Tips for Visiting Versailles (Chateau du Versailles)
If you happen to visit Paris, do not forget about visiting Versailles. The Palace and its gardens are spectacular and cannot be ignored. The Chateau was the home of the Kings and Queens of France from Louis XIV in 1662 to the French Revolution and Louis XVI in 1789. Louis XIII loved the area so much that he had a hunting cabin built and his successor turned the cabin into a Palace and every King thereafter would add to it.
1. The easiest way to visit Versailles – book your ticket online, print it off and beat the long queue to purchase at the Palace. Of course you will still have to wait in line to enter and that line can get quite long especially during the summer months. You may book a skip the line tour – yes you skip the line and go straight to the front. Or you may wish to visit in the spring or fall. Unfortunately I was in London (Top 10 London Sights) for the Olympics and popped over to Paris (Things to do in Paris) to visit so I could only visit during the summer.
2. If you take a tour, they will provide transportation. Otherwise, you will take the train (C train) from Paris to Versailles-Rive Gauche station which takes under an hour. It is a short walk from the train station to the Palace of Versailles.
3. Arrive at Versailles as soon as it opens at 9 am (or get in the queue before 9 am). The crowds are long almost any time of day but best if you can arrive first thing; otherwise wait until mid-afternoon, or visit the gardens first. Once again, the other option is a skip the line tour. You can a full or half day tour; include the gardens or a view of the fountain at night. There are many options through Viator. Or use a Paris museum pass to help cut the cost.
See the picture above of the Hall of Mirrors? Add five hundred people to it and you’ll understand my experience of visiting Versailles. I LOVED it but I also HATED it. You will encounter so many other tourists who won’t move their ass out-of-the-way. They linger and take up space. You will be tempted to freak out. Take a deep breath and relax. Enjoy the beauty and ignore the idiots surrounding you. They are probably thinking the same about you. Of course they are wrong. 🙂
4. Allow enough time for the gardens; they are extensive. I was only there for half a day so I would love to go back and spend more time wandering through the gardens. Also remember to visit the Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate if you have time. You can take a mini-train but it does not run often.
Other tips for visiting Versailles:
- Versailles is closed on Monday
- Buy the passport which covers everything at Versailles including the gardens, Marie Antoinette’s hamlet and Trianon Palaces: 18 euros
- Free admission for the following: visitors under 18; European Union residents under 26; teachers in French schools (proof required); disabled people and person accompanying them; French job seekers (upon proof). Here is the complete list!
- Click here for information on entry to the gardens; it is occasionally free depending on time of year and if there are no musical events
- Entry is free on the first Sunday of every month from November to March
- Arrive at 9 am or wait until later in the day (10-3 is highest volume especially on weekends)
- Hours: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm (6:30 pm in high season) for the Palace of Versailles. Trianon and Hamlet are noon to 5:30 (6:30 high); French Gardens are 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (8:30 pm high); park is open 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (7:00 am to 8:30 high season)
- Lastly, give yourself LOTS of time to wander through the Palace of Versailles. Visiting Versailles requires patience as you wander through the crowds. The apartments within the Palace are worth the wait.