If you go to Paris, a day trip to Versailles, by most people's opinions--including mine, is a must. You can do a 1/2 day or full day trip and they are easily scheduled from your hotel once you get there. Most hotels are happy to set up the arrangements for you and most day trip companies will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
It is a pleasant ride (approx 30 minutes) and our driver was very versed in the history of Versailles. The day I went I shared my trasport with two other couples, a Russian couple in Paris on holiday and a lovely American couple from Texas who were in France, on their way to Italy, to visit a daughter who was studying abroad. They graciously offered to take some pictures for me.
Photo Credit: KLC/Me standing outside the entrance of Versailles
For me, a 1/2 day trip was just enough to see the main palace and walk the gardens, though I have heard others say the 1/2 day trip left them feeling rushed. If you are a meanderer, or have a proclivity for gardens or palaces, then consider the full day trip. If you wish to see the Estate of Marie Antoinette, then the full day is necessary, as it can only be visited by walking and is, I am told, about a 45 min walk each way. If you want extra time to browse the multiple gift shops, read, or revisit any sections before leaving, again, the full day trip is probably for you. If you are only in Paris for a short trip, then, the first time anyway, just do the 1/2 day tour, in order to be able to maximize your sight seeing time.
Photo Credit: KLC/ One view of the gardens; during particular times of the year, night tours, and water shows set to music highlight the beauty of the gardens.
Here's a few pointers:
The park and the gardens are open every day, but the palace and estate of Marie Antoinette are closed on Mondays and holidays.
Depending on if you are going for a 1/2 or full day tour, price can run approx. 23,00(Euro) to 56,00 (Euro), per person. If you book through an agency affiliated with your hotel, your cost will include transportation to/from and your entry into the palace and/or gardens.
For first time visitors, I recommend getting there early (the lines to see inside the Palace can be quite long--up to two hours during high season), but the palace is definitely worth the wait). I was there during off season and got there when it opened; my wait was approximately 15 minutes.
If you get there early, right when it opens, remember, a whole bunch of other people did too. This can cause some bottlenecks at the beginning of the tour in the main palace area. Be patient. They ease up and you can always meander back to an area you felt rushed or crowded through.
I recommend either a guided tour (which has to be set up in advance) or the self guided audio tour,especially if you are a history buff like me.
The tour can be divided into three main areas: The Palace, the Gardens and the Estate of Marie Antoinette. My trip to Versailles was an early morning day trip in the late fall. The weather was brisk and windy, but clear, and the gardens, though not in full bloom, were breathtaking none the less. If you go during cooler weather, remember that a good half your tour will be outside and dress appropriately.
Don't forget your camera!
Both the Palace and the Gardens are deserving of their own multiple posts, and I will be sharing more of my own photos from my trip there in future posts, but for today...
Take an online Tour of the palace....
or take a tour of the Gardens at Versailles...