Blog, France, Travel, Uncategorized

Feeling like Royalty at the Palace of Versailles

When you visit Paris, you must visit Versailles. Though it is 16 miles away, it is so easy to visit Versailles, thus there should be no excuses why one could not make a trip out there. Just be prepared to spend at least five hours at the palace because there is so much to see.

How to Get To Versailles From Paris

The easiest and cheapest way to get to Versailles from Paris is via RER train. To access the RER train you must find the nearest metro station and buy a round trip ticket to Versailles Rive Gauche for 7€ total (told you it was cheap). The machine will give you two tickets, one to take you to Versailles and one to take you back to Paris so do not confuse them and do not lose them! Once inside the metro station find a map to find your fastest route to RER C (yellow line) which will take you to your destination: Versailles-Rive Gauche. When you get off your metro train follow signs that say RER C – most times you will find a small sign next to Versailles Rive-Gauche that will say Chateau de Versailles. These are the signs you need to follow. Eventually, you will find yourself at the RER C station and will need to look at the monitors for your destination: Versailles Rive-Guache.

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If you are lucky, musicians or other entertainers will train hop onto your train playing music as you make your way to Versailles. Since Versailles is such a popular destination the entertainers try to maximize on their opportunity to make money from tourists. Yes, it is a touristy attraction, but we enjoyed it. It was fun and ignited our excitement more.

Once you arrive, exit the metro station and follow the crowd to the most glorious palace you will ever see!

Palace of Versailles

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Like usual, we bought our tickets ahead of time and got to skip the longest line I have ever seen! We beat the heat and we beat the crowd. We were able to be inside the golden gate before all the people who were in line. Thus, the palace was basically empty when we walked through it.

The Palace of Versailles is broken down into three sections on two floors, the ground and first floor with five areas to walkthrough. On the ground floor are: the Gallery of the History of the Palace and Mesdames’ Apartments. The first floor was a little empty whereas the second floor was flooded with people. The second floor has: the Gallery of Battles, Louis XIV Rooms, and State Apartments, also known as the Hall of Mirrors, which was by far our favorite area to visit and was quite the spectacle with all the mirrors and mirror illusions.

We made our way through the rooms in a reasonable amount of time, excited to see the Hall of Mirrors and walk through the gardens. We knew when we made it to the Hall of Mirrors because all of a sudden there was a herd of people. Once we squeezed our way into  the hall and saw the mirrors we understood what all the fuss was about. The Hall of Mirrors is absolutely beautiful! The mirrors would reflect a few small candles that would then illuminate the entire palace due to placement of mirrors – now that is saving on electricity. It was definitely the most mesmerizing hallway we have ever seen.

When you imagine what a palace would look like you think: chandeliers, china, luxurious canopy beds, and gold. The rooms in the Palace of Versailles had all of it and more. One would also think that when you are royalty you would always have pipping hot meals, all day, every day, right? Well, the distance between the kitchen and the dining room was so vast that the dishes were often served cold – cold steak anyone?

Overall, the palace was absolutely breathtaking. We cannot even imagine a life of royalty like this. It is seriously almost too much to absorb, how can one vacant palace be worth at least $2 billion???

Garden

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The Gardens of Versailles remain one of our favorite places we visited during our Europe trip. They were truly magical and even though we are nowhere near worth $2 billion, we still felt elegant and lavish walking through the gardens. The garden is MASSIVE, a total of 850 hectares including 55 pools and fountains! We suggest that you spend at least three hours in the gardens and an additional hour more to enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds with a foundation view or the grand canal. The gardens open at 9am while the musical fountain show begins at 10am, and both close 6:30pm so be sure to plan accordingly.

Sometime during the 17th century, there was a water shortage in France. The water shortage was significant enough that when the king would come to visit, the workers in the gardens would only turn the fountains on when the king would walk by them and then conveniently turn them off when he would turn the corner. I guess even royalty has to do its part to conserve water when needed. Today, the gardens are still water conscious as the musical water fountain shows are on a scheduled time. The gardens are operated with a closed circuit water consumption of 4500 m³ per hour. With that being said the gardens have a 35km piping system that has been unchanged since the 17th century – incredible!

Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette Estate

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The Trianon Palaces consist of the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon. The Trianon Palaces are refined with pink marble and a French formal garden. A  Cobblestone road leads to the Trianon Palaces – we imagined horse carriages riding along these very paths just like the movies. There is something warm and comforting when we think about what a life that was and we would surely do it today if we had the chance. We both enjoy the 17th century era and we felt a little closer to history during this visit.

After we toured the Trianon Palaces we tried to make our way to Marie-Antoinette’s Estate – tried is the key word….we got lost!!! We are talking severely lost, we spent at least an hour trying to find our way to the estate all because we tried taking an off beaten path. Oh well, we will just have to visit again because we hear nothing but amazing things about Marie-Antoinette’s Estate.

Tips

We did our research, but as hard as you plan nothing ever goes accordingly. So here are a few tips we wish we knew before we visited. We hope these help you.

Getting around
  • You can find yourself here for five hours. If you enjoy walking and getting lost then go for it, walk throughout the palace and gardens. We walked at least 13 miles during our visit.
  • If five hours of walking sounds too exhausting to you, look into bike tours of Versailles – our friends did this option and really enjoyed it.
  • There are also train shuttles that operate from the Palace to Trianon for a full fare price of almost 7€.
Tickets
  • Buy tickets beforehand to skip the long lines.
  • We recommend purchasing the “Passport” ticket for 20€. It gives you admission to the all the palaces: the grounds, trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Admission to the musical water fountain is 7€ more. Read the tickets information carefully online as there are exceptions.
  • If you wish to take your time you may purchase a “2 Day Passport” for 25€.
  • ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU BUY A TICKET YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN NEED. When we exited the palace an employee who took tickets told us we needed to buy a ticket to enter the gardens. We almost bought another ticket that we did not need. Turns out we just needed to ask someone else about getting in with the ticket we already had. Had we listened to the other guy and bought another ticket we would not have had been happy campers and we definitely would’t want that to happen to you!
  • Keep your tickets somewhere close to you with easy access because you must show your tickets at several counters along the way. Basically when you enter any palace, garden, etc.
When to visit
  • Versailles is always busy, especially in the summer, but the best time slots to visit would be early in the morning and after 4pm.
  • From 10am to 4pm is the busiest time of the day because that is when the musical fountain shows are displayed throughout the gardens and they are a popular site to see.
  • Open everyday except Mondays.
Take a map
  • Read the water fountain schedule to be able to catch them all (like pokemon). We missed a few shows because we did not read the map of the gardens well enough. We had no idea it showed which fountain would be on at specific times.The map also had a guided walk that is planned to take you to each fountain when the show will begin.
Our Tidbits
  • Speaking of water bring lots of it! Especially during the summer.
  • When you think you are lost, turn around and find your way back before it’s too late!
  • How not to get lost, stay on the paths provided….
  • Have fun – play hide and seek in the gardens with the tall hedges.

 

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Palace of Versailles
Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Closed on Mondays
Tu-Su: 9am – 6:30pm
http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage