Our first day in Paris, we took a day trip to Versailles to visit the LDS Paris temple, which is quite close to the Palace of Versailles. After going to the temple, we walked to the Palace (about a 30 minute walk). When we got there, it was 3 p.m., which is probably why we loved Versailles so much–the big crowds had cleared out by the time we arrived. 🙂 We walked into the palace and looked at each other thinking, “This is too good to be true!” because there were no lines! We speed-walked through the grand palace to get to the hall of mirrors, and then spent a few hours strolling the grounds and getting lost (we got lost so many times ahhhh it was bad). The place is massive. We got lost in Marie Antoinette’s gardens and farmland, which is gorgeous, but getting lost was not fun because we had hardly eaten all day and ran out of water and we probably walked ~12-13 miles that day. The problem is we could never find an exit close to the metro so we ended up walking all the way back to the palace and finally getting out of there through the main entrance. It was dramatic, but we got out hahaha.
-Prioritize your time: As I said, the place is huge. Unless you’re big on French history, I wouldn’t spend time waiting in line to go inside the palace. It was great–but we didn’t have to wait in line, which made all the difference. To each her own, right?! Maybe it’s YOUR THING and you would wait in line for a while, which is just fine if that’s your jam!
-To avoid lines, I recommend arriving either first thing in the morning before the palace opens, or perhaps even better, at 3 p.m after the crowds have died down. Keep in mind the palace closes at 5 p.m. but the grounds are open for a few more hours. So if you arrive at 3 p.m., go to the palace first! (Before you go, check the website in case there are early closures.)
-Whatever you do, pace yourself in the palace. Don’t stop to read everything or you will be in there forever. I’d speed-walk to the famous rooms, such as the war room, peace room, and hall of mirrors–and then get outta there to enjoy the grounds. Again, that’s just my preference. I’m an outdoors-lover so the grounds were important to me.
-The miles of grounds surrounding the palace really are a sort of playground, so fun to explore, especially Marie Antoinette’s estate. This would probably be too much for children to walk (if you are coming from the palace, where you already would have done a lot of walking). It’s a LOT of ground. If you have kids and aren’t on a tight budget (we were), you could make this work by 1) renting a golf cart ($30 for first hour; $12 every 15 minutes after that) or 2) paying to take the little shuttle train around the grounds (expensive but I can’t remember the exact price). Either would save you miles of walking. We did not want to fork over the $$, but if you have little kids, it’s probably the only way to go.
-After, we ate dinner at Creperie la Place, right outside the palace, and loved it! Great food and service.