The Palace of Versailles is a bit out of the way for Paris travelers, but it should absolutely not be missed. It was one of the most amazing things I saw during my trip, probably because it is one of the most ridiculous examples of decadent royal wealth that exists. Everything is covered in gold and there are extravagant chandeliers, embellished decorations and famous works of art everywhere. You’ll be blown away before you even get to the gardens, which are so massive that you can get lost in them for hours.
As incredible as the Palace of Versailles is, you’ll also find that a trip to this site can be a tad bit stressful….
As you can see, the line starts outside. And I can personally attest to the fact that it takes over an hour to get through. But after taking the train from Paris, it’s not like we were about to turn around!
And you’ll see below, the crowds don’t get much better after you enter…
The Hall of Mirrors
That is, until you get the gardens.
Just hangin’ out in King Louis XVI’s backyard. No big deal.
So now that you know how much of a hassle it is to get here, why should you go? Well, you don’t have to make the same mistake I made. Be smart and buy your ticket online ahead of time. Tickets range in price from 18€ to 25€ (about $25 to $30 USD). Check out the Versailles official website FAQ for details on special circumstances that will allow you in for free (i.e. if you are a EU resident under 26) and discounted options.
If you have your ticket printed out, skip past all the suckers waiting in line and go right through entrance A. Well, it’s not quite that easy – I’ve heard pre-paid ticket holders still have to wait a bit since there are so many people smart enough to buy them. But it’s worth it, I PROMISE!
How To Get There: It’s very easy to reach Versailles by train. You can take the RER C from the Saint-Michel and Champ de Mars stations from Paris. The station you want to end up at is called Versailles Rive Gauche. Be prepared for language barriers at the station if you don’t speak French – write down where you want to go to help speed things up! Here’s a handy website to bookmark on train travel in Paris.
Once you arrive at the station, the Palace of Versailles is a short walk. Just follow the crowds.
I would recommend going on a weekday or in the early fall, when summer rush has died down but the gardens are still open. Try to arrive first thing in the morning to beat the lines. Weekends are madness. Just take deep breaths and don’t shove anyone.
It’s best to block off an entire day for your trip to Versailles. You’ll want to see everything, so factor in the travel time, waiting in line, breaking for lunch and fitting in all the parts of the museum and the gardens. If you try to do a half day, you’ll feel rushed and stressed.
I’m so jealous of the Versailles official photographer who got to take these when no one was there. See the full slideshow here.