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Paris day trip: Day trip to Versailles from Paris
Versailles is the one day trip from Paris most people want to take. Because it’s so popular, the choice of options for a day trip to Versailles can be quite overwhelming ranging from cheap and cheerful do it yourself tours, all the way through to exclusive private tours.
A self-guided visit to Versailles is definitely the cheapest way to tour Versailles. Currently, the return train tick from central Paris is approximately €7. It’s as easy as taking the RER C to look for any train that says Versailles Rive Gauche, Versailles RG, Versailles Rive Gauche/Chateau and hopping off at Versailles Rive Gauche (the last stop). The train takes about 35mins. From the station turn right, then left at the first boulevard and follow the crowds for about 10minutes to reach the chateau.
Because it is so popular you should definitely book your entrance ticket in advance to skip the ticket line (you will still need to queue twice for security – once to enter the courtyard, then again to enter the chateau). The easiest way to book your Versailles ticket is via the chateau website.
Your entry ticket comes with a free audio guide. The best guidebook for planning your trip to Versailles (and for those who prefer a written guidebook is definitely the Rick Steves Paris or France guidebook (you can click here to buy a copy). Rick also has a free audioguide podcast, which he promises complements the chateau’s own audioguide.
If you are planning a self-guided tour of Versailles, do be aware that the fountains in the gardens are not in operation all year round, and when they are operational, it is only at certain times on certain days. Check the chateau website or the Rick Steves guidebook for details.
There are multiple guided tour options for Versailles guided tours, depending on your budget, time commitment, and special interests. Guided tours to Versailles do vary a lot so it is worth comparing different options.
For the advantages of a guided tour with the convenience of a self-guided tour, I do like the Versailles tour offered by The Tour Guy. This tour travels to Versailles by train (so you miss the busy Paris rush hour traffic), then does an escorted guided tour of the chateau. To finish the guided part of the tour you are given an orientation to the gardens. Then you are free to tour the gardens and other buildings on your own at your leisure, before using your included return train ticket to make your own way back to Paris when you are ready.
If you aren’t sure which type of Versailles guided tour will suit you best, you can compare the many choices at Get Your Guide by clicking on this link. (This is also the best place to search for Versailles bike tours or Segway tours).
If you are particularly interested in a guided tour including the fountains, check out this tour option from the highly regarded Take Walks: