A Few Tips for Visiting Versailles

by ashleyd on May 12, 2014

After spending a wonderful day at Versailles with Bo and my in-laws on Friday, I think it deserves a dedicated post. The seat of French power until 1789, it’s gold and over the top splendor continues to attract visitors such as us on a daily basis. It is elaborate and can be a bit overwhelming at first but given the right preparation, it can also be the perfect French day rich in beauty, history and spectacle!

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Many people who are traveling to Paris debate whether to add a day trip to Versailles as it is located outside of the city and can therefore be difficult to fit in short visit.          

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In order to help you plan your visit, here are some things you should know.

How much does it cost? The passport ticket for Versailles is 18 euro ($25) and provides access to ALL sites and areas of Versailles. While you buy a ticket for only the palace, it is 15 euro. Audio guides are included in the price of the ticket and are available in 11 languages.

What is the easiest way to get to Versailles from Paris? The train is the easiest and most inexpensive way to reach Versailles. It took us 40 minutes on the RER C train which is available from many Paris stations and takes you within 5 minutes of Versailles. Exit the train at the Versailles-Rive Gauche station and follow signs to the Chateau Versailles. The roundtrip ticket was 10 Euros ($13.75). The only tip to know is that on your return trip, double check that you are getting on the RER C back to Paris versus an express train. This site was very helpful as well as it provides a pictorial guide for Paris beginners!

What is there to see? There is far more to see than just the palace. When visiting, it is recommended that visitors allow themselves time to explore the palace, gardens, Trianon Palace, and Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet. We ended up having 6 hours and felt that was the perfect amount of time.

Is it crowded? We made the mistake of going to Versailles on one of their high attendance days due to French national holidays. imageThey have a great calendar on their FAQ site which allows you to search the calendar for their low, normal and high attendance days. This way, if you’re in Paris or France for a longer period of time you can schedule your trip on a lower attendance day. Even though it was quite busy, this didn’t affect our visit other than during our time in the Palace, especially the Hall of Mirrors. In hindsight, we should have started in that area as it will only get more crowded later in the day. IMG_5976

Would you recommend a guided tour for Versailles? Yes! We spent the extra 7 Euros ($9.60) for an official Versailles guided tour. There are 3 different tours offered depending on the time of year and we chose the Private Apartments of the Kings which provided us with a great history review as well as a glimpse into the gorgeous and very ornate private apartments and the opera theatre, which only open to public through this tour. If you enjoy history or don’t know much about the era, I highly recommend this option! The guided tour also meant that we were able to avoid waiting in the very long entrance and security line as there is a separate side entrance for visitors taking a guided tour.

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What is the best way to tour the gardens? As you can see from the below pictures, the gardens are enormous! How to tour them is a personal choice as there are golf carts, mini trains, bicycles and your own two legs. Since the weather was beautiful we opted to walk but in hindsight we wish we’d rented bikes. There is so much to do in the gardens whether you choose to rent a row boat, spend the extra money on a golf cart, or just explore. There are handy maps which can help you find hidden fountains and statues. Note that there are certain days when fountain shows take place on site and due to construction, not all the fountains are functioning.IMG_5977IMG_5980Any other tips? We didn’t realize that each attraction at Versailles opens at different times. Therefore, we walked all the way out to Trianon Palace only to find that it didn’t open until noon. Also, the palace is not open on Monday so make sure to schedule your visit another day or you will only be able to see the gardens. Also, while there is food the lines tend to be long so plan ahead and bring snacks or a lunch to enjoy in the garden. You’ll have to check your bag while you tour the castle but can bring it all with you in the gardens.

Here are a few more pictures from our day at Versailles, including the gorgeous gardens and my favorite part, Marie Antoinette’s hamlet!  IMG_5986IMG_6013 IMG_6015IMG_6012 IMG_5991IMG_6018IMG_6076IMG_6044IMG_6048

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{ 8 comments }

jillian murphy May 12, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Great post!

I have a travel question for you — I’m going to be in Leysin, Switzerland for a work event, and have a few days off before I fly back from Geneva. We are already visiting Geneva, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels & Bruges before Leysin and would like to go somewhere special for the final few days. I was looking into Montreux or Lausanne because of their proximity to Leysin — any thoughts? I’m open to anything, but was thinking somewhere close and near water as we’re coming in July! Let me know what you think — I’d love your suggestions! :)

ashleyd May 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

Hi Jillian! So glad to hear you’ll be in Geneva. If you want to join for yoga or a run just let me know! In regards to what to do and see make sure to check out my recommendations for Bruges and Brussels as we went to both cities this Fall. Let me know your price range and timing via email as there are also options of going to cheese and chocolate factories near Gruyere.

jillian murphy May 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Thanks! I already read your posts on Bruges and Brussels — very helpful! Now i’m just looking for another city / town to visit after Leysin and before I head back to Geneva. Would you recommend Montreux or Lausanne — or something else? I was thinking something on the water, and fairly close as we’ll only have 3 nights.

jillian murphy May 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm

emailing you now :D

Katie May 12, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Love it! I’ve been to Versailles twice and would love to go back! I don’t know if I realized there were bikes to rent, I definitely will do that next time! Also, I got breakfast somewhere in the town by the castle and ordered “sausage” turns out it was a hotdog on a baguette with mustard! it was weird…but delicious. I was in college at the time so somewhere I’m sure there are pictures.

ashleyd May 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

I couldn’t agree more Katie! There is so much to see that I could go multiple times without growing bored. Hah we didn’t explore the town at all other than getting lost on our way back to the train station.

Laura S May 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Only one small edit I’d add….

What is the easiest way to get to Versailles from Paris?
I’d say RUN! The Paris to Versailles 10 mile run is one of my favourites! http://www.parisversailles.com/ x

ashleyd May 19, 2014 at 8:40 am

That race is DEFINITELY on my bucket list!!!

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