6 tips on visiting Versailles

6 tips on visiting Versailles, France


If you are visiting Paris, I absolutely recommend visiting Versailles. And here's how you do it:

What is Versailles?

Versailles (pronounced vair-sigh) is a town some 15 miles outside of Paris. When most people mention Versailles, they are actually referring to Château de Versailles or the Palace of Versailles. It was built in the 17th century and has been home to the lavish French court and famous rulers including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and later on Napoleon. The palace and smaller estates sit on a more than 700,000 square feet property filled with gardens, fountains, canals and even its own farm.
Illustration of the Versailles estate

How to get there

  • Easiest way to get to Versailles is to take the train. Take the RER C line and get off at the last stop for "Versailles Château". Parisbytrain.com has an awesome detailed guide of exactly how to do this and buy your ticket. It's a great resource for navigating all of the Paris metro lines.
    A smaller palace on the Versailles estate

  • BUY YOUR RETURN TICKET BEFORE YOU ARRIVE. Seriously, just select "round trip" when you buy your ticket. Don't wait to buy it at the station at the end of your visit. You will be tired, hungry and have to wait in an extremely long line of tourists struggling with the ticket machines at the train station if you do.

On visiting Versailles

The Temple of Love, Versaille, France
The Temple of Love
  • You will have to wait in long lines no matter what. If you buy tickets there, you have to wait in line to buy your tickets but that line isn't the worst part. The longest wait is waiting to enter the palace. We probably waited an hour and half. You are also waiting outside so be conscious of the weather. Its annoying but totally worth it so stick it out. Just play some games or chat up the people around you. We met a lovely Canadian couple and listening to their stories of traveling through Eastern Europe made the time go by much faster.
     
  • Explore everything. Walk out to the Trianon palaces and Maire Antoinette's estate and all around the gardens. The main palace itself gets really crowded but the gardens and smaller palaces feel intimate and peaceful.
The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, France
The famous Hall of Mirrors. So. Many. People.
  • You cannot bring food inside. You will have to check your bag upon entering if you have food and can't get it back until you leave so plan your meals accordingly. We were famished by the end of the day so pack a sandwich and eat it during your wait to get inside or on the train ride back.
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  • Make Versailles an all day excursion. To really fully appreciate the beauty of Versailles you should plan your whole day around your visit there. Get there early (seriously, get there when it opens) and don't plan any big events for afterwards to avoid rushing through. By the end of the day, you will have done a lot of walking so its best to save some relaxing activity for the evening.
 
Have fun and au revoir!

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