I'm finally making it to Paris this summer! I want to be sure to visit Versailles. How far from the centre of Paris is it? What are the easiest and best ways to arrange a visit?"
– Judith, UK
The palace and gardens of Versailles are only about 45 minutes from Paris by vehicle. You can go on your own (see the RER information, below) but our favorite and most highly recommended way of visiting Versailles is to book a tour that picks you up at your hotel. This way you arrive at the palace refreshed and ready to take in its full magnificence! Versailles is huge, and you don't want to arrive already exhausted by the trip.
Why do we so strongly recommend a tour with an experienced guide? Well, first of all, it's organized by someone else, you don't have to figure out anything. We also have learned from years of experience that a knowledgeable guide makes a visit to Versailles (or any other monument or attraction) more rewarding and memorable.
We've learned so much on guided tours, while having a far better time that we would have on our own. We've done it both ways, but now we're wise to the fact that a guided tour is the way to go.
But the greatest thing about the best tours is that you get to skip the long lines! In our article about visiting Versailles, we recommend the top tours.
if you want to go on your own, getting from Paris to Versailles is fairly easy if you're familiar with the Metro/RER system. In a nutshell, from Paris take RER Line C to the station called Versailles-Rive Gauche. Then it's just a ten-minute walk to Chateau de Versailles.
If you're not familiar with the Paris Metro, here are some detailed instructions to help you plan your trip. The journey to Chateau de Versailles begins at any Metro/RER station in Paris. Look for a blue or red sign with an M or RER surrounded by a circle. Some of the vintage Metro stations are marked by their even cooler 1900s Art Deco signs.
RER Line C is part of the rapid transit train system that run underneath the Metro. RER C serves the western half of the Paris suburbs. You will need to purchase a Metro/RER ticket that gives you access to Zone 4. (Most Metro passes don't include Zone 4.)
You can purchase a Zone 4 ticket at most Metro stations. Use the handy ticket machine and follow the instructions. Don't forget to get a return ticket! You can pay with coins or a credit card with a chip. If you have difficulty at the machine enquire at the information booth.
Your next step is find the closest RER C line. RER train lines connect at many Paris Metro stations. (The RER lines use letters from A to E, and Metro lines use numbers from 1 to 14.) If you're at the St-Michel, Gare d'Austerlitz, or Invalides Metro station the RER C line in right beneath you. All you need to do is follow the signs to the train platform. If you're not at a station that serves the RER C line, use your Metro/RER map to find the best route to get you to the nearest RER C station.
At the RER station follow the signs that point towards the RER C Versailles-Rive Gauche. Don't be confused by the other destinations that will be on the sign. As long as it includes Versailles-Rive Gauche you're on the right train. When the train arrives the doors will not automatically open. Press the green or silver button on the door to open it.
Once on the train you don't need to keep track of the stations since Versailles-Rive Gauche is the last station on the line. Everyone will get off at that station. After arriving at the station, look for blue exit (Sortie) signs. Then look for the street signs that point in the direction of the Chateau. You will now be only a five or ten minute walk from the Palace of Versailles.
The best way to map your journey is by using the RATP online guides. Enter the station you're departing from, using Versailles-Rive Gauche (RER) as your final destination. Example: Using St-Michel as the departure point, the site tells you that it will take 43 minutes using the RER C.
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