Monday, June 17, 2013

Paris Day 2

If we had to describe Versailles in one word, it would be “massive.” We had done our research and read a bunch of articles and blog posts about it. “Wear comfortable shoes,” they warned. “Pack a sandwich,” they advised. “Be prepared to walk and spend countless hours there,” they preached. We brushed it off and figured we’d survive. After all, we are pretty well traveled and have been to plenty of palaces around the world. We could handle this! Or so we thought….

(Amazing details)

Let’s begin on a positive and historical note. Versailles is breathtakingly beautiful. Everything you see there is a masterpiece. The mere size of the colossal palace is enough to make you say “wow” a few times. Imagine this: 20,000 people once lived within these walls under the reign of King Louis XIV starting in 1668. It is the largest palace in Europe.  With that said, be prepared to walk, stand in long lines and be sandwiched between dozens of tour groups, young students and fellow tourists. 

(Hall of Mirrors) 

Here are our 10 tips on how to survive a visit to Versailles:

1. DO take the train. We took the RER-C line near our apartment and didn’t have any issues. This line splits into two, so make sure you take the correct line going towards “Versailles-Rive Gauche.” It costs a little over 3 euros per person for a one-way ticket. The train station is a short walk away from the palace. 

2. DO wear comfortable shoes. Mrs. P wore cute ballet flats and was miserable towards the end. Sneakers or even rain boots (if it is raining) would be the best, although less fashionable choice.

3. DO use the kiosks located to the left of the ticket booth in order buy your tickets instead of standing in line to buy them from a human. Please note: the line outside is NOT the line to buy tickets, it is the line to enter the palace and go through security. We waited 45 minutes in the rain to go through security, but there is nothing you could do about that except be patient. 

4. DO arrive early. In order to experience Versailles without rushing through it, you will need to allocate 5-6 hours at the palace. 

5. DO pack a sandwich and water. The café we ate in at the Gardens of Versailles tasted like terrible microwaveable food. We highly recommend that you buy a sandwich before you hop on the train because there aren’t any bakeries or food stores within walking distance of Versailles from our experience.  There are plenty of benches and sitting areas for you to enjoy your lunch in the gardens. We wish we had followed this piece of advice. If all else fails, at least there is a Mc. Donald’s across the street from the metro station. 

6. DO have patience! You are not the only one who wants to experience Versailles. There will be a lot of people there, especially in large groups. So, prepare to be pushed, shoved and hurried along. Also, beware of pickpockets and be aware of your surroundings. If you have children, make sure you keep a close eye on them, as they can easily get lost. 

7. DO take the trolley to the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon in the gardens. It looks close on the map, but it is a very far walk. Do yourself a favor and save your pretty feet because you will need them for the rest of your trip. To get the trolley, you need to walk over to the right side of the Grand Canal in the gardens.

8. DO prepare for the weather. Take an umbrella or raincoat if it is raining, jacket if it is cold or sunblock if it is sunny. Once you are inside the palace, you are pretty much stuck there until the end of your visit. Make sure you are comfortable.

9. DO rent the rowboats in the Grand Canal in the gardens. Although they were closed when we went together on this trip, Mr. P went for a ride in 2004 and had a wonderful time. This is a fun thing to do with the kids!

10. DO make sure to pick up your audio tour before you start exploring the palace. This is included in your paid admission and will make s world of difference when it comes to learning about the history of the grounds. All descriptions in the palace are in French and you won’t know what you are looking at unless you are on a tour or pick up the audio tour.

After your visit to Versailles, we recommend visiting the Eiffel Tower. You may be tired, but the energy of the Eiffel Tower will give you a boost! If you took the train to Versailles, the RER-C line has a stop on the way back to the city center (a block away from the tower) called “Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel.” 

In our case, we did not buy tickets online but were lucky enough not to have to wait in line because it was lightly raining. However, if you chose to buy the tickets on the internet, it would be a good idea to make reservations around sunset in order to enjoy the view during the day and at night. During the busy season, some people wait in line for 2-3 hours to buy tickets.  

The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower and the twinkling lights on the tower (every hour on the hour at night) was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

On the highest level of the Eiffel Tower there is a Champagne bar! It is a little pricey but it is worth the splurge! Afterall, you are in Paris on top of the Eiffel tower! Don't miss this opportunity and don't miss the twinkling lights on the tower every hour on the hour at night. It gave us chills!

We hope these tips help you have a pleasant experience in Versailles and the Eiffel Tower! Have a wonderful time!  Need more tips? Read all about our third day in Paris.


  1. Looks like you guys had an AMAZING trip!! I've always wanted to visit Paris -- hopefully some day :)

    1. You will get there! Dreams do come true :)

  2. So fun! Looks like you are having a blast! If you want to try the BEST hot chocolate in the world, go to this little Bohemian place on Ile St. Louis - No. 24 Rue St.-Louis-en-l'Ile - called La Charlotte de l'Ile - unbelievable stuff. And the pastries (while not as pretty as others) are amazing, too. Or if you want someplace Paris-fancy, try Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli and ask for the Chocolat a l'Africain. Have fun! ~ David

    1. Thanks David! Wish we were still there though. We've been back for two weeks. I have heard about the hot chocolate place being amazing!

    2. I was thinking you might be back (most people don't have time to blog when they are having an amazing time in Paris!). The good news is that there is ALWAYS a next time in Paris!

  3. I'm impressed you hit the Eiffel Tower after that long day at Versaille!

    1. So are we! lol We were a little tired, but it was worth it!

  4. Great tips ;-) love Paris contine to enjoy
    Lovely folks

  5. Amazing photography, looks like you had a wonderful time! Versailles and the Eiffel Tower are certainly breathtakingly beautiful and you are so lucky to have had a chance to visit! Love that you put together a list with lots of helpful information too!

  6. Wow, your pictures give me chills- so beautiful! Especially the city at night- and thanks for the tips!


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