The sparkling jewel of France’s royal residences, Château de Versailles, is a must-visit when travelling to Paris by train.
Dripping in gold and glamour, the UNESCO-listed Palace of Versailles is among France’s most visited sites. Historically too, Versailles was a place to see and be seen, thanks to Louis XIV’s, the Sun King, singular vision to transform his father’s simple hunting lodge into a party palace capable of hosting 6,000 royal courtiers. Today, visitors from across the world come to ogle the ostentatious royal residence with its 700 rooms, 67 staircases and 800 hectares of landscaped gardens.
While Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV might have once been the main royal attraction, today the palace’s famous Hall of Mirrors is the crowning glory of Versailles. Built in 1684, this hall, with its 17 arches displaying 21 mirrors each, not only reflects the power and wealth once held by the French monarchy, but it is also where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919, bringing WWI to an end.
The dizzying displays of decadence within the palace are impressive enough, but the gardens around Versailles are its greatest work of art. Designed by landscape architect André Le Nôtre, the gardens create horizon-stretching vistas in orderly processions of hedges, groves, fountains, pathways and ponds.
How to get to Versailles from Paris by train
Travelling by train from Paris to Versailles by train is easy, as the palace is only 20 mins away from the capital. From central Paris, take the local RER C line towards Versailles-Rive Gauche, the last stop on the line and the closest station to Versailles. When you exit the train, there are signs directing you towards the chateau, which is only a 5 mins walk away
The best time to visit Versailles
The palace is open every day except on Mondays from 09.00 hrs. However, the estate of Trianon and the Coach Gallery only open in the afternoon.
The park and gardens are open everyday and are free to access, except on days when fountain shows take place.
Versailles is most crowded on weekends (and Tuesdays, when the Louvre Museum is closed), so Thursday is generally the best time to visit Versailles.
Purchase tickets online in advance to avoid longer queues.
Staying near Versailles
Thanks to its proximity to the capital, Versailles is one of the best day trips from Paris you can make. However, if you want to bask in Versailles’ beauty for longer, consider doing so in responsible royal style by glamping near the palace. Huttopia Versailles is just a few minutes away from the Château de Versailles, with glamping style lodges to stay in.
Image credits top to bottom: Hall of Mirrors in Versailles Flickr Commons (cropped) ©Satoshi Nakagawa, Versailles gardens Flickr Commons (cropped) ©Kate Johansen, Versailles statue Flickr Commons (cropped) ©Herbert Frank
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