On a recent mother-daughter trip to Paris, we decided to take the popular day trip to that old aristocratic stomping ground, the Palace of Versailles. Leaving from our hotel in the Saint-Germain, it took us just over an hour to get to the palace entrance (metro -> RER -> walking through the town), but arrived about a half an hour before our timed ticket would let us in. Luckily, the grounds are open to anyone, regardless of what time your ticket grants you entry into the Palace, so we were able to wander the manicured gardens. NOTE: getting the timed tickets was the right choice. The general entry line was at least an hour long - if you're going to do Versailles, spend the extra euros and get the timed ticket.
After gaining entry into the Palace, we were able to join the slow moving crowd that ambled through the small, repetitive rooms. It was interesting...for about 20 minutes. We luckily had a guide book with a very in-depth walking tour, but even that got repetitive after a while. The famous Hall of Mirrors was definitely cool to see, but it took a lot of small bedrooms and ante-chambers to get there. At that point my mom and I were hungry, so we stopped in one of the cafeterias to purchase some overpriced deli sandwiches. It had started to rain, so while it would have been nice to eat our lunch picnic-style, we were unfortunately stuck eating in the small cafeteria/eating area.
Our next stop was Petit Trianon, Marie Antionette's "summer house" towards the other end of the Versailles grounds. Here's the thing - Versailles is big. Like, really big. And while it might have been a nice walk to through the grounds, it was raining quite hard by this point, so we decided to take the tram that shuttles people to various points of interest. Unfortunately, there was an additional charge to ride the tram. It wasn't much (I think 8 euros per person), but I was annoyed at the principle of it. We'd already spent a ton of money on tickets to Versailles, they couldn't include the shuttle for free?
Petit Trianon was lovely - big and airy, and probably due to the distance from the main Palace, practically empty. Honestly, it was the nicest part of the whole day. But we knew that we had a long trek back to Paris, so we decided to call it a day without seeing any of the other buildings or grounds (also, it was pouring rain and I was freezing).
So was it worth it? I'm not mad that I went, but I'm also not rushing to get back there any time soon. It was crowded, expensive, and not a great place to spend a rainy day. I might be singing a different tune if we had experienced good weather, but I'm not sure. If you love history, architecture/interior design, or the French aristocracy, then it's definitely worth a visit. But my mom and I are only marginally interested in those topics, and we probably would have been better off spending the day at the Louvre instead of Versailles (due to time constraints, we had to choose one of the two). If you do go, however, please get there early and get that timed ticket!
Culture and experiences
Get a timed entrance ticket! The general admission lines will be ridiculously long and you'll be glad you have a timed entry.