Looking for a big castle near Paris? This is a quick day trip. I’m sharing pretty much what to expect, where the quieter ladies toilets are and less of “how beautiful” the place is. Don’t get me wrong, Versailles palace is a statement piece of French opulence.
It is the world largest royal domain. The palace ground is a staggering 8,150,265 sqm and the building has 67,002 sqm of floor space. UNESCO site. Many furniture and tapestry have been destroyed in a fire during the French Revolution.
Be prepared to queue from the beginning to the end. Queue to get ticket, gigantic queue to get in, queue to get the audio guide, queue to move to the next room, queue to buy food/drink… You get the idea, right? If you want to skip the queue for entering the castle, get yourself the annual card.At the entrance of the castle, there’s the bag scanner and security gates like in the airport. Jackets get scanned as well.
Asap into the castle, I entered into another queue for the audio guide. Loads of languages to choose from. Although the queue looked scary, it was a fast moving queue. About the audio guide, here was what I found:
- Audio guide didn’t not allow headphones. I had to hold it like a phone to listen to it.
- The castle’s audio guide was semi-automated. While I was on the ground floor, I couldn’t actually choose the “number” that I wanted to listen to. The audio played the track based on where I was physically. Personally, I found it highly annoying and confusing to use.
Louis XIV was the man behind this colossal of a castle. Although it was actually Louis XIII that kick started the place. It was initially just a hunting lodge when he first commissioned it back 1624. Louis XIV later decided that Louvre was not good enough any more, so he moved to Versaille and started to build the home of his dreams. Let’s check out what he did with this hunting lodge…
This “hunting lodge” clearly became an enormous gild galore under him. Louis XIV just kept on developing it. He added opera house, tons of rooms… just more more more. He clearly meant business when he expressed that he wanted a decorated castle. To label the castle’s decoration as elaborate is an under statement.
O, like to mention that I’ve experienced an “episode”. The lady at the exit told me not to be rude and asked if could I not see that she was talking to someone else. What she failed to realise was:
(A) I did not speak at all. LOL
(B) Walking pass her did not translate to initiating a conversation.
(C) Did I mention that she was working at the exit? Assuming people that walked pass her was trying to get her attention for some conversation must be really intense.
Conclusion: I must have been so rude to have walked pass the exit without saying hi. LOLAfter passing the “lovely” castle exit lady, one will find some peace and calmness in the garden. *separate entrance fee, unless you have the annual card / combo ticket. The landscape was gorgeous and immaculately maintained. Not sure why they chose to “hype” up their musical fountain. It’s really not that exciting or impressive. Their garden itself was way more captivating than their “musical fountain”. I maybe the odd person though.
My personal highlight was definitely the boat rental. Such a lovely way to end the day! You know, take a stroll in the royal garden and “sail into the sunset”. I just loved it!
If still feeling strong, can hop over to estate Trianon aka pink marble mini-palace. Please note that this is ONLY opened in the afternoon (after 12h00). It’s a 30-40min walk? I cannot verify the fastest walking time, I was too busy taking photos like a tourist. The official site says 30min walk, but hey, who knows how they came up with that timing 😛 There’s mini-train / vehicle that heads that way too. Walking is fine. **again, separate entrance fee unless you have the annual card / combo ticket
This post is getting a bit long. I’ll do a post on Trianon estate separately 😉 O, and we haven’t even got to talk about Marie Antoinette’s little farm girl dream house.
I am really fond of the Palace of Versailles. There’s just so many interesting things to see and do.
— Joyce Belfort (@JoyceBelfort) October 29, 2017
- If you plan to visit the palace twice, it is worthwhile to take the annual card. 1 year unlimited access, skip the line, discount & value for money. Plus exclusive “behind the public access” sort of tour.
- Annual card office is a separate building to the regular ticket office. If there’s a long queue, chances are you, you’re in the wrong ticket office. http://en.chateauversailles.fr/subscribers/subscribe#prices
- The ladies toilets near the castle exit has MASSIVE queue – only for gals who can hold it in for 30min. Best bet is the toilet on the right asap you walk pass the audio guide counters. That one has virtually no queue. I am totally hinting that if you’re in a hurry, run back towards that toilet.
- Another quiet toilet? Ticket office’s.
- Angelina (restaurant inside the castle) take-away sold mega dry bread sandwiches. Their bread tasted like drought. If food means anything to you, I highly recommend that you bring food with you into the castle.
How to get there?
Château de Versailles is NOT in Paris. It is situated in zone 4. Good news is that it is covered by the navigo card unlimited travel plan. From central Paris, it takes anything between 1 hours to 90min train time to get there. Plan ahead is essential.
Train is the way to go and believe me… the train station (not the metro) is complicated like the French language itself LOL 😛 Okay, it is not so bad, just need to be more careful than when you’re going on a metro.
- On 1 platform, there are multiple trains that will only stop at certain stations.
- Can be on any platform, you’ll need to check the information board to find out which platform number you need to be at. E.g. Train to Versailles can be found at platform 10 and 13 etc… depending on the scheduled train
Please note that for under 26 free entry (EU resident) only applies to the castle itself. For the garden and the “farm house” (estate Trianon), it’s a separate charge (each). Visit their official site for price / combo ticket information.
Under 26 (EU resident) can queue directly for the castle without visiting the ticket office. The rest of us must purchase the ticket before queuing. And yes, the ticket office is a separate queue. Pre-purchase ticket online is highly recommended on saving some time. The ticket office is quite pleasant though 😉
Camera: Canon 5D mark 3 *I felt a bit pointless to use DSLR for this post. After compression so much detail was lost.
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