4 reasons to visit Versailles

4 reasons why you should visit the Chateau de Versailles

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When you are in Paris, dedicating a day to visit the Chateau de Versailles is greatly suggested. This is one of the largest palaces in the whole of Europe. The Chateau de Versailles boasts of history, architecture, size and absolute elegance.

Find out why going to the Chateau de Versailles is well worth the visit with this guide from Talk Travel App. Check out the 13 steps to follow for a hassle-free visit to the Chateau de Versailles. With these 13 tips, you can enjoy the Chateau de Versailles like a local.

West facing Palace of Chteau de Versailles
West facing Palace of Versailles

1. A brief history of the Chateau de Versailles

First of all, you need to know the history of this place to better appreciate this landmark. The Chateau can be best explained by understanding the influence each king exerted in Versailles between 1624 – 1789 and beyond.

Louis XIII

The Chateau de Versailles dates back to 1624 when Louis XIII built a hunting lodge at Versailles. Between 1631 and 1634, this country residence was replaced by a stone and brick chateau under his orders.

Louis XIV

It was Louis XIII’s son, King Louis XIV who transformed Versailles for good which is demonstrated by the affinity he had towards Versailles. From 1682 onwards, the Chateau of Versailles became the official royal residence and on 6 May 1682. Louis XIV was the longest reigning king in the history of France, ruling the land for 72 years.

Louis XV

When King Louis XV moved to Versailles, he built smaller apartments called Petit Appartement du Roi. Furthermore, at the end of his reign, he built the Royal Opera House in 1770.

Louis XVI

Louis XVI’s reign will forever be associated with the outbreak of the French Revolution and the end of Versailles’ royal era.

Actual building costs for Versailles are debated by modern historians because currency values are uncertain. However, Versailles’ price tag ranges anywhere from two billion USD to a maximum of 50 billion USD.

The cost of construction and the continuous embellishments that followed were so high that the two kings Louis XV and Louis XVI were under debt pressure. This led to unrest among the people which also triggered the 1789 French Revolution.

French Revolution

Uncertainty started to loom in 1789 as there was a huge budget deficit. On the morning of 5 October 1789, the women of Versailles took to the streets protesting the high cost of living and scarcity of bread. The agitators laid siege to the palace and placed their demands in front of Louis XVI. The next day, the crowd compelled the king, his family to return with them to Paris. For the first time in history, the Palace of Versailles was deserted by the King and the Queen.

The 19th century

Major restoration work took place in his era and it continued to host the most important events in the history of France. On 1 September 1833, King Louis-Philippe decided to open a history museum in it dedicated to “All the glories of France”.

Versailles became the center of attention to the world when the Treaty of Versailles was signed here in the Hall of Mirrors in 1919.

The 20th century

As time passed, as gratitude for the involvement of France in the American War of Independence, an American billionaire, John D. Rockefeller donated funds for the restoration of Chateau of Versailles. The Palace’s curators took up refurbishing the rooms and the palace eventually regained its popularity.

2. Chateau de Versailles

The below image represents the layout of the Palace of Versailles.

Layout of Palace de Versailles

The Palace

Considered one of the most beautiful and largest palaces in Europe, the Palace of Versailles stands true to its word. There are glorious paintings on the roofs boasting of French victory and every room in this Palace has historical significance. The first thing that beckons you at the Chateau de Versailles is the Equestrian Bronze Statue of Louis XIV at the entrance of the Palace of Versailles and the glittering golden gate.

Chateau de Versailles
Chateau de Versailles

While you visit the King’s Apartments, Queen’s Apartments, Hall of Mirrors in the Palace, do not miss out on other important attractions like the Orangery, the War Room, the Peace Room and many more. Encompassing 67,000 square meters (721,182 sq ft) the palace has 700 rooms, more than 2,000 windows, 1,250 fireplaces and 67 staircases.

You can enjoy an audio guided tour of the Palace by downloading the Palace of Versailles app. It is available for Android and iOS phones and you do not need an internet connection to use the app.

Few of the rooms that have to be visited in the Palace of Versailles are:

Hall of Mirrors

The Hall of Mirrors, known as The Galerie des Glaces in French, is the most famous room in the Palace. It was built to replace a large terrace that separated the King’s and Queen’s apartments.

Hall of Mirrors - Chateau de Versailles
Hall of Mirrors – Chateau de Versailles

While the Hall is glorified for its beauty and the possession of mirrors which was an expensive item those days, read this interesting story about how the Venetians tried poisoning the mirror making artisans to prevent the French from stealing the mirror-making technique. The Venetians plotted this since mirrors were rare those days and they had the exclusive knowledge to make mirrors and hence was a great source of revenue from the exports.

Read this blog to know more about the Hall of Mirrors accompanied by fantastic pictures.

Lifewise, other interesting rooms that you can have to visit are The Hall Of Plenty, The Salon of Hercules, The Salon of Venus, The Diana Room, The Mars Room, The Mercury Room and The Apollo Room.

