Visiting Versailles with Children

Versailles couldn’t be more suited to a family outing. What’s important to realize is that for the kids most of the enjoyment in discovering Versailles comes with playing in the huge gardens, particularly in the summer months when the weather is ideal. A tour of the chateau is a great way to educate everyone in the family on French history, the splendours and excesses of the Sun King and of course the fame of Marie Antoinette and her remark “let them eat cake”. All of this will have resonance for everyone involved. Like everything, the trick is to break up the visit into different parts. Taking a packed lunch with you means you can enjoy your picnic in the gardens. You can even rent a boat and spend a lazy few hours on the Grand Canal.

Plan well in advance your trip to Versailles
Depending on the age of your kids it might be wise not to spend a whole day at the chateau. It’s an extremely large place and trying to fit in everything will just be exhausting for everyone. Find out what everyone wants to do and work your day out around that. Arrive early to avoid the crowds. The palace opens at 9am every day. It’s worth your while getting there early because once there's a crowd in the chateau it becomes more difficult to see everything. The chateau can be done comfortably in the space of an hour and a half - a bit more if you plan on walking through the giant galerie des Batailles. Use the little train provided to get from the chateau to Marie Antoinette’s estate. It’s a good 40min walk to get there otherwise. You can also rent bikes and golf carts (Have a drivers licence or passport with you to rent these.) The musical fountain show is a great distraction for the kids but this only happens on certain days during the summer months so you will have to time your visit accordingly.

Feed the ducks at Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet
There is plenty to see in and around the Hamlet, which looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. Bringing some stale bread in a bag means you and the kids can feed the ducks.

Musical Fountains show at Night
What better way to impress the kids than with the spectacular Musical Fountains night show at Versailles? This event happens only on Saturdays from June to September so you will have to time your visit accordingly. The wow factors include live orchestra, laser light show, and fireworks display amongst other excitements. This is truly an opportunity to experience Versailles, as the monarchs would have during festive occasions.

Picnic in the Petit Trianon Gardens
Taking along a picnic and eating it in one of the gardens is a sure way to have a charmed and relaxing end to your visit. All of the ingredients for a successful picnic can be purchased the morning of your visit at the market, which is found in the centre of town and can be reached on the way from the train station to the chateau. Information about the market and it’s opening times can be found on the website.

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