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Walking around the incredibly ornate and awe-inspiring Palace of Versailles is how I spent my last day in 2016. It was cold and tiring but also a really great day trip from Paris.
My boyfriend and I spent five days and nights in Paris over New Year and we wanted to escape the city and take a day trip somewhere close. Although some tourists like to visit Giverny (home to Monet’s inspiring waterlilies) on a day trip, we decided on the Palace of Versailles. It was the middle of winter and I didn’t think there’d be much in the way of foliage in a garden! I do hope to go back on my next trip, maybe in summer next time.
I’ve pulled together the essential information you need to know before you visit the Palace of Versailles and a few tips and tricks I learnt.
The Palace of Versailles
So, what’s the big deal about the Palace of Versailles?
The Palace was built in the 17th century, commissioned by King Louis XIV. It was originally a hunting lodge before the King moved the Court to there in 1682, after a huge expansion. In 1789, the Monarchy was forced back to Paris during the first few years of the French Revolution.
As well as being the official home to the French Monarchy for a time, it’s also famous for being the home of Marie Antoinette. She married King Louis XVI and became the Queen of France and Navarre. She and the monarchy at the time became infamous for being largely responsible for the country’s financial crisis. The Palace was incredibly expensive to run (it has 700 rooms!) and they had very expensive tastes.
If you’re interested in how the Palace of Versailles was used for the Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette (2006), read my blog post on the film locations here.
So, today… we’re left with a bloody gorgeous Palace and museum complex to visit because it was incredibly expensive and lavish at the time it was built!
The hall of mirrors… the bedrooms… the museums and galleries… all so beautiful!
The Palace itself is just one part of everything there is to visit in the estate. There’s the Palace, the Palace Gardens, the park just beyond the Gardens and the Estate of Trianon.
The Trianon Estate has several smaller Palaces and is where Marie Antoinette is known to have spent a lot of her time.
How to get there from Paris
It’s super easy to get to the Palace of Versailles via train from Paris. In fact, there are quite a few train stations you can travel to Versailles from.
I stayed in Montmartre when I visited Paris, so it was easier to take the Metro straight to Gare Montparnasse train station. From there, we got the N service straight to Gare de Versailles Chantiers train station, which is the station you’ll want to get to the Palace of Versailles.
Buying a return ticket is so straightforward from the ticket machines at the station as they can be translated into English. And I always recommend utilising google maps when using public transport abroad! You can track that you’re on the right route and keep track of how many stops left on your journey.
And then the Palace is just an easy 10-15 minute walk from the station.
Ticket Information and Opening times
There are a few ticket options where entry is completely free. I was under 26 and an EU resident at the time of my visit so it was completely free! There are a few different ticket options that allow you access to different parts of the Versailles estate, but a normal ‘passport’ ticket that I would recommend you choosing is €20. If you’re certain of the date you want to visit the Palace of Versailles, you can also buy your ticket online.
The Palace of Versaille is open every day except Monday, December 25th and January 1st. The Palace itself opens at 9am but if you just wanted to go to the park it’s 8:30am.
Top tip: Get to the Palace of Versailles as EARLY as possible. Even in the offseason, the queues can be huge, and if you haven’t bought your ticket you need to queue up at the ticket office and then again at the Palace gates. Plus, the Palace and the grounds are HUGE so you need a lot of time to get around it all.
The Palace has made it so you kind of have to eat at the facilities the museum provides. There are restaurants and cafes and they aren’t the best, but they don’t let you bring your own food, probably for security. It’s just one of those things you’ll have to suck up!
Also, like everywhere in Paris, be very wary of what you bring into the Palace of Versailles. The security is really tight and you aren’t allowed to bring super big bags.
And that’s my quick guide to the Palace of Versailles! Have you ever been to the Palace of Versailles? Let me know in the comments below!