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when to visit versailles gardens

We have been to Versailles twice in recent years. Both times the fountains were not operating. We would like to see them when they are functioning; but we are not so interested in the musical show. I have read that it is blaring and poorly organized with multiple sources of different music from different fountains - and of course the huge crowds.

Is it possible to enter and to wander the gardens and see the fountains in operation (not during the musical show)? And is there a better way into the grounds if this is the only part we want to visit? We don't mind walking. We have walked all over Versailles before and quite enjoyed it. I have searched the official site for tickets for only the gardens, but I did not find what I was looking for. Can someone familiar with the gardens/fountains, ticket prices and entrances please help with information. Thank you, Susan

Posted by
3122 posts

The RS guide I have (France, 2014, pp. 246-249) says there's an entrance at the Grand Trianon, which is at the northern end of the property; it opens at 12 noon, and entry to the gardens is free of charge except on the "spectacle" (musical son et lumiere) dates.

I am not sure how to verify when the fountains will be or won't be flowing, but the guide lists 3 phone numbers for information.
Main Chateau de Versailles 01 30 83 78 00
TI near Pullman Hotel 01 39 24 88 88
TI at the chateau 08 10 81 16 14 (yes, it starts with 08 and not 01)

I know what you mean about the crowds!

Posted by
112 posts

Thank you! Every bit of that info is helpful. I will follow up with the phone numbers and a map of Versailles so I can find the way in near the Trianons - if it is still open after November 2015!

Posted by
8025 posts

The gardens are free when the fountains are not running and you just enter to the right of the chateau. We went October a year ago on a fountain Sunday in October and entered at that same place, where there are also ticket booths for fountain days. It is 8 Euro. EVen though the lines for the chateau stretched for blocks mid morning, there was no significant line at the ticket booths for the gardens -- maybe 5 or 6 people ahead of us. You can exit the gardens at the bottom for restaurants and food booths and boat rental and re-enter at any time during the day. We did fountains in the morning and then the wider estate and hameau and then re-entered for the afternoon fountains. The fountains ran 1.5 hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the later afternoon:
I would strong suggest choosing a fountain day; crowds are not an issue since lines for garden entry alone are not that long and the fountains are much more interesting when operating.

Posted by
37 posts

We were there on a fountain Saturday in September 2014 and had similar experience to the responders above. Crowds were large in the palace, but in the gardens they thinned out and were not bothersome. We saw the palace in the morning and the gardens in the afternoon (that is when the fountains run). We entered to the right of the palace and paid the 8 Euro entrance fee with only a few people in the line ahead of us. We wish we would have snagged a golf cart to drive around the gardens at that time, because by the time we decided to do it they were all rented. This would have been nice because we had been on our feet since 9:00AM and the gardens are large. It was literally 8 hours on our feet that day. Despite that, we enjoyed walking through the gardens and also had lunch at one of the "cafes" in the center. We experienced the gardens with and without the fountains because we began our garden tour before the fountains were running. The fountains and music make such a difference! We enjoyed the music and felt it added a lot to the fountain experience. It is classical music and is choreographed with the water movement. I would not try to avoid the music if I were you. The large fountain at the end of the visit late in the day (the way they herd everyone out of the grounds) was magnificent and would definitely not have been the same without the music. Bons voyages!

Posted by
15571 posts

In past years, Tuesday has been the weekday that the fountains are operating.

Posted by
8025 posts

And note: you cannot experience the fountains running 'without the musical show' -- because the fountains running IS the musical show. They play some canned music over loud speakers; there is no 'show' except the fountains running. You can imagine how expensive it is to run the fountains and how damaging it is to the infrastructure. Thus they run them only a couple of times a week and on those day for very limited hours. when we were there they ran 1.5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the late afternoon and the Neptune fountain only ran once at 5 pm. IMHO well worth the effort to go then.

Posted by
4535 posts

Good information and advice above. I'll add one thing: the entry fee during fountain days is only for the formal gardens (basically from the chateau to the Apollo Fountain). The rest of the gardens are still free - but you'd have to enter from the Queen's Gate or beyond. And you can enter the formal gardens either at the chateau, or from down by the Apollo Fountain (which is the big fountain at the head of the Grand Canal). Crowds around the individual fountains can be large when running, especially the most popular fountains. But you can easily wander off to the more remote fountains and practically have the place to yourself. Your hand gets stamped or something like that so that you can come and go from the ticketed area.

If you are a fan of Versailles, I do recommend seeing the fountains operate. Go first thing since many of the crowds will see the chateau first and the fountains may be less crowded.