Summer Spectacle: “Grandes Eaux Nocturnes” at the Palace of Versailles
By Sadra Sumner
One of the Versailles Palace’s biggest and most anticipated events is now an annual hit that happens every Saturday from mid June through mid September. The “Grandes Eaux Nocturnes” (Night-time Water Show) is a fountain and light display show that takes place all over the gardens, accompanied by stunning classical music, and culminating in a fantastic fireworks display. Many visitors say they prefer the fireworks to those on July 4th!
The first fountain show at the palace took place in 1666, inaugurated by King Louis XIV, and the musical aspect was added in the 19th century. Since then, the shows have become more and more spectacular each year. Lighting and scenographic artists will transform the gardens with thousands of lights, lazers and firework displays, and background music will consist of French baroque masterpieces interpreted by Reinhard Goebel and the Musica Antiqua Köln orchestra.
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NEW TOUR ALERT! Check out our story for the swipe up link! You’ll get to see #Versailles at its very best – at sunset, with limited people inside the palace, and with the magical fountain show. At the end of the evening, you’ll be wowed by a spectacular fireworks display over the Grand Canal. This is the best way to experience Versailles and an evening you’ll never forget. #FatTireParis
See it with us! Since 2019, we’ve launched a new ‘Sunset Versailles Bike Tour’ that includes the “Grandes Eaux Nocturnes” but also so much more. We start the adventure together in Paris and enjoy the 20 minute train ride to Versailles. Similar to our regular Versailles Bike Tour and VIP Versailles Bike Tour, we will visit the market to pick up some goodies, then make our way onto the grounds where you can leisurely ride around the park, stopping to see Marie-Antoinette’s domain and the Trianons. We’ll take a short break along the Grand Canal to enjoy our market treats, then it’s off to the palace!
Not only will you have access to the evening fireworks and fountain show on this tour, but you will also get to participate in the Royal Serenade. You will stroll through the chateau of Versailles with costumed actors who take you through the day-in-the-life of a royal. You will see firsthand how the King & Queen were expected to wake up, have their meals, dance, and even fence! The palace is only open to guests participating in the Royal Serenade during this time, so you can also take advantage of seeing the most famous rooms, like the Hall of Mirrors or the Queen’s bedroom, in a more private setting.
After your visit to the palace, you are free to roam the formal gardens on your own to explore all of the different fountain & light shows. The fireworks tend to start around 11pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to see the various groves. Be sure to be near or on the main steps for the fireworks show as this offers you the best view. The effect of the lights on the moving water creates a truly surreal, magical atmosphere.
Should you wish to go it alone, you can certainly access the “Grandes Eaux Nocturnes” by yourself, but we recommend picking up a map from the entrance and following the different trails around the gardens.
Dates: every Saturday between June 27th – September 19, 2020. Regrettably, we’re not offering this tour in 2020, but we’re looking forward to bringing it back in 2021!
If you’re traveling to the fireworks show on your own this year, you can enter the formal gardens as early as 8:30pm
Cost: Sunset Versailles Bike Tour: 129€/person
How to get there on your own: Take the RER C train to Versailles Rive Gauche, and then you’ll see a steady stream of tourists making the short walk from the station to the palace, about a ten-minute stroll (turn right out of the station then left down the avenue). Careful! The main portion of the RER C that goes through Paris shuts down every summer. Check the SNCF website for accurate train times if you’re venturing there by yourself.
FYI – don’t get confused between the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes and the Grandes Eaux Musicales. The latter is an ongoing event (April – October) held during the day with fountains accompanied by music. There are no light shows or fireworks, but it’s still worth checking out if you don’t want to spend the evening at Versailles.
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