One of the big highlights from my trip to Paris was touring the Palace of Versailles. It’s so grandiose up close that I was kind of in shock at the magnitude of it all. It was cold when we went but still so so beautiful. I can’t wait to come back in the Springtime when the flowers are in bloom but for now, here are some tips and tricks that I learned during my first visit to the Palace of Versailles.
Train from Paris to the Palace of Versailles
Taking the train from Paris to Versailles is straight forward. It’s only one train from Paris and takes about 45 minutes to get there. A roundtrip ticket will cost you 7 € and is the cheapest way to travel to the castle. Once you arrive in Versailles and you exit the train station, you’ll cross the street and make a right and just keep following the crowd. A short 10 minute walk and you’ll end up at the golden gates. For a more detailed run down on how the Paris train station and metro lines work, click here.
The best time to visit
You know that saying, “Paris is always a good idea.” Well I wholeheartedly believe this, however, we went in November and it was sooooo cold! Unusually cold actually and we were seeing temps in the low 30’s, plus rain, plus wind chill. BUT, having said that, I would not have changed our plans for anything. I loved Paris in the cold but I bet it would be amazing in the Spring. Especially Versailles Palace! The gardens were lush and green and beautiful but also muddy and wet. I can only imagine how breathtaking the gardens are in the Spring and Summer time. The downside to that is, its much more crowded and busier during the warmer months for obvious reasons.
When we visited in November, there was a lot of people, but not at all crazy crowded. We walked around the palace and were able to see things without everyone in the way. It was quite pleasant, actually. But, if crowds aren’t a huge deal for you, Spring and Summertime is probably your best bet.
To get the most out of your visit, plan to arrive by 9:00 am when the palace opens. This is a great opportunity to walk the grounds and take lots of pictures before the huge crowds of people arrive.
Tickets for Versailles Palace
Skip the ticket line and purchase yours online ahead of time. We purchased our tickets online here. Once you’re on the website, you have to choose the date that you want to go and the type of ticket. We chose the passport which gives you access to see everything. One important thing to note about this ticket is once you choose the date you are going, you have to go on that day. Once your ticket is purchased, save it on your phone because you can use that ticket to get in. No need to be carrying around the paper tickets. To minimize the wait time to get in, there is an option to purchase a ticket with timed entry but we didn’t go that route since we were unfamiliar with how long the train ride and walk would be.
If you want to see all the grounds, including Marie Antoinette’s estate (which I highly recommend you do), it’s worth getting the passport. It’s 20 € for the whole thing as opposed to paying 18 € for just the castle and then paying another 7 € each to see the other estates. If you plan on visiting the whole grounds, it is an all day thing and 20 € is a great deal in my opinion. There are so much to see and so much history that it’s definitely worth the cost.
Keep in mind, the palace is open everyday EXCEPT for Mondays.
What you should wear
The palace itself is not as large to go through but the outside grounds is massive so expect to be walking outside a lot. Wear comfortable shoes and depending on the time of year, you’re going to want to dress in layers. We went during the winter and the temps were in the low 30’s but I imagine in the summer months it can get extremely hot. You’ll be walking all day and around lots of people so I suggest being prepared with lots of sunscreen, light weight clothing and a hat to block the sun.
Absolutely do not miss the Hall of Mirrors. It is magnificent! Other must see’s include the Kings State Apartments, the Kings private apartments and the amazing Gallery of Great Battles.
And this goes without saying but you have to go to Marie Antoinette’s estate. Make sure you visit her farm as well. It is the cutest thing ever.
Other than the palace, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the gardens outside. Let yourself wander and take it all in. It is like nothing I have ever seen and I was in awe the whole time. I felt like I was transported to a British period piece movie!
If you are unable to walk the whole grounds, there are golf carts you can rent for a fee. This may be worth it if you want to see as much as you can in a short period of time. There is also a tram that will take you from the main gardens of the castle to Marie Antoinette’s estate and the other gardens. The driver will tell you how much time you have at each stop until the next tram comes by to pick you up and take you to the next estate.
Where to eat
There are several dining options inside the palace such as Angelina’s and Ladureé but they do get very busy. An option would be to have a picnic on the grounds. You can pick up some goodies at the nearby Marché Notre Dam, a market not too far from the train station.
If you wish to indulge and explore outside the palace, The Culture Trip put together a list of the Top 10 Restaurants in Versailles including Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Trianon which is walking distance from the Chateau Versailles.
The Palace of Versailles is definitely a sight to see in person. We took a ton of pictures but honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice. It is so beautiful, grand, and surreal seeing it up close and personal. It’s crazy to think Kings and Queens lived within those walls, and walked those gardens many many years ago.