Before we left for our summer trip to Europe, I did what I usually do with our kids. I ask them what their must see/must do thing for the trip. My oldest said the catacombs. My youngest, who loves all things British, said Harry Potter Studio Tour. My stepson said Versailles. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure Versailles was really on my list. I like museums and history, but a trip outside of Paris to spend the whole day at a royal Chateau? Will it get boring half way through? But when my kids have a must see thing, I make it happen. I want to make sure no one leaves a location not doing the one thing they wanted to do.
Versailles was the palace of King Louis XIV and it is located slightly south and west of Paris. It isn’t far, but it requires taking the RER C instead of the Metro. We accidentally got on the RER C in the wrong direction and had to get off and go the other way. But it also gave us a chance to try new candies from a vending machine. The entrance fee is 18 euros, but those under 18 are free (or those under 26 in the European Union). We used our museum pass. There is also a free admission day, but we went on our first day with the museum pass. We were hoping a week day would be easier to manage with crowds.
It is crowded. Like really crowded. When we arrived in the morning, we walked up the street to the entrance with crowds. It was like walking with crowds to a baseball game. The line for the palace was long, but we took Rick Steves’ advice, and hit the gardens and Marie Antoinette house first and ended with the palace. The website has this visual guide to how busy it is during the high season. When we headed to palace in afternoon, the long lines we gone. There were still a lot of people inside, but we were glad we didn’t have to stand in line.
Also bad, I was getting sick. This was our third day in Paris (2nd full day) and I knew I was catching something. When we got off the train, I stopped at the Starbucks just outside of the train station (yes, I did. It was next to the McDonald’s) to get a hot drink. I carried a million napkins in my pocket for my runny nose and I pushed through it.
Versailles is worth it. I was sick and I loved it anyways. If I had been feeling 100% it would have been even better. The grounds are HUGE. The Palace is huge. And everything is ornate and ridiculous. My husband said he could see why maybe the French revolution came about. Just look at our photos. I couldn’t possibly show you everything we saw. But I will tell you the whole day is necessary to visit. The size of the grounds alone require a lot of walking (you could rent bikes, surreys or taking the tram). We splurged and rented a boat for the kids and they paddled out on the Grand Canal. Boats only hold four people so we let them go alone.
When visiting touristy places, you wonder if things are going to really be worth the money. Bringing our own food was a great plan, and paying for the row boat on the canal was worth it. There are places in the garden and in the palace to buy lunch or drinks if you don’t pack one. You can picnic on the grass in the many gardens. I have never smelled roses that smelled as fantastic as the roses in the garden at the Queen’s residence. You can get audio tours and they have exhibits in the palace that change. My stepson saw everything. I’ll admit, I did not feet out to the Grand Trianon. I was starting to wear down. Instead I sat in the eatery area in the palace blowing my nose.
By the end, sick as I was, tired as I was, I was glad this was on my stepson’s must see list.
The Apollo fountain
We packed our own le sandwich with baguettes from our corner boulangerie.
The Queen’s residence
The temple of love