Paris has always been one of my favourite cities and it wasn’t until my fourth visit to the city of lights that I finally ventured out to Versailles for the first time, and I can’t believe I’d waited so long to visit. It’s such a beautiful place to go for a little day trip to get out of the city and see a different side to the area.
When’s the best time to visit?
I’ve managed to visit Versailles twice so far, once on a warm, early Autumn’s day and another on a cold winter’s day, the 2nd of January actually. One lesson learned is that there’s never really a quiet time to visit, the best you can do is arrive early for 9am and hope for the best. I would also probably avoid touring the palace all together in peak summer times as the crowd crushing inside can get quite intense, but if you’re OK with crowds then you should be fine.
Be sure to pick up an audio guide before you tour the castle, it’s quick, interesting and you’ll actually know what you’re looking at. Audio guides are free and can be found at the main entry inside the palace.
Walking through the elaborate chambers of Versailles is like walking through a visual wonderland, an old, beautiful Renaissance painting. It’s a breathtaking time warp back to the years of kings and queens, jokers and wealth, a lot of wealth.
I found it so fascinating to see how royalty lived in those days, especially in the elaborate era of King George XV. The palace is filled with rooms for every possible occasion – waiting rooms, waiting rooms for waiting rooms, ball rooms, libraries and dining rooms, yet strangely there are no bathrooms! Apparently our hygiene routines are rather new age.
What really took me aback were the barriers in the Kings bedroom, put in place to allow space for the crowd that gathered every day and night for a ceremony to watch the King wake up and go to sleep! It made me think how easy Charles and the lads have it in comparison, they can live a relatively private life compared to the French Kings and Queens of this era (with a bathroom to boot!).
A common mistake is to finish the tour early and not see the other rooms, the guest houses or women’s quarters. These are well worth a visit.
The Versailles palace is incredible to see and well worth fighting crowds for, but my favourite part of Versailles is still finishing the palace tour and getting outside to explore the incredible gardens.
With so many fountains, mazes and a giant lake, Chopin music playing throughout, I could easily spend a whole Summer’s day here, just enjoying the views and the nature.
Getting to Versailles from Paris
Getting to Versailles from Paris is easy, with trains going regularly on the RER (C) takes around an hour and a half and costs €7 return. Then it’s a charming 10 minute walk from Versailles-Rive Gauche station, through the wealthy suburbs of Versailles to get to the palace.
Make sure you buy your tickets BEFORE lining up in the queue, or else you’ll be wasting your time as the queue is for ticket holders only. You can buy tickets online so if you can get to a printer then I recommend this option to save time.
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