Why do I, and so many other people, love visiting castles and palaces so much? Of course history, art and architecture all play a role, but it’s also a chance to step outside your own reality and see what it might have been like to live in such a place. After all how many of us live in actual castles or palaces?
What better place for those “life of royalty” daydreams than the Chateau de Versailles? Even on an overcast day the golden gates of this world famous palace can be seen shinning brightly in the distance.
Versailles is a place where the walls, ceilings and floors are equally, if not more ornate than the furniture and art found inside. As you wander through the palace peeking inside the Royal Chapel, the King’s bedroom and the Hall of Mirrors, you’ll find yourself surrounded by opulence.
Speaking of opulent, it doesn’t end when you step outside, in fact quite the contrary. A stroll in the almost 2000 acres of Gardens features among other things a Grand Canal, which is over a mile long, groves, the Orangerie, and at least 50 different fountains.
Taking the SNCF train from the Paris Gare Montparnasse station, (You can’t miss it, it’s the only tall building in all of Paris!), we arrived at the Versailles Chantiers station about 40 minutes later. Wanting to see the town, we decided to walk to the Chateau.
Plan in Advance
If you can I highly recommend planning your visit in advance! Purchasing our tickets only one day prior to our visit we made some mistakes and discovered some things we would have done differently. The day we visited was incredibly hot, but more than that, it was humid, and a late afternoon/evening visit might have been more enjoyable. Keep in mind this is a very popular destination (10 million visitors every year) and it will be incredibly crowded.
Tickets and Other Useful Information
Skipping the line would have been nice, but with short notice I was unable to work out exactly how to make that happen. Here are a few things I did learn that might make things easier:
- Arrive early! The gates open at 9 am. If you can, be there before they open.
- Purchase your tickets in advance online. Even with advance purchase you’ll need to go through security, which seems to be the cause for the very long entrance lines. However, it moves quicker than the ticket purchase line.
- The Passport Ticket option gains you entrance to everything, including the gardens and Marie Antoinette’s Petite Chateau. Children under 18 are free however the exception is: there is a garden entrance fee for children on days with the Fountains Show and on Musical Gardens days.
- There are guided tours, but not all tours are given in all languages everyday. Unfortunately there were no English speaking tours being offered on the day of our visit. Check the website for tour options before your arrival.
- Bring sunscreen, water and wear comfortable shoes, you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
- If you’re visiting in the summer, consider going later in the afternoon for the musical fountains show and possible fireworks. Its also possible the crowds could be lighter later in the day… though we ended our visit around 4:30 pm and noticed the lines were still incredibly long. It was July after all…
Once inside the Palace I picked up the audio guide that came with my Passport ticket, while the boys chose to go without. It was very crowded, so lingering over anything wasn’t really possible, but we were able to see everything we were interested in. Before heading out to the garden we stopped in the Palace cafe for French ham sandwiches. I got a kick out of the restroom signage!
As I mentioned the gardens are vast, but we did our best to see as much of them as we could. I loved the Enceladus Grove, especially the fountain in the center, which was sculpted in 1675. Our visit took place on a Musical Fountains day, so we were lucky enough to see many of the fountains in action! I was somewhat surprised to see that there weren’t that many flowers in the garden, but I must admit my knowledge of French gardens is lacking. We ran out of steam so boating on the Grand Canal didn’t happen, but we did discover some yummy gelato!
Petit Trianon – Marie Antoinette’s Estate
My favorite part of the day was our visit to the Petit Trianon, the home away from home of Marie Antoinette, who apparently wasn’t so enamored with the main Palace and preferred to spend her time elsewhere.
The Petite Domaine was her private chateau and was by invitation only. The tour here was self guided, and because it is indeed a very petite palace, doesn’t take long. Afterward, we took our time wandering the chateau’s private gardens, which to my delight had more flowers!
Another Women’s March
Our visit to the Chateau de Versailles took place this past July, and 6 months later I’m finally writing about it. Coincidentally this also happens to be the same week that there were women’s marches around the world. It was while reading an article about these marches that I learned about another historic women’s march.
The Women’s March on Versailles, is also known as the October March or the March on Versailles, which might be why I never knew it was actually started by women. Either that, or I might not have been listening in history class that day… Though not peaceful like this week’s marches it was a defining moment in history, which involved women standing up for what they believe is right. The timing seems significant, so I thought I would mention it.
If Those Walls Could Talk
Many important figures in world history and government have walked the halls of Versailles, among them, to name just a few are: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and Pope Pius VII. A UNESCO World Heritage site, I was surprised to learn that Versailles is still in use today by the French Government.
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What a beautiful tour post. Thanks.
Loved this. Such beautiful photos. Versailles another place on my wish list xx
Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it! Recently, I saw some photos of it in the winter and thought it might have been nice to see it all frosty… maybe I just thought that because it was SO hot during our visit?
It’s so beautiful I’m sure it looks stunning all year round. I’m the same though, I see a place in one season but always want to see it in another. Xx
fifi + hop
Stunning photos! The cloud coverage actually adds to the drama (if there could be any more). It’s been years since I’ve been to Versailles but I agree – it’s imaging yourself going back in time and living that life that makes castles and estates so intriguing to visit. #citytripping
Thank you!! I felt like the clouds were picture perfect that day! Almost like they were deliberately placed there just for me!
