Visiting Versailles (A First-Timer’s Guide)

Versailles is a gorgeous and well-known palace with large gardens. It’s certainly worth a day trip when visiting Paris. We had a great experience visiting Versailles this summer, so here are some tips we learned that can make your first trip to Versailles even better!

The entry line for those without tickets stretched from where I was standing in the timed-entry ticket line, across and then around the courtyard.

1.Buy tickets ahead of time.

This tip is number one for a reason. If you want to ignore any of these tips, this isn’t the one to ignore. When we arrived at the palace, there were two lines to get in. One was short and moved quickly. One was incredibly long and wasn’t moving at all. Which line was moving? The line for people who already had tickets. We got there at opening time, and they were only letting in people who had purchased tickets in advance. They did eventually start taking people from the other line, but they had to wait for quite a while in an area without shade or protection from that day’s weather. It looked miserable! 

Book your tickets on the palace’s official website here: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/passport-timed-entry#priority-access 

Inside the Petit Trianon – built for Marie Antoinette

2. Get there when it opens.

We arrived at Versailles soon after it opened, and it was great! We only saw three tour busses and there were very few people inside for the first hour or two that we were there, then things really started to fill up. We had read this tip online before we went, so we prioritized getting up early and getting to Versailles around opening time. It was definitely worth it! When we left, there was an entire parking lot full of tour busses. If you want to be able to enjoy some of the palace with fewer crowds, get there at opening time.

Hall of Mirrors: The thing that stood out to me the most was how it displayed France’s economic success, demonstrated through the ability to build a room with all of these mirrors.

3. Figure out how to get there ahead of time.

I underestimated the location of Versailles. It’s a little further outside of the city than I expected, and if you want to get there close to opening time (and you do), then you’ll need to plan a route to get there. We took the RER C, which is a commuter train. I suggest using Google Maps to figure out the best route based on where you start out. If you’re looking it up the night before, make sure you change your departure time so that the routes will be correct for that time of day.

Download this app!

4. Download the Versailles app.

The app includes maps of the palace and grounds plus audio guides for your visit. Download it ahead of time so you’re ready to go when you get there. Since we arrived early, we had time to casually walk through the rooms, taking our time and listening to the audio guides, before many people got there. The app also helped us figure out that we had accidentally skipped part of the palace. It’s huge and a little bit confusing! 

The Versailles crew near the front of the gardens – The gardens stretch all the way to the back of the picture.

5. Rent a golf cart.

We went through the palace first, then headed to the gardens. From the palace, only part of the gardens are visible because they’re so large. We rented a golf cart and I’d definitely do it again! It was a great way to be able to see everything. They cost €34 an hour, which is roughly $38 USD as I’m writing this. We ended up paying an extra €8.50 ($9.50) for an additional 15 minutes, which we all saw as well-worth it since we didn’t have to rush that way. The Petit Trianon and Gran Trianon, two private estates, are near the back of the gardens, so using a golf cart was a great way to get to those. Walking is always an option, too!

You have to eat macarons in Paris, right?

6. Try Ladurée’s macarons. 

Seriously, have some. Ladurée is known as one of the best bakeries in Paris, and their macarons are delicious! There are other bakeries outside of Versailles, and outside of France for that matter, but the macarons were the perfect treat while we took a quick break.

Have you visited Versailles? If so, do you have any tips to add? 

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4 thoughts on “Visiting Versailles (A First-Timer’s Guide)

  1. Great tips Bethany! Versailles is so touristic that there re really A LOT of people visiting it, especially in the late morning or afternoon, so going there early is really recommended! Last time I went there it was for a show called “Les grandes eaux nocturnes” during which every fountain in the park was lit up and there was music everywhere. The evening ended with amazing fireworks. It was an incredible experience!

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      1. That’s so sweet of you! Your tips are actually great! I’d say that maybe budget travelers should pack their own lunch depending on the time they want to spend there (but given the size of the palace and gardens it’s usually a whole day)! 😊

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