Nine reasons why you must-do Chateau de Versailles.
If the Chateau de Versailles isn’t on your must-do list of Paris, then you need to take a good, hard look at yourself in the hall of mirrors and royally re-assess.
I have been to the castle once before and on first sight the brilliant gold majesty and vast opulence was a breath-taking vision of the once home, hunting lodge, museum or palace of Kings Louis XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, as well as where the World War I peace treaty was signed.
My second first sight left me just as awestruck.
And on this day trip from Paris I gave myself more time for incredulousness.
The Palaces of Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s estates are intricately beautiful complemented by fascinating stories and best of all you can explore without the masses.
So if you are planning a visit, there is plenty of advice on the official website about how to get there and opening times and if you check Instagram with the hashtag #versailles the pictures collectively give you a curated snapshot of what to expect.
Add to that, even my anti-castle going hubby rated the visit an 8/10.
So here are a few extra handy hints and tips to get the most out of your must-do.
- Go early or plan to go at the end of the day. The castle opens at 9am (except Monday when its closed) and while there will still be busloads arriving at the same time, going early means you beat the bulk spewing out tour groups about to view the palace in huge clumps.
- Buy a passport ticket to see the whole estate and plan for at least half a day. As mentioned it’s not just the mega castle worth seeing. The gardens are divine and you mustn’t miss Marie Antoinette’s home and the Trianon Estates, (which are at least a couple of kilometres walk away). You can catch a tram from the front garden from about 4,00E or hire a bike (approx 10,00E) from further down near the canals.
- Wear closed-in comfortable shoes. Not only is there a lot of walking, it’s on pebbled and uneven paths.
- Take a hat. There is very little shade in the gardens despite its size.
- Toilet stops. Don’t go in the Chateau precinct. Once you wander around the gardens the hordes spread and there are little to no lines at the toilet facilities scattered throughout the gardens.
- If you do have plenty of time, take a picnic lunch and enjoy a break on the dedicated grassed areas of the gardens under a shady tree. Or there are restaurants and snack bars also potted around the gardens; handy but pricey.
- Have a look online to see if there are any events you may want to experience such as concerts on the lawns and under the stars or concerts or musicals. If so you could plan to go late to tour the castle and stay for the entertainment.
- Even if you are not big on history or culture listen to the audio handsets you get with your passeport ticket. There are some great stories and you can always opt out if you’re not interested.
- Go with the flow. There are an awful lot of people wandering the palace, all trying to take pictures, move through narrow doorways and get to the front but once you hit the gardens you can go at your own pace.
Once you are at the Chateau having that good, hard look at yourself will be easy.
The majestic Hall of Mirrors is probably one of the most remarkable and memorial experiences a tourist can have.
Upon reflection you’ll be so glad you ticked off Versailles.