The Apotheosis of Hercules at the Chateau de Versailles
The Apotheosis of Hercules at the Chateau de Versailles

The Gallery of Great Battles / Galerie des Batailles

The Gallery of Battles is a 120-meter-long gallery occupying the first floor of the South Wing in the Palace of Versailles. Louis-Philippe, King of the French after the French Revolution is to be credited for the creation of this gallery.

The Gallery of Great Battles - Chateau de Versailles
The Gallery of Great Battles – Chateau de Versailles

Museum of the History of France / French History Museum

Shortly after becoming King in 1830, Louis-Philippe I decided to transform the Palace of Versailles. Louis-Philippe withdrew its status as a Royal residence and turned the Palace into a museum.

Orangery and The Orange Garden

This is a dedicated quarter in the Royal Palace where oranges and other fruit trees are protected during the winter. Built by the chief architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the construction of the Orangery is such that the temperature is cool enough to not let the plants freeze during winters.

Orange Garden - Chateau de Versailles
Orange Garden – Chateau de Versailles

These trees are meticulously moved inside the building during winters and preserved in perfect weather conditions. The Orange gardens look empty with just the lawn during winters.

Travel tip

There are a number of mobile kiosks serving freshly-squeezed orange juice along with the avenues in the gardens during summer and spring.

3. The Gardens of Chateau de Versailles

The Gardens of Chateau de Versailles are its main feature. The fountains and the sculptures are meticulously placed after much thought. This artistic display of the garden should be credited to the chief landscape architect, André Le Nôtre.

The layout of the garden at Chateau de Versailles

Explore the Garden and the Orangery on foot accompanied by interesting audio commentary using the Versailles Gardens® app. You will need an internet connection to operate this application on your phones. You can download this app for Android and iOS.

If you are interested in a personal guided tour of the Gardens, these tours might be of interest to you.

The Garden of Versailles and its history inspired the making of a movie called A Little Chaos starring Kate Winslet. The movie was directed by Alan Rickman and released in 2015.

Grand Canal

The Grand Canal was built between 1668 and 1671. It is 1,500 meters long and 62 meters wide. With the line of beech, oak, ash, and wild cherry trees on both the sides, the Grand Canal add to the design of the Gardens. The Grand Canal was used during royal events as a starting point for fireworks or as a real theater set. 

Fountains

Fountains are an integral element in the design of the Gardens. On weekends from late spring to early autumn, the administration of the museum sponsors the Grandes Eaux or the Musical Fountain Night – spectacles during which all the fountains in the gardens are in full play with color and music.

There are more than 30 fountains in the gardens of Versailles, the most famous are: the Neptune fountain, the Apollo fountain, and the Latona fountain. During The Musical Fountain Show, the 50 fountains contribute to the great show of water-jets.

Latona Fountain

Watch this video to understand the history of the elegant looking Latona Fountain facing westwards, placed between the Palace and the Grand Canal.

Every fountain within the Garden has a story behind it. It is good to have a tour guide as they can give a detailed explanation for each one of them.

Apollo Fountain / Bassin d’Apollo

At the beginning of the Grand Canal in the East-West perspective of the Gardens in the Palace of Versailles is the Apollo Fountain.

Apollo Fountain - Chateau de Versailles
Apollo Fountain – Chateau de Versailles

Activities at the Garden

Read this guide to know about all the activities in the Garden, like The Musical Fountain Show, The Musical Gardens, The Fountains Night Show and The Royal Serenade and the calendar of events.

Have a look at the visually delightful Fountain Night Show and the brilliant display of fireworks and pyrotechnics in this video. This video will definitely entice you to buy the Fountains Night Show ticket as the display of fireworks takes you back in time when the Royals used to celebrate occasions in this fashion in the 17th and 18th century.

Fountains Night Show - Chateau de Versailles
Fountains Night Show – Chateau de Versailles

4. Trianon Palaces

This site includes the Petit Trianon, the Grand Trianon, and the Queen’s Hamlet. There are three ways to reach the Trianon Palaces and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate from the Palace:

Petit Trianon - Chateau de Versailles
Petit Trianon – Chateau de Versailles

By foot through the gardens (around 30 minutes).

With the Little Train: from the Palace stop (North Terrace in the Gardens) to the Grand Trianon or Petit Trianon stop (around 20 minutes / Admission price: €7.50; reduced admission: €5.80 and to only come back to the Palace: €4). 

From the Water parterre by renting electric vehicles (€32 per hour).

The Queen’s Hamlet / Hameau de la Reine

Marie-Antoinette tasked Richard Mique, her favored architect, in 1783 to build a whole model village around an artificial lake. The queen actually used the hamlet as a place for relaxing walks or to host small gatherings.

Hameau de la Reine - Chateau de Versailles
Hameau de la Reine – Chateau de Versailles

Read this travel blog and see what you can expect in this idyllic village setting just a few minutes away from the grand palace.

Watch this visual tour of the Palace of Versailles and its garden in this Versailles Vacation Travel Video Guide.

We hope that you enjoyed reading our detailed guide to visiting the Chateau of Versailles.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Are you traveling around France? You might want to look at the other guides and posts we have written for France, to make your travel more easy and enjoyable.

13 steps for a perfect visit to Versailles

13 steps to follow for a hassle-free visit to the Chateau de Versailles

Home » France

Chateau de Versailles also called the Palace of Versailles is one of the grandest palaces in France built during the Renaissance by Louis XIV. Read this detailed guide from Talk Travel App for travel tips and enjoy Versailles like a local.

Chateau de Versailles
Chateau de Versailles

UNESCO designated the Palace of Versailles and its Garden as a World Heritage site in 1979. This opulent estate welcomes more than 7 million visitors every year. Versailles makes for a perfect one-day travel destination when you are visiting Paris.

Where is the Chateau de Versailles located?

It is located in the city of Versailles, Yvelines département, Île-de-France région, northern France, 10 miles (16 km) west-southwest of Paris.

How is the weather like at Versailles?

MonthHigh / Low (°C)High / Low (°F)
January6° / 2°42.8° / 35.6°
February8° / 2°46.4° / 35.6°
March12° / 4°53.6° / 39.2°
April15° / 5°59° / 41°
May19° / 9°66.2° / 48.2°
June22° / 12°71.6° / 53.6°
July25° / 14°77° / 57.2°
August25° / 14°77° / 57.2°
September21° / 11°69.8° / 51.8°
October16° / 8°60.8° / 46.4°
November10° / 4°50° / 39.2°
December7° / 2°44.6° / 35.6°

Visiting Versailles is mostly an outdoor activity except of course when you are inside the Royal Palace. The charm of this Chateau lies in its gardens. As a result, you will have to be outdoors for a few hours. Please check the weather condition before you head to Versailles. You can always carry an umbrella or a raincoat just in case.

West facing Chateau de Versailles
West facing Chateau de Versailles

When is the best time to visit the Chateau de Versailles?

Versailles has visitors all year round and the Chateau de Versailles is open throughout the year except on all Mondays of the year. Likewise, on the 25th of December, 1st of January and 1st of May.

Peak season

Peak months to travel are spring and summer between March to August. Please note that the summer months between June and August are the busiest with a lot of visitors. The heat can be quite unbearable, so during summers come early at 8 am and explore the garden. During mid-day, you can explore the interiors of the Palace to escape the heat.

Low season

The months from November to February witnesses the least number of crowds which is advantageous. Note that the temperatures are very cold this time of the year, so keep yourself warm as the wind in the open expanse of the Garden can give you the chills.

When is the best day to visit the Chateau de Versailles?

The first Sunday of every month from November to March has free admission to the Palace which means it can get crowded. Try coming early at 8 am to enter the premises soon to have a great time.

Chateau de Versailles is closed on Mondays but the brilliantly manicured Garden is open every day of the year. If you are short on budget, then you can visit Versailles on Monday. You can marvel at the grandeur of the Palace from the outside and walk in the expansive and well-maintained Garden for free.

Furthermore, the best day to visit the Palace of Versailles is during the week as it has thinner crowds, especially on Wednesday and Thursday.

How to go to Chateau de Versailles?

Versailles is just 20 km from Paris and very well connected by public transportation like bus and train.

Mode of Transport from ParisDuration (One – way journey)Cost (to and fro)
RER train line C1-hour€ 8
SNCF Transilien – N Train15 minutes€ 6
Uber1-hour€ 60 – 80
Regular taxi1-hour€ 100
Bus1-hour€ 10
Bike1-hour€ 74 (€ 1000 deposit which will be returned)

All prices mentioned in the above table are valid as of June 2018.

Travel Tip: Please carry cash when you want to buy tickets at the bus or train stations as international credit cards might not work. Carry light change or coins as train/bus journey costs only €6.

By train:

By RER C

From the Eiffel Tower metro station as a reference point to begin your journey from Paris to Versailles, you can take the RER train C. Read this detailed guide to understand how to reach Versailles by train. The destination terminus station is called Versailles-Rive Gauche platform.

A one-way journey costs € 3.65. Follow the overhead and wall signs to reach the platform where the RER C stops. Get off at Versailles-Rive Gauche platform and then Chateau de Versailles is just 5 minutes by foot.

By SNCF

If you are residing in the southwestern part of Paris, then you can head to Montparnasse station to take the SNCF train to Versailles-Chantiers station. It costs € 6 for a to and fro journey and it will take less than 30 minutes to reach.

Once you alight from the train at Versailles-Chantiers station, you have to walk for 15 minutes to reach the Palace of Versailles. You will find more information about train journeys here. You can book your train ticket directly on the SNCF website.

By car:

You have the choice of taking a cab like Uber or a regular taxi. Uber will cost you € 30 – 40 one-way whereas a regular taxi will cost you up to € 50 for a one-way ride.

By bus:

You can take bus number 171 from the metro stop Pont de Sèvres, on line 9. Get off at the bus stop Versailles-Place d’Armes. A to and fro ticket will cost you around €10.

The Versailles Express is an exclusive bus service between Paris and Versailles. They offer packages at varying prices and timings. Have a look at their offerings and book a service that is convenient for you.

On bike:

If you are the adventurous type and would like to reach Versailles on a Vespa, then go for it! You will be riding along the Seine River, pass through typical French villages and some amazing landscape. Find out more details on the website of Paris by Scooter

A quick summary of the opening times and the best time to visit the Palace of Versailles

DaysTimingsBest time of the year to visit
The Royal Palace*

Minimum Visit Duration: 1-2 hours

All days except Monday, 25th of December, 1st of January & 1st of May

 

9 am to 6.30 pm between April & October

9 am to 5.30 pm between November & March

Any time of the year

But your visit to the Palace should be at a time when you can enjoy the Gardens at the same time

Orange Garden
Minimum Visit Duration: 30 minutes
All the days8 am to 8.30 pm between April & October

8 am to 6 pm between November & March

April to October

All the citrus plants are out on display in the garden at this time

Gardens

Minimum Visit Duration: 3-4 hours

All the days8 am to 8.30 pm between April & October

8 am to 6 pm between November & March

Any time of the year

The garden looks colorful during spring and summer though, with flowers in full bloom

The Coach Gallery
Minimum Visit Duration: 1 hour
All days except Mondays, 25th of December, 1st of January & 1st of May12.30 pm to 6.30 pm between April & October

12.30 pm to 5.30 pm between November & March

Any time of the year
Trianon Palaces

Minimum Visit Duration: 3 hours

All days except Mondays, 25th of December, 1st of January & 1st of May12 pm to 6.30 pm between April & October

12 pm to 5.30 pm between November & March

Any time of the year
Fountains Night Show

Minimum Visit Duration: 1 hour

Every Saturday from 16 June to 15 September 2018 from 8.30pm to 10.40pm and fireworks from 10.50pm to 11.05pm (water displays from 8.30pm to 10.45pm)

Have a look at this Fountains Night Show calendar before planning your visit.

Find a nice spot near the Palace which faces the Grand Canal or near Latona’s fountain for spectacular views of the fireworks

Is Château de Versailles disable friendly?

Absolutely!

The Chateau de Versailles is on a flat surface and easily accessible by wheelchair. All the restrooms are disabled friendly except in the Gabriel Pavilion and picnic areas. Rest are all accessible for disabled persons unless indicated otherwise.

Above all wheelchairs are available in the Palace of Versailles and the Grand Trianon. People who use walking sticks or crutches can leave them at the Left Luggage desk and borrow a wheelchair to visit the site in greater comfort. Consequently, there are lifts leading to the different floors of the Palace, allowing access to the whole State Apartments.

Please note: 

You need to retrieve your personal belongings before you visit the gardens because once you have left you cannot re-enter. To retrieve your luggage you must go through security and ticket check once again.

Read this travel blog by Sage Traveling who have detailed their experience at the Palace of Versailles on a wheelchair.

There are a lot of benefits that can be availed upon showing a valid government approved disability card while purchasing tickets.

There are different benefits while traveling solo or in groups, read further to know more:

Type of tourEntry FeeWhat can you visitSlots
Self-guided tour

 

 


Book 3 months in advance

FreeIn the Palace you can visit the King’s Apartments, the Queen’s Apartments, Hall of Mirrors, Coach gallery, and exhibitions.

In the Estate of Trianon, you can visit The Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and their gardens, as well as the Queen’s Hamlet

For the Palace, slots are available on all days except Mondays at 11h50, 13h05 and 14h only


For the Estate of Trianon, slots are available all days except on Mondays at 13h and 16h in low season (November to March), or 13h and 17h in high season (April to October)

Guided tour

Book 3 months in advance

€25 for 2 hours for each tour
  1. Louis XIV at Versailles
  2. Royal Palace, French History Museum
  3. The Grand Trianon
  4. Gardens and groves
Refer this calendar to see which guided tour is planned for which day before booking your tickets.
Discovery Tour

Book 3 months in advance

€25 for 2 hoursGarden at the Palace of Versailles

This guided tour is unique as it is led by a visual artist or an actor who make it participative and playful to visually evoke a sense of creativity in the visiting group

Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays at 11:15 or 13:45
A Monday at Versailles€25 for 2 hoursRefer this calendar to see which guided tour is planned for which day before booking your tickets
Free and discounted visitsFree
  1. Garden
  2. Gallery of Coaches
  3. Music Fountain Night and Musical Gardens
Free, except the days of Music Fountain Night and Musical Gardens, from the end of March to the end of October, most Tuesdays, Fridays and weekends 

Tips before booking your tickets for disabled visitors:

Refer this calendar to see which guided tour is planned for which day before booking your tickets.

Booking slots according to the calendar can be confusing sometimes, so mail them for any queries.

Please note the following conditions before booking slots in the above-mentioned schemes:

– Reservations open 3 months before the desired date of visit, the first business day of the month, at 8:30. Example: for a visit in January 2018, the opening of reservations on October 1, 2018, at 8:30. Requests are processed in order of arrival.

– If the reservation request is accepted, a document will be sent by email to the applicant. To confirm the reservation, payment must be made within 15 days

For guided tours, self-guided tours and discovery activities, the maximum number of people per group is:
  • Visual impairment: 4 people with disabilities and 4 companions;
  • Motor impairment: 4 people with disabilities and 4 companions;
  • Hearing impairment: 20 accompanying persons understood;
  • Mental disability: 20 accompanying persons understood

You can explore the Palace of Versailles in small electric vehicles, find out more about the price range here.

