Day Trip: Versailles

Highlights: Historical site; magnificent palace; grand gardens.
Duration: Four to eight hours
Exertion level: Low to moderate
Accessible by: Commuter train

Versailles Gardens

The gardens of Versailles offer plenty to explore beyond the palace. Photo: netcfrance.

We originally had misgivings about putting Versailles on our day trip list, but the fact is Versailles is one of your Paris "Must Visits." With this in mind, we thought we'd cook up some Versailles tips.

History

In 1660, Louis XIV ordered that a rather modest hunting lodge at Versailles be expanded into a massive royal palatial estate. Once the complex was completed in 1682, Louis XIV finally moved in. Many parts of Versailles were subsequently added—for example, a remarkable Opera House was opened in 1770.

Versailles is arguably the world's most magnificent palace. For centuries, the baroque complex was the model for royal palaces throughout Europe. Versailles remained the seat of power in France until 1789.

To see

Don't lose sight of the fact that Versailles is massive. There's a ton to see and do, and there are many ways to approach the site, which includes th palace and sprawling gardens. We recommend purchasing a day pass, which costs €18 in the off-season and €25 on weekends and holidays.

A day pass offers access to Versailles' gardens, the Marie-Antoinette Estate, the park, temporary exhibitions, the Coach Museums and Grand Eaux Musicales fountain show on weekends and holidays. Additionally, the day-pass provides access to audio-guided tours of the Chapel, Opera House, King's State Apartments, Queen's State Apartments, Dauphin's Apartments and Mesdames' Apartments (on weekends only).

Getting there

The fastest and most direct route to Versailles is on the C5 RER suburban train. From the Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel station, it's about a 25-minute journey to the Versailles-Rive Gauche RER station. A roundtrip tickets costs €6.50. From the Versailles-Rive Gauche RER station, it's an easy walk to the Versailles complex.

More information on Versailles 

To read more about planning your palace adventure, check out our article on "Making the Most of Your Trip to Versailles." Paris correspondent Bryan Pirolli recommends purchasing the day pass, arriving early, visiting less-famous parts of the gardens, and enjoying a picnic by the canal.

For tips on visiting Marie Antoinette's "Petit Trianon," complete with small hamlet and working farm, read our article on Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon

Finally, for more information from the palace itself, visit the Versailles Web site.

More day trips

Looking for more getaway suggestions? Check out our article on day trips from Paris.

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