The Best Versailles Itinerary | French Californian

The Best Itinerary for Versailles

Update: This post was written in 2018, and I have not been back to Versailles since then, so please double check the info in this post. Especially post-covid, I have no idea how tickets, procedures, or the layout at the palace may have changed. The general itinerary is pretty timeless though – bon voyage!

Remember how I used to live in Versailles, France? I spent over three years walking those streets, exploring the château grounds, and riding the train back and forth to Paris countless times. I think you could say I’m pretty familiar with it! That’s why I finally want to share my perfect day in Versailles.

I’ve gotten messages from travelers asking for advice about how to tackle Versailles in one day. With the main chateau, the massive gardens, two smaller palaces, more gardens, a hamlet, and not to mention the surrounding city itself, planning a successful, efficient day trip to Versailles is completely overwhelming if you’re starting from zero knowledge.

But that’s alright! I got you!

I’m going to lay out everything you ever wanted to know about spending a fantastic day in Versailles. First, I’ll go over some practical information. Then, I’ll give my ideal itinerary, step-by-step, including a walking route on a custom Google map!  You can take or leave whatever you want, but this information is bound to be super helpful.

Here we go!

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Marie Antoinette's Garden in Spring - French Californian

Marie Antoinette’s Garden During Spring

Every time spring rolls around, there’s always that first perfectly temperate, blue-skied, wonderful day of the year. Whenever it arrives, without fail, I find myself proclaiming it the BEST DAY EVER. It can’t be the best day ever if it happens every single year! Aside from my excitability when it comes to weather (yes, I can and will discuss weather in casual conversation), last Sunday really was perfect. Apparently, the rest of Versailles thought so too, because droves of people were outdoors.

None of my 3 friends could come with me, so I explored on my own. But it’s all the same to me – I explore alone most of the time. It’s actually therapeutic for me, to wander around and observe beauty (and take pictures of it).

I made my way through town and towards the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s domain, comfortably removed from the main palace and all the strict rules and regulations that came with it. From here, she created a universe filled with romantic gardens and farm animals. When I explore this area of the grounds, I like to think that I can still feel her presence lingering.

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The Gardens of Versailles in Autumn

During the two years I’ve lived near the Versailles gardens, can you believe I’ve never seen the fountains when they’re turned on? You see, there are lots of Baroque fountains and groves peppered throughout the massive gardens, but since they’re so old, they can’t be running water constantly. So every weekend (excluding weekends in winter), all the fountains turn on and the entire garden is filled with the sounds of water and Baroque music. It really adds to the ambiance – which is impressive, considering the gardens already have a ton of ambiance to begin with.

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Masquerade Ball of Versailles

The moment I heard about a Masquerade Ball at the Palace of Versailles I knew I had to attend. I’m mostly a homebody and not much of a party animal, but the idea of dressing up like Marie Antoinette at the actual chateau was enough to push me to purchase the 78€ tickets (88€ for people over 26 years). The spending didn’t stop there, oh no. We rented some of the least expensive Rococo costumes available at the nearest Costume Shop, Déguisez-Moi, which ran from 80-110€ apiece.

I’m not complaining about the money spent – in fact, I have no regrets whatsoever! Since this is probably once-in-a-lifetime (or twice, if I still live here next summer), I’m more than willing to cough up the funds to have the experience. Actually, we decided that if we ever do this again, we’ll splurge even more on the costumes. I had some major costume envy when I saw a coordinating couple drenched entirely in bright white, feathers and crystals – the woman’s petticoat extended at least 3 feet to each side! My costume was lovely but not a true robe à la française. I suppose you’ll have to fork over more money if you want something truly authentic.

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Visual Diary: French Summer

How does one have a quintessential French summer?  The biggest requirement is to abandon all work and responsibilities and head for the beaches of Greece or the Côte d’Azure for the entirety of August – my version of a getaway will come later in the month.  What is also typically Parisian is attending an awesome music festival, and sipping cold rosé, which I also have not done yet, since I’m a hopeless home-body. What I have been doing, however, is enjoying the pleasant weather in the form of picnics, sunbathing, and lounging on the terrasse of bars and restaurants with friends.

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Chateau de Versailles + Our First Dinner Soirée

Last Saturday was a busy day! During a supermarket run that morning, the sky looked bright, yet partly cloudy, and a bit windier than normal. Then, an hour later, as soon as I set foot outside to pick up my friend from the train station… Torrential downpour! My shoes and pants got soaked, and my poor H&M umbrella got snapped in half! The insane storm lasted about 5 minutes, just long enough for me to hop on a bus instead. As soon as we were walking back from the station, the sky was once again clear and sunny! … I’m not used to this weather.

We stopped for a few to browse through an antique market, grabbed a bite to eat at a boulangerie, then headed to the palace. Here were the things I noticed this time around:

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