Hey everyone! Although we wrote a post last year about our trip to Versailles, we were able to visit again in peak season this past April, and the atmosphere is certainly different. We were lucky last year, since we visited in winter and there weren’t many lines. To see what our first trip to Versailles was like, check out our previous post here.
Our second time at Versailles was busier. The weather was much nicer and the lines were much longer. However, we figured out a few tricks on how to tackle this day trip in Peak Season!
First, getting to Versailles is easy. You take the RER C (which you can connect to using the metro) in the direction of Versailles Château/Rive Gauche. There are frequent trains that come, simply pay attention to the board to see which train will take you there (or ask the men working the platform). The station closest to the Palace is Versailles Château/Rive Gauche, and that’s the stop you should get off.
When you arrive in Versailles, I recommend going to the machines and buying your return ticket. Unfortunately, the Paris metro tickets you used to get there, won’t get you back. If you buy your tickets when arriving, this will help you to avoid long lines at the train station at the end of the day. If you don’t have time to buy your tickets before, on your way back from Versailles, there is a tourist shop where you can stop on the corner to buy your train tickets to get back. This will be much faster than waiting in the lines to buy your tickets at the machines! This is definitely worth it!!
If you are with another person, or a group, I recommend having one of you stay at the train station to buy the return tickets and the other go get in line to buy your Versailles tickets. When you exit the train station, cross the street immediately and walk 2 minutes up the road. You will see what looks like a souvenir shop, but it’s an official place to buy your tickets! If you hustle off the train and get there first, you will cut out waiting in line (since most people don’t realize where the ticket office is). You can also buy your tickets when you arrive at Versailles, but the lines are shorter at the shop close to the train station.
You can purchase different types of tickets, depending on what you plan to do there. A Palace Ticket alone costs 18 euros. A Passport ticket, which includes the Palace and the Estate of Trianon, costs 20 euros. If you are spending a full day in Versailles, I recommend the Passport ticket. It’s free to visit Versailles for anyone under the age of 18. If you are an EU resident under the age of 26 (or hold an EU VISA like us) you can enter the Palace for free as well. For more information on ticket prices (or to buy your tickets online), visit the website here.
Usually the gardens are free to visit at Versailles, except for days the fountains are running. If you have purchased a Passport Ticket, this includes access to the gardens on the fountain days. For more information about this (and to see a schedule) check out the website here. (The hours to visit the Palace depend on the day and time of year that you visit. For practical information about that, go here).
Finally, once you have your return train tickets, and your entrance tickets, it’s time to head up the road (the same direction you left the train station) to Versailles! Only a few minutes up and you should take a left. This will lead you up to Versailles. If you are unsure, follow the tourists!
Now here’s the BEST tip of all. If you get to the gates of Versailles, and there is a long, weaving line of people, waiting to get into the Palace, go to the Gardens first! To get into the area, everyone must go through a security check point, so you have to wait in that line, but once you are through the first gate, you’re free to head to the gardens. Trust me, the line is much shorter later on in the afternoon. You can enter the gardens by going to the left of the Gate.
The gardens are probably my favorite part of Versailles and they’re HUGE. You should definitely wear comfortable shoes if you are considering walking around them. If you are with small children or elderly, they have golf carts you can rent at Versailles to drive around the gardens. It costs 28 euros an hour, so I would only do this if it is truly necessary. There is also a small train that takes you around the grounds and it only costs 7.50 euros for a round trip. You can get off at different spots and then get on the next one to continue the circuit. This seems like the best idea, and I wish we had known about this to save some time (and energy) on all the walking we did! For more information about how to get around the gardens, check out this website here.
After snapping some pictures of the back of the Palace, I suggest heading towards The Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon. These places are worth exploring, and if you have purchased the Passport Ticket, you can go inside!
The Grand Trianon was originally built in 1687 for Louis XIV to get away from the hustle of life at court. It’s made of pink marble and has some marvelous gardens of its own. Throughout the years, many kings and guests have stayed here. In 1963 it was used to host foreign dignitaries to France, until it was finally turned into the museum it is today.
The Petit Trianon was commissioned in 1768 by Louis XV. He was only able to enjoy this for a short time, until he died of pox. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette became the new rulers of France and Louis XVI gave his new bride the Petit Trianon as a gift, which she quickly made into her own place.
You can also visit the Queen’s Hamlet, which is a cottage next to a lake. It was commissioned by Marie Antoinette as part of her English style gardens. We didn’t make it this far, but if you have the time, it’s worth exploring that area.
After wandering all throughout the gardens, we decided it was time for a lunch before making our way to the Palace. To save money, it would be possible for you to pack a lunch and have a picnic at Versailles if you plan on visiting the gardens before the Palace. However, if this isn’t your style, there are a few restaurants situated in the gardens that you can stop at for a bite to eat. We visited La Flottille, which has a beautiful outdoor terrace next to the water. The prices were reasonable, considering the location and it looked like it had a lot of seating.
Our last stop of the day was the Palace! We had made it in perfect timing since the lines weren’t nearly as long as at the start of the day. We probably waited between 30-45 minutes to get inside, but in the beautiful weather, it didn’t feel like long.
Once inside the Palace, you have access to an audio guide and can listen to information about each room. (You can also read some of the signs, but the audio guide is definitely more informative).
The best room in the Palace is definitely the Hall of Mirrors! It’s stunning and if you can imagine it without all the tourists snapping pictures, it must have been an incredible spot for weddings or parties.
In the end, you could easily spend much more time exploring Versailles, but it’s doable in a day trip if you plan accordingly. (If you don’t have time to make it to Versailles while visiting Paris, check out Napoleon’s Apartments in the Louvre for a similar sense of lavish design. Check out our Louvre post here).
Versailles is undoubtedly one of the most lavish Palaces I have ever visited! We had an amazing day exploring the gardens and soaking up the beautiful weather. Although the lines may be frustrating, visiting Versailles during peak season can be possible if you know what you’re doing!
Stay tuned for a blog post about our Best Paris Tips!
Au revoir, Amanda