How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Versailles is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France. It can easily be visited on a day trip from Paris. The Palace of Versailles is easily one of the most famous palaces in the world

Versailles is easily one of the most famous palaces in the world, and tourist flock to see it. It is always busy, and it can be frustrating trying to navigate Versailles amongst the crowds.

It is impossible to fully avoid the crowds, but there are a number of strategies that will limit your interaction with them. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you plan your trip to the palace strategically to avoid the crowds.

Buy Tickets for Versailles in Advance Online

The queue to purchase tickets at the ticket office can be over an hour long. It is a waste of your time to wait in that queue when you can easily purchase tickets in advance online. You can purchase tickets up to 8 months before your visit, so you can easily purchase them before you leave for Paris.

You need to print a physical copy of your ticket, so you should print it before you leave for Paris if you won’t have access to a printer while you’re on holiday.

Other than needing a physical ticket, purchasing tickets online is an easy process. You simply choose what ticket you want, what day you want to visit, input a little personal information, and pay with a credit card.

You will be able to bypass the entire queue and go directly into the palace with your advanced ticket. It saves you so much time! There really is no downside to purchasing your ticket online in advance. It is limiting in the sense of you have to know what day you are visiting in advance, but it is worth planning ahead.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Purchase Tickets for the First Entry Time

You can choose a designated time slot when you purchase tickets online. You should purchase a ticket for the 9am entry time if it is available. This is the first entry into the palace, so it will be the quietist.

You should purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible for the best chance of getting a 9am entry time.

You will have the most room to view and appreciate the interior at the 9am time slot. There won’t be people in front of you, so you won’t run into people crowding around one place. Well, the crowding will at least be limited to the people in your entry slot.

You will also have the opportunity to get pictures of the inside of Versaille without too many people in your way. If you enter the palace right at 9 and keep to the front of your group, you can get pictures of some of the rooms with nobody else in them. It makes for great pictures, and your friends will be jealous!

The downside to buying tickets for the 9am time slot is that you will have to get up early, but it is worth it! You should plan to be at the palace at 8:45 to get through security and have your ticket scanned. You know what they say, the early bird beats the crowds!

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Download the Audioguide Before You Arrive

You can download the Versailles audioguide to your smart phone before you arrive at the palace. You won’t have to stand in line to get an audioguide, and you will save more time and get ahead of the people waiting to get their guide.

The audioguide can be downloaded through the app store. You simply search “Versailles audioguide”, and you will be able to download the guide. It is free, so you don’t have to worry about paying for it.

The audioguide is offered in French, English, and Spanish. If you speak a different language, you will want to get an audioguide at the palace. The audioguides at the palace offer a wider range of languages, so you can enjoy the tour in your native tongue.

Versailles Palace

Visit the Gardens Before You Visit the Palace

The gardens open one hour before the palace does. That means you can enter the gardens at 8am, walk through them, and then go into the palace at 9am.

You will need more than an hour to explore the gardens, but it gives you an opportunity to visit the more popular areas and take great pictures before the crowds get there. You can go back to the gardens to finish exploring after you are done in the palace.

The gardens are free to enter during the winter because there are no flowers and the fountains are covered. There is an entrance fee to visit the gardens the rest of the year. You can purchase your ticket to the gardens at the same time as you purchase your palace ticket online. There is a combo ticket you can choose that allows you entrance to both areas.

You have to get up early to visit the gardens right when they open. It is worth it if you enjoy gardens and if you want to avoid as many of the crowds as possible.

The gardens are large, so they don’t feel crowded for the most part. There are areas of interest that draw crowds, but, for the most part, you can wander through the gardens and have little to no crowds.

Versailles Palace Gardens Paris France

Visit Versailles on Wednesday or Thursday

Wednesday and Thursday are the least busy days of the week at Versailles. You should try to schedule your trip to Versailles so it falls on one of these days.

The palace is closed on Mondays, and weekends and national holidays are always busy. If you have to visit on a weekend, try to go on a Sunday as it is the quieter day.

Tuesday is busy because the Louvre in Paris is closed, so many people choose to visit Versailles instead. You should avoid visiting on a Tuesday at all costs.

When you visit on a Wednesday or Thursday, there will be fewer crowds if you don’t manage to get a 9am entry time. You will also have a better chance of getting a 9am time if you purchase tickets last minute because fewer people are going those days.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Eat Before You Get to Versailles

You will have an early morning if you get a 9am entry time to the palace. You should eat a big breakfast before you get to Versailles, so you don’t have to spend your precious less crowded time in the cafeteria because you’re hungry.

