We had scheduled a tour of the famous Chateau de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) on the second day of our Paris stay. Known for both the grand Chateau, its magnificent and sprawling gardens and Mary Antoinette’s estate, the Palace of Versailles has a strong political history behind it. French monarch, Louis XIV, transformed what was a hunting retreat to this splendid Palace and declared it to be the royal residence from the late 17th century onwards. It was the French Revolution a century later that toppled its royal grandeur and was almost razed by the angst of the common man, the revolutionaries. In course of time, as democracy prevailed in France, the Chateau was declared to be the nation’s property and was hence, resurrected, paving the way for people from all over the world to see and admire its magnificence.
For the first time visitor, a trip to the Chateau de Versailles can completely overwhelm you. By its sheer size and must-sees. This blog is to help such visitors with some basic information about the Palace just so that you can plan the trip better:
What All You Should Know Before Planning A Visit To The Chateau de Versailles:
How to reach the Chateau de Versailles? Versailles is well connected by bus and trains. Bus Number 171 leaves from the bus terminus at Pont de Sevres Metro Station in Paris and the same number bus gets you back from Versailles to Paris. A one-way bus ticket may cost between 1.7 to 2 euros depending on whether you have bought the ticket before or at the time of boarding the bus. If you are taking the RER train, you need to buy a train ticket upto Versailles Rive Gauche. It’s on the RER C (Yellow line) – well connected by Metro from different parts of Paris.
What all is to be seen at the Chateau de Versailles? The estate is huge and a feast for the eyes. It consists of:
- Palace of Versailles – Famous for the Hall of Mirrors, Grand Apartments of the King and of the Queen, King’s Bedchamber, the Palace’s tour itself can take close to 2 hours. Guides and audio guide are easily available at an extra cost.
- Gardens that literally extends for miles with beautiful Roman & Greek influenced sculptures lining the pathways along with scores of Fountains. Treat to the eyes and senses. Awesome place for children to play hide and seek for the gardens have interesting mazes. The Musical Garden / Fountain Show is held here at fixed timings
- Trianon Palaces & Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Includes the Grand Trianon and gardens of the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Queen’s Hamlet, French and Anglo-Chinese gardens, French pavilion, Temple of Love etc.
How long does the complete tour of the Chateau de Versailles take? It’s a full day excursion if you plan to see all the sites – including the Grand Trianon & Marie-Antoinette’s Estate, which is a little away from the main Palace and requires an additional ticket. The Musical Fountain Show & Musical Garden is also highly recommended during spring & summer time, especially the one in the evening.
What is the timings for Chateau de Versailles? The Chateau is open on all days except Mondays between 9 am to 5.30 pm (Nov – March) and 9 am to 6.30 pm (Apr-Oct). Make sure that you get the tickets in advance from their website so as to save your time buying them from the counters at the Palace grounds. There are long queues even for entry. You definitely need to plan in advance to save time.
Is photography allowed at the Chateau de Versailles? Yup. But remember, only the gardens can finish off an 8 GB memory card easy. Therefore, be ready with enough memory cards for the complete tour!!!
When is the best time to tour the Palace of Versailles, the Gardens? Entirely depends on the weather! Make sure you have all the tickets in advance. So, once there, you can take a call whether you want to see the gardens first or the Palace. We did the gardens first as it was a bright sunny morning, but with clouds gathering for a mid-day rain. When the rains came, we were touring the Palace rooms.
Where can you eat at the Palace of Versailles? Don’t worry. There is a restaurant inside the Palace grounds, although quite expensive. A 10-15 min walk outside the palace also gets you good options for meals. Carry water though and fruit drinks if you want.