The Best Versailles Itinerary | French Californian

The Best Itinerary for Versailles

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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Mysteries in the Fog: Quinta da Regaleira

If someone were to ask me: What is the Quinta da Regaleira? I’d have a really hard time coming up with a short answer. In fact, it can only really be summed up through multiple pictures and an entire blog post! So here it is.

The Quinta da Regaleira is basically a mansion and its surrounding grounds situated in the mountains above a village called Sintra, in Portugal.

I first heard about Sintra when reading something about J.K. Rowling. If I remember correctly, she was describing all the things that inspired her when creating the world of Harry Potter, and one of them was Sintra. I had no idea what Sintra would actually be like, but I knew that if it had inspired one of my favorite fictional worlds, then visiting it would be worth my while.

Since reading that article, I forgot about Sintra, but as Portugal rose in popularity over the last few years as the coolest, newest travel destination, I saw more and more images pop up into my Instagram and Pinterest feeds featuring this amazing, mysterious garden with moss-covered ponds and a deep, dark spiral staircase that descended into the earth but opened up to the sky. I found out later after doing some research that the place I had seen magical little glimpses of was in fact the Quinta da Regaleira (don’t ask me to pronounce that).

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Descanso Rose Garden in Spring

California Rose Garden on a Cloudy Day

By now, it’s probably no surprise that strolling through gardens is one of my favorite pastimes. This spring, I paid yet another visit to one of my favorite spots in California, the Descanso Gardens near Pasadena.

For some reason, whenever I visit, it always seems to be overcast and damp, but I don’t mind. I think rose gardens are especially romantic underneath a cloudy sky.

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The Pacific Northwest | French Californian

The Pacific Northwest

A few months ago I took a family vacation to the Pacific Northwest. We stayed near Port Townsend (a couple hours out of Seattle) and explored the entire area over about a week. My favorite part was exploring the Bloedel Reserve, which nurtures the most beautiful and rarest features of the lush native landscape, from mushrooms to hundreds of types of moss. They also have a beautiful Japanese garden and French style manor where the founders of the Reserve once lived. The day we visited was overcast and slightly drizzly – the perfect type of weather for this kind of environment.

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Le Musée Rodin, Paris | French Californian

Musée Rodin & Roses

Last summer I spent a beautiful couple of hours photographing the Musée Rodin. The rose garden was in bloom and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. I arrived at mid-day when the sun was at its height, so the lighting wasn’t ideal – or so I thought. I spent most of my time in the garden taking endless photos of the roses, trying to get the perfect angles, and even though direct sunlight can be difficult to work with, it can yield amazing results if you work a little harder. 

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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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