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Located southwest of the center of Paris, getting from Paris to Versailles for a day trip is pretty easy! The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. Prior to my visit to Versailles, I had a lot of expectations about it. I am a history nerd after all! So it had been on my bucket list for a WHILE.
Getting from Paris to Versailles
Versailles was my first stop, after landing in Paris the night before via the Chunnel. Highly recommend the Chunnel by the way, it takes no time at all! The best way to get to Versailles from Paris is by train. There are three train stations in Versailles, the closest one to the Palace is Versailles Château Rive Gauche. From there it is just a 10-minute walk to the Palace. You can also take a shuttle or the bus.
Planning a Paris to Versailles Day Trip
There were so so so many people at Versailles that day! We waited in line for over an hour. It felt like waiting in line at Disney World. On top of that, it was scorching outside so that didn’t help. Bring snacks and water if you go in the summer! The Versailles visiting hours are every day starting at 9:00 am, except for Mondays. The Estate of Trianon and the Coach Gallery are only open in the afternoon. The Versailles Gardens and Park are open every day and free except on days of the fountains shows.
Versailles Entrance Fee
I had the Paris Museum Pass, which I would recommend, that included Versailles. However, it does not include the musical water show or musical gardens. You can instead purchase a Versailles entrance ‘passport’ fee online or at the Palace. There is a variety of passports depending on what you want to see. There is one where you can go in with timed entry to avoid the crazy lines. If you’re going in peak season, I’d recommend this. To save even more time you can buy online and download their free mobile app to be used instead of the audioguide. If you’re under 18 (or under 26 residing in the EU) you can get into the Palace and the Estate of Trianon for free.
A Lack of Personality
I do have to say that it is gorgeous at Versailles, but I don’t feel that they put enough personality into it. While walking through with the audio guide, it felt as if no one had ever lived there. The bedrooms were well done, but I thought that they should have made it more personal for the visitor. The Diamond necklace affair, where Marie Antoinette was nearly killed, was just glazed over. Granted, a lot of the original items of the Palace were destroyed during the revolution, but that’s why you have replicas or at least items from the same time period.
A palace that one hundred percent pulls out all the stops is Hampton Court Palace. I feel like if Versailles had done a fraction of what Hampton Court does I would have enjoyed it more. If you want to visit a palace in France, I’d recommend going to the Palace of Fontainebleau instead. Though I have not gone myself, many people had recommended it before my trip and after my sentiments.
The Marie Antoinette Estate
The one place I found quaintly beautiful was the Queen’s Hamlet. As part of the Marie Antoinette Estate, it had its beginnings as a gift from Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette in 1774. She had trouble adapting to court life so this rustic retreat in the park of the Château de Versailles was built for her in 1783 near the Petit Trianon. It served as a private meeting place for the Queen and her closest friends. The area includes the Petit Parc, the Estate of Trianon, home to the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon palaces, as well as the Queen’s Hamlet and gardens.
The Queen’s Hamlet was inspired by the traditional rustic architecture of Normandy. Including a model village, windmill, dairy, dining room, salon, billiard room, and boudoir. Contrary to the public beliefs of Marie Antoinette, she did not “play at being farmers.” Since it was a fully functioning farm, which she insisted upon, it shows that it had an important part in the education of her children. Marie Antoinette also used the hamlet for promenades and hosting guests.
I would say that if you are a big fan of French royalty, such as the Marie Antoinette Estate, or architecture, a day trip from Paris to Versailles is worth it. Getting from Paris to Versailles isn’t very hard and the Versailles entrance fee it’s too bad so it’s a great destination if you’re looking for something nearby Paris on a budget.