Tips for travelers traveling with infants

Pushchairs and baby carriers with a metal frame are not allowed in the Palace and should be left at the cloakroom. It is advisable to bring a sling or baby carrier without a metal frame.

Where to buy tickets?

First of all buy the tickets online and do not waste time standing in the queue. Furthermore, there are many visitors during the summer. The queue can extend beyond the gates of the Palace and the heat is unbearable.

This list explains who can avail free admission to the Palace of Versailles on presentation of proof. Here is a comprehensive list of activities that are grouped and priced accordingly to suit varying needs of visitors. You can choose the best-suited ticket based on your interests and budget. You can buy your tickets online here.

Where to access Chateau de Versailles?

The main entrance to the Palace of Versailles is through the Main Courtyard past the majestic golden gates. If you do not have a ticket upon arrival and are not eligible for free admission, go to the ticket office first, situated on the left in the Main Courtyard, and then to entrance A of the Palace.

If you have reserved your ticket online and have already printed it, or if you are eligible for free admission, go directly to entrance A of the Palace with your proof of identity or ticket.

To visit only the Estate of Trianon, which is open from 12.00 pm, go directly to the entrances of the Grand or the Petit Trianon where you will find a ticket office.

Eating at Chateau de Versailles

There are many cafes and pastry shops within the Chateau that will help you rest and munch on some great food.

Try the hot chocolate made traditionally like in the 17th and 18th century at the Angelina Shop. There are amazing pastries and famous French macarons to try at Ladurée, a Parisian party shop.

You can enjoy a full course meal at any of the restaurants in the Chateau de Versailles like La Flottille Takeaway, La Petite Venise, Restaurant Angelina, and more. Eat at the restaurant or pack a sandwich to eat on the lawn beside the Grand Canal. You can certainly enjoy great views of the Garden and the Palace from here.

Picnicking beside the Grand Canal - Chateau de Versailles
Picnicking beside the Grand Canal – Chateau de Versailles

Internet at the Chateau de Versailles

You can stay connected online with free WiFi that is provided at the Palace of Versailles. You can connect to WiFi at the entrances of the following locations: the Palace; gardens at the South Parterre; Petit Trianon; Grand Trianon and Gallery of Coaches.

Travel within the Chateau de Versailles

If you love walking, enjoying a stroll in the beautiful Gardens to explore the Palace, the Grand Canal, and the Trianons is great fun.

You have the choice to cycle to these popular places within the Chateau by renting a bike or you can take a ride on the Little Train, row a boat in the Grand Canal or hire a small electric vehicle if you are in a small group. Find out all the options here.

Take a guided tour of the Palace of Versailles including the Gardens in this fun bicycle tour.*

Shopping for souvenirs at Chateau de Versailles

The famed Chateau de Versailles candles are an exclusive range of unique scented candles launched by The Palace of Versailles. There are many fragrances inspired by the scent from various quarters of the Palace. Buy them at the Souvenir shop at the premises of the Palace. You can have a look at the collection here.

Similarly, you can buy other Versailles goodies in any of the souvenir shops within the Palace complex like The Gardens Shop, Estate Shops and at The King’s Medal Cabinet.

Finally, where to stay near Chateau de Versailles?

Versailles is a year-round tourist destination, as a result, there are a number of hotels nearby to stay at.

Hotel de Clangy, Hôtel du Cheval Rouge, Les Versailles B&B, Palace Quartier St Louis, Novotel Château de Versailles are few hotels with good ratings on Booking.com. The prices range between 6000 – 10000 INR per night (90 – 150 USD).

If you buy the Passport entry ticket to visit the Versailles, there are some discounts that can be availed to stay at a select few hotels. Please find out more on the Chateau de Versailles website here.

Bon voyage!

This brings us to the end of this detailed guide to explore the Chateau de Versailles. We hope that you enjoyed reading our detailed guide to visiting the Chateau of Versailles. We have shared all the relevant information needed to visit this grand monument.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at Talk Travel are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

Are you traveling around France? You might want to look at the other guides and posts we have written for France, to make your travel more easy and enjoyable.

*We do not promote any brands or businesses on our platform. We only suggest experiences which are popular keeping in mind the best intentions of our travelers.

16 tips on how to visit the Louvre

How to visit the Louvre: 16 tips for a perfect time there

Home » France

The Louvre is probably one of the most famous museums in the world. Almost everyone knows the iconic pyramidal construction and it’s a spot visitors to Paris always have on their list. But, the Louvre is also one of the biggest museums in the world, with more than 35,000 works of art and 300 rooms it’s sometimes overwhelming for the people visiting it. So if you’re thinking about how to visit the Louvre and enjoy your time there, fear no more! Here are some tips so you have the perfect visit to the Louvre.

1. First of all, you don’t have to visit the Louvre

Yes, it’s one of the most important museums in the world but if you’re not that into art or you feel like you’d rather visit other important spots in Paris, simply don’t go. Every visitor is different and everyone has different interests. It’s valid to skip places you’re not interested in. Really, if you’re just going so you can get a picture of the Mona Lisa, just skip it, you’ll probably enjoy more doing other things.

