When you first arrive, you'll only have eyes for the Palace of Versailles. But our town – bisected by the avenue de Paris, also known as the widest avenue in France – hides many other treasures. Take a tour of Versailles and be pleasantly surprised.
The area to the south of the town is made up of two historically distinct parts: Old Versailles, which is on the site of the medieval village acquired by Louis XIII, is the historical heart of the town. Take a stroll around Old Versailles and discover a large number of remarkable and extremely well-preserved monuments such as the Convent of the Récollets, the Grand Commun constructed under Louis XIV to house the court kitchens, or the former Hôtel des Affaires Etrangères et de la Marine constructed under Louis XV.
The most symbolic site of Old Versailles is the Royal Tennis Court, which was the stage for a major episode of the French Revolution.
The Saint Louis district
The other part is the Saint Louis district, which occupies the site of Louis XIII's former deer park and hunting ground. This area was developed from 1685. There you can admire the Cathedral of Saint Louis (1743 – 1754), a superb building with a beautiful collection of period paintings, and the King's Kitchen Garden, designed to feed the Palace's large population. Head for the "Carrés Saint-Louis", a collection of buildings constructed under Louis XV as accommodation for a new market. The area still has a very warm and friendly atmosphere.
The Notre Dame district
Louis XIV decided to create this area to the north of the Palace on undeveloped land to enhance the surroundings. People gradually started to settle the area from 1671, building along roads that were astonishingly straight and wide for the period according to strict rules. The district is centred on the original institutions. You can visit the Church of Notre Dame, which was the king's parish, or stroll around the Hôtel du Bailliage, which housed the local court under the Ancien Régime and is now at the heart of the picturesque antique district.
You'll be drawn to the Carrés Notre Dame, which are particularly lively on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday mornings when the best market in the region is in town!
A few steps from there in a charming 18th century residence is the Musée Lambinet, which will take you back to the atmosphere of an 18th century private residence. Unless, of course, you would prefer to discover the collections on the history of Versailles and the French Revolution.
Often overlooked, the pedestrianised lanes of Versailles hide a tranquil atmosphere with rows of artisan shops and restaurants. See what you can discover!
The Montreuil district
The village of Montreuil only became part of Versailles in 1787. It therefore developed somewhat separately from Versailles, giving it that village charm. Its focal point is the Church of Saint Symphorien, an early example of Neoclassical architecture. Under Louis XIV, Montreuil is also where the Italian musicians attached to the Palace Chapel settled. Visit their house, which is now home to the Museum of the Union Compagnonnique.
Montreuil's proximity to the Palace meant that it was chosen by a number of important court ladies in the 18th century to set up beautiful country retreats, including the Domaine de Madame Elisabeth, sister of Louis XVI, whose park you are sure to enjoy.
To go a little further...
Why not join a combined visit and talk to learn more about the town of Versailles: our programme changes throughout the year.