This tip may seem out of place, but it makes a difference in terms of the crowds. If you have to stop at the cafeteria partway through your tour, the crowds are going to catch up with you. Plus the food at Versailles isn’t all that great.

You are able to bring your own food and water to have a picnic in the gardens. You will have to check your bag that has the food before you enter the palace, so you need to budget time for that. Having a picnic is a great way to experience the ambiance of Versailles and get away from the crowds.

Palace of Versailles Paris France

Conclusion

There will be crowds at Versailles even if you follow all of these tips. You have to prepare yourself to have some level of crowds, but you can avoid the worst of the crowds by getting there right when the palace opens and purchasing your tickets online.

You shouldn’t let the fact that there will be crowds discourage you from visiting Versailles. It is a historic and beautiful sight that deserves to be seen.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Paris

Paris is normally near the top of everybody’s itinerary for their first trip to Europe. While Paris as a city is a great place to visit, there are so many sights just outside the city that are worth visiting as well. And, well, who wouldn’t love to take a couple day trips from Paris? The best thing about all of these day trips is that they don’t require lots of travel time, so you can spend most of your day exploring rather than being on a train.

Spending a few extra days in the city and taking day trips from Paris allows you to see a number of important and iconic French landmarks that you would not get to see if you stayed in Paris the entire time. Day trips from Paris also allow you to get away from a cosmopolitan city and see some smaller, charming towns.

Why Take a Day Trip from Paris?

Paris is quite different from the rest of France. It has a different vibe and energy to it. I always find Paris to be fast-paced while other parts of France are very relaxed and idyllic.

Taking a couple of day trips from Paris will allow you to get a better sense of France as a country. When you only visit one city in a country, you only get a feel for the single city rather than the entire country.

France is an amazing country that deserves to be explored. Even somewhere as close as 90 minutes from Paris has a completely different atmosphere than Paris.

Taking day trips from Paris allow you to explore more of France without having to travel from one location to the next and pack and unpack your luggage.

Day trips give you the opportunity to see what else France has to offer with a low level of commitment. If you don’t like a place, you’re back in Paris that evening and don’t have to worry about staying in a city you don’t care for or changing your plans to leave early.

I always advocate for taking day trip if you’re only visiting one city in a country, and Paris has some of the best day trips to offer. There are a wide variety of choices, so people with varying interests can find something that appeals to them.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of day trips from Paris; however, these are my 5 favourites. They are all close to Paris and easy to get to. They are perfect for people visiting Paris for the first time and for veteran Paris travellers.

Now to get down to business. Here are the 5 best day trips from Paris!

1. Giverny

The main thing to do in Giverny is visit Claude Monet’s gardens. The gardens are breathtaking. Since they are so breathtaking, they are also quite popular even though other travel sites say Giverny is a “hidden gem”. While it may be a bit off the beaten track, it is still popular enough that you should try to be at the gardens right when they open.

Getting There

It is simple to get to Giverny from central Paris. The train departs from Saint-Lazare Paris train station. You will need to buy a ticket to Vernon-Giverny.

The train only takes 45 minutes, so it makes for a great day trip from Paris for people who want to spend the least amount of time travelling and a long time exploring the destination.

Once you arrive at the Vernon-Giverny station, you will have to take the shuttle bus the gardens. Because the gardens can get busy, you should try to schedule your train trip, so you are in Giverny in time to take the first shuttle that departs at 9:15am.

Admission

Admission to Giverny is shockingly cheap. At the time of writing, the most expensive ticket is €8! For the most up-to-date information on ticket prices, please consult the Giverny website.

Monet’s gardens are only open from mid-March to November, so be sure to double check that the sight is open when you’re visiting.

General Information

Giverny has more to offer than the two gardens and Monet’s house (although that would be more than enough to make a great day trip)! When you’re there, be sure to explore the surrounding village a little bit. There are a number of boutique stores and some amazing restaurants that serve beautiful french wine (Sancerre anyone?).

Claude Monet's Gardens Giverny France Five Day Trips from Paris

2. Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau is one of Napoleon’s lesser known palaces. However, this does not mean it is not worth a visit. I would even dare to say it is more worthy of a visit than the Palace of Versailles.

The rooms are magnificent, and the palace is home to some fascinating history. There is an audio guide included in the price of admission. You’ll want to use it because it is full of information that enhances your visit.

I know audioguides are a little gross, but if you have a wet wipe in your purse, you can wipe it down and be free of germs!

Getting There

Château de Fontainebleau is just as easy to get to as Giverny. You will need to take a train from Paris-Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon. The train ride is about 40 minutes, so it is another perfect day trip from Paris for people looking to get the most out of their time.

