Monday, May 30, 2011

Where to go in Paris for the repeat visitor - Versaille Palace (Chateau de Versailles)

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With Paris so close to London (see how to get from London to Paris), it's small wonder that the French capital is one of the favourite weekend getaway for Londoners. However, there are only so many times you can perch over the top of the Arc de Triomphe, marvel at the Eiffel Tower or check out the thousands of exhibits in The Louvre.

Chateau de Versailles (or Versailles Palace) , the royal palace King Louis XIV and the center of the French monarchy and political power since the late 17th century until the French revolution just over a hundred years later, is one of those places that everyone has heard before but most just assume that the distance and time needed to get there just isn't worth it. That was reason why we haven't been there until our most recent trip to Paris.

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Located at in the Parisian suburb just twenty kilometres away from the central Paris, you'll be surprised to know that Versailles Palace is a mere 40min ride on the RER, which is integrated seamlessly with the Paris metro system. While there are other options of getting there, I found out that the fastest way is to go to any metro station ticket counter and request a ticket to Versailles Palace (pronounced as shah-tow di ver-sigh in French). As Versailles Palace is out of Paris Metro Zone 2, the metro carnet that you would have gotten earlier wouldn't work. One way ticket cost just over 3 euros and do get a return ticket (just double the price) to save the hassle.


Regardless of which station you start from, just head towards RER C line (thick yellow line on Metro map) and ride to Versailles-Rive Gauche station the end of the line. Get off when everyone else does. Tickets into Versailles Palace can be obtained from a ticket office that is just opposite Versailles-Rive Gauche station (on the row of shops together with McDonald's).

If you are short of time (the Palace is a huge place to cover, hardly possible even if you have an entire day), I would advise that you go for the English guided tour. At 28 euros per person, the tour, which will take around 90 minutes, allows you to skip the long queue into the Palace. That can shave off more than a hour or so especially during crowded weekends. Else, you can purchase the tickets in advance from the official website.

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Chateau+de+Versailles+Versailles+Palace+London+to+Paris

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To ensure that you get to cover the vast Palace grounds, be there early. The Palace opens to the public at 9am everyday. There was already a long queue forming when we were there just after 9am. Once you enter the Palace Gardens, there is a buggy rental stall nearby. The golf cart size buggy that seats four adults can be rented for 30 euros per hour and is useful for zipping around the huge estate getting from one point to another. Regardless, cater an entire day for the Versailles Palace.

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