Your photos are spectacular! It was raining when I visited Versailles many years ago. Therefore, we were not able to enjoy the outdoor attractions. But, I remember being mesmerized by the inside. I am one of those who love castles. That is the main reason I would like to visit Europe. Imagine having the opportunity to visit a castle or palace every so often. That would be great! #citytripping
Thank you so much! I know exactly what you mean! Just day tripping to castles whenever we wanted! Wouldn’t that be great?! xx
Great tips – it is a wonderful palace, although I don’t think I’ve ever been when there hasn’t been a huge queue. Worth it though, and Petit Trianon is lovely. #citytripping
excellent photos! I remember how impressed I was with the gardens:) not as impressed with the queue to buy the tickets though #farawayfiles
Thank you! I hear that! The gardens line was crazy long and it was super hot! The boys sat in the while I waited… 😩
Marie Antoinette is one of my favorites. I find it so fascinating that Sophia Coppola was the first filmmaker allowed to film at Versailles. The opulence is astounding.
Also, I feel like I knew this March was women. I think I remember something about them shouting for bread because they were outraged (among other things) about it being reported she said let them eat cake. Seems the media has always been a problem, but love some strong kickass ladies standing up for their themselves.
Hmmm, I’m not sure how the media relates, but indeed the March was started because of the scarcity and rising prices of bread.
All I mean about the media is what was reported wasn’t accurate & we see that everyday. It just fuels the fire.
I too am a supporter of kick ads ladies!! 😘
I see you have a touch for gorgeous photos. This is my town, did not lived in the palace but close to it for 10 years. thanks
Thank you!! We loved our visit and I hope to go back someday!
It is such a stunning place! You have captured its opulence wonderfully in your photos. I went there on a school trip when I was 13 so have some very rubbish, grainy photos. I think I need to go again! Thank you for linking to #citytripping
Thank you for your kind words! Wouldn’t it be great if we could have re-dos for all the places we visited before digital!
I love the tip about an afternoon or evening visit! I’ve only ever read the typical tip to arrive early, and sometimes I feel like that has become so widely spread that no everything is crowded in the morning! #farawayfiles
My first and only visit to Versailles was over 20 years ago as a backpacking couple on a serious budget – we had a bottle of cheap red wine and baguettes and cheese which we enjoyed on the lawn of Mary Antoinette’s little cottage – a perfect afternoon pretending to be royalty pretending to be rural. Beautiful pics Hilary! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin
Love it!! 🍷
I lived in Paris for almost a year so it’s positively shocking that I’ve not yet made it to the Palace of Versailles. I’m very keen to go – my boys are borderline obsessed about palaces and castles so it’s very high on their wish list! Great to see all your fabulous photos and tips on #FarawayFiles
I completely understand! I lived in the greater NYC area for a year and never visited the Statue of Liberty until years later… funny how we overlook the places closest to us even when they’re world famous!
What a great post! Gorgeous photos! May I share on my author Facebook page? My next book is all about Versailles; readers will love this! http://facebook.com/hollytucker
Absolutely! You may share! I appreciate that you enjoyed the post! Thank you so much! I’ll definitely check out your books!
Beautiful shots and great information. It’s great to see such passionate interest in French culture. I am a French teacher who has taught various eras of French history for many years. I would love to guest write an article for your blog about the Versailles and Louis XIV if you are interested. There would be no charge, but I would just insert a small blurb at the end about my book on Versailles that will be published this fall. Let me know if you’re interested: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
I’m not sure what you’re asking me? You would like to put an article of yours about Versailles on my blog? Is your book nonfiction?
Looks fantastic, well posted. Hoping to be there on my motorcycle rambles in mid May. I expect it will be late evening when I get there so hopefully not too hot!
Thank you! Could be perfect weather that time of year!
Hope so but not too hot. Explored the Chateau de Chambord two years ago and I’m told Versailles is even more amazing. Looking forward to it 😊
Rosie Hill (@EcoGitesLenault)
This is on my bucket list to visit and now I want to go even more – your photos are wonderful. #AllAboutFrance
Thank you! I’m happy you enjoyed the photos! It was definitely worth it!!
Versailles is certainly a magnificent palace. We should have visited again last year, but were caught out by the train strikes – and we’d already bought our tickets to Versailles online. Grrr. However, your photos helped make up for it. #AllAboutFrance
That’s too bad about the strike, hopefully you were able to make some lemonade out of those lemons? I had been as a child but didn’t really remember it, so a return visit was definitely worth it, however it was blazing hot and humid, so lots of ice cream was in order!
What an amazing place! Thanks for the tour and the lovely photos. I especially like the sign for the toilets. 🙂
Ha ha! It was amazing, and I do love a place with a sense of humour!
I loved Versailles – but it’s been a long time since we visited. Your post has inspired me to think about planning a return visit. Thank you. #AllAboutFrance
Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Phoebe Thomas (@FibiTee)
I haven’t been to Versailles for sooooo long, and each time we go to Paris we intend to go and then get put off by the queues. But your photos, despite the clouds, are stunning and make me a little more determined to conquer the queues next time in the area. Thank you for linking up to #AllAboutFrance
I know what you mean the queues are crazy, but I was glad to have gone. If I go again I’m definitely getting up early!