Versailles Palace and Gardens Day Trip by Train

Versailles Palace and Gardens Day Trip by Train

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Waking up in Paris next to Dustin was ethereal. It had been 10 years since I was in the city of lights, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d ever make it back there. Luckily, we learned how to achieve extraordinary travel on an ordinary budget using credit card bonus points.  This morning brought the electrified prospect of a Versailles and gardens day trip by train, a stop I had missed on my last trip to Paris.

Day trip to Versailles and Gardens

Getting to Versailles

Versailles is located 15 miles (25km) southeast of Paris, but instead of risking a traffic headache we opted to use public transportation. Since Versailles is an enormously popular tourist destination, trains run regularly from the city. Getting to the Versailles train is easily achieved by metro.

Unless you’re staying in Paris for weeks, I recommend purchasing a book of 10 tickets from the metro kiosk. It’s the most economical way to travel within the city, and if you use up your first book you can always purchase another. The only hiccup will be traveling from Versailles back into Paris, as it requires a separate ticket which can be purchased at the train station before your return for a few euros.

Having read about the crowds and the hellish lines we could be waiting in, we opted to start out early. After a short stop at the wrong metro platform, we made our way onto the correct train heading for Versailles. Exiting the platform, we were immediately bombarded by companies offering the “lowest” entry tickets. Trust me on this, if you haven’t purchased your tickets online, pass by all of these and head to tourist information center and purchase a Paris Museum Pass.

Paris Museum Pass

Paris Museum PassThe Paris Museum Pass grants access to almost all the big tourist sites in Paris. Best of all, this access allows you to enter the museums and monuments without waiting in eternal lines. It also grants access to the same site multiple times, if you choose. It is a HUGE time saver, and you may end up visiting some of the smaller museums that aren’t on your must do list. There are three options to choose from a 2, 4 or 6-day pass.

We chose the 4-day pass since it worked best for our itinerary. Before we purchased the Paris Museum Pass, I researched all the different places we wanted to see and how much each one cost so I could ensure we were getting the best deal. In order to be economical, we’d need to go to most of the major sites and even then, the savings were relatively small, but once I factored in the time it also saves it was easy to choose.

Ordering the pass online beforehand, will save you even more time. Just remember to allow enough time for it to ship. However, if you can’t purchase before your trip, you can obtain the pass from any participating museum location or tourist information center. For more information on the Paris Museum Pass, including pricing and participating locations, click here.

Chateau de Versailles

The palace is open every day except Monday, so plan your schedule accordingly. I recommend planning your visit to Versailles on a Saturday or Sunday, as the Musical Fountains and Garden shows run on those days, and should not be missed.

The palace began as King Louis XIII’s hunting pavilion, but was transformed and extended by Louis XIV when he moved his court and government there in 1682. It’s difficult to describe the opulence of the palace without learning a little about its most influential contributor, Louis XIV.

Louis XIV

LouisXIV
Sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini – Photo by Louis le Grand

Louis XIV inherited the crown at the tender age of 4 years old. When he turned 18, he assumed full reign from his regent mother Queen Anne. In the age of divine kings, he viewed himself as the direct representative of God. However, he accomplished the personification of that belief in a way unlike his counterparts in Austria, Spain, and England.  Adopting the sun and the Greek God Apollo as his emblems, Louis XIV is still referred to as, “The Sun King”.

Having a history resplendent with rebelling nobles, he controlled them by luring them to this countryside estate and hooking them on an extravagant lifestyle. The nobles were so encompassed with trying to keep up with the King’s fashion and good favor that the pesky act of ruling was left to the King, a meticulous ruler who oversaw his programs to the last detail. Keeping favor included the privilege of attending the King’s getting up and going to bed ceremonies, or in later years watching him dine. Louis XIV must have figured out a couple of things about governing, in his 72-year reign.

Palace Rooms

The palace contains 2,300 rooms, many named after planets linking to sun mythology or after Greek gods and goddesses. Every room is dressed to the nines. When the crown needed funding, they simply melted down part of the décor to boost their funds. With each passing room, I begin to understand the outrage of the lower classes leading to the French Revolution whilst also marveling at the extravagance.

