I know how attractive the Château de Versailles is, and millions of people visit it every year so far be it from me to dissuade you from walking the halls of this renowned and historical edifice. But, let me just tell you, if you have already seen the castle, you MUST take advantage of the gardens.
These perfectly sculpted and mastered botanical wonders are decorated with the beauty of white marble of the stunning classical sculptures lining the pathways and artistically placed fountains and pools to create such a harmonized aesthetic that you can’t help but frame it and capture dozens of pictures. Here is our plan for a delightful day trip to Versailles to explore the old city and the gardens, in order to have a breath of gilded, fresh air.
I used the excuse of needing to visit Versailles, as a way to spend the day with my dear friend Jen. We began in the old town. I arrived by train from the Saint Lazare station in Paris. It’s a 35 minute train ride, where you get a nice view of Paris from afar in certain spots. The station you arrive in, Versailles Rive Droite brings you directly to the old town. Easy.
When people think of Versailles, they don’t generally envision small winding cobblestone streets with darling cafés and enticing antique shops, but it’s worth a visit. You feel like you have entered a different century. The main Versailles old town surrounds the streets rue Rameau and rue du Maréchal Foch. There’s even a street called Passage de la Gêole! (Translation : Dungeon Passage!).
It’s nice to take you time on a café terrace (there are many choices, then browse the antique shops that are tucked in little courtyards and down narrow paths with that old world feel. It’s enough to make any American hungry for authentic Europe, squeak with glee! (yes, even after fourteen years here, I still get giddy).
We took rue Carnot and said hello to Mr Hoche at Place Hoche on our way from the Old town to the Versailles park. Glanced at the Notre Dame church, then continued on rue de la Paroisse until we hit the garden’s edge and took the entrance at Boulevard de la Reine.
We spent the rest of the day strolling the garden paths with their perfectly carved angles, enjoying the nature, and the sparse crowds since it was a Monday (Monday also means the castle, the bosquets and the Trianon are closed), but it was well worth it since once day isn’t enough to do all that. The gardens are free except the days when the water fountain show is happening.
There is the darling café for lunch or a snack, La Flottille, which is incidentally owned by the same people who have Café Carette, and there are beautiful row boats for rent if you feel like stretching your arms. We opted for a picnic in the sun to get a little extra summer tanning in. And by late afternoon we headed back to the train station so I could catch the 5 o’clock back to Paris. (There is a train every ten or fifteen minutes or so).
I truly reveled in the stunning statues, the impeccable hedging, the pretty flowers and the immensity of it all. The Versailles Garden is as massive a monument as the Château itself in my opinion and is worth taking a whole day to explore.
Enjoy your next day trip from Paris to Versailles and walk in the footsteps of royalty.
Tell me in the comments below what is your favorite thing about Versailles?