to wait in the general entrance queue?
No, it is not necessary to wait in line to visit only the Gardens of Versailles. You can enter them directly from the Queen's Gate or from the left side of the Palace.
Tips for visiting the Versailles Gardens
- Before taking a tour of the Palace of Versailles , check the weather forecast for the day of your visit. If heavy rain or strong winds are forecast, the gardens will probably be closed to the public.
- The gardens of Versailles cover an area of 800 hectares- they are immense! If you are going to spend several days in Paris, for example between 4 days and a week, I advise you to dedicate a full day to Versailles to visit it calmly. Rushing is not good, especially if you go to Versailles with children who need to do the route with more relaxation.
- Between the visit to the Palace of Versailles and its gardens, probably lunchtime will catch you in the middle of the tour and you will have to stay there for lunch. Don't worry, there are plenty of great places where you can take a break and recover your energy. In the post Where to eat in Versailles I tell you several options.
- Do not carry too much weight in your bag to make the visit. Take only the essentials because walking through the gardens of Versailles for hours carrying weight will leave you with a sore shoulder. Also, at the entrance they are very strict with what you can access to the Palace of Versailles and its gardens so do not carry too much stuff. You can also use the left-luggage office, which is free of charge.
- You can visit the gardens of Versailles first before seeing the palace. In that case, when you arrive enter the main esplanade and on the left side you can enter through the princess garden into the gardens. However, in my opinion it is better to do it the other way around.
- Download the app of the Palace of Versailles and its gardens to make the visit. It is available on both Android and iOS. In addition to having an audio guide of the Domaine de Versailles it also has a geolocatable map that will help you when making your route.