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Tips for a Versailles day trip from Paris

Tips for a Versailles Day Trip from Paris

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How can a family fit in a Versailles day trip from Paris into their travel plans? Is it worth a visit? I spent a weekend in Versailles with my family and still didn’t see and do everything I wanted. That said, I understand that vacation time is a precious commodity, especially on a trip to Europe, and there might only be enough time in your Paris itinerary for a day trip to Versailles.

The town of Versailles and its palaces are just a 45-minute train ride away, so a day trip from Paris is totally doable. The Chateau de Versailles and its gardens are historic places that I believe are well worth the trip. If you decide to travel to Versailles from Paris, here are some important tips for getting there and avoiding the crowds:

How to get to Versailles from Paris by train

The easiest way to get to Versailles from Paris is via Métro or train. The RER (Reseau Express Regional) is the regional mass transit system that connects Paris and its surrounding suburbs. The RER and Métro (subway) systems share stations in the city of Paris on certain lines. Depending on where in Paris you’re staying, there are several RER/Métro line options:

  • If you are near a station that carries the RER C (yellow) line, this is the most convenient as it drops you off at the Versailles Rive Gauche (Left Bank) station, which is only a five-minute walk to the main palace! The RER C line can be found at several Paris Métro stations, including the Saint Michel (near Notre Dame Cathedral) and the Champ de Mars (near Eiffel Tower) stops.
  • You can also take a regular train (SNCF) to the Versailles Rive Droite (Right Bank) station from the Saint-Lazare and La Défense Métro stations. Upon arriving at this station, the walk is only 15 minutes to the main palace.

Need a visual? Here’s an interactive Métro map. Remember to buy a round-trip ticket (aller-retour), so you don’t have to stand in line at the Métro on your return trip after a long day of sightseeing.

How to Visit the Sights While (Mostly) Avoiding the Crowds

Purchase a Paris Museum Pass

If you are visiting Paris to see many of the monuments and museums there, I think a Paris Museum Pass is worth purchasing. The passes come in 2-day, 4-day and 6-day combinations and can be used at the Versailles palaces as well as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and many others. The best part is that the passes allow you to skip the ticket queues at many popular museums and monuments.

Please note: Before you buy a pass for your entire family, remember that children under the age of 18 do not need a museum pass to enter the museums with you; they are gratuits (free admission)!

If you choose not to buy a Museum Pass, consider buying your Chateau de Versailles tickets online before you go, to avoid waiting in one of the two long lines that seem to be a constant presence at the main palace entrance. The second line is for security, through which everyone must pass.

Self-Guided vs. Guided Tour? 

Professionally guided tours provide valuable insight into the history and grounds, and may help avoid the crowds. What’s more, if they are purchased in conjunction with train passes (available at Métro stations), guided tours might be a good deal that will maximize your visit.

That said, many guided tours last longer than a child’s attention span, and may move more slowly than your family might prefer. If you really want the guided tour experience, I’ve heard great things about Rick Steves’ Audio Europe Travel App.

Versailles day trip from Paris - Sculpture Garden

Enjoy one of the many centuries-old sculptures that adorn the gardens on a Versailles day trip from Paris.

When to Take a Versailles Day Trip from Paris

If at all possible, try to avoid visiting the Chateau on Saturdays. If your vacation plans require it, then consider starting your interior tours of the main palace later in the day when the crowds have thinned out a bit.

In addition, many of the French holidays and museum closings may not be “intuitive” to Americans, so be sure to verify the palace hours for the day you plan to visit. Please note that the Chateau de Versailles is always closed on Mondays.

Be Stealthy to Avoid the Crowds

Besides the main palace, there are two other entrances (at the Trianon palaces and the Queen’s hamlet), where you can also buy your tickets and perhaps avoid waiting in long lines, if you haven’t taken my advice about pre-purchasing them. If you really want to avoid the crowds, this graph will show you the best times to visit each palace.

Limit your Baggage and Shorten your Wait Time

Since everyone must pass through the security/bag check line, the less you’re carrying, the shorter amount of time you’ll take passing through security. As is the case in many museums, be aware that metal-frame strollers are not permitted in the palaces.

If you decide to take a Versailles day trip from Paris, there are two Hilton hotels within central Paris: Hilton Paris La Defense and Hilton Concorde Opéra Paris. Whether you end up choosing to visit for one or several days, Versailles is certainly a worthy stop.

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Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.


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