You can visit the Louvre for free but it will be crowded.
People at the Louvre waiting to see the Mona Lisa
2. You won’t see everything, even if you visit it many times

The Louvre is HUGE so you’ll never be able to see everything in one visit (not even in two or three). Accept that you won’t see all of it and stop rushing it. I’ve seen so many people going from room to room, rushing it, trying to see everything. My guess is that they get out of the museum tired and cranky. Remember you’re probably on vacation, enjoy what you can in the time you have, don’t rush it.

3. How to visit the Louvre depends on you

With so many works of art and rooms to offer, the best thing to do is to plan beforehand what do you actually want to see in the Louvre. Before visiting, check the plans of the Louvre. Take your time to check the interactive map (I spent hours there before visiting) on the website of the Louvre. This interactive map will give you a better idea of where everything is. You can also print or save in your computer a map with all the information on the wings and rooms.

To have a general idea of the artworks housed in the Louvre check also the 8 curatorial departments the museum is divided in Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Roman and Etruscan AntiquitiesNear Eastern Antiquities; Islamic Art; Decorative ArtSculpture; Paintings; and Drawings & Prints.

4. Know how to get there

Since the Louvre is so famous, there are many ways to get there. You can use public transportation (which is better) or get there by car (there’s an underground place to park on Avenue du Général Lemonier). Most of the times it’s better to use the bus since the metro lines serving the Louvre can be crowded. Also, there are Vélib’ bike stations near the museum.

MétroPalais-Royal Musée du Louvre: lines 1 and 7

Pyramides: line 14

Bus21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95
Vélib’ bike stations1015: 2 Place André Malraux

1023: 165 Rue Saint-Honoré

1014: 5 Rue de l’Echelle

1013: 186 Rue Saint-Honoré

BatobusGet off at the Louvre stop, Quai François Mitterrand
5. Buy your tickets in advance

If you want to avoid lines, buy your tickets in advance. Go to the official website of the Louvre to buy them. Another option is to have the Paris Pass, which gives you access to several museums around Paris and you can also take the fast track lane.

6. Know where to enter

Most visitors enter the Louvre through the glass pyramid of the museum. Once you’re there, you’ll see signs like these:

Signs of entrance in the Louvre
Be sure to take the right entrance according to the ticket you have. Pic courtesy of the Louvre Museum.

This entrance is good if there’s no line but it’s safer to go into the museum through the Carrousel du Louvre. This is an underground shopping mall and you can enter the Louvre near an inverted glass pyramid that’s near the Apple store. There are almost no people in this line so it’s quicker. The Métro line 1 station is connected to the Carrousel du Louvre.

7. If you’re not sure, get a guide

Maybe you’re not that into art but you’re interested in seeing what the Louvre has to offer. In that case, the best option is to get a guide. There are guided tours in English every day at 11 am and 2 pm. These tours will take you to the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, and a great selection of masterpieces. Book your “Welcome to the Louvre” tour here for 12 €.

The audio guide can be frustrating to use, instead, download the official Louvre app for iOS and Android. This is a free app but you can also buy additional information.

8. Get there early or during the evening

Most guides recommend getting to the Louvre super early to beat the crowds… and since most guides do this, most people do this too. It’s true that there are fewer people at 9 am when the Louvre opens but also consider getting there after 3 pm (right after Parisians have their food). And for the best experience, visit the Louvre for the late-night opening: arrive after 6 pm on Wednesdays or Fridays and enjoy the museum up until 9:45 pm.

9. Wear comfortable clothing

Especially, wear comfy shoes. Avoid bringing big bags or backpacks, you won’t be able to move as freely as you’d want.

10. Respect the art
Rules at the Louvre Museum
A funny description of the rules at the Louvre Museum. Pic courtesy of the Louvre Museum.

If you’ve gone to enough museums, you know how this works. Don’t smoke, drink, eat, raise your voice, touch artworks or run inside the museum. You can be asked to walk out in case you don’t follow this rules (and really… why would you even smoke inside the Louvre?).

Taking pictures and videos is permitted in the permanent collection exhibition rooms, don’t use flash or other lighting equipment. In the temporary exhibition rooms, you can’t take photos or videos.

11. Be careful of pickpockets

Since there are many tourists (and people in general) it’s a place where you may get robbed. Just be careful of your belongings and exercise your common sense.

12. Use the bathroom

Before entering the wings there are restrooms, don’t miss the chance to go. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to miss on something just because you want to go to the bathroom… not that it has happened to me????.

13. Use the elevators

Save time and energy with these. If you check the map beforehand, you’ll see the elevators marked there so you don’t get lost.

14. Get out of the museum if you need to

The ticket you buy to enter the Louvre is good all day and for multiple entrances. If you’re planning on visiting different wings, a good idea is to exit the wing and cross through the entrance hall to enter other wings It’s faster and you don’t have to walk through the museum again.

