The Palace of Versailles is one of France’s top attractions. Built by Louis XIV in the 17th and 18th centuries as an extravagant display of wealth and power, it still manages to drop jaws with its elaborate decor, furnishings, and gardens. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you get the most out of your trip to Versailles.
Arrange transportation from Paris
Versailles is situated just 15 miles (25 kilometers) southwest of Paris. To get there from the French capital, take the RER C train to Versailles Château–Rive Gauche, which is a 5-minute walk from the palace. When you buy train tickets from the multilingual automated machines, you will receive two tickets—one for each way—so be sure to hold onto the second ticket for the return leg.
Note that the RER C line can be crowded (don’t expect a seat), especially during peak travel times. If you don’t fancy being packed in like sardines on a train car, opt for a guided Versailles tour from Paris that includes transportation by air-conditioned coach instead.
Prebook tickets to beat the crowds
The Palace of Versailles is extremely popular, and rightly so. But it can also be crowded, especially in the summer months. Save yourself a lot of waiting around by prebooking skip-the-line tickets—this is the fastest way to get inside. Another good way to avoid the masses is to book a tour to parts of the palace, such as the Royal Quarters, that are not otherwise open to the general sightseeing public.
Save time with a guided tour
If you’re on a tight schedule and want to maximize your time at Versailles, book a guided tour. The estate is vast and it’s all too easy for first-timers to get lost or sidetracked. Going with a guide who knows their way around ensures that you see all the major highlights.
Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet
Any visit to Versailles involves a lot of walking. The palace itself is huge, but the gardens are what really takes it out of most visitors. If your feet begin to ache, note that there are rental bikes, golf carts, and a mini train to help you get around the grounds.