Le Chateau de Versailles is one of the most beautiful attractions in France, drawing in over 7 million visitors a year. With average waiting times easily reaching over an hour on a good day, it’s important to have a plan of attack to make the most of your day.
Here’s how to beat the crowds at Versailles:
Take the Train
Visiting Versailles independently is so easy and means that you don’t have to go at someone else’s pace. Find out which subway will connect with the RER train routes ( a simple google search will figure this out) then take the RER trail in the direction “Versailles.” The ride is only 30-40 minutes and gives you a sample of suburbs and countryside along the way.
The lines start growing about 45-30 minutes before the doors open at 9, so plan your train arrival time accordingly.
Buy Tickets in Advanced
This is an absolute must! This not only cuts your wait time in half, but it will allow you to book an “entrance time,” which will help you to plan your day. I recommend choosing the earliest possible entrance time.
Stand in the Right Line
If you have advanced tickets you need to stand in the left line. If in doubt ask! Several people standing in line in front of me had to leave and join the now gigantic line to the right because they hadn’t waited in the correct line.
Splurge on a Private Tour
Versailles can get busy, there’s no way around it. I highly recommend the King’s Apartment Tour purchased directly through Versailles. Not only does it offer an escape from the hoards of tourists, but you get to explore areas of the palace that the general public doesn’t.
Go Against the Flow
Most people start with the palace and drift to the gardens. If you are amongst the first few into the palace, I would recommend bee-lining for the big-ticket item: the hall of mirrors. It fills up quickly and photographs are so much more impressive without a room full of people.
I would head straight to the gardens afterwards and enjoy Marie Antoinette’s cottages, Trion and the fountains while everyone is still indoors. At around 3 or 4 when most people have drifted outside, head inside and enjoy a much less crowded palace. Just keep in mind that you will need to wait in line again to get back into the palace, so plan accordingly.
Enjoy the Gardens
Let’s face it, pushing through crowds of people all day is exhausting. Versailles has had the same problem for decades, so do the same thing the noble men and women would do and escape for some serenity in the spacious gardens. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore for a little quiet time.
- Golf carts are available for hire to zip around the large grounds, these come in handy if you have mobility issues or just want a fun ride.
- Food is available at a few locations in the gardens and palace. Pick up a map on your way in to locate these. I would recommend getting something to go and having a picnic somewhere quiet on the grounds.
- Plan on spending the whole day. There is so much to see and do that a few hours won’t allow you the full experience.
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