When planning my trip, I knew I had to go and see The Palace of Versailles. There wasn’t any argument, so I decided I’d plan our holiday to centre around the day out.
I knew that Versailles was going to be an entire day out, and would require an early start and probably have a late finish, so we pre-packed our lunch and started out from the apartment early in the morning.
From Jaures, we used Line 5 to take us to Paris Austerlitz, and from there we went on the Rer C to Versailles Rive-Gauche. From us, it was very easy. The Rer C is a separate system from the Metro, so you will have to buy a return ticket. Our Paris Visite Pass didn’t serve the Versailles or Disney lines. Currently it’s €3.55 for a one-way ticket. However, obviously purchasing a return journey will just be easier for when you leave. Be aware that the Rer C-Austerlitz line is currently partway closed due to maintenance, so alternative lines may be required. There are buses that also run from the city to the Palace.
Plan your trip here. – (There are a few stations that are situated around the Palace. I recommend the Versailles Chateau Rive-Gauche station, as it’s the closest to the palace)
It took around a hour from leaving the apartment to get to the Rive-Gauche station. From there, the Chateau is clearly signposted.
The Palace isn’t free to enter, and I found it better to book online before you arrive. It helps to cut down the queues. If you book online you don’t have to go to the ticket office (necessarily) and go straight to Entrance A.
We bought the €18 ‘Versailles Passeport’ which gives you access to the Palace, Gardens, Trianon and Marie-Antoniette’s Village. It also gives you access to exhibitions and the Fountains show. For the money, it was completely worth it.
For us, the queue wasn’t too long, but be aware there are quite strong security measures put it. Please visit the website to research and read up beforehand, so you aren’t caught out.
As this is the height of tourist season, it is very advisable to arrive early. We got to Palace at around 10am, and it was already very busy then. So, be prepared to experience some crowding, especially in the Hall of Mirrors. It isn’t advisable, or probably possible to stand around the rooms too long, as the amount of people makes it quite difficult.
Photography is allowed, but no flash, and not for commercial use unless authorisation is given. Selfie sticks are also banned, as are drones.
The entire palace is stunning. Gold leaf upon marble upon gold greets you in every room, and the Hall of Mirrors is ridiculously beautiful. When we went, there were so much to see it was quite overwhelming. You would definitely need more than a day to see the entire estate. My personal highlight was seeing Marie-Antoinettes Estate – a small hamlet built in a very typical French pastoral scene within the crowds, where the infamous queen used as a retreat from Palace life. It’s so quaint and beautiful, it’s definitely worth a walk around.
When we went to the Palace, we were allowed to eat our picnic on the steps leading down to the palace gardens, which was a welcome highlight. There are clearly signposted refreshments around, and they offer a wide selection of food and drink for any palate. But remember, bring water to sustain you throughout the day, along with suncream on hot days. As a lot of the estate is stretched through the gardens, you spend a lot of time outside.
One tip that I have is that after spending the day walking around the estate, go back into the main palace at the end of the day. The crowds have thinned considerably, and you get to properly enjoy The Hall of Mirrors without being elbowed from all sides. The Palace closes at 6.30pm, so you have plenty of time to get back.
Be aware, the train back and into Versailles will always be crowded throughout the day. Be careful with belongings, and try and secure yourself a seat.
Versailles was definitely the highlight of the week. With the beauty and grandeur of the Palace mixing in with the fascinating history, it really is a day out that you won’t forget for a long time.
(Disclaimer – our fifth day of Paris was just seeing family, and despite a few hours spent walking up Champs-Élysées and a visit to Père Lachaise Cemetary, we didn’t take any images. So I’m going to end my Paris series here. Watch this space for my Rome adventure however!)