Once you’ve seen the top highlights in Paris, you’ll likely want to start exploring the surroundings and uncovering some of the beauty that lies beyond the capital city. One of the most popular day trips from Paris is a visit to the grand Palace of Versailles. I opted out of an expensive tour thinking I could easily avoid the crowds on my own but I was wrong! So today I’m sharing some photos and tips on what it’s really like inside the Palace of Versailles.
If you’re planning on visiting Versailles without a tour group, you’re sure to save some money and you’ll be able to enjoy the palace and the grounds at your own pace. It does take a bit of patience and planning to get there when you’re heading out on your own but in my opinion, well worth it! My biggest piece of advice would be to arrive EARLY and also note that the palace is closed every Monday. I set my alarm for 6am, fully expecting to be first in line to enter at 9am but, naturally, a few things did not go according to plan.
Anyways, once you’ve arrived at your nearest Paris metro, you’ll be looking to buy a return ticket for Versailles – Rive Gauche and will need to look at a map (or ask) for the closest RER C station. A round-trip RER train ticket from Paris to the Palace of Versailles will cost roughly 8 Euros. On the morning I went, I was even lucky enough to enjoy a live performance by a couple of jazz musicians who were looking to make a few extras Euros on the train. I may or may not have fallen asleep on the train, missed my stop and had to backtrack but in the end, I didn’t get to Versailles – Rive Gauche until almost 10am. I bought my Passport ticket (which includes gardens, palace and the estate grounds of Marie Antoinette) at a tourism office just outside of the station on Avenue Generale de Gaulle. By the time I got to the entrance, the line was long:
Inside the Palace of Versailles
I thought that since I already had a ticket, I wouldn’t have to wait in line but the line was actually full of ticket holders who were just waiting to get in through the security clearance. I must have looked out of sorts because a smaller group of people at the front of the line was nice enough to let me join them. Merci, good karma! Once inside, the interior was like nothing I’d seen before. Every square inch of the palace was so intricately decorated and in such an elaborate way.
What’s not pictured in the images is the fact that I was among a crowd of hundreds of people all shuffling around trying to take photos. As I toured the apartments with my audio guide, it felt like I was literally among a swarm of fish trying to swim through the massive crowds of tourists. Versailles is likely not a place you want to be if you’re the claustrophobic type. Again, arrive early to avoid the long lines and crowds.
The Gardens of Versailles
I’m glad I purchased the Passport ticket because after being crammed inside the crowded building, it was nice to step out and continue touring in the fresh air. During the winter months, the gardens aren’t as green and full of bloom as I’m sure they are in the spring and summer months but it was still beautiful to walk through the grounds and enjoy the landscape. In the gardens is where you’ll find the musical fountains which operate twice daily on weekends during the high season: they turn on to the sound of music playing from the speakers.
Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate
After walking through the palace and the gardens, I’ll admit I was quite tired. But I resisted the urge to spend any more money on a trolley and kept walking along. The Trianon Palaces were not as grand as the main palace but it was a much more enjoyable tour since it wasn’t nearly as crowded either. In total, I spend nearly 6 hours exploring the grounds and I can understand why there is a 2-day Passport ticket offered as well. There is just so much to see and do at the Palace of Versailles!
Have you ever been inside the Palace of Versailles?