Get the most out of your day at the greatest of French palaces.
Step back into France’s royal past at Sun-King Louis XIV’s legendary palace and gardens, just 12 miles southwest of Paris. The Versailles Château is one of Paris’ most popular day-trips, and with good reason. Equally rich in history and gold, Versailles today remains a testament to the power, wealth, and lavish lifestyle of the French aristocracy, and shouldn’t be missed.
1. Getting There
— Train: 30 – 40 minutes from central Paris, €3.55 per ticket (€7.10 euros round trip). Take the RER C train to the Versailles Château Rive Gauche station. The palace gates are a 12 minute walk from the train station.
2. Visiting the Palace
The palace is open 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, from November 1 to March 31, and 9:00 am – 6:30 pm from April 1 to October 31. It is closed Mondays and major holidays. Be aware that Versailles can be very crowded in the summer months. We recommend arriving early — at or before 9:00 am in the high season — and avoiding weekends and Tuesdays, if possible.
Purchase tickets (€15 – €25) in advance online or pick them up at the Versailles Office of Tourism near the train station. Tickets won’t let you skip the line, but they will save you from waiting in two lines after you reach the main palace gates. Otherwise buy tickets on site in the left wing as you enter. Once inside, make your way to the King’s apartments and the Hall of Mirrors (pictured above). Audio guides are included with the ticket price.
Book an English-language guided tour through the official Versailles website here.
3. The Gardens, the Trianons, and Marie Antoinette’s Estate
The gardens are as massive as they are impeccably manicured. Decorated with endless fountains and marble statues, the estate remains among the largest royal domains in the world at 800 hectares. The gardens are home to the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon (pictured above), a pair of royal villas open to visitors.
On the grounds of the Petit Trianon lies Marie Antoinette’s rustic hamlet, which the young queen had built so that she could, for a time at least, trade courtly life for country life. The queen’s village features charming cottages, vegetable gardens, and farm animals. The Trianons and Marie Antoinette’s Estate have separate entrance fees from the main palace.
Travelling with children? To see the most of the gardens hop on the Petits Trains mini-train (€7.50 euros/person) or rent a golf cart, called an electric car (€32 euros for the first hour, driver’s license required). Bicycles can also be rented on site (€7.50/hour). Read more for Versailles-with-kid tips here.
4. Where to Eat
IN THE PALACE
Angelina’s Salon de Thé
Château de Versailles, 1st floor of the Pavillon d’Orléans, 78000 Versailles
+33 1 39 20 08 32
Domaine de Marie-Antoinette, Parc du Château de Versailles, Petit Trianon, Versailles
+33 1 39 20 91 67
This family friendly tea room is known for their sweet treats and ridiculously thick hot chocolate, but they also have a reliable food and wine menu. Open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, lunch offerings include the essential French croque-monsieur (grilled cheese sandwich), quiches, salads, pastas, and meat dishes. Look for signs to the tea room after visiting the King’s apartments or visit their garden location near the Petit Trianon entrance.
Ore (reservation recommended)
Château de Versailles Pavillon Dufour – 1st floor Place d’Armes 78 000 Versailles
+33 1 30 84 12 96
Described by the palace as an “elegant contemporary café,” Ore is the latest creation of world-famous chef Alain Ducasse. Ore, which means “mouth” in Latin, just opened in September 2016 and it’s already getting rave reviews. Make a reservation for an upscale breakfast, lunch, or just a well-earned tea break.
This sit-down creperie is great place to feed hungry kids (and adults). Choose a savory crepe or pizza for the main dish and a sweet crepe or ice cream for dessert. Blé Noir is located near both the train station (turn left when you leave the station), about 10 minutes from the palace. This street is a hot spot for many other food options, from French brasseries to pizzerias to kebab stands.
Tucked away in the corner of the main market square in Versailles, this classic French restaurant is popular with locals and visitors. They serve a variety of fish, poultry, and of course the namesake boeuf (beef), and the lengthy dessert menu is not to be overlooked either. Perfect for a hearty meal.
This friendly bistro is an ideal stop for couples and wine-lovers, with a list of over 150 wines. Beef and poultry feature on the menu, as do other other classic French dishes and desserts. Le Sept is a 25 minute walk from the main palace gates, where taxis also pass regularly.