The Palace of Versailles is perhaps the best-known chateau in France. The former home of French Kings is a World Heritage Site and visited by millions of people each year. While visiting the Palace itself is said to be an extraordinary experience, the gardens of Versailles draw as much attention if not more. The gardens span across 800 hectares and are a magnificent sight to behold. They seem to go on into infinity, boast perfectly symmetrical, maze-like hedges, and comprise of 50 fountains. But, it gets even better – the Palace of Versailles fountain show.
The fountain shows of Versailles have been an irresistible event for families and tourists for over 350 years. Since we had such a short stay in Paris, our time was limited and we didn’t make it into the Palace. But, we made sure not to miss the Palace of Versailles fountain show. During the spring and summer months the historic fountains come alive to baroque tunes in a charming musical show. The fountains add such a charm to the the already beautiful gardens and many of them are masterpieces of architecture themselves.
The Palace of Versailles fountain show is an incredible way to explore and admire the fountains and groves as the fascinating water features dance to the sound of music. This was easily one of our favourite experiences during our recent Paris trip. Here is everything you need to know about taking this tour.
It’s fairly easy to make your way to Versailles from downtown Paris by either bus, train, or car. The train is probably the cheapest and easiest option for inexperienced travellers or those unfamiliar with Paris. The regional RER trains have fewer stops than the metro and is the easiest and quickest way to make your way from Paris to Versailles.
- Train: There are three main train stations in Versailles. The closest one is Versailles Château Rive Gauche. Use the RER line C5 and get off at this stop – a short five minute stroll to the palace. The return fare will be around 8 EUR.
- Car: With no traffic, the drive could take as fast as 30 minutes. However, it will usually take quite a bit longer. Follow the Autoroute A13 towards Rouen and use exit 6 (Versailles Centre). A taxi fare would cost around 70 EUR.
- Bus: On busy days a bus excursion or shuttle bus option may be best. Most organized tours allow entrance into the palace without queuing.
The Palace of Versailles fountain show
There’s something so surreal about strolling in and out of the maze-like hedges that used to be occupied by the royals. The musical fountain show is a celebration of history and an experience that will make you feel like a King or Queen for the day.
1. Use the map
Trust me, you are going to need the map! The gardens are vast and the fountains are spread out throughout. The map will not only help you to find your way around the maze-like gardens but will also guide you according to the various fountain displays and times. Your last stop will be at the Neptune fountain, in time for the grand finale.
The symmetrical and geometrical landscape design make for a labyrinths effect. It’s very easy to get lost in the gardens, so you need to keep your wits about you. But, use the map and you shouldn’t have any issues.
2. The fountains
Water features of all kinds are an important part of French gardens. In fact, even more so than plant designs and groves. At the Palace of Versailles fountain show they include waterfalls in some of the groves and spurts of water in the fountains. Here are some of the most fascinating of the 50 fountains:
- Apollo fountain: This one depicts Apollo conqueror on his chariot pulled by four horses. This represents force and ardour.
- Neptune fountain: This is where the grand finale of the fountain show takes place, usually at around 5:20 pm. The fountain represents Neptune – the God of seas and oceans, his wife, dragons, and cupids.
- Dragon fountain: This is the tallest one with water jets that reach a height of 27 metres and is a majestic piece of art.
- Latona fountain: This is the huge fountain that you will find in the front and centre of the Palace. It illustrates the story of Latona – the mother of Apollo and Diana, protecting her children from the insults of the peasants of Lycia pleading with Jupiter to avenge her.
- Mirror fountains: These play every 10 minutes on musical fountain days
Aside from the main fountains, also make sure to see the smaller but spectacular displays like the ecelade and obelisk groves, grove of the three fountains, ballroom and colonnade groves.
3. Parterres and Path
This isn’t part of the Palace of Versailles fountain show but it is a beautiful sight. At the foot of the Palace on the garden side, you will find three large parterres; North Parterre, South Parterre and Water Parterres. There are also other small parterre which form intricate patterns in the Versailles gardens.
You can view these gardens from specific points next to the Palace which give a beautiful image of the stunning landscapes based on symmetry. Filled with bronze cupids, statues of sphinxes, and marble sculptures, these parterres and paths look magical to walk through.
4. Why you should go
Most people go to Versaille specifically to visit the Palace. While we haven’t yet been inside the Palace, I hear it’s absolutely gorgeous. However, don’t miss your chance to explore the gardens and more importantly the fountain show.
This is truly an experience like no other! There is nowhere else in the world where you can stroll through the Palace gardens of what used to be the residence of the French royals, while taking in a charming and electric musical show of fountain displays.
Best time to experience the fountain show
The Palace of Versailles fountain show takes place between March and October each year. Here are the musical fountain dates for 2018:
- 31 March to 28 October: Saturdays & Sundays
- 22 May to 26 June 2018: Tuesdays
- Friday 30 March, Tuesday 8 May, Thursday 10 May and Wednesday 15 August
During the summer, you can discover the gardens late into the evening and experience a night time fountain show every Saturday.
The Palace of Versailles fountain show and garden experience is the most incredible on summer weekends when the fountains are allowed to play. On the musical days there is an admission fee charged for the Chateau de Versailles. Generally Saturdays are less crowded than Sundays.
Ticket prices and options
The Palace of Versailles fountain show tickets will cost you 9.50 EUR. This includes access to the gardens and of course, the musical show. The fountains night show is more extravagant with colorful lighting effects and a firework display which will set you back 26 EUR.
Tickets for admission to just the Palace will cost you 18 EUR. However, there is a “Passport” ticket option which includes the Palace, exhibitions, the gardens and parks, and the musical fountains show or musical gardens which will cost you 27 EUR.
All ticketing information and online purchases can be made from the Chateau de Versailles website.
Other important tips
- The Palace is open every day except Mondays from 9:00 am. The park and gardens are open every day.
- Pushchairs, metal baby carriers, etc will need to be deposited at the free left luggage
- Pick up a musical fountain map at the information booth. It includes a suggested route that will really help you to see everything
- If you are concerned about the walking; there are golf carts available to rent
- Dogs and bicycles are not allowed inside the baroque garden
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