Le Château de Versailles is not only an opulent royal palace but the site of multiple important historical events such as the Treaty of Paris, the Treaty of Versailles, and the center of the controversy during the French Revolution. Versailles (the city) is not a part of Paris, but rather, is a suburb that is about 10 miles outside of Paris. Because of this, you cannot reach it directly by métro alone but must take the RER C. The RER C is a specific train line for commuters (again, I liken it to the Metra here in Chicagoland) that has a different cost based on the zone you are traveling to/from.
Our nearest station to our flat was the Strasbourg/St-Denis stop from where we took to Alma/Marceau and crossed the bridge to the Pont de l’Alma stop where there is a little ticket station that is down near the Seine.
I wanted to include the picture because I wasn’t sure what I was looking for and was concerned that we would miss our train! As I recall, though, there were ticket machines outside of the building where we were able to buy our tickets. You can look up itineraries on RATP’s website and use this tool to help plan your trip.
The cost for a one-way ticket is 4€ for adults and 2€ for children 4-11 years old. You will be taking the RER C, ligne C5 toward Versaille-Château/Rive-Gauche. You can refer to the below map to see which connecting stations are available.
Once you get to Versailles, you will get off at the Versaille-Château train station and then walk about 12 minutes toward the palace.
Château de Versailles
Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles
Hours: 9h-17h30 Tuesday-Sunday (ie. Closed on Mondays), the Trianon Estates are open from noon until 18h
Cost: 18€ or €20 for the Palace + Trianon; free for those under 18 (under 26 for EU residents) and those who are disabled
Train: to Versaille-Château
My brother and I got to the Palace at about 9:15 am and the above picture illustrates the lines to get into the palace (we went on a Thursday). The line really started to build shortly after we got there and we were admitted into the palace probably close to 10 am. We visited the entire palace, including the Galérie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors).
Side note: when I went to Versailles in high school, the Hall of Mirrors was under renovation with the exception of one small portion so I didn’t really get to appreciate it. However, seeing that one small portion gave me serious déjà vu as if I had been there before. I didn’t think much of it until the following summer when I was working at a summer internship for the City of Joliet where I helped out at an event at the Rialto Square Theater (and yes, that is where Adrianne Curry had her wedding reception).
DO YOU SEE IT??? No? No one ever does when I point it out. But while it isn’t an exact duplicate, it was, in fact, styled after the Hall of Mirrors with more of neoclassical update for the Vaudevillian theater that opened in 1926. You can learn more about the Rialto here.
There were massive amounts of people in the actual palace and it was difficult to get nice pictures.
We were able to appreciate really beautiful bedrooms in the Grands Appartements and loads of Napoleonic art (and other eras but Napoleon definitely dominated) in the Galérie des Batailles. We got a little hungry while there so we stopped for a snack of coffee at Angelina’s (a goal of mine was to stop at Angelina’s) and some cookies from my brother’s backpack.
Jardins et Parc de Versailles
We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day as it was nearly 80 degrees and sunny (my favorite weather). We spent some time walking around the expansive gardens. Unfortunately, the day before and the particular shoes I had on took their toll. But we soldiered on!
If you are so inclined, you can rent bikes to use on the property or rent a boat to row in the Grand Canal at the back of the property. I semi-regret not renting a bike (and I think David does, too) because, on a map, you just don’t realize how massive the property is. In high school, we only had time enough to experience the palace and gardens. One note I’d like to make about the gardens: there are plenty of lovely cafés you can visit and have a light lunch. We simply didn’t eat on site at a lot of places due to the cost which I will touch on at a later time.
Nonetheless, we walked through the gardens and to the royal family’s palace away from court: Grand Trianon which served a number of purposes including that of a summer home, residences for important stately guests and lesser members of the royal family, and a retreat for the king and his mistresses. It boasts some swanky décor…
…And a beautiful marble, columned pavillion that would keep visitors cool in the summer. Napoleon I lived at Grand Trianon with his second wife.
Petit Trianon is a small château that was built by Louis XV for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour who died before it was finished so Madame du Barry moved in (cue Movin’ On Up). It later became what was essentially an exclusive clubhouse for Marie Antoinette and The Plastics.
My favorite part about Petit Trianon were the surrounding gardens:
We wandered around in the gardens for a bit because I wanted to find Marie Antoinette’s hamlet but it was a little further afield and my sandals were absolutely killing my feet. In fact, my brother and I both had very tired feet from the previous day and we were also very hungry.
We left the property but on our way back to the train station, my brother wanted to stop at a kebab place. My brother kept telling me that while in Germany, he had this amazing thing called döner which is like a middle-eastern version of gyro. We had seen this sign on the way in that featured a slab of meat on a stick and said “döner”. I’m not sure if this place is still there but we went to this fast food kebab place called “Royal Sandwich” at 11 Rue du Général Leclerc: http://www.kebab-frites.com/kebab/royal-sandwich-versailles.html
And that is where we ate in Versailles! Haha. We are not fancy. It was good but I always like middle eastern food.
After that, we returned to Paris. I don’t remember what we did for the rest of the night, actually, but I really think that was the day we took extra time to walk around and went to Starbucks to buy a Paris mug (dumb but I like to pick up Starbucks mugs on my journeys).