So you're in France, and you want to get over to Versailles for a day. How do you get the most out of your trip? Fortunately for you, we have the answers in this post. Don't worry, even with just one day, you'll feel like a Versailles expert soon!
Heading into Versailles
Our one day adventure is going to start at 9:00 AM sharp, so make sure you get to Versailles bright and early! Versailles is easily accessible by public transportation from Paris, and you'll step out of the train only a short walk away from the Château de Versailles. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch - we're going to be enjoying lunch "en plein air".
First Stop: The Palace of Versailles
Our first stop of the day is going to be the Palace of Versailles in all it's glory.
Make sure to pick up "The Passport," a ticket that gives you access to all of the different sites on the Palace grounds. It's advisable to purchase your ticket before you arrive to save some time, but you can get it at the Palace if necessary. If you want, grab an audio tour or sign up for the first guided tour of the day. Hearing about the different rooms and areas of the Palace as you tour them will help you to appreciate it even more. Prepare to be stunned by the lavishness and beauty of the Palace! Make sure to plan for about 2 hours or so for exploring the Palace.
Next Stop - the Petit Trianon
Many people think that the Palace itself is all there is to see on the Palace grounds. But if you're thinking that, think again! There are several other fascinating sites to see on the palace grounds, and that's where we're going to head next.
Pick up the Versailles train from the North Terrasse of the Palace, and take a ride over towards the Petit Trianon. If you'd rather, you can walk to the Trianons, but be prepared to walk about mile or so. Another option for those who like a little exercise is to rent a bicycle, which gives you a little more freedom to explore.
Once you get off the train at the Petit Trianon, continue walking until you reach the Hameau de la Reine, a picturesque farming village that was built to allow Marie Antoinette to "enjoy" the life of a commoner (who doesn't like milking cows with porcelain milk cans?) . Take a look around the Hameau, then stop and enjoy your picnic lunch (you did pack it, right?).
After you eat lunch, head back to the Petit Trianon, and take a walk through this interesting château that was built by Louis XV for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour.
On to the Grand Trianon
By this time it's either late morning or early afternoon, and you've seen a lot, but there's a lot more to see. Onward! The train you're riding runs throughout the day, so hop on the next one (or grab your bike) and get off at the next stop - The Grand Trianon. This smaller palace is also extraordinarily lavish and is still used by many foreign dignataries when visiting France. Now that's living in style!
Gardens, Gardens, and more Gardens.
The Versailles palace gardens are enormous. If you've rented a bike, then take a ride around and check out some of the spectacular fountains and gradens. If you've come on a weekend, try to catch the "Grandes Eaux musicales", fountain show at 3:30 which sets the garden fountains to Baroque music.
Versailles - the City
You might be filling a bit worn out at this point, but if you're up to it, the city of Versailles has a lot of interesting things to see. Since it's about supper-time, I'd recommend heading over Les Carrés Saint-Louis, a series of squares surrounded by some beautiful 18th century buildings that are only a short walk away from the Palace. And at this point, the best thing about this square? Restaurants! There are a wide variety of nice restaurants here where you can grab some dinner and take a break from all the walking you've been doing.
One Last Thing
If you've come on a Saturday, there's one last thing for you to do this evening. If you can, check out the Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes back at the palace. From 9:00 to 11:20, the Palace puts on an amazing light show that shows off the Palace gardens in a manner that king Louis could only have dreamed of. This show couples the already beautiful garden grounds with lasers, lights, and music.
A Day to Remember
Well, you made it! There's a lot to see in Versailles, and you didn't get to see everything, but you made the most of your day. If you check out all of these sites in your day at Versailles, you're already ahead of most of the 3.45 million visitors that come to Versailles each year.
If you feel a little intimidated getting around to all of these places by yourself, you can always book a packaged tour on our Versailles tours page.