The Palace of Versailles, with its opulent flair and expansive gardens, is a popular day trip from Paris. Within easy reach of the French capital, this former royal residence and aristocratic playground is open to us mere civilians year-round, for a look inside the history and lifestyles of the rich, powerful and headless!
How to get from Paris to Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is about 20-kilometres (~12-miles) from the centre of Paris making it an accessible day trip on public transport.
Navigator’s note: We often shorten “Palace of Versailles” or “Château de Versailles” to just “Versailles” for efficiency. However, the Palace gives its name to the town of Versailles that has grown up around it, so a reference to just “Versailles” doesn’t necessarily mean the Château unless specified.
Taxi or rideshare
An Uber or taxi (Lyft does not currently operate in France) from Paris to Versailles, will set you back around €40-€50 if there are no extended traffic hold-ups.
If you have a car, there are paid parking lots inside and outside the Château’s grounds. See this page of the official website for options.
There are three trains that run through different parts of Paris to Versailles. A round-trip ticket to Versailles by any of these will cost €7.35 per person – easy. Not quite so simple, is that all three of the train lines fork at some point along their route. You need to pay attention to getting on the right one (indicated by the last station/terminus on that line).
RER C – If you’re staying near the Eiffel Tour, Notre Dame or in the Latin Quarter. Jump on the RER C train which stops at Versailles Château Rive Gauche train in the town of Versailles, about 10-minutes walk from the Palace. The train ride will take 60-90-minutes to arrive in the town of Versailles, depending on which station you board in Paris.
Take note: RER C forks twice along its route. Make sure you get on the train marked Versailles Château Rive Gauche. If you end up on the “other fork” jump off at Versailles Chantiers station and you’ll still be in the ballpark. It will just add an extra 10-minutes of walking to get to the Palace.
Line L – If you’re accommodation or starting point is closer to the Palais Garnier, Montmartre, or Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, then this will likely be the closer train for you. Line L will take just under an hour between Paris Saint Lazare train station and the station named Versailles Rive Droite, which is about 15-minutes walk from the Palace.
Take note: Line L forks twice along its route, so ensure you get on the train marked Versailles Rive-Droite.
TER N – Those starting out in the more southern neighbourhood of Montaparnasse, Paris, may find the TER N most convenient. However, it only departs from Montparnasse Gare (Station), unlike the others, where you have various station options. It is about 50-minutes ride from Montparnasse station to Versailles Château Rive Gauche.
Take note: As per the other train lines, Line L branches. Look for the train marked Versailles Rive Droite..
Navigating the Palace of Versailles
One of the most difficult things I found in planning a day trip to Versailles from Paris is the amount of assumed knowledge about the estate, its different parts and layout. So, before we go any further, we need a quick “walk through. I recommend having this map open while we work through it.
The main building, castle or château—whatever you prefer to call it. If you’re looking for that famous Hall of Mirrors, this is where you’ll find it.
The formal French landscaping immediately surrounding around the Palace, ordered and geometric. The Gardens are generally open earlier and later than the Palace. They include what is referred to as the Musical Gardens – which are certain water features and fountains set to music, which do not play continuously (days and times depend on the season).
The gardens cover a huge area. There are recommended walking trails that you can take to see the highlights but the distances are still large. You can rent an electric golf cart to speed things up and provide greater accessibility. Alternatively, there is a little tourist train that makes the rounds regularly.
The Park is the more open expanse beyond the Gardens including the Grand Canal. Like the Gardens, the Park has longer opening hours than the Palace and is open to the public free of charge.
The “country getaway” of the Palace elites is composed of two sub-palaces (Grand and Petit) and the Queen’s Hamlet, Marie Antoinette’s faux-pastoral village. Each was built at a different time for a different monarch to escape court life.
It is important to know that this part of the Estate opens much later than the Palace and Gardens, so check its opening hours here before you make your plan for the day. Allow 1.5-3-hours to see this portion of the Estate depending on the season—in winter fewer of the buildings are open.
The best day to visit Versailles
Thursdays and Fridays are the best days to visit Versailles.
Avoid Sundays through Tuesdays and holidays. Versailles is more likely to be frequented by locals on weekends, particularly Sundays. For us, it was unavoidable to visit on a Sunday and I can say with firsthand experience: just don’t.
The Palace is closed on Mondays. Then on Tuesdays, many museums including the Louvre, are closed. So many visitors schedule their Versailles day trip for a Tuesday.
If you’re visiting during the warmer months and seeing the Musical Gardens in action is high on your list, beware it does not run every day—see the current schedule here.
The best time to visit Versailles
Ok, let’s talk strategy… Generally, it is a good idea to arrive at the Palace either early or late, especially in the high season. Keep in mind that if you really want to see the entire Estate, then arriving first thing for a full day visit is really the only option.
Strategy 1 – Full day starting in the morning
This is the best way to see the entire estate and will require a full day. Arrive before the Palace opens at 9am to stake out a spot in the ticket or security line. When the gates open, head straight for the Château, followed by a break for lunch. Spend the afternoon in the Gardens and finish with the Estate of Trianon.
Strategy 2 – Half day starting in the afternoon
If you’re more of an afternoon person, aim for about 2pm to see the Château, followed by the Gardens. This will be a shorter day overall, so make sure you keep an eye on the time. In our experience, a half day visit does not give you enough time to see the Estate of Trianon and you will have to hoof it through the gardens if you walk the entire way. Again, you can rent an electric golf cart to speed things up.
Strategy 3 – Half day starting in the late morning
Should you find yourself arriving in the mid-morning at peak visitation time, view the gardens first, then explore the Palace as the crowds dissipate after about 2pm. Although on busy summer days, you’ll find crowds right through to closing time.
Which ticket to buy
There are an abundance of options which change by season and day of the week (Musical Gardens on or off)—therefore tickets for Versailles can be downright confusing! Due to the number of variables and inclusions/exclusions, I’m not going to try and list them all here. See the official site and put in the date of your visit to get the correct ticket offering for your day trip to Versailles from Paris. Make sure you read the options carefully.
Tips for your Versailles day trip
- Buy your ticket in advance online.You’ll still have a potential queue at security to wait in, but at least you’ll have skipped the ticket line.
- Download the free, official Chāteau de Versailles app to your smart phone. This will help you navigate the Palace and grounds with lots of informative commentary. The app offers audio tours in 12 languages and is available in both Apple and Google Play stores.
- Photography is permitted minus the flash and the selfie stick.
- In the cooler months, dress warmly as Versailles can be windy and the Palace opulent though draughty. In the warmer months make sure you have sun protection for your time in the gardens.
- Do not let your guard down inside the Palace walls, where tourists lead, pickpockets follow.
- Bags larger than 55cm x 35cm x 25cm in size are not permitted inside the Palace grounds for security reasons. It is best to leave large bags or suitcases at your accommodation.
Overnight at Versailles (the town not the Palace)
I know this post is about planning a day trip to Versailles from Paris, but honestly, spending the night in the town of Versailles is not a bad idea. You will be able to visit the Park before or after Palace opening hours, and enjoy the lovely township. Also, accommodation is generally cheaper than Paris.
If you have questions about your day trip to Versailles from Paris, let me know in the comments below.
Peace, love & inspiring travels,