Neptune Fountain (Bassin de Neptune)
Laid out in formal French style and famed for their geometrically aligned terraces, tree-lined paths and ponds, the gardens of the Palace of Versailles are worth a visit on their own. And of all the lovely fountain pools in the gardens, the Neptune Fountain (Bassin de Neptune) is the largest and most grand.
Designed by famed landscape artist Le Notre and laid out between 1661 and 1700, the fountain features three groups of statues, including Neptune, the god of the sea. In all, the fountain is a mezmerimiage mirage of 99 water effects and is fronted by a lovely pond and a smaller, winged-dragon fountain. In summer, Neptune Fountain is a focus for a display of choreographed fireworks, spectacularly reflected in the fountain’s expansive pool.
Travelers have myriad options to explore the palace and its gardens as part of a half-day, full-day, group or private, walking or cycling tour. Enjoy skipping the line at the entrance to explore the chateau’s enormous 700-room complex, a dizzying shrine to royalty and extravagance, and take in the sumptuous gardens. Some tours include a gourmet lunch created by famed chef Ducasse.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tours may include a guide, round-trip hotel transport, but not food or drink. Check specific tours for details.
- During the summer especially, bring your sun protection and water for hydration.
- Wear comfortable shoes since the palace and grounds are vast and wonderful to explore by foot.
- Bring a sweater or long-sleeved shirt, as it can get very windy in the gardens. Versailles is usually a few degrees chillier in Versailles than Paris.
How to Get There
Neptune Fountain is 984 feet (300 meters) north of the Palace of Versailles, which is about 13 miles (22 kilometers) from Paris. The cheapest and easiest way to reach the palace is by RER train to the Versailles Château Rive Gauche stop, which takes around 1.5 hours. Driving takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic leaving Paris; parking is available on the premises.
When to Get There
The Palace of Versailles is open Tuesday–Sunday, 9am–6:30pm; from November 1–April, 9am–5:30pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, travelers may enjoy the Musical Fountains from 3:30pm–5pm. At 5:20pm the Neptune Fountain flows for 10 minutes. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the Musical Gardens, 2:30pm–4:30pm. Come in the summer for the live musical events with costumed performers and fireworks in the gardens. Check the calendar before going.
Add on a Visit to Giverny
If you're driving, make time to visit Claude Monet's home and gardens in the nearby Giverny, about 45 miles (65 kilometers) from Palace of Versailles. Travelers can see the village where the Impressionist painter worked until his death in 1926, visiting his home and the gorgeous gardens with the Japanese bridge over the pond where he created his most famous water lily series.
- Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces)
- Versailles Royal Chapel (La Chapelle Royale)
- King’s State Apartment (Grand Appartement du Roi)
- Versailles Fountains (Les Fontaines)
- Royal Opera of Versailles (L'Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles)
- Scent Courtyard (Cour des Senteurs)
- Marie-Antoinette's Estate
- Academy of Equestrian Arts
- Orangerie of Versailles (l’Orangerie de Versailles)
- Grand Trianon
- Versailles Gardens (Jardins de Versailles)
- Grand Canal