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Dec 15, 2021

Versailles is a city on the western edge of the French capital city Paris, now part of the sprawling metropolis within the Ile de France region. Versailles is best known for being the site of the vast royal palace and gardens built by King Louis XIV on what had been the grounds of a royal hunting lodge. It is also one of the wealthiest cities near Paris.

Central Court of the Palace of Versailles

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The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, also known as the Château de Versailles, has been the scene for several historic events, not the least of which was the signing, on 28 June 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors, of the Peace Treaty between defeated Germany and the Allies that brought the First World War formally to an end. The signing of the treaty at Versailles, of course, mirrored the proclamation, in 1871 within the same long hall, of the establishment of the German Empire under the Prussian king, subsequently the Kaiser. The palace started out as a simple hunting lodge built by Louis XIII. However, after that Louis XIV decided he wanted to build the palace that we know today at that location. In 1789 the palace lost its seat in power, but today hosts the Museum of France’s history.

The palace area consists of the main palace, a large garden, an extensive park, as well as a number of annex buildings which all are of historic and cultural interest. Seeing all of this in the pace it deserves, as well as the transport between different sites, take time. If you have only one day to spend at Versailles, make a plan and prioritize what you want to see, and take into account that there are large distances between some of the interesting locations and possibly also lines to wait in at the entrance. Versailles palace is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The easiest way to get to Versailles palace and avoid queues is to buy the ticket directly from the Château de Versailles website: it costs a bit more than the usual entrance ticket but includes return railway and metro tickets, an audioguided tour of the Chapel and Opera House, the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments, the Dauphin’s and the Mesdames’ Apartments, the Coach Museum, Trianons and all the temporary exhibitions.

However, you can get to the Palace easily by train and buy tickets for each attraction once there. This may be the best approach if you want to see something in particular or just want to explore the enormous gardens.

There are three train stations in Versailles: Versailles Château Rive Gauche, Versailles Rive Droite and Versailles Chantiers. The Versailles Château Rive Gauche station is the one closest to the Palace (5-minute walk), though the other two stations are not all that much further away (about a 15-minute walk).

  • From Paris Montparnasse: Take Transilien N or TER Centre-Val de Loire to 48.79552.13551 Versailles Chantiers (€3.55), the trip will take either 25 minutes (a train every 15 minutes) or 12 minutes (roughly a train every hour), but the walk is not very nice from that station. If your train isn’t non-stop, it will call at Viroflay Rive Gauche, where you can change for a line C train to Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche (see below).
  • From Paris: RER C line, direction Versailles Château Rive Gauche (train called VICK or VITY), get off at ‘48.799952.128151 Versailles Château Rive Gauche station (€3.55). The station is the closest one to the Palace so this makes it the fastest way of reaching the Palace from many locations in central Paris (37 minutes from Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame, 26 minutes from Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel). Be careful not to get off at Viroflay Rive Gauche! The name looks somewhat the same, but it is not the right station! The RER C7, direction Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, stops at Versailles Chantiers (train called SARA or SLOM). Do not take RER C terminating at Versailles-Chantiers (train called CIME or CITY) as this takes a long tour of the southern suburbs of Paris before reaching Versailles.
  • From Paris Saint Lazare: Take Transilien L to 48.809592.135741 Versailles Rive Droite (€4.35). You will reach Versailles in 33 minutes, with the opportunity to see (or visit) La Défense on the way. The walk from that station can be very pleasant.

Versailles is in public transport zone 4, so all passes (Navigo, Mobilis, Paris Visite, Ticket jeune…) that include zone 4 are valid. A ticket t+ is not valid for the train, you need to purchase a specific ticket. However, you can use the train ticket from Paris for a metro or RER (but not a bus or tram) ride in Paris to reach the train, and similarly in the other direction.

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