No one would ever call Versailles a true budget trip. The full ticket costs 25 euro per person, and that doesn't include the ticket for the 20 minute train ride to the suburb of Paris. But it's what you do while you're here and how long you spend in Versailles that can make it a true value. Spend 2 hours here and you get ripped off. Spend the entire day visiting the palace and wandering around the gardens and it's a bargain.
WHEN TO VISIT VERSAILLES
Most tourists visit Versailles in summer, and the palace is swamped during the high season. It's crowded inside and crowded outside. If you can wait a few months, the best season to visit is fall. The temperature has cooled off a bit, the crowds have thinned out, and the painstakingly manicured gardens have started to change from their normal green to yellows and reds. The entire gardens are aglow with the colors of autumn.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
There are three main areas to see in Versailles: the palace, the gardens, and Marie Antoinette's house. The best advice we got came from the ticket seller – skip the palace at first. Head straight for the gardens and Marie Antoinette's house. Come back to the palace in the afternoon. You'll have the gardens to yourself and the palace won't be as crowded when you return.
Take your time in the gardens. They are stunningly beautiful and extensive. Pick a random direction and just keep going. Put away the map and get lost in the colors and smells of the trees and flowers.
PACK YOUR LUNCH
Of course, if you save the palace for the afternoon, you need to kill a few hours during the middle of the day. How 'bout a picnic?! Bring your lunch with you, pick a spot in the gardens, and enjoy the area like only royalty can. When my wife and I visited recently, we brought wine, cheese, fruit, and bread. We probably could've finished our food in 20 minutes, but we weren't in a rush. We enjoyed a 90 minute lunch, soaking in our surroundings between bites.
Make a day out of your trip to Versailles! It's a beautiful place that we will certainly be returning to in the future.