After getting off the train, you will need to take a city bus to the château. Take the Ligne 1 bus in the direction of Les Lilas. You will get off at the stop called Château Fontainebleau.

That may sound complex for a new traveller, but I ensure you that it is incredibly easy. Fontainebleau-Avon is a small train station, so you will be able to see the bus stop from the train station. And you’ll know when to get off the bus because there is a sound system that announces the next stop. Simply listen for the Château Fontainebleau stop and exit the bus.

If you do feel a bit nervous about when to get off, watch the other tourists and exit when they leave, or ask the bus driver when you get on the bus when exactly you should get off.

Admission

Tickets range from €10 to €12 (at the time of writing) depending on whether you are eligible for a reduce fare or not. It is reasonably priced for travellers on a budget, which makes it a great choice for a day trip from Paris for budget travellers. For the most recent ticket prices, please refer to the Château de Fontainebleau website.

General Information

Château de Fontainebleau is pretty much in the centre of town, so if you have some spare time, be sure to wander through the town to get a sense of the local scene. The food options at the château are limited; however, they have a number of food trucks just outside the gardens in the summer that serve up some delicious food.

Chateau de Fontainebleau Paris France

3. Disneyland Paris

This is my favourite day trip from Paris because I am a Disney junkie. However, it is fun for everybody no matter whether you are a Disney fanatic or not! I mean who doesn’t love visiting a new theme park and indulging on all the delicious food? Plus Disneyland Paris has a couple of attractions that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Disneyland Paris is a beautifully designed theme park. It is full of colour and detailed buildings. There is a lot to see at Disneyland Paris, so you could easily spend 2 days in the park. But for moderate Disney fans, Disneyland Paris can be done in a day trip.

Getting There

Getting to Disneyland Paris requires riding the RER A to the end of the line and getting off at Gare de Marne la Vallée Chessy.

Depending on what part of Paris you’re staying in, this can take anywhere from 10 minutes if you’re staying on the outskirts of Paris near the park of 90 minutes if you’re staying in the heart of Paris.

Admission

Not surprisingly, admission to Disneyland Paris is a bit pricey. The average cost of a one day ticket to both parks for an adult ranges from €76 to €107 depending on what day you go. Prices vary depending on whether it is a busy time in the parks or not so be sure to refer to the Disneyland Paris website for the most current ticketing information.

You should seriously consider getting a ticket that allows you entry into both parks. They are extremely close together, and you can easily walk from one to the other in a matter of minutes.

Each of the parks has something unique to see and do. It would be a shame to go all the way to Paris and only go to one of the parks because you didn’t want to spend the extra money to be allowed entry into both.

That being said, if you only buy a single-park ticket, go to Disneyland Paris. It has a lot more attractions, a parade and nighttime show, and all the classic sights and sounds. You will get more bang for your buck if you go to Disneyland rather than the Studios park.

General Information

If you’re going to Disneyland Paris (and you should), be sure to get to the parks when they open to avoid the mid-day crowds. Getting there early will help you maximize your time and money. You should also make sure to use fast passes to further maximize your time. There is no sense waiting in a long line if you don’t have to!

Pro tip: Be sure to go under the castle. You won’t want to miss it.

Disneyland Paris Castle

4. Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge is a true historical sight. The Battle of Vimy ridge was a turning point in World War One. To read more about it, visit The Battle of Vimy Ridge website. As a Canadian, visiting Vimy Ridge was an emotional experience, and I believe it is important to understand history in order to better understand the current world order and prevent future conflicts from starting.

Getting There

Not to dissuade you from visiting, but Vimy Ridge is the most difficult sight on this list to get to. You have to take a train from Paris Gare de Nord to Arras. The train ride is approximately 2 hours. After arriving in Arras, you will need to take a taxi to Vimy Ridge. The taxi costs approximately €20 one way.

It is unfortunate that there is not a bus that can take you from Arras to Vimy Ridge because that would be far more economical, and there are normally enough tourists that it would most likely be profitable to run.

In any event, getting to Vimy Ridge is a tad inconvenient, but it is worth the trip if you have any interest in history or WWI.

Admission

Vimy Ridge offers free admission as well as a free guided tour to visitors. Donations are optional but in no way required.

General Information

Be sure to chat with the guides and staff members during your visit. They are all young Canadians who are incredibly knowledgable and really help deepen your understanding of the events that took place during the Battle.

