In June, after the French government allowed travel throughout the country – and even opened the borders – PJ and I decided that we both felt safe enough to brave the crowds and visit Versailles during the pandemic.
Since our holidays this year will focus on France (with the exception of going to see family in Belgium), it’s day and weekend trips around the country that are going to get us through the summer! We’ve already done a number of small trips, but they’ve been predominantly outdoors, like walking through gardens, taking drives, or enjoying some salty air on the beaches in Normandy.
Versailles during a pandemic was a bit of a different story.
Though we have a car, we don’t love to use it for short trips when public transport is so easy to use. That said, this is France, so of course, something went wrong.
There’s always a lot of work happening on the transport lines here, but the surprise was real as we showed up at the Invalides metro stop – to then take the RER to Versailles – only to be told that no trains were leaving from the station that day.
Because tickets to Versailles right now are based on a specific timetable, we were under a bit of time pressure to arrive perfectly on time (and PJ is always late). So, we scrambled to get on a metro to Montparnasse where we caught an A train to the main station in Versailles. 60 sweaty minutes later, we arrived, still more than early for our timed visit – or so we thought. Though we were technically 30 minutes early, we ended up waiting in line for about 1:15, entering the Palace close to 15 minutes after our entry time.
After donning our masks, slathering ourselves with hand sanitizer and stepping into Louis XIV’s world, the only thing left to do was walk and learn in awe. Each room has audioguide numbers that allowed you to listen about the palace’s history a little more intimately. It was slightly frustrating, as we went on a popular day, at a popular time, and they only let people inside in phases, so the minimal hall space became even less. We did manage to shake this feeling by finding the lease populous part of each room (very likely the spot with the worst views) and listened from there.
After some nourishment at Angelina’s (by that I, of course, mean coffee and sweet pastries), we made our way outside to the absolutely beautiful gardens of Versailles. To be completely honest, if this isn’t your first visit to the palace and are just keen to see it again, skip the inner tour and head straight to the back for the fountain and musical gardens show.
We ended up walking a lot, taking in the different shows at different parts of the gardens, but we finally watched what we had really come there for – some fantastic water art. 10/10 would recommend on a sunny afternoon!
Just make sure you’re in the best spot for the show (in my humble opinion).
- Check the weather and go prepared! I didn’t bring a jacket and ended up soaked in a random rainstorm.
- Take your mask and WEAR IT. In France, you now must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.
- Bring water and snacks in your bag, you never know how long you may be waiting in line to get in.
- Go on a weekday if you can!
- If not, try and go around 3 pm – especially if you’re more interested in seeing the musical gardens show which started at 3.30 pm.
- Hungry? Have a sweet snack at Angelina! We chose to sit down for our snack, but you can also grab them to go.
- Be sure to download the Versailles app for an easy-to-use audioguide!
Are you planning to visit Versailles during the pandemic, or have you already been? What was your experience like?