15. Enjoy the building itself

The Louvre was originally a fortress but then it became one of the main residences of French kings. In 1793 (!) it became a museum so the building itself its worth a look. Don’t miss:

  • Apollo Gallery (first floor, room 66) which seems to be covered in gold
  • Islamic Galleries (ground floor and lower level) that is one of the newest wings of the Louvre
  • Napoleon III Apartments, Richelieu Wing (first floor, rooms 82 to 92) where you can see the high style of living Napoleon had
  • Marly Court, Richelieu Wing (ground floor and lower level), a white marble and stone courtyard full of sculptures
  • Summer Apartments of Anne of Austria, Denon Wing (ground floor, rooms 22 to 28) where you’ll be able to see breathtaking ceilings commissioned by King Louis XIV in 1655.
16. Visit the Tuileries Garden
Guide to visit the Louvre
The Tuileries garden is a relaxing place in the heart of Paris

A nice place that also the kids will love. These gardens are between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. This is the largest and oldest public park in Paris and you’ll love its landscape art, sculptures, and a relaxing vibe. After relaxing there, have a nice hot chocolate in Angelina (a true Parisian thing to do!). 

We hope these tips were useful, enjoy your visit to the Louvre!

10 tips to enjoy Paris like a local

10 tips to enjoy Paris like a local

Home » France

Oh, Paris! To walk your streets, to taste your food, to visit all the places! If you’re traveling there and you want to experience Paris like a local, we’ve got some tips for you. The first thing is confidence, the rest will follow. Read these 10 tips to enjoy Paris like a local and start packing for your trip????.

1. Learn French phrases

This is basic everywhere, but in Paris it will get you really far. If you really want to experience Paris like a local, learn some basic French phrases. Never start a conversation in English, always use a bon jour (good morning) or bonsoir (good evening). If you’re shopping or just window shopping, always greet the shopkeepers and remember to say au revoir (goodbye) or merci (thank you).

Don’t be afraid of not having the right accent, locals always appreciate when you make an effort.

2. La Bise

La Bise is a light kiss on each cheek, you’ll feel 30% more Parisian just by doing it. This normally happens between women but men can also greet you like that if you’re a woman. Coming from Latin America, I’m used to hugs and kisses even if you’re meeting someone for the first time. Parisians aren’t into hugs (learned that the awkward way). So, avoid hugs when a French person isn’t giving you one in the first place. Also important, let the Parisian person you’re greeting take the lead in La Bise.

3. Clothing

Something you’ll notice as soon as you start walking the streets of Paris is how effortlessly stylish is everyone. They somehow look as if they rolled out of bed but at the same time they look so chic… I don’t get it, I’ve never had that kind of style! A few basics you can consider to look more like a local in Paris are:

  • Use a simple palette in your outfits
  • Go for neutral colors
  • Embrace the use of scarfs
  • Opt for stylish sneakers or flats, for women
  • Prefer clothes that don’t show labels
  • Never, ever wear berets
How to dress in Paris to look like a local
The only acceptable way to use a beret.
4. Hide your maps and travel guides

Do people still use those? Apparently, yes. It’s really easy to spot a tourist if they are carrying maps or travel guides. Be more tech savvy and use your smartphone. There are a lot of apps that you can download that will help you to explore Paris like a local. Everybody uses their smartphone so it won’t be weird if you do too. Google Maps and Citymapper are always useful.

Avoid using selfie sticks to look like a local
Also, hide your selfie sticks
5. Have a plan on where to go

And I’m not speaking just about landmarks, I’m also talking about the places you’ll go to eat and drink. You can be as flexible as you want with your plan but have a general idea of where you can enjoy local experiences in Paris. A good idea is to use Talk Travel App to get insider information about the city. Don’t lose time walking mindlessly and looking for a place to have something to eat. Check beforehand all your options and plan accordingly. A good idea is to save those places on Google Maps.

6. Avoid places near landmarks or famous places

And speaking about food, avoid the places that are near important places. Most of the times, they will be crowded and full of tourists. If you’re looking for a more local experience in Paris, walk away from said places. You will find places that the locals hang out in and you’ll also get a fair price for the food or drinks. Something we’ve learned is that you can also ask your hosts or people you trust (that are locals) where do they hang out. Not the places that they’d recommend, but the places they go to. Nothing will get more local than that.

7. Don’t walk without aim

The first time I traveled alone I remember going out in the streets and not knowing where I was going. It was a time in which smartphones weren’t that common so I had to check the map in my accommodation and then go out with just an idea of where I was going in my mind but not really sure of how it would look like in real life. Many times I got lost but the important thing is that I tried not to look lost, following the people around me.

As in all big cities, if you look lost people may know you’re not a local. Paris is not the exception. Try to walk at the same pace

Super important tip: If you’re not sure where you’re going, stick to the right, especially in the Métro, which leads us to the next tip.

8. Use public transportation or walk around

Paris is a walkable city, many landmarks are really close to each other. Walking is a great way to truly enjoy the vibe of Paris, to see the people, and to window shop in your way to your destination. Also, if you want to save time and experience Paris like a local, you can always use the public transportation. Paris has a great transportation system so you won’t have problems getting around in it. Read this guide to know how to use public transportation in Paris.

