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Are you planning on taking a day trip from Paris to Versailles? For fans of history as well as Marie Antoinette (the movie), Versailles is something that must be included on your Paris bucket list. Read tips for the best month to visit Versailles, how to avoid the crowds at Versailles, and how to get to Versailles from Paris.
The crowds at Versailles can be quite aggravating, so this guide to Versailles will focus on practical Versailles travel tips as your information packet at Versailles will inform you about the history of the grounds. I’ve included information about how to skip the lines at Versailles.
The best month to visit Versailles
It’s best month to visit Versailles in the off season and to avoid the busy summer months, in particular July. Spring and fall certainly hold interest, however I felt that the beginning of November was a perfect time as you can enjoy the turning leaves in the gardens if you’re lucky enough. I absolutely loved visiting Versailles in early November where we could see the leaves turning. (Spot the cute fat cats on the grounds!)
Similarly, visiting Versailles during winter months and early spring (1 November to 31 March) means that you’ll get access to parts of Versailles that ordinally aren’t free, including the Musical Fountains Shows, Musical Gardens, and the Gallery of Coaches.
How to skip the lines at Versailles
You can buy your Versailles tickets online directly without any extra fees. Although you will need to come a bit early as security can take a bit, you can skip the line for tickets if you buy ahead! Similarly, if you buy the Paris Pass, you’ll get access to the palace as well as the estate of Marie-Antoinette (although not some other features). The Paris Paris allows you to skip the lines at Versailles, however you cannot skip the security line. I cover some tips for getting through security at Versailles quicker at the end. If you want to ensure that you can skip the line and get a tour, it’s possible to book in advance with external partners.
Although you can buy tickets outside of Versailles, you’ll generally pay more for the same ticket. I’ve heard people extolling the benefits of a private tour, however if you buy your ticket in advance, you also get to skip the ticket line.
What tickets to get for Versailles
Many people skip the estate of Marie Antoinette, however that was one of the highlights of my visit. If you don’t have much time for Versailles, plan to get the Passport with timed entry, which guarantees your entry within a half hour of the entry time. It includes most of the major attractions, including the estate of Marie Antoinette, besides the days that the gardens will be closed for the Musical Gardens event. I missed this event, but I heard that it’s worthwhile. The normal passport is seven euros cheaper and includes access to the Musical Gardens event, however without the guarantee.
Some people only get access to the Palace [18 euros], however for only two euros more, you can get access to the Estate of Trianon. I’d recommend the combined tickets if you are planning to take a day trip to Versailles from Paris.
Note: on Tuesdays, the gardens will be closed to the public without a ticket to the Musical Gardens between specific days during March-May and July-October. Similarly, this event takes place on Fridays between April and October.
If you live close to Versailles, “A year in Versailles” card may be a worthwhile investment as it allows you to skip the line! Similarly, if you’re already visiting other museums in Paris, consider getting the Paris Pass, which includes both Versailles and Louvre.
Free tickets for Versailles
Head to Chateau A if you think you qualify for free tickets to Versailles. Click for the full conditions of who gets into Versailles for free. Note: Anyone can get into Versailles for free on the first Sunday of the month between November and March.
You can get free tickets to Versailles if:
- EU residents under the age of 26.
- You’re bringing children under-18s
- Disabled people and their accompanying person
- Check the full list for more conditions!
Travel tips for Versailles
How to visit Versailles on a budget
If you happen to get free tickets to Versailles, you’re most of the way there. However, Versailles isn’t particularly cheap. The key is bringing your own food and drinks. That said, you cannot bring them into the palace itself. We managed to get an affordable lunch at the M&S in La Defense (where we transferred). Depending on where you’re coming from in Paris, I recommend buying a sandwich and a drink for later!
What to know about bringing food into Versailles & the Versailles bag policy
I recommend minimizing your bags as you cannot bring large bags and backpacks into Versailles palace. I managed to be allowed my larger purse, but I recommend minimizing your bags. Suitcases larger than carry-on size are not allowed at all. I recommend separating your food and drinks into one bag (that you bring from home) as this bag cannot be brought into the palace. You’ll find options for food at Versailles, however prices are closer to what you’d pay in Paris. There are inexpensive options outside of Versailles.
Bring some extra cash
You might be tired after walking around Versailles. When reading about how Marie Antoinette and other royalty would retreat within Versailles, I wondered how easily it was to get away from the palace. The grounds are sizable enough that her estate truly feels separate from the rest of Versailles. There’s a tram that runs around the grounds of Versailles, so it’s good to carry some cash (€4 for a single ride) if you get tired on the way back. Trust me, we were exhausted after our long walk around the grounds of Versailles. (The tram runs until a bit after 5pm).
The best time to visit Versailles
I recommend arriving close to opening hours at Versailles (9 am) to ensure that you can see Versailles with minimal crowds. Head straight for the palace and the Hall of Mirrors, which are best seen without the large tour groups that arrive later in the morning and in the late afternoon. As soon as you’re done, you’ll have enough time to walk towards the Estate of Marie Antoinette, which opens at noon. It’s lovely being able to explore it without anyone else around.
The park of Versailles actually opens up earlier (7-8am) if you’re interested in enjoying the grounds of Versailles without people. We ended up leaving in the early afternoon, which was when many of the tour groups had begun to arrive.
Avoid going to Versailles on a Tuesday as the rest of the museums in Paris are closed on Tuesdays, so expect massive crowds on these days! Similarly, the Musical Gardens events are held on Tuesdays during peak season, which means that you’ll need a more expensive ticket to access the gardens.
How to get to Versailles from Paris
It depends where in Paris that you’re staying in. You can take the RER C direct from Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame to Gare de Versailles Chantiers. Check for strikes as they’ll impact your journey from Paris to Versailles. Alternatively, you can take the N from Gare de Montparnasse towards Gare de Rambouillet until you get to Gare de Versailles Chantiers. From the station, it’s a twenty minute walk. Alternatively, you can take a tour if you want to take the guesswork out of it!