If you can only do 1 day trip from Paris, make it Versailles.
The palace is grand (yes the gold is as shiny as it looks in the pictures!), the size is impressive, the sprawling gardens with the perfect hedges – there’s a reason it’s so well known – I definitely don’t think it’s overrated.
None of these photos are edited or Photoshopped – the gold really is that shiny!
Best time of year to visit:
Spring – when the flowers are in bloom, the gardens are green, the lakes aren’t frozen over and you won’t freeze or sweat. I visited in early April. I’m sure in autumn when the leaves change colors would look good too.
One of the various buildings scattered in the grounds
Tips for visiting Versailles
- Move through the palace quickly – I spent around an hour / hour and a half – the gardens are much more impressive!
- Wear comfy shoes. I did 38,000 steps that day
- There are golf buggy’s you can hire (expensive) or you can take a little road train thing (was about 4.50 euro when I visited) if you don’t want to walk all the way from the Queen’s Hamlet back to the palace, or if you’re running out of time. I was stingy and didn’t want to pay it (pay for the train or buy gelato for the same price…)
- Bring your own snacks – the food is expensive – and being a very touristy spot I’m not sure it would taste that great
- The toilets are free – the cleanest ones were at the Queen’s Hamlet – inside one of the buildings hidden away – which is probably why it was clean!
This is the golf buggy train thing
What to see:
There’s a base ticket for the palace and the grounds. If you want to see the Queen’s Hamlet, you’ll need to pay extra to enter (pay on the day).
The palace is very extravagant – practically dripping in gold. However I was more impressed by the gardens.
I especially liked Marie Antoinette’s cottages (you do have to pay extra to see this part of the grounds).
The Hall of Mirrors – so many people & my photo ended up blurred :/
I’ve included tips for visiting later in this post. But first, let me spam you with pictures!
The Queen’s village and Petite Trianon is worth the extra cost but if you’re rushed for time you could skip.
The Queen’s hamlet is a cute village with different cottages and you can walk around this lake / pond.
It looks miniature but they’re life sized buildings. I couldn’t go inside as they were being refurbished.
At the Petite Triton don’t make the mistake I did and turn right. Turn left instead – it’s a much quicker route to get to the Queen’s Hamlet!
How to get there:
Take the RER C (yellow) train line.
It takes about 45 minutes to get to Versailles (depending what metro stop you hop on at). The train I took had an upper and lower level! (we don’t have trains like that in Australia so yes I was excited to go ‘upstairs’ on a train)
You can’t miss the Versailles stop as it’s at the very end of the train line. From there walk to the right up the road, then cross to the left once you pass all the shops and the palace is up on the hill. Make sure you take a photo on your way in just in case the lighting is bad when you leave the palace (as was the case for me when I visited in April).
Trains back to Paris are quite frequent and run late.
The town of Versailles:
Once you exit the train station you’ll head through the town, turn the corner and the palace is in front of you – it’s huge, you can’t miss it!!
The town of Versailles main strip isn’t much to look at. The price of items in the tourist shops varies so go to all of them then go back to the one that had the thing you wanted for cheapest. I don’t recommend the McDonald’s in Versailles. It took them 20 minutes just to make a milkshake…
It varies depending on whether you just want to see the main things or everything. You can spend potentially hours queuing to go inside… or book a skip the line ticket.
For current rates, see the Versailles website.
Should you pay to skip the line?
Yes! Definitely pay the extra for the skip the line ticket. The queue was up to the main entry gate when I got there around 11am and didn’t appear to be moving. By the time you’d get in you’d lose half and day and run out of time to see everything. Who wants to spend their holiday queuing and then be so rushed once you finally get inside? That’s not an enjoyable way to spend your holiday!
This is why I buy skip the line. Once you get in the front gate, the queue weaves through the courtyard and into the building. The line wasn’t moving when I arrived. These people probably waited 1 – 2 hours to get in.
This is your future if you don’t want to pay for skip the line (people were still queuing at 1pm)
The feeling of dread when you time a tour group…
Varies depending on the season and where you want to visit (e.g. different opening hours for the Palace and the Estate of Trianon. I’d list them here but I don’t want to tell you the wrong thing. The opening hours are listed on their website. Just note that Versailles is closed on Mondays.
How much time will you need:
You should allow a full day trip from Paris.
I was doubtful it would take a full day to see everything but everyone I knew who’d been to Versailles insisted it would take a full day. Well they were right! I spent 6.5 hours at the palace and the grounds. I didn’t stop at any food places (i.e. I skipped lunch and just ate snacks). I barely sat down, was walking the whole day (did 38,000 steps wearing boots which I do not recommend, definitely wear proper walking shoes) and left the palace at 5:55pm (it closed at 6pm when I visited in April).
What time should you get there
At any attraction that offers skip the line, I always try and book the earliest ticket. This was you obviously avoid crowds but you’re also more likely to get in on time. Unfortunately even though I booked months in advance, the earliest skip the line ticket (that wasn’t ridiculously expensive – the price does vary so check Viator thoroughly) was at 10:30am.
Now normally this wouldn’t be so bad, except that the company I booked it through lied on the website. I booked a 10:30am entry but they fail to tell you online (only when you arrive) that actually, it’s meet at their office at 10:30am, then you walk up to the palace and the earliest you’ll get in is actually 11am. Every employee in that tour company’s office was extremely rude and refused to apologise even when I showed them a screenshot of the advertisement which clearly stated 10:30am entry into Versailles. The manager also just happened to be out of the office at that time. As if! The company was Guidatours – I obviously do not recommend this company.
So after finally getting to the entry of Versailles at 11am, we then had to wait another 20 minutes for the backlog of other people who had purchased earlier skip the line tickets to clear.
So in the end we didn’t get into the palace until around 11:30am.
When you attempt to get the entire palace in the one photo… well I ended up with about half of it:
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