Versailles

Central Court of the Palace of Versailles

Versailles is a city on western edge of the French capital city Paris, now part of the sprawling metropolis within the Ile de France region. Versailles is best known for being the site of the vast royal palace and gardens built by King Louis XIV within what was previously a royal hunting lodge. It is also one of the wealthiest cities near Paris.

Understand

The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, also known as The Château de Versailles, has been the scene for several historic events, not the least of which was the signing, on 28 June 1919 within the Hall of Mirrors, of the Peace Treaty between defeated Germany and the Allies that brought the First World War officially to an end. The signing of the treaty at Versailles, of course, mirrored the proclamation, in 1871 within the same long hall, of the establishment of the German Empire under the Prussian king, subsequently the Kaiser. Originally, the palace started out as simply a hunting lodge built by Louis XIII. However, after that Louis XIV decided he wanted to build the palace that we know today at that exact location. In 1789 the palace lost its seat in power, but today hosts the Museum of France's history.

The palace area consists of the main palace, a large garden, an extensive park, as well as a number of annex buildings which all are of historic and cultural interest. Seeing all of this in the pace it deserves, as well as the transport between different sites, take time. If you have only one day to spend at Versailles, make a plan and prioritize what you want to see, and take into account that there are large distances between some of the interesting locations and possibly also lines to wait in at the entrance. Versailles palace is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Get in

The easiest way to get to Versailles palace and avoid queues is to buy the ticket directly from the Château de Versailles website: it costs a bit more than the usual entrance ticket but includes return railway and metro tickets, an audioguided tour of the Chapel and Opera House, the King's and Queen's State Apartments, the Dauphin's and the Mesdames' Apartments, the Coach Museum, Trianons and all the temporary exhibitions.

However, you can get to the Palace easily by train and buy tickets for each attraction once there. This may be the best approach if you want to see something in particular or just want to explore the enormous gardens.

By train

There are three different train stations in Versailles: Versailles Château Rive Gauche, Versailles Rive Droite and Versailles Chantiers. The Versailles Château Rive Gauche station is the one closest to the Palace (5 minute walk), though the other two stations are not all that much further away (about 15 minute walk).

Versailles is in public transport zone 4, so all passes that include zone 4 are valid, but passes for zones 1–2 or zones 1–­3 (such as Paris Visite zones 1–3) are not valid. A ticket t+ is not valid for the train, you need to purchase a specific ticket. However, you can use the train ticket from Paris for a metro or bus ride in Paris to reach the train, and similarly in the other direction.

By bus

Route 171 travels between Pont de Sèvres (at the end of Métro line 9) to Versailles. The bus journey from the station to the château takes approximately 30 min. This is slightly cheaper than the train, but slower. You can use a ticket t+ (ordinary métro/bus ticket) on the bus, but you need to use a separate ticket for the bus and for the métro.

By bike

It's a nice bike ride from Paris via Bois de Bologne and Parc St Cloud. It's a bit tiring to combine with a Palace visit though (45km with a few hills).

Get around

The main city is easily traversable on foot, however a good network of buses run throughout. Tickets t+ (the same tickets as for Paris buses and métro) are valid on Versailles city buses.

Once inside the palace it's possible to hire both bikes and battery-powered golf carts (see section below).

See


Château de Versailles

In the town about a kilometer from the château.

One-Day Pass (all inclusive) Apr-Oct: 20 weekdays, 25 weekends; Nov-Mar 16; under-18s free. Château-only tickets also available : €13.50, museum pass holders and under-18s free. Marie-Antoinette's Estate and Grand Trianon-only tickets : Apr-Oct €9, Nov-Mar €5 ; under-18s free. The Grandes Eaux Musicales, week-ends and bank holidays only, Apr-Oct €8, under-18s €6, under-10s free.

Check temporary closures as some rooms may occasionally be closed, either for renovation or to accommodate state functions (the palace is sometimes used to host visits of foreign dignitaries or joint meetings of the National Assembly and the Senate).

Fares from 01.01.2010: One Day Pass (all inclusive) €18 except on Grandes Eaux Musicales days : €25. Château-only tickets also available : €15, reduced fare €13, museum pass holders and under-18s and under-26s (EU only) free. Marie-Antoinette's Estate and Grand Trianon-only tickets : €10, reduced fare €6, under-18s and under-26s (EU only) free. The Grandes Eaux Musicales, week ends, bank holidays and some Tuesdays, Apr-Oct €8, under-18s €6, under-10s free.

Another famous "must see" location on the western outskirts of Paris. Not only does it have enormous historical significance but also it is a very beautiful building. Do other tourists a favour: do not use your mobile phones inside as it ruins the atmosphere. The rear of the palace also is partially covered by scaffoldings.

If you plan to visit the palace it cannot be stressed enough that getting there earlier is recommended, because the lines stay very long all day until early evening. So if the lines are already too long once you get there, you can speculate on a shorter queue around 4:00 - 4:30 pm and visit the park first where you can easily spend a few hours. During the tourist season, the lines are meandering over the entire square in front of the entrance already around 10 a.m., and it takes at least 1 h to get in. On a warm and sunny day, it is recommended that you bring water, sun shade and patience. If you also need to buy the ticket at the palace office, add another 30 min to get in.

Even if you have a Paris Museum Pass or something similar, you will still be directed to stand in the long line while construction is underway. If you are under 26 (EU only) or with a EU student visa over 6 months, congratulations as you can skip the long queue and proceed directly to the 'A' entrance with your student card and your passport!

If you are travelling with children then beware that you are not allowed to bring the baby trolley inside the palace. However, there are plenty of chairs around the palace that can be used to have a rest.

Others

Do

Palace from the back
Some of the gardens

Eat

Versailles itself (the town) has any number of good places to eat whilst visiting. Once you have made it into the palace grounds, however, it should be noted that it is far more convenient to eat within — the alternative is to hike back into the town, before returning to the Palace (time better spent viewing the rooms and grounds). The grounds are also perfect for picnicking in warm and/or dry weather.

A number of other options exist:

There are also a number of restaurants located outside of the palace that are also enjoyable such as:

Drink

Versailles might not be the best town to party. However it is fairly easy to mix with the locals.

There is a little concentration of bars (and restaurants) on the Place du Marché, at the junction of the Rue de la Paroisse, and Rue du Maréchal Foch. This is where most young people go out at night. Tables outside the terraces are plentiful in the nice months. Exploring the walking alleys from the Place du Marché can also reveal less know restaurants.

Another popular bar with Versailles' youth is the O'Paris, on the Avenue de Saint-Cloud, very close to the Château's Place d'Armes (on the right-hand side when facing the Château). They often play sport events inside. Tables outside are also available when it is warm enough.

Sleep

Pullman's entrance is a sight by itself

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.