7 Tips For Visiting Versailles With Kids - Paris Family Vacation
Visiting the Palace of Versailles is often on the list for any great Paris family vacation, and when visiting a place this big (and this popular) there are some definitely tips to help make your visit go smoother.
So we wanted to put together a post of our best tips for visiting Versailles with kids, so you can truly enjoy the experience!
So let's jump right in here, because this first tip is a doozy! 😜
Best Tip For Visiting Versailles with Kids #1:
Skip the entire thing and go explore the town of Giverny (where Claude Monet lived) instead.
I know, I know, this doesn't sound like the greatest tips for visiting Versailles, but honestly, if you don't have a genuine love for French history or architecture (or some other big reason to go), then I definitely suggest NOT even visiting the palace of Versailles! 😂
There's lots of reasons for this- first of all being that the palace is a bit of a disappointment compared to a lot of the other main tourist attractions you could enjoy when visiting France with kids.
Our family was quite underwhelmed by the entire experience, actually, and it was the least favorite activity of our entire European family vacation this past summer, if not of all time.
(And we've covered a lot of ground during our family world travel in the past few years, so that's saying a lot.)
But let's get more specific- without being too pessimistic- so YOU can decide for yourself whether or not you want to visit Versailles during your next family vacation in France. 😊
Is it worth visiting Versailles, or is it better to skip it?
Let me get the main 'cons' out of the way, so you can plan your absolute best France family holidays trip with or without a visit to the Palace of Versailles:
You will need to plan to spend a day in Versailles- a FULL day- if you want the visit to be worthwhile. This can be a bit tricky when planning your Paris family vacation, depending on how much time you have to spend and what other activities you'd like to do.
The tickets aren't as affordable as many of the other activities (like the Eiffel Tower or Monet's House & Gardens) around the Paris area. If you're keeping your family travel on a budget, this might impact your cash flow.
The palace is PACKED full of people. (More on that below!)
Most of the artifacts, furniture, etc inside the are REPLICAS, as much was lost over time (and especially during the volitale French Revolution.) This might be a bummer if you're a history nut hoping to see the real deal. (Also, much of the marble walls was painted to look like marble instead of actual marble.)
Your transportation choices for how to visit Versailles might be limited or require multiple transfers unless you're visiting Versailles from Paris (the inner city) or have your own car.
So I know that's not the BEST way to start out a post about visiting the Palace of Versailles, but I wanted to get that out of the way FIRST. 😝
(Also, be sure to check out our 7 Epic Tips To Visit Monet's Garden before choosing between the two activities.)
Now let's talk about the tips we've compiled to help make your next family vacation in France as amazing as possible!
Best Tip For Visiting Versailles with Kids #2:
Go early in the morning.
The first of our tips for visiting Versailles might seem like a no-brainer, but if you've got kids, getting up and going in the mornings might be a bit harder to do.
If you're like us, for example, you might have adapted your family travel routine to be more of a mid-day experience.
Hauling 5 kids out of beds and getting everyone ready can sometimes feel more like a WWE cage match than a vacation experience! 😝
That means we've adjusted our family world travel to be able to leave in the late mornings, and sometimes even the early afternoon.
But one of the biggest takeaways from our Paris family vacation was that we NEED to get out the door as early as possible to really make the days count.
This is especially true when visiting the Chateau de Versailles (or as us Americans call it, the Palace of Versailles), because it is HUGE and it takes HOURS to navigate through the experience.
For starters, when you're traveling Europe with kids, you will find that in some countries, the attractions, stores, etc will close earlier than others.
The Palace of Versailles closes around 6:30 PM, which means that you'll have to get out the door as early as possible.
We spent about 4-5 hours there, and we didn't even cover half of the palace grounds.
And since the tickets aren't the most affordable, is it worth visiting Versailles if you can't experience very much of it?
That's why early morning is the very best time to visit Versailles, so definitely try and get there as early as possible.
Family Vacation Tip: Get your tickets in advance, so you don't have to wait in the LONG line to get tickets. It really was much faster to have our tickets ahead of time.
You can get your tickets in advance from their official website while you're doing your family trip planning.
Or if you want to REALLY make the most of the experience, book a family-friendly Versailles tour.
As a side note, things in Spain often stay open WAY later, as their siesta lifestyle allows for more evening activities.
So if you're like us and tend to get started later in the day, adding Spain to your European family vacation plans can help you enjoy a more relaxed itinerary that includes sleeping in. 😉
Or better yet- plan a longer trip and enjoy ALL the different countries! Our European road trip covered France, Switzerland and the Netherlands and was so much fun! (And read our tips for driving in France to make the road trip a bit easier.)
Tips For Visiting Versailles with Kids #3:
Pack water bottles and small packaged snacks.
This is one of our universal family travel tips, but it especially applies to anyone visiting Versailles with kids!
There's only a few 'cafe/restaurant' type establishements on the palace & garden grounds, and from our experience, they don't have a lot of food choices in stock and run out quickly of what they do have.
Furthermore, the 'kitchen' hours are quite limited (think 12-2pm) and close by 5:30 or 6.
Even if you do make it to a cafe around 3pm, there won't be much to choose from. We found chips, sodas, and a few desserts on plates left when checked out a few of the different cafe areas.
So packing a few snacks (and always bring water!) to keep your kids from getting hungry is a definite must.
There's a better selection of places to eat outside the palace as well.
So eating a protein-rich breakfast, packing some small snacks, and then having a big dinner at a nice restaurant when you're done is our best advice when taking a day trip to Versailles.
(This is another reason that early morning is best time to visit Versailles, because hangry families don't make the fondest of memories. 😅)
But this tip comes with a BIG caveat-
IMPORTANT: You are not allowed to bring food into the actual Palace of Versailles. So if you're packing snacks, make them small (like Granola Bars, peanuts, or even protein bars!) and shove them to the very bottom of your backpack.
