Just outside Paris, the palace of Versailles and its surrounding gardens offer a magical world of historical discovery. Covering almost 1,000 acres, the vast grounds include perfectly landscaped jardins à la française, whimsical fountains, colossal statues, and hidden groves, perfect for young royals to play hide-and-go-seek. Our four-hour Versailles Palace Tour for Kids, led by a family-friendly scholar, explores the many wonders of the château and its world-famous gardens, tying both into the story of their grandiose creator, King Louis XIV of France (hereafter known as the Sun King). Joining history, mythology, symbolism, and architecture, our tour provides children with an age-appropriate introduction to an illustrious time in French history.
A Royal Childhood
Our adventure begins on the short train journey from Paris to the royal estate, during which we will learn about the Sun King. Though we will focus on the estate Louis designed as an adult, by beginning with his childhood we can get a better look at the factors that shaped his future identity as King of France. Louis XIV became King at the very young age of five, in 1638. What's it like to be King before you're ten? Do you have to listen to the adults? It was only as his power was expanding that he began to transform his father's small hunting lodge into the grandest European palace of its era. The gardens, immaculately planned out in conjunction with the castle, are filled with symbolism linked to the Sun King. They would become the immense exterior theater for the court and, in some areas, secret getaway places for the royals.
Why are the gardens so structured? Why are the hedges trimmed just so? Together, we'll learn about the carefully kept palace grounds, learning the stories behind the fountains, statues, and plants. We'll learn how head landscaper André Le Nôtre designed the gardens to reflect Louis XIV's famous Sun King myth. Then, we'll go into "explorer mode," tracking down the secrets of the gardens and taking in the beauty of Le Nôtre's landscaping. On our journey through the gardens, our docent will introduce interactive games geared towards bringing the history of Versailles to life. What was it like to be part of the Sun King's court? Together we might discuss court life, and examine the outside of the palace.
"Our docent made it fun for kids, even bringing them sketch pads and encouraging them to draw their own crest, like those we saw around Versailles for Louis XIV. We loved seeing places that we might not have wandered to on our own. This was an incredible experience for our family."
Versailles Palace Tour for Kids
Finally, we’ll make our way to the interior of the palace, imagining how this immense 2,300 room structure could once have been a small countryside residence. How does it compare to your house? Which room might you take for yourself? While exploring the eternal halls and sumptuous apartments, we’ll picture life within the château, the fashions, the opulent balls, and the passion for art and music.
As our visit together comes to a close, we will leave with an understanding of the role Versailles played in maintaining the Sun King's persona. Additionally, we will know the stories behind various sculptures and landscaping in his manicured gardens. With our adventure at its end, we'll return to Paris or wander through the rest of the grounds with our family, stories of kings and queens floating through our heads.
Miscellaneous Notes About Our Tour
During the summer, there is a special music & fountain show on Saturdays and Sundays. On Tuesdays and Fridays, there is music, but no fountain show. During these days, the bosquets and groves are all open. On the other days of the week (Wednesday, Thursday), and in the winter months, they are not open, nor are the fountains on. Much of the site is closed on Mondays. It is for these reasons that we schedule our tour only on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in high season.
In addition to our family program tours (like our Louvre for Kids Tour), we may be able to adapt certain other tours to the needs of families, though please note such adaptations would not incorporate special activities. Please contact us for more details.
What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the walk best fits in your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide. We also include a hotel pick-up on our private tours.
What is a small group tour?
Our small group tours cover many of the same itineraries as our private tours, but they place you with other travelers in groups of 6 or less. They operate on a pre-scheduled calendar, and are designed to provide an opportunity to engage with and learn from other travelers. Most of our small group tours require at least three (3) participants to run, although there is some variation from walk to walk. However, there is some variation from walk to walk. As you sign up for a tentative walk we display the minimum number required in order to confirm.
Where does the tour start? Where does it end?
The tour meets in Paris either at your hotel or at a fixed meeting point. Your confirmation will have the exact meeting point location and details. Unless you've booked a car transfer back to Paris with us, the tour will end in Versailles. You can return to Paris at your leisure by train or taxi.
Does the tour include the interior of the palace?
Yes, our tour will include the interior of the palace as well as the magnificent gardens surrounding the palace.
Does the tour include the Trianon Palace and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet?
No, but you can visit these on your own after the tour (if booking a morning tour), or you can arrange a full-day private tour with us. Please contact us for more details about this latter option.
Will the fountains be turned on?
Fountain shows are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays, April 1-October 31. There are also fountain shows on certain Tuesdays during this period. On all other Tuesdays and Fridays, April-October, there is music in the gardens, but no fountain show. On Wednesdays and Thursays, April-October, there is no music or fountain show. In the winter months, there is no music or fountain shows on any day.
I see you offer the tour in both the morning and afternoon. Which is better?
We don't necessarily recommend one over the other. The 9am start time allows you to stay on for the rest of the day to explore the rest of the grounds independently. The afternoon tour would not allow for this, but you do have the benefit of slightly reduced crowds.
Can we take a car instead of the train?
For private tours starting in Paris, yes. Please contact us for pricing. The docent and driver will meet you at your hotel.
Will you pre-purchase entry tickets for us?
Yes, and the tour price includes the entry tickets. Your docent will have them for you at the start of the tour.
Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
This tour is designed to use public transportation to travel to and from Versailles, and unfortunately not all of the RER stops are wheelchair accessible. Please contact us to discuss in more detail your mobility concerns so that we can best advise. We are also happy to design a private, customized tour using car service for visitors with mobility concerns.
Do you have an adult version of this tour?
We do indeed. Please see our our half-day Versailles Tour