And it is one of the most magnificent examples of royal residence from the 15th and 16th century a visitor can see.
When you come to think about the importance of this place as one of the settings of the French Revolution and how much what it represented to the French people of then (and now) affected the world we live in today, seeing it for yourself is a must when in France.
But let’s not waste the experience by not preparing carefully. Here’s how.
1. Consider reading a bit about the history
From Wikipedia: “When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometers southwest of the French capital. The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.”
Considering the huge implications the French Revolution had on western civilization such as the State of Law and the separation of powers that we take for granted today, visiting the Palace is not-to-miss side trip from Paris.
Not only that, the Palace has been the site of many historical events such as the signing of The Treaty of Versailles that was part of the end of World War I in 1919.
We could speak volumes about the Chateau of Versailles but in this article I’m going to focus on the practicalities of the visit.
2. Consider visiting the Chateau of Versailles’ website
Le Château has an extensive and beautiful website, which I encourage you to visit as is contains all the relevant information. Not only that, it has many pages full of images, history, maps and almost everything you need to know for your visit.
There are many wonderful exhibitions and shows that perhaps you want to attend. Be sure to check the schedules on the website.
3. Consider how you’re arriving to The Chateau
You’re going to be walking a lot (and I mean, A LOT) during your visit, so wear very comfortable shoes as there are not many places to sit down, you are going to spend a full day visiting Le Château.
The ride from Paris to Versailles the town, is about 30 minutes after you’ve taken the C train (direction Versailles), but allow about an hour depending on where you’re staying in Paris. Make sure to buy a “Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche” ticket (zones 1-4) (T+ ticket is not valid for this journey).
Once you arrive to the “Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche” station, there’s a bit of a walk, about 10 to 15 minutes until you reach the golden gates of the Palace. Just follow the crowds. Click here to see an image of the entrances.
Now, depending on the tickets you purchased or if you used the Paris Museum Pass, have clarity on what your ticket includes. When we went there we found out that we were allowed to visit the Palace, but going through the gardens to reach the Grand Trianon, was an extra €8! I believe children enter free.
4. Consider the time you’ll be there
The Chateau of Versailles Estate is huge. The Palace itself is one thing, but Le Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s Estate are another and they’re quite far from one another.
From Le Château’s website:
“Estimate Of The Ideal Visit Time: Interior of the Château: 2h-2h30. From the Château to Marie-Antoinette’s Estate: 20 to 30 minutes on foot. Visit to the 2 Châteaux de Trianon: about 2h”
In any case, confirm opening hours and events as they do change quite a bit depending on shows, exhibitions, restoration work and seasons.
5. Consider how to get from the Palace of Versailles to Marie Antoinette’s Estate
There’s a mini-train from the Palace to Le Grand Trianon, but beware, it sometimes takes up to 45 minutes to come around and they do charge an extra fee. The train rides inside the Estate, but if you’re walking, you have to get out of the Estate and find the separate entrance to Marie Antoinette’s Estate. It is a 30 minute walk, approximately.
When we visited, we took this train on our way back in the afternoon and ended up getting off at the back end of the gardens, which allowed us to visit them for free! We were not sure if that was allowed… but the fountains were shut off, so we didn’t get to see the gardens in their full splendor.
6. Consider where you’ll eat
Dining at Le Château is really expensive, but there are some nice restaurants with great food near the golden gates and on your way to Le Grand Trianon. Outside food is not allowed and it’s not like you can make a pic-nic, this is a rather elegant site.
7. Consider hiring a tour guide
If money is not a constraint, I absolutely recommend hiring a tour guide. Even though there are audio guides that you can purchase, having a live person tell you all the intriguing stories is so much better.
Ok, so that was my quick guide of practicalities for visiting the Chateau of Versailles, I hope you found it useful when planning a trip to Paris!
If you have any questions or comments, or would like to share your experience at The Chateau, please drop me a line in the comments field.
And finally how about sharing this article if you liked it!