The security check is mostly looking for weapons/metal, and I didn't see anyone throwing away food or really digging through bags very thoroughly, so (in my humble opinion) bringing snacks is definitely worth the risk of maybe having to throw away a few protein bars.
At the very least, be sure to bring some bottled water (and hydration tablets!) so you don't get dehydrated during all of the walking around. We really regretted not bringing enough water on our trip to the Provence Lavender fields and stocked up with extra water after that!
Tips For Visiting Versailles with Kids #4:
Bring a face mask. No seriously... BRING a mask.
I know that everyone is a bit sick and tired of having to wear face masks over the past few years.
But when traveling- especially in super touristy places- it can really be worth it to have one just in case you feel it's needed, even if you're not a big fan of wearing them.
Of all the places we visited during our Paris family vacation, this was the one place I remember thinking- Oh, crap, there's a lot of people in here, and I wish we had masks...
Visiting the Palace of Versailles means that you will be going into countless rooms that have wall-to-wall people touching you, pushing you and talking amongst each other.
AKA- you will be breathing the same stuffy air as hundreds of people from all over the world- which introduces many types germs to your body that it has never met before.
Our youngest two got sick after visiting Versailles, even though we'd been travelling for 3 weeks (in 4 countries!) already with no issues.
Then guess what? They passed it to the rest of us older family members. 😅
A good chunk of other people we've talked to since our own experience have also said they've gotten a cold or flu after visiting Versailles France and other similarly busy tourist spots.
Do you want to know how to visit Versailles without getting sick? Bring a mask!
It's really hard to take selfies in the palace anyways because of all the people.
So don't worry about missing good photo ops!
If you DO find an open spot to take a quick pic, it only takes a second to pull the mask down for a photo. 😉
Tips For Spending A Day In Versailles #5:
Don't Wear Open Toed Shoes (Or Heels, For That Matter.)
Talking about how many people are at the palace brings me to my next tip...
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that PROTECT your toes.
No, I'm not trying to be a fashion killer. I saw LOTS of people wearing outfits clearly picked out for a royal day trip to Versailles filled with selfies and insta reels… so I know that what you’re wearing is probably important for lots of people.
But wearing open toed shoes (like sandals or heels) on your day trip to Versailles can be dangerous.
My poor little feet got stepped on MULTIPLE times, and even though I was wearing tennis shoes, it really quite hurt a couple of times.
When you’re spending a day in Versailles, there’s just too many people going from room to room, and as I said above, sometimes they are right up against you.
Stepped on toes are just part of that package.
So I just wanted to give this quick little tip as it stuck out to me as important.
Plus, there's LOTS of walking, so comfy shoes helps prevent sore feet, too.
Maybe it’s a mom thing, but I want your little toes to be safe. 😉
Tip #6 On How To Visit Versailles:
Download the mobile app before you go to save 5 euros (and get a better experience!)
The Palace of Versailles sells audio guides for about 5 euros each, and actually the guide is pretty good! The information is fun to learn and interesting, and both our 5 and 7 year olds were engaged and listening as we walked from room to room.
But we didn’t buy enough audio sets- because honestly, we expected the little ones to get bored quickly and pass them on.
So if you’re planning on visiting Versailles with kids during your Paris family vacation- don’t forget to DOWNLOAD the ‘Chateau de Versailles’ app ahead of time.
There’s not a great data signal in much of the palace, so doing it there doesn’t work very well.
Having the audio guide is a super great way to make the most of your experience without paying for an actual guided tour, so don’t skip it!
You can click here to get their official app.
It also helps to have one of those cheap, old school earbud sets so you can keep one ear in and the other ear free (or wear one single airpod), but since I hadn’t planned ahead, I just put my phone’s volume on low and held it to my ear the same way the kids were doing with the actual audio guide.
And that brings me to the very last of our Versailles-specific family vacation tips…
Tip #7 For Visiting Versailles:
Do a bit of research before deciding WHICH DAY to visit.
I have no idea what day is the best day to visit Versailles, and maybe there is a best day, but maybe not.
What I DO know, however, is that I had to pay extra money to visit on a Tuesday- because Tuesdays are the days they have the ‘musical’ gardens in the Versailles Gardens.
I could have bought tickets that didn’t include the gardens complex and only seen the Palace, but not seeing the gardens seemed almost wasteful when driving down and visiting Versailles from Paris.
So I paid the extra money, because you simply CANNOT see the gardens on those days otherwise.
Always check the website in case of changes, but as of now (summer, 2022), the Musical Gardens are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and the Great Musical Waters on Saturdays and Sundays.
That only leaves Wednesdays as regular days, because the entire palace complex is closed on Mondays.
Also, be aware that they are currently dealing with a drought, so even if you buy a ticket for one of the ‘special’ garden days, the fountains are likely to be turned off.
They were all turned off for our visit, which was disappointing after paying the extra money for the tickets.
So in my opinion, the best day to visit Versailles would be on a Wednesday, when the gardens are ‘regular’ and you can just enjoy them without any special expectations. 😜
You can check out their official website to see which days and times are available, plus book your tickets in advance.
And that concludes my top tips for visiting Versailles with kids!
I promise that our other family travel hacks and tips posts for planning a Paris family vacation are WAY happier and funner- but all in all, Versailles wasn’t our favorite experience.
I’m still glad we went and our kids can grow up and say they’ve been there and seen it, but honestly I just feel like there was a better way to spend our day in Paris than visiting Versailles. 🤷♀️
Hopefully these tips are helpful, and if you have any other tips, or questions that I might not have answered above, leave a comment and let me know! 🥰
Also, we have LOTS