My 20 something daughter & I will be in Paris for 6 days in March and are planning a day trip to Versailles. I am a seasoned and adventurous traveler but would like advice from those who have been to Versailles. (1) Should I book round trip train tickets for Versailles in advance before leaving the US? I have noted that Rick advises not to visit on Sunday regardless. (2) It looks like there's lots to see and find on our own in Versailles. I'm willing to spend the money for a tour or a guide to help us navigate and see the most possible. Is this helpful or a waste of money? (3) What is the best way to get there via train from the Latin Quarter (Les Gobelins metro station)?
Versailles was a very nice day for us. Exhausting but impressive. To get there i like to follow this link: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-to-chateau-versailles-by-train/ We took the guided tour offered by them, we got to see the Opera, it is beautiful.
The tours change daily, so if there is something you really want to see you could try emailing them. After you get through the golden gates, facing the château, the guided tours are on your right. The sign says visites commentées. You can skip the line and buy you entry ticket there too when you pay for you tour.
The Palace of Versailles is a must see! I went in May of 2009 and didn't but train tickets till the day of, and got them just fine. Definately take Rick's advice seriously and do not visit on a sunday! Go as early as you can, as I had to wait in a huge line because I didn't get there early. I have been twice and only gotten the English headset for a tour, and it was great for the palace. I highly recommend exploring the ground and taking the time to walk to Marie Antoinette's Estate- a gorgeous walk, and her estate is beautiful! 3-I caught the RER C right close to the Pont Neuf Bridge, heading towards the Invalides RER C from Paris, arrives at Versailles Rive Gauche station SNCF Trains Arrive at Versailles Chantiers station from Paris Montparnasse
Arrive at Versailles Rive Droite station from Paris Saint Lazare Go to this website and put in Les Gobelins and Versailles Rive Gauche and it will tell you what lines to take (too long for me to copy and paste in here)
don't worry about the train ticket before you go, you can get the ticket on the day as you go. the RS book has details on the train stations, and if it's not walking distance just use the metro, it's very easy. i think a guide is ok - i used one in 2001 and then in 2007 i went on my own. my guide was helpful pointing out stuff i didn't know before, but she didn't cover everything i'm interested, so if you feel like researching on your own, you should just spend your time to study and enjoy in your own pace.
I love Versailles and have been there more times than I can count. I think the headphones for the inside of the Palace is plenty. If you can hire a guide for the grounds, I think that would be worthwhile. We love renting bikes and riding all over the grounds (they're extensive) - the bike rental is located behind the Palace down by the Grand Canal.
They have a little train, and a horse drawn wagon that takes people from the palace/Grand Canal to the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and the Hamlet (L'Hameau) but we enjoy going by bike the best. We always take the RER and just buy tickets the day of (per RS instructions). I'd recommend at least reading the RS Paris guide on how to tour Versailles - it is very helpful.
A few additional comments: The train to/from Versailles to Paris Rive Gauche is RER C (follows the river). Trains every 15 minutes or so but be sure to buy a ticket all the way to Versailles. A regular Metro ticket will not suffice. Get a return at the same time to avoid a line in Versailles. And that line branches on its way to Versailles, so be sure to get on the Versailles train. Easy 5 minute walk to the chateau. I'd get a tour for the chateau as you can see more that way. I'd explore the gardens on your own. Plan a picnic lunch and enjoy down by the grand canal. The gardens are huge (more than you can imagine) so leave 3-4 hours to wander and see the Hamlet and Trianons. You can rent bikes, carts or boats for the canal. There are trams for weary feet.
I am going to Paris in March as well and will definitely be going to Versailles. One bit of disappointing info that I found out is that in low season (Nov-March) Le Hameau and the surrounding buildings are not open, although the Grand and Petit Trianon are open.
Context Travel has a good small group tour of Versailles (max 6 people). They're a bit pricey, but I personally have found their tours to give a really good bang for the buck. Once the guided tour is over, you can stay on and spend as much time as you want in Versailles. The docent will give you good, solid info for your return journey. You can e-mail them to iron out all the details before you go. I have done more than a half dozen tours with them in the past (group and private), both in Paris and in Italy. I have 3 more booked for my trip this June. See if they have Versailles scheduled for your dates. If you see that it's listed in the "other available walks", e-mail them anyways. They might schedule it ("tentative") with just 2 people initially, knowing that it will likely fill for the period you are looking at. They won't usually name the Docent until the walk is in a "confirmed" status. http://www.contexttravel.com/city/Paris
http://www.contexttravel.com/city/Paris/walking_tour_details/Versailles Put the entire window of your dates in the search engine, and see what pops up.
You have already gotten good information regarding the train (yes, purchase day of) and how to get there. We also used the official website for Paris metro ( http://www.ratp.fr/itineraires/en/ratp/recherche-avancee) to help us navigate. They have a good interactive map as well as itinerary planning guides. Once at the station, just make sure you get on the train labeled Versailles-Rive Gauche as there are a number of train destinations that share the same track. As for the guide, we used the following site to download a free audio tour by Rick Steves. It was very informative yet interesting, allowed us to go at our own pace, and was just the right amount of time (I believe two hours). It covers the palace as well as the gardens. You need either an iPod or MP3 player. (http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/france_downloads.htm). We really enjoyed Versailles. As mentioned, get there early or later in the day (like late morning or early afternoon) or go with a Paris Museum Pass to avoid the long lines.
I went to Versailles on a Sunday in March, as it was my only opportunity to go while on my Paris trip. Bought my tickets at the station, not ahead of time, and timed it so I would arrive at opening time. I also had a Paris Museum Pass to avoid the long lines, and had downloaded the mp3 tour which worked well. Crowds weren't as bad as I thought they'd be. My only disappointment was much of the grounds still had greenery and statues covered for the winter season. Enjoy!
To go to Versailles, I liked to follow this step by step guide : http://www.paristoversailles.com/paris-to-versailles-by-train-rer/paris-versailles-by-train-rer/