When people hear of Versailles, the first thing that may come to mind is the spectacular Palace of Versailles that was built by King Louis XIII in 1623 when it started out as just a small hunting lodge. But what you might not know is that Versailles is its own town, about 14-miles west of Paris, and it has much more to offer aside from the palace.
Versailles is 10.11 mi² with a population of 85,000+ residents. While the Palace of Versailles is what brings most people to town, there are more things to do than wander the palace grounds. Because of its beauty, Versailles has inspired urban layouts of some of the most famous cities around the world like London, St Petersburg, and Washington. If you’re visiting Paris and want to explore nearby, I highly encourage you to venture to Versailles for a day!
The Best Day Trip to Versailles (from Paris)
Getting to Versailles from Paris
The easiest way to arrive to Versailles from Paris is to take a taxi or an Uber that can drop you off in front of the palace. But if you’re looking for a more cost friendly option, then taking the train would be your best bet.
If you plan to take the train from Paris to Versailles, you’ll want to get on the RER (line C) train, departing from the center of Paris and dropping you off at Versailles Château Rive Gauche station – the closest station to the palace. From the station, it’s about a 10-minute walk to the Palace of Versailles. The ride takes about one hour and costs a few euros.
Tip: If you have Google maps on your phone, you should be able to input your exact location of departure and Google maps will show you the quickest train to take to Versailles.
Visiting the Palace of Versailles
HISTORY OF THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES
In 1623 the Palace of Versailles started out as a small hunting lodge, but was quickly expanded into a full-scale royal residence by King Louis XIV in 1668. The palace went through ups and downs as it was abandoned some years, and lived in others. In the 20th-century, during WWI, Versailles was unscathed, and in 1919 it was chosen for the signing of the peace treaty, drawing attention from around the world.
Today, the Palace of Versailles welcomes more than 15 million tourists per year, making it one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT
Truthfully, there is no bad time to visit Versailles. If you want to see the gardens, and spend time outdoors, then the spring, summer, or fall would be your best bet. But it’s also a great place to go in the winter or on rainy days to escape the cold and wet. The other thing to think about is during the summer months, when tourist season as at an all time high, you’ll likely be battling bigger crowds and longer lines. To avoid this, you might consider visiting in the winter instead.
No matter what time of the year you choose to visit Versailles, I highly suggest showing up first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon. I made the mistake at showing up around noon and lines were crazy long. Try to plan ahead, purchase tickets online ahead of time, and your visit will go much smoother.
If you are planning to visit during the wintertime, don’t miss: Why You Should Visit Paris in the Winter
As I mentioned earlier, you can purchase tickets to the Palace of Versailles ahead of time, which I recommend. You do need to pick a time slot and show up at your designated time, which you can do here. You should also know that you can buy tickets to just the palace, or add on the gardens too. Prices vary depending on age and which attractions you plan to see, but for an adult, one ticket to the palace and gardens costs €27.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
- The Palace is open everyday besides Monday and May 1st; the gardens are open every day
- Hours of operation are 9 am-6:30 pm for the palace; and 8 am to 8:30 pm for the gardens
- There are three train stations in Versailles, but the Versailles Château – Rive Gauche station is the closest
- You can download a free, interactive guide (with an audio guide) to Versailles called Palace of Versailles
- For more information, read this
How to Spend a Day in Versailles
Believe it or not, there are things to do in Versailles aside from visiting the infamous Palace of Versailles. I suggest spending a full day in Versailles to see its beauty away from the crowds!
Start your day early, and head to the palace at opening time (around 9 am). Remember, you can purchase tickets ahead of time and this will save you a lot of time as you won’t have to stand in line to purchase tickets. Expect to spend a few hours at the palace, especially if you’ve decided to add on the gardens. There is food to purchase inside the palace, but I don’t recommend as its overpriced and there are better options. Instead, after spent the morning at the palace, walk to Rue de Satory, a street filled with restaurants, bars, and patisseries. From Rue de Satory, you can wander the quaint streets surrounding the area.
For lunch, I highly recommend Le Jasmin. While it’s a “fast-food” restaurant, their kebab was one of the best kebabs I’ve ever had. After a quick lunch, find a patisserie for some sweets, and then pick an outdoor café where you can sit for a glass of wine or two. You can also relax in a number of green spaces in Versailles.
While the biggest draw to Versailles is to visit the Palace of Versailles, I hope that you stick around to see some of the other charm this small town has. An easy day trip from Paris, it’s more than worth it to spend time in exploring Versailles.
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