I found a lot of stuff about this trip online, but the usual tips are about where to go and the like so I want to blog about tips I didn’t find elsewhere. You can always go to the end to check out the TLDR.
1. Don’t purchase fountain tickets for any days but Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday because it’s not running. So obviously, you will waste your money. Most places won’t refund it even if they aren’t running, and they will totally let you buy it.
2. Audio guides are worth it if you care to listen to art and history lessons. If not, don’t purchase it. If the guide doesn’t work in the first room, go back immediately and say the Bluetooth is damaged and you’d like a new one. I had to do that twice. You payed for that product, so get your moneys’ worth. The downstairs runs on a bluetooth that should activate with each room, and there are three rooms. They explain how Versailles was built and why, and are quite interesting. The top floor starts with guide number 201, and each subsequent room goes to the next number. Some rooms might be closed.
3. The inside is only worth looking at if you’re super into French art and/or history.
4. Follow the throng, then out to the gardens (some people say gardens first. I present to them this counterpoint: no. Because that day it was 12 degrees in the morning and 19 in the afternoon, so which do you want to walk around in? Also because I never heard of it being less crowded any other time. Almost all the reviews have stated it was “still” crowded. Just mosey and enjoy the art). The only upside to doing that first would be skipping the entrance line.
5. If you aren’t going inside at all (I don’t suggest the inside) then you don’t need to wait in the same line.
6. My favorite part was hands down Apollo’s grove. It’s in the first garden on the right after you go down the steps and before you hit grand canal. There’s a series of gardens with fountains hidden in various parts of the trees.
7. There are many options for transportation around the gardens. You can rent a tiny car (fits 4 people), but I never found the station so I don’t know the price. A bike can be rented for six euros fifty for an hour. A boat, too, but I forgot to ask the price. Not too helpful, I know.
8. I walked and I regret that, because I would have seen more and been less exhausted at the Louvre the next day if I had simply rented a bike to do most of my tour. I did see a lot of less tried areas, though, because I didn’t go down the main stairs to start. Unfortunately all the queens areas and Marie Anttonett’s area were closed for renovations.
9. Unless you like long, long walks in the forest (mine was 2 hours) don’t stray far down the grand canal. I tired myself out really fast doing this and thus was too exhausted and short on time to visit all the parts of the garden. Still, the gardens made it worth the effort (even the dark forest parts, which will inspire my fantasy stories) when the chateau itself failed to deliver for me. I’m just not that into French art. I think most people will enjoy the inside more than I did, and probably the gardens are much better on peek days.
10. Risk going on a peek day. I regret not seeing the fountains.
11. The snacks there are really excellent! I had two ice creams. I personally recommend the ice cream stand next to Little Venice, the Italian restaurant, because they have a wonderful lilac. Their pistachio doesn’t shine, so instead opt for an orange/lemon sorbet (I’m a fan of pistachio and not of lemon, and yet…) I also ate a pie and had some tea at the little restaurant between the bike rental and the restrooms. The tea is like 6 euros for a teabag! But they will refill, so if you are as desperate for some warmth as I was…
Would you go again? Yes, definitely, absolutely. But only to the gardens.
Would you buy an audio guide? Nah.
A bike? Yes.
A car thingy? Yes, if I wasn’t alone.
A boat? If you want that experience, but it wasn’t important to me.
Should I go on a popular day? After seeing how many fountains weren’t on, yes. Even crowded, I’m sure it’s spectacular.
Bring food or buy food? Both, the snacks there are good, but meals are too expensive.
How much time would you take? All day, for several days, if I really wanted to see it.
Palace or gardens? Gardens.
Best garden? Apollo’s grove.