We absolutely need to preface this blog post with a photo – a photo of one helluva long, squiggly queue.
Can you guess where this serpentine queue is from?
It is from the Palace of Versailles, one of the two places in Europe infamous for their ticketing queues (the other being The Vatican City, Italy).
Versailles makes for the perfect day trip from Paris. You will start your day beaming as you pack your backpack for the day and hop onto the RER train from Paris to Versailles. Once there, you will pore over the map, or better still, just follow the crowds, and find yourself at the mighty gates of the Palace of Versailles before you know it. That’s when the real fun begins
Here’s how it will go from there –
You will spend the first 10 minutes getting bored, then you will start begrudging everyone who is ahead of you, next you start fantasising about imaginative ways of skipping the line (Shooting everyone? Pelting them with water canons? Ramming macarons down their shirts? Tempting them with freshly-baked baguettes? The possibilities are endless 😉 ).
But then you will blink your eyes, snap out of your dream world, and the queue will only seem longer than ever before. Fear not dismal queueophobic, we have a solution for you 🙂 A tour that will make you see Versailles in a new light.
We visited Versailles for the third time last month. In 2010 we reached Versailles, got scared just looking at the queue, and came back to Paris before we could mutter ‘Bonjour’. On our second visit, we decided to brave the queue but ended up getting inside the Palace just before it was due to close for the day. EPIC FAIL.
So this time around, we were determined to experience what is consistently voted as one of the best day trips from Paris. We researched – A LOT. Trouble is we don’t like guided tours that spoon-feed tourists. So we looked for a ‘Skip the Line’ tour that would be fun not rushed. Finally we settled on Easy Pass Tours’ Skip the Line Tour and spent an incredibly relaxed day in Versailles, savouring everything the town has to offer.
Our tour guide, Richard, met us at Paris’ central train station and introduced us to the rest of the group. We were a group of 12 adults. A small group- always a good sign!
We were in Versailles by 10.30 a.m. but instead of fumbling with maps, queues, and tickets, we spent our morning enjoying French wine at a wine-tasting session and exploring local markets in Versailles.
This was punctuated by a short macaron-tasting break. Yummy! We can safely say that the macarons we had at Philippe Pelé were the best we’ve had in France.
Next, Richard walked us around the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. The Palace has been the stage for a number of historic events. Moreover, it is symbolic of the Monarchy that was dismantled by the French Revolution. Richard’s description of the French Revolution made the Palace come to life. But we loved the fact that at every stage, he gave us the option of exploring on our own. A couple of people from our group even took him up on that.
Exhausted from walking around the gorgeous gardens of the Palace of Versailles on a hot summers’ day, we spent the afternoon picnicking by the canal. Our packed lunches contained scrumptious hand-crafted baguettes and French pastries.
After stuffing ourselves silly, we walked over to the gilded Chateau at the Palace of Versailles. Our guide got us inside the Chateau within minutes. Trust us when we say this, not much surpasses the joy of marching past the epic queue from the first photo.
Once inside, we were given audio guides and were free to explore the Chateau ourselves. We really enjoyed the freedom this tour affords but it might not be for you if you like to be guided at every step of the way.
If you ask us, you definitely need a sprinkling of Skip-the-Line magic to make your trip to Versailles enjoyable 🙂
- Versailles is 20 kilometres away from Paris. It is easily accessible by public transport.
- Versailles has a lot more to it than just the Palace. Make sure you explore the city, especially the local markets.
- Easy Pass’ Skip the Line Tours run seven days a week. More information and options can be found on The Easy Pass Tours website.
- The cost of the tour includes the price of train tickets (to/from Paris), lunch, wine-tasting, and tickets to the Palace of Versailles.
- Do ask for Richard if you book this tour. He trudges the fine line between guidance and autonomy with the finesse of a rope-walker.
While in Paris, the best way to explore the city is The Paris Pass (use code JULY6 for 10% discount on 6-day passes and 6% on 3 and 4 day passes).
Skip the Line Versailles Chateau and Garden Tour c/o Easy Pass Tours