How to use the metro in Paris
Using the Métro is one of the ways in which you can get around Paris like a local.
7. Keep a low volume

I’m from Mexico so we’re super loud, we’re always screaming, laughing out loud (for real) and making a lot of noise. Don’t be that person when you’re in Paris, especially if you’re using public transportation. This doesn’t mean that you should stop having fun, just keep the noise down.

8. Know when to have your meals

If you want to eat something in less touristy places, know that the time you should go is between noon and 2 pm. Most of those places will be closed at 3 pm so take that into account when planning your activities of the day. Of course, you can find open places but they will be the kind of places locals don’t visit.

9. Really enjoy your meals

Listen, I understand you may have tight schedules, especially if you’re visiting Paris just for some days. But, if you really want to experience Paris like a local, you must take your time to enjoy your meals! The City of Lights has one of the best cuisines of the world. Enjoy every bite, don’t rush it! Also, check these 14 foods you have to try in Paris (it includes all the places you can visit to have them).

10. Get a true Parisian coffee

There are normal cafés and specialty coffees. Depending on what you like, you can visit either of those. What’s important here is that you ask for what a true Parisian would have: nothing with extra flavors and simple. A little guide you can use when ordering coffee (check the full guide here):

  • Café/Espresso: a shot of espresso, dark and bitter. It can also be called Café Noir or Express
  • Café Allongé: espresso but diluted with water, in case you’re not into super strong coffee
  • Double espresso
  • Filtré: people also call it as café américain, it’s filtered coffee
  • Noisette: an espresso with cream

Also important, you can ask for your coffee sur place (to drink in the shop) or à emporter (to go).

 

Now you’re ready to enjoy Paris like a local! Do you have more tips on how to look local in Paris? Let us know in the comments and remember you can always download Talk Travel App to get local tips on Paris.

 

14 foods to try in Paris

14 foods to try in Paris

Home » France

One of my favorite parts of traveling is exploring a new place through its food. Food always has something to say about the place, the people, the traditions and even historical events. When you think of Paris, a lot of classic food comes to mind: baguettes, cheese (delicious cheese!), macarons (from Ladurée or Pierre Hermé, of course), crêpes, pain au chocolat, croissants, crème brûlée…

But there are so much more foods to try in Paris than that! That’s why we created this list of all the foods you can’t miss on your next visit to the City of Lights. And what’s best, we also suggest where you can get said foods.

Croque Monsieur/Croque Madame

Marcel Proust mentions it in In Search of Lost Time. The English translation would be something like mister crunch which is an amazing name. This is basically a sandwich with ham and melted cheese on top of it. If you want a fried egg on top of it, then ask for a Croque Madame. This is a quick snack that’s served mostly in bars and cafés.  Have the best Croque Monsieur in Paris in Le Petit Cler.

Paris-Brest

The Paris-Brest was created by Louis Durant in 1910 to commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race. This delicious dessert is made of choux pastry and praline flavored cream. It has the form of a wheel and it was popular with riders of the race because it has a high caloric value. Chez Michel has one of the best in town.

Chocolate and pistachio escargot

Maybe you don’t like the idea of escargots but what about this sweet chocolate and pistachio one? It’s delicious. Your mouth will water just by looking at them: pistachio paste in between puff pastry with chocolate sprinkles. OMG. Try the best one where it was created, at Du Pain et des Idées.

Falafel

One of the best foods to try in Paris! Go to L’As du Fallafel. You’ll know you’re close because you’ll see lines of people waiting in the street for their falafels to be served. You can either eat there or have them to go (which is better since you can walk around Le Marais with food in your hands). It’s said to be Lenny Kravitz’s favorite restaurant and we trust his judgment.

Éclair

An éclair is just a pastry made with choux dough and filled with cream topped with chocolate… but there’s something in that “simplicity” that makes eating one of those a truly flavorful experience. Of course, there are now different versions of the éclair and you can find the best ones in L’éclaire de Génie.

Oysters

There’s a legend that says King Henri IV ate 300 oysters at a time, Napoleon ate them before going into the battle. Oysters have a long history in France (they’re the biggest consumers in Europe). There are two places you can have amazing oysters and feel like a local. Go to Le Mary Celeste for a selection of oysters and nice drinks. Choose Huîtrerie Régis if you want a small intimate space outside of the tourist areas.

Profiteroles

Profiteroles or choux à la crème are choux pastry balls with a filling that can be whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or ice cream. If you have them when they’re freshly baked they kind of melt in your mouth: an experience that can’t be topped. For the most delicious profiteroles you’ll have in Paris, go to Profiterole Chérie, a pink paradise in which you can choose your kind of profiterole and personalize the filling.

Basquiat Pizza

You can only have this at Pink Flamingo. Don’t miss the chance to taste this delicious pizza with gorgonzola, figs, and parsley. For a better experience, go to the one that’s near Canal Saint-Martin. When you order, they’ll give you a pink balloon so you can sit around the Canal meanwhile they’re preparing it. Once it’s done, the waiters will find your pink balloon and deliver the pizza to you.

Sole Meuniére

Sole à la