Sitting just a short train ride outside of Paris, Versailles is home to a colossal complex of Palaces that make the Louvre look like it was built for the dog. To truly understand the extravagance of the French monarchs, it’s essential to travel beyond their countless opulent chateaus in Paris, to the home that finally got them understandably beheaded by the French people. Here, we’ve constructed the perfect Versailles itinerary for your day trip from Paris.
Morning: Hop on a train from Paris to Versailles and start exploring
Wake up in Paris, grab a few croissants from the nearest boulangerie (you’ll find one), and plot your route from Paris to Versailles. You have a lot ahead of you. To skip the enormous line at the chateau, buy your palace tickets online before you head off.
Grab your train tickets at any of the automatic kiosks in the métro to Versailles-Château Rive Gauche. There are a number of lines that can be taken to get there, but the simplest is the RER line C. If leaving from other stations in Paris, you can shoot for stations in Versailles that are slightly further away and aim for either Versailles-Chantiers (departing from Paris Montparnasse), or Versailles Rive-Droite (departing from Paris St. Lazare).
Once you step off the train, don’t head straight to the palace just yet. The moment you’re in the palace grounds, you’re in for good, so make sure you begin your Versailles tour with some of the other attractions the town has to offer. First, head to the Gallery of Coaches, where you’ll be able to see an ample collection of chariots, sedans, sledges, and all other kinds of horse-drawn transportation that can be gold-plated, embellished, and generally fancified. Best of all, this is the one exhibit in the palace complex that is completely free. Just walk in on the bottom floor of the Grand Stables to get there. Not bad for the first few hours after getting off a train from Paris to Versailles.
Lunch: Nosh on some iconic crepes
Walk straight right across the street from the Grand Stables to check the most important box on the day’s Versailles itinerary: lunch. Creperie la Place serves up scrumptious sweet and savory crepes, and well as heaping mountains of salad that are maybe the most refreshing food you could possibly put in your mouth on a hot day in a palace square. La Place is still within sight of the chateau, so you can sit outside with a savory or sweet crepe and continue to imagine yourself as Marie-Antoinette. Let them eat crepes!
Afternoon: Head to the main event: the Chateau de Versailles
As soon as you’ve finished, if you’re not too full to move, the main event is ahead: the Chateau de Versailles. Although generally you would have to buy separate tickets to the palace and gardens, an online ticket will allow you to move faster by booking both at once.
The château has played an important role in the history of both the French Monarchy and the rise of the Republic. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were married here in 1770, just twenty-three years before their heads rolled off the guillotine during the French Revolution. After the palace was seized by revolutionaries in 1789, it lay empty for many years before being converted to a museum celebrating the glories of France. Today, visitors can walk through the chambers of Louis XIV, the State Apartments, the Gallery of Battles, and the Mesdames’ Apartments. The extravagance of the gold façades and the chandeliers in the Hall of Mirrors leave no questions as to why the revolutionaries were so excited to decapitate their rulers.
After you’ve taken your tour around the palace itself, be sure not to miss the expansive gardens that stretch on for nearly a mile. Fountains, preposterously long square hedges, and countless romantic outcoves where the king’s courtiers once gallivanted await you.
Dinner: Dine in traditional French flair
Once you’ve finally made your way out of the gardens, head into the actual town that exists outside of the Chateau for some dinner. Although a long day poking around a chateau can be lots of fun, you might be tired of all that pretentiousness and just want some good, hearty home cooking. Aparthé, located in the actual town of Versailles, far out of view of the palace itself, is the place to go. Serving traditional Brasserie fare like duck leg and steak frites, with a few innovative options like Tandoori chicken and a range of fish options, Aparthé reminds you why it doesn’t take that much money to be happy. All the same, you’re in the home of kings, so you’ll have to pay a bit—but there’s no need to bring your council of financial advisors. Finish off your Versailles itinerary here, then head back for some more humble delights in Paris!