If you are trying to plan a day trip from Paris, go to Versailles. It is one of my favorite places in the whole world. The Chateau of Versailles was King Louis XIV’s main summer palace and it is basically a gigantic house surrounded by an even more gigantic garden, making it a must for anyone looking to get out of the big city for a day or two (Just like King Louis!).
When to Go
There are really 3 different tracks you could follow when visiting Versailles:
1) Touring the palace
2) Watching the fountain shows
3) Exploring the outer grounds and Grand Canal
You can attempt to do this all in one day, but you will be exhausted from all the walking and honestly, you will be rushing everywhere. I love Versailles so much that I highly recommend turning this day trip into a weekend away. As for when in the year to go, you can go anytime, but if you want to see the musical fountain shows, you have to go April-October. For prime weather and minimal crowds, I recommend early to mid May.
Touring the Palace
Louis XIV certainly knew how to Keep Up With the Kardashians, the palace is grander than the even the grandest K Klan abode. Seriously, this place is huge. But what really gets you is how ornate it is. Literally every square inch is bedazzled in some way.
And even when you first step inside the gates, the enormity of this bedazzling will truly overcome you.
I mean, look at those glammed up roofs.
You get to walk through all the main rooms of the house, the bedrooms, the dressing rooms, the ballrooms, everything.
Now that’s a bed fit for a King! However, a note of caution, although it looks beautiful, in person it actually looks pretty closterphobic. So I definitely still prefer nice clean white Frette sheets!
The highlight of the palace is definitely the Hall of Mirrors. This was the main ballroom for the royalty. And it is exactly what it’s name suggests, a hall filled with mirrors.
But be prepared, this photo was taken in March, and look at the crowds. So try to go during the week if you can to cut down on them a little bit. But don’t worry even if it is this crowded you can still enjoy everything! And besides, I recommend looking through the house quickly and really spending your time exploring the garden outside, which we will go over next!
Watching the Musical Fountain Shows
If you ever dreamed of becoming a Princess when you were little, the musical fountains shows will certainly put you back in that mindset. On certain days from April to November, the Palace turns on the dozens of fountains to full blast and they perform a water show to classical music. It is such a magical experience, please plan your trip so you can fit this in, you will be glad you did!
Exploring the Grand Canal
Did you know that anyone can visit the “Versailles Park” for free any day of the year? While you have to pay to tour the house and see the fountains shows you can visit the park including the Grand Canal any day of the year for free.
However, once you get in the park there are a few paid activities that you must splurge on because they will give the full Versailles experience!
First, rent bikes! Whether you rent them for an hour or a half-day, you will have the time of your life! You can ride your bike all around the Grand Canal, down far out paths towards the apiary and the fields, or to Marie Antoinette’s Estate. Just take your time, relax and feel the wind in your hair!
Second, you need to rent a boat and row around inside the Grand Canal. While I would say that if you had to choose, go with the bikes, rowing a boat inside Versailles is also pretty great. On a warm May day you may even see a mother Swan with her ducklings near the shore.
Exploring the outer park is wonderful, you can bring your own picnic or some wine and just relax on the shore or if you rent a bike you can explore the whole estate! Don’t just think that once you’ve seen the palace that you’ve seen it all because the gardens and the park are really what make Versailles so special!