France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Sérénade Royale, Versailles, France
A lovely way to spend a summer evening!





I had waited years to be able to attend the Sérénade Royale at Versailles. This program of music, dance, etc. is offered only on Saturday evenings during the summer months, and it is wonderful.

We happened to attend the first evening that it was offered one summer. I don't know if that explains the various people in period costume who waited in line with us or wandered the gardens, but they were a fun addition. We noticed quite a number of costume shops in the town too...

The Serenade allows you to pass through some of the rooms of the Château, including the Royal Chapel and the Hall of Mirrors, where performances take place, as well as the Queen's bedchamber and several other ornate and lovely rooms. It's a unique opportunity to see these spaces with a relatively small group of people, rather than the normal crowds.

Your visit starts in the Royal Chapel, where you are greeted by "the King's Tutor," a costumed host, and entertained by musicians playing and singing Baroque music from the 17th and 18th centuries. You then proceed to the amazing Hall of Mirrors; during our visit the sunshine was pouring in, making it sparkle even more. Musicians playing period instruments delight the ears, while dancers and actors portray scenes from the palace. On our visit it was "the King's Painters" and of course the King himself.

Versailles dancers
The King's Dancers (and musicians) in the Hall of Mirrors, with the late afternoon sun pouring in.

Next stop is outside to the Marble Court, where a "sword fight" entertains. The Marble Courtyard was the scene of many performances, which the King could see from his bedroom.

Be aware that attending the Serenade requires walking, climbing stairs, and standing. In the Royal Chapel some people were able to sit on the floor, but there was no actual seating. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to be on your feet!

We bought the combination ticket that included the Night Fountains Show, so after the Serenade ended we went directly into the beautiful gardens. The fountains were all in action, some with music, and it was delightful to wander through the gardens on a lovely summer evening, with new surprises greeting us around every corner.

As you might expect, there were lots of people. One staff person told us there had been 7,000 reservations for that evening! We enjoyed moving from place to place, sitting on a bench or on the steps of the Château when we got tired. We had enjoyed a big lunch earlier in the day, so we were happy to just buy a couple of sandwiches on site and eat them among the statues. There are not a lot of places to sit, so once again be prepared to stand.

In June the sun doesn't set until after 10 PM, and we wanted to wait for the fireworks, so our visit continued for several hours. We watched the fireworks from along the tapis vert, or green carpet, which leads from the Château to the Grand Canal. From here we could also see dramatic flame shooters and enjoy the music. A spectacular show, fitting for royalty!

At the end, everyone left on foot, and we were very glad that we had booked a lovely small apartment in the town of Versailles, so we didn't have to deal with transportation. A quick beer on the way home was most welcome, and we went to sleep with dreams of châteaux, music, and royalty.

Note that while you're getting some amazing behind the scenes looks at the Château de Versailles, you do not visit the whole place during the Serenade Royale. If you want to see more, you'll need to book tickets during the day. We had toured the Château and Marie-Antoinette's "village" during previous visits, so we just did the evening experience this time.

You will need to book tickets in advance for the Serenade Royale, since numbers are limited. It is recommended to book in advance for the fountains shows as well.

Fountains Shows and Musical Gardens

Versailles Homepage

Grand Trianon

Petit Trianon

Marie Antoinette Hamlet

Lodging in Versailles

Versailles Transportation

Versailles Town

Grandes Eaux Musicales


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan


Musicians, Versailles

Above, Musicians performing 18th century music in the Royal Chapel.
Below, You meet all kinds of people at the Royal Serenade!


Costumed attendees, Serenade Royal



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