If you haven't heard of the Palace of Versailles, it's an incredible Palace (now museum) that was built by Louis XIV, the king of France from 1643 - 1715. If you're thinking about visiting The Palace of Versailles, you 100% should. Just an hour train ride from Paris, it's one of the most beautiful examples of architecture from the 1600's, and it's definitely a great way to spend a day. Recently we visited and while it was such a cool experience, there's a few things I'll definitely keep in mind for when I go back next, which I definitely will! Read below for 5 tips to know when going to visit the Palace of Versailles.
1) Make sure you visit the gardens.
We got to the Palace of Versailles not realizing the sheer vastness of the property and quite how expansive the gardens alone are. One could spend at least 3 hours alone just wandering around the fountains and different gardens, so make sure you check out this portion of the property. You can also rent boats at the lake towards the bottom of the property which is super cool and I definitely want to do next time!
2) Give yourself plenty of time.
Again, this place is MASSIVE, in a way that is totally incomprehensible to myself... I mean HOW was it built in 1650??! SO insane. Anyways, we spent about 4 hours there and it definitely wasn't enough time to see it all. You could spend that long just walking in the gardens area, so make sure if you go you have at least a half day to spend and try to see Marie Antoinette's quarters, which are separate from the rest of main house.
3) Don't go on a weekend.
So, we went on a Sunday which we didn't know is the busiest day for the Palace. It was a really big bummer that every time we wanted to take a photo there were people walking in to them. It took us way more time than it would have just waiting for people to get out of our pictures, and since it's so pretty you'll definitely want to document the whole thing. Trust me, avoid the weekend and try to go on a weekday if you can. Early morning or later in the afternoon is also less busy than the middle of the day usually.
4) Make sure you get there at least an hour before close (and get an audio guide!)
Another bummer was that we did the gardens first, not know that they close the audio guide rentals an hour before they close the actual Palace down. Meaning you can go walk through the Palace but they won't give you the guides unless you're there at least an hour and half before closing. Had we known, we definitely would have done the museum part first and NOT the gardens, which are self guided unless you pay for a tour guide. We walked through not realizing, and once we saw people with audio guides went up to the front and tried to get the. Once we ran back to the front, even though the Palace wasn't closing for another hour, they wouldn't give us audio guides, which was a really big let down. I was trying to translate some of the French on the signage in the rooms for my boyfriend, Brian, but it felt like we missed a ton of the history and meaning of what we were looking at because we didn't have the audio guide. So make sure when you go you grab one of those, especially if you're English speaking.
5) There's food there, and wine!
We weren't sure if we could get lunch or wine at the palace, so we stopped in town at a place that really wasn't very good before we went. When we arrived I found out there is literally a Ladureé inside where you can have champagne and macaroons, not to mention other restaurants that actually looked SO good. Next time, I'll skip the mediocre sandwich in Versailles to eat at the actual Palace.
6) It's best in the Spring.
It's beautiful no matter what, but I definitely would love to go back in the Spring when all of the gardens are blooming, and the sun is out. I'm sure the boats on the lake would be so fun to do on a nice day with a bottle of rosé. They do have flowers everywhere regardless, but if you can make it in the Spring I think it'd be the prettiest for sure!
If you haven't been to The Palace of Versailles, you really should go next time you're in France. To say it's breathtaking is an understatement. You really can't even begin to understand how gorgeous everything is until you get there and see the sheer scale and opulence and attention to art and detail. It's one of the most stunning places I've ever been and I can't wait to go back. Feel free to reach out if you're going soon, I'd love to share some more pointers!