This is by far the most emotional day trip from Paris on this list, but it is an important one to do if you have the time. Getting there is a time commitment, but it is worth it to learn about the history of the battle field. You always hear about how close the trenches were in WWI but to see them is an unreal experience.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

5. Palace of Versailles

How could I have a list of day trips from Paris and not include the most well know? If you’ve done any research on Paris, you most likely know that Versailles is the most popular day trip from Paris. It is an incredible palace, but I think the gardens are the real showstopper.

Getting There

Getting to the Palace of Versailles from Paris is easy. You take the RER C to Versailles-Château/Rive Gauche then walk for a couple of blocks before you get to the palace gates. You won’t get lost walking to the palace because there will be throngs of other tourists you can follow as well as signs and maps along the walking route.

The train ride takes approximately 1 hour from central Paris.

Admission

There are many different types of tickets that are offered at the Palace of Versailles. I recommend the one day passport for €20. It gives you access to the palace, the gardens, and temporary exhibits. To view all the ticket options, visit the Palace of Versailles website.

The palace gets extremely busy, so I would highly recommend you purchase your ticket online ahead of time to avoid standing in line to buy a ticket upon arriving at the palace.

General Information

The gardens open an hour before the palace, so if you’re wanting to avoid as much of the crowds as possible, you may want to consider getting to the gardens when they open in the morning, exploring them, then entering the palace as soon as it opens.

Versailles Palace

Transportation Tips and Tricks

Buy Your Return Ticket Ahead of Time

If you are taking day trips from Paris that requires riding the RER or the underground train system, you can purchase your return ticket ahead of time. This saves you time at the end of the day when you’re tired. You can simply pull out your ticket, validate it, and get on the train.

You can purchase your return tickets at the automated machine. Simply change the departure and return destinations. As long as you don’t validate it, you are good to use that ticket whenever you want.

You are also able to purchase your return ticket from a ticket booth with an employee. Tell them that you want a return ticket as well, and they will sell you on.

Validate Your Ticket

If you are taking the national train, you need to validate your ticket before you board. There will be a yellow box as you enter the platform. Simply stick the end of your ticket in there, and you’re officially validated.

If you’re not sure what to do, either watch the locals and follow their lead or ask an employee how to do it. It is an easy process, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Printing Tickets

You have to print physical paper tickets if you purchase tickets online. This is easy to do if you’ve planned your trip and booked your tickets before you leave. All you need to do is print the tickets that are sent to your email and bring them to the train station with you.

It gets difficult/annoying when you’re like me and plan things last minute.

If you’re staying at hotel, you can ask the front desk to print your tickets for you. They may charge you a small fee, but it will be worth it to have your tickets.

If you’re staying at an Air B&B, you have two options:

1. Print Your Tickets at a Cyber Cafe

This option will require you to find a cyber cafe in the neighbourhood where you are staying then print your tickets from there.

I have had issues when I have tried to do this. My email security did not like that I was using a public computer, so it sent me a validation code via text message. The validation code, however, did not show up because I had my phone data off. I had to turn my data on, receive the code, then input it. It was a very annoying process.

Cyber cafes are inexpensive and won’t cost you more than a couple of euros to use the computer and print your tickets.

This isn’t an ideal option, but it works if you’re in a pinch and need your ticket.

2. Buy Your Tickets at the Train Station

This is another mildly annoying option, but it is what I prefer to do.

You have to purchase the train ticket from the station that you are leaving from. In order to do this, you, obviously, have to find your way to the train station. This is annoying if you’re not planning on doing anything in the neighbourhood the train station is in, and it can take away some of your sightseeing time in Paris.

You are able to buy the tickets at an automated SNCF ticket machine. These are different from the ordinary ticket machines that you buy metro tickets at. You will be able to tell the SNCF machines apart because they will be in an area by themselves away from the metro ticket machines and be purple on the side.

Conclusion

You should try to make time in your itinerary to take a couple of day trips from Paris. There are many day trips from Paris that are easy to get to, inexpensive, and filled with cultural and historical information.

As previously stated, you will be able to learn so much more about France by taking a few day trips from Paris. They are a great way to save time and the hassle of packing and checking into a new hotel.

All of the day trips from Paris on this list are designed to be done in one day without having to get up too early or get home too late.

They are perfect for people travelling with children or solo travellers because they give you the opportunity to see a lot without having to burn the candle at both ends.

There are plenty of other day trips from Paris you could go on, but they often have longer transportation times or are more difficult to get to. Some require renting a car or going on an organized tour while others require you to spend so long on a train that you only have a few hours at your destination.

I love these 5 day trips from Paris because they really do allow you to see a lot without spending too much time in transit. To me, that is the perfect combination for a day trip.