A few tips about beating the crowds. You will be utterly disappointed if you arrive late . . . you could find yourself waiting in line for hours. I like to arrive early and normally take the day to visit the Palace and immediate surrounding gardens and fountains. The estate is vast and I’d recommend seeing the rest (Grand Trianon and gardens of the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, Queen’s hamlet, French and Anglo-Chinese gardens, French pavilion, temple of Love…) on a separate visit. More on that in an upcoming blog.
A little history: The site began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. In the 1670s Louis XIV built the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen, whose most emblematic achievement is the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart, where the king put on his most ostentatious display of royal power in order to impress visitors.
Tickets cost 15 euros and are best bought online before getting there. Ticket in hand, head directly for entrance “A”. An audio-guide in 11 languages is included in the price of the ticket.
The Grand Apartments of the Palace are most crowded from 10am to 3pm. The halls can be jammed, stuffy and visitation is at a snail’s pace. It can be a real turnoff. The first Sunday of months from November to March, admission is free. It’s also free to those under 26 who are residents of the European Union, school children, and teachers assigned to a French establishment.
Versailles is closed on Mondays, January 1, May 1 and December 25. Hours are 9- 6:30. To get there:
To get to the palace of Versailles, make sure to buy a “Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche” ticket (zones 1-4) (T+ ticket is not valid for this journey).
Arrive at Versailles Chantiers station from Paris Montparnasse
Arrive at Versailles Rive Droite station from Paris Saint Lazare
Train schedule on www.transilien.com
If you are a museum junkie and have all the time in the world get a Paris Museum Pass.
More information at the Versailles homepage. Definitely worth a visit.