The stunning Palace of Versailles lies just outside Paris, and is easily accessible by the metro. If you’re visiting Paris, I highly recommend taking a day trip there.
Louis XIV had grand plans for the expansion of Versailles when he inherited the far-less opulent palace from his father, and in 1661 work began to transform and enlarge the property. The court and government of France was moved to Versailles in 1682 and remained there until the French Revolution in 1789.
Years after the French Revolution, the palace officially became a museum dedicated to “all the glories of France”.
Versailles is a stunning illustration of excess of power, it’s literally opulence upon opulence with mirrored halls, intricate ceilings and gold details everywhere.
There’s also more to see at the palace than the main Chateau. The gardens are expansive- you could easily spend a few hours wandering them and the canals. In addition to the grounds, there are also two smaller palaces, the Grand and Petit Trianons and the adorable Queen’s Hamlet.
Before our trip, a friend recommended we consider a bike tour of Versailles to truly appreciate the enormity of what it has to offer. Our Fat Tire Bike Tour left Paris early in the morning and was the perfect way to appreciate the majesty of the palace and surrounding town.
The Chateau is a short walk from the train station and easy to find, just follow the crowd getting off.
Because we traveled to Versailles with a tour, we picked up our cruiser bikes upon arrival and then headed to a local market to pick up picnic supplies. Once everyone loaded up on baguettes, cheese, olives, fruit and wine, we biked to Versailles and spent some time exploring the Queen’s Hamlet. Then, it was time to bike the Grand Canal and picnic on its banks.
After a leisurely lunch, we biked to the gardens, and finally headed into the palace to explore the inside. Our bike toured offered skip-the-line access so we didn’t waste any time exploring the Chateau.
I read quite a bit about Marie Antoinette as a teenager and have to say, my expectations were exceeded in every way possible.
The most remarkable room is the Hall of Mirrors, which was designed to showcase France’s superiority. The hallway is stunning- it’s full of marble walls, chandeliers, ceiling paintings and mirrored arches.
Our time at Versailles was truly a perfect day- I’d recommend the bike tour to anyone who wants to see as much of the palace as possible in a short time.
Extra Know Before You Go Info
- Getting there from Paris: Journey time is ~45 minutes on RER line C from St. Michel metro station in central Paris. The stop for Versailles is the Chateau Versailles/Rive Gauche station
- Ticket tip: Our tickets were included in our bike tour, but if you’re going out to Versailles on your own, I’ve read it’s best to pre-purchase so you don’t find yourself waiting in a long line
- Pick-up a free audioguide to listen to as you walk from room to room
- Hours of operation: Check the Chateau’s website before you go, but normally the palace is open daily, except on Monday and some French holidays
- Photography: Flash isn’t allowed in any of the rooms. When we visited, mobile photography was allowed in most of the rooms. If you’re unsure, there are attendants at each entrance