Château de Versailles, Versailles
Tel: 33 1 30 83 76 20 or 33 8 92 68 46 94 for advance ticket sales
Metro: RER C5 or train from the Gare St-Lazare to Versailles-Rive Droite
Concierge.com's insider take:
People visit Versailles in the hopes of being absolutely dazzled by opulence. They're rarely disappointed. The palace is glorious, but unless you already have a good grasp of French history, it's a good idea to bone up, since the endless references to seemingly out-of-sequence kings and their queens, mistresses, and children can dull the magic if you can't keep up. Get here as early as you possibly can to avoid the tour-bus herds, and don't just troop through the most famous rooms—the Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Appartement where Louis XIV held court, and the queen's bedroom. The lavish private apartments of Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Marie-Antoinette give a glimpse of why the Revolution took place, and the Opera House and Royal Chapel tell you plenty about the gilded-lily, ancien régime lifestyle. Do check out Madame de Pompadour's gorgeously restored "secret" apartments, wander the sublime gardens, and visit the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette futilely, fatuously, famously attempted to re-create the simple life of her subjects. Also stop by the Potager du Roi, the vegetable garden to the west of the palace that supplied the court. The palace compound is currently undergoing extensive renovations, which have added new must-sees to a visit, including the gilded salle de bain (bathroom) of Louis XV.
Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. November through March; 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April through October. Palace closed Mondays; gardens open daily.