Hall of Mirrors

The most famous room is actually a hall. The Hall of Mirrors, named for the large mirrors that lie opposite the arched windows, was built to replace a large terrace between the King and Queen’s apartments. Like the rest of Versailles, the hall pays tribute to the political, economic, and artistic prowess of France. Foreign dignitaries were often led through the hall to witness the splendor of France and it’s King. Even after the fall of the monarchy, the hall was a place of significance. The Treaty of Versailles, that ended World War I, was signed in the Hall of Mirrors. Being a history nerd, I was geeking out just being in this immaculate room.

Many kings added to the splendor of Versailles until the French Revolution in 1789, which forced royalty to forsake the estate as a residence and flee before the guillotine and the people claimed their heads.

The Gardens

Enceladus GroveWork on the gardens began at the same time as the palace and lasted 40 years. Considering the gardens just as important as the palace, Louis XIV reviewed each project wanting to see every detail. Thousands of men took part in creating this immense project. To maintain the design, the garden needs to be replanted once every 100 years.

Describing the gardens as large, does them an injustice. Our feet failed us long before we reached a quarter of the park and gardens. Dustin and I decided if we return to Versailles we will spend a little extra for the golf cart to save our feet and see everything from the Orangery to the Queen’s Garden behind the Estate of Trianon. Nevertheless, we attempted to do just that.

The Orangery

OrangeryThe Orangery sits just below the palace.  Spreading across the Orangery are two-hundred-year-old orange trees from Portugal, Spain, and Italy as well as lemon, palm, and pomegranate trees. Louis XIV gathered all the orange trees from the royal houses and some new from nearby countries. If that wasn’t enough, courtiers desperately seeking the King’s favor offered him their own orange trees. Soon the Orangery had the largest collection in Europe. Moving the trees inside the building during winter, offers protection from inclement weather.

Groves and Fountains

To truly experience the gardens, pay the extra fee on Saturday or Sunday for the Musical Fountains and Garden shows. Each fountain and grove comes alive as water sprouts from the decadent sculptures accompanied by music. The show is timed so you can walk between each section of the garden. I found myself imagining what it must have been like as a courtier wandering through these gardens for hours.  221 sculptures adorn the paths leading in and out of the groves. Making it the biggest open-air sculpture museum in the world. I think Louis XIV accomplished his goal of making the gardens a dramatic statement of his power.

 

The Estate of Trianon

With all the King’s public displays of godliness, it’s not surprising that he’d want to escape the tedium of court and the many on-lookers. Louis XIV began construction on the Grand Trianon Palace at the far north end of the Grand Canal.

Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI’s wife, is the most famous occupant of Trianon. Designed as a respite for the royal family, it is more secluded and intimate. Less gaudy in decor than the Versailles palace, it still exudes luxury. Marie-Antoinette took a particular liking to this estate spending much of her time here. She oversaw work on the gardens, now known as the Queen’s gardens.

Estate of TrianonPreparing for our trip, we asked a good friend who had lived in France what to see and do at Versailles. She told us her favorite part was the Queen’s gardens. Unfortunately, we missed it as our feet were throbbing after taking a few wrong turns on the grounds of Trianon. Dustin and I barely had enough left in us to make it back through the gardens to Versailles to catch the train back to Paris.

It was an exhausting, but very rewarding day. If you’ve ever been to Versailles, or if your planning on going there I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

 


20 Replies to “Versailles Palace and Gardens Day Trip by Train”

  1. Thanks for bringing France to my attention. I visited few times but somehow you seemed to convey the essence of the place in your writing. Paris is a magical city but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and it is obvious from your article that you enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for the informative description and taking the bother to share.
    Cheers
    Orion

  2. I had no plans to go to Versailles before reading your post. That has changed, the pictures are gorgeous. I think a trip to Paris could be in my plans now.
    I can see how much you enjoyed your trip, Paris has been in the news so much now that when one goes there and have a good them I am happy for them.
    I enjoyed the post

    1. Hi Luna,

      Ya unfortunately it has been in the news quite a bit lately. Terrorists are stupid. Paris is a beautiful city and it’s a shame that it’s been so targeted lately. Regardless, we felt completely safe while we were there. I hope you’re able to make it there someday soon.

  3. Wow, what amazing place. But I don’t like this post. Cause it only makes me jealous. I’m kidding. I’ve been to Bordeaux before when I’m still working on a cruise ship. But I don’t have a chance yet to go here. Someday I will visit this place.
    Good post! You’ve put some nice images as well. Love them.

    1. Hi Satria,

      I’ve never been to Bordeaux, but I just looked at some pics on Google and it looks beautiful. Now I can be jealous of you too. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  4. Hi Kendra, it was a good read. Versallies is one of the places that I may visit until the end of this summer. I want to make a tour with my girlfriend but we have not decided everything yet.

    Versallies has many sights that worth visiting and your guide will be really helpful if we finally go there.

    1. Thanks for reading Ilias. You will score major points with your girlfriend taking her to Versailles… pretty romantic place. We’d love to hear about your experience so be sure to come back and tell us about it after you’ve been there.

  5. Hi,
    Thanks so much for sharing this great article about Versailles Palace and Gardens.
    I haven’t been in France yet, but I would love to visit it one day!
    I have some relatives who were there this Summer, and it was nice to follow their visit to France and to Versailles Palace via Facebook and Instagram.
    But they only share photos, no much about the history of the place, what to see and what to learn from the visit, so I thank you for writing such a great article!!

    1. Hi Alejandra,

      Ya, I’m kind of a history nerd. So I was like a child in a candy store. I hope you’re able to make it there someday. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  6. Wow, I loved the information on Versallies! I also liked the tips you give on the Museum pass and using the public transportation. I would so love to go here. It has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. I will keep this website bookmarked and use it when I get closer to making my plans. So glad I found this information!

    1. Hi Matt’s Mom. As always, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I hope you’re able to check it off your bucket list soon. Thanks for bookmarking us. Always feel free to stop by with any questions you have.

  7. Hi Kendra,
    First I have to say that your pictures are amazing! I feel like I was actually there with you touring the Versailles Palace. Visiting France, especially Paris, has been on my list of things to do for years now. From reading your article I think it’s fair to say that just moved up my list quite a few spots. I’ve never been a huge history buff, but you definitely brought me into the history of both the palace and the kings and I will be reading more about that in the coming weeks. Thanks for writing this, I look forward to reading more about your future trips!

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you’re able to make it there yourself someday soon. Please check out our How to Travel for Less page. It may help you get there sooner. We’d love to hear about it when you make it there. 

  8. Absolutely beautiful. I will have to add Versailles to my bucket list. Your pictures are fantastic. Versailles is such a historic place, I would love to go someday. Thanks for your tips on taking public transportation, that definitely sounds like the way to go. From the looks of the picture, it was pretty crowded, so probably best to get an early start. You mentioned it was an exhausting, but rewarding day. Those are the best trips!

    1. Hi Steve and Kris,

      There were definitely a lot of people there, but it didn’t seem too crowded. Probably because the place itself is so huge. The tiring trips really are the best, and a good excuse to get foot rubs at the end of the day.

      Thanks for reading and take care.

  9. Your trip looks incredible!! A trip to France has always been a dream of mine and even more so now that I am studying architecture in college. The historical significance of France and its influence on the architecture of the world is absolutely fascinating. Thanks for all the pictures!

    xx

    Helen

    1. Thanks for the comment Helen. Having studied history in college, I really enjoyed it as well. I’m sure the study of architecture would give you a similar appreciation for the area as well. I hope you’re able to make it over there someday to check it out.

  10. All I can say is WOW! Talk about a magnificent place! 2300 rooms?! That’s not a home, that’s a Las Vegas hotel!!
    I have seen many reviews, but reviews like yours, where you have personally seen and experienced what you’re reviewing adds a touch that I feel is important.

    The pictures are interesting and the video of the water with your wife, shows authenticity – which is good!

    I have never been to Europe, but if I ever did go, after reading your review, this is one place that I would definitely want to see.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Scott. It’s good to know our efforts are appreciated.

      I hope you’re able to make it to Europe some day. It’s an enchanting place that my husband and I love to visit.

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