A daytrip to Versailles is from Paris is highly recommended if you’re looking to get away from the City of Light for a few hours, especially if you have the luxury of extra time in Paris. The Palace of Versailles is most well known for its connection to Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, but it was also the site where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the peace treaty that ended World War I.
The Palace is sumptuous, ornate and gilded, but what many visitors don’t expect is the sprawling gardens, filled with musical fountains and perfectly landscaped. The grounds of Versailles are larger in total, than Manhattan and there are little gazebos, and smaller palaces dotted around the gardens. It’s not difficult to arrange a day trip to Versailles – you can pay to go on one of the many tours available – small group Versailles tours from Paris prices start at US$128; or you can use this DIY guide to plan a trip to Versailles yourself.
Step 1: Buy your tickets
You can purchase your tickets to Versailles online. This saves you time when you arrive at the site itself and you can proceed directly to the entrance instead of queuing up. There are a number of different tickets available, with different prices – the Passport tickets includes admission to all attractions within Versailles, including temporary exhibitions. Depending on your personal interest and the time you have available, the Passport probably represents the best value. If the Musical Fountains and Garden show is scheduled for the day, the price is EUR25; otherwise it is EUR18. You can also buy tickets to Versailles from Fnac, Digitick, and Ticketnet – the Palace is included within the Paris Museum Pass. It’s worth noting that the Palace is not open on Mondays.
Step 2: Make your way to the trains
There are three stations that serve Versailles if you are coming from Paris – the Versailles Rive Gauche, Versailles Rive Droite and Versaille Chantiers. The last two are reachable via the Transilien trains from the Paris stations of Saint Lazare, La Defense and Montparnasse; the former is a stop on the RER C train from Saint-Michel and Champ de Mars. The latter will whisk you away from Paris and to Versailles in a little under 30 minutes – from the train station it is a short 5 minute walk, well sign posted. The Transilien trains take almost double the amount of time. You can buy RER C return tickets at the station. Ask for a billet origine-destination to and from Versailles Rive Gauche. The cost should be EUR4,10 one way and trains run regularly, according to the RER C schedule.
Step 3: Get yourself to Versailles
Once you’re in Versailles, it’s an easy 5 minute walk from the train station to the Palace itself. An audioguide is recommended as it allows you to wander all over the Palace at your own pace. Otherwise, guided tours to the private apartments of kings, Royal Opera or Royal Chapel are also available. Don’t miss the fountains and gardens – these were a personal highlight! Wandering down gravel paths, along perfectly manicured lawns and around sculptured hedges, listening to the cadences of classical music and accompanied by the delicate tinkle of fountains in the late summer sunshine is a wonderful Versailles experience. There’s also the lesser known but just as charming Palaces of Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, both also located in the grounds of Versailles.
|Passport ticket to Versailles (without Garden show)||EUR18|
|Train ticket to Versailles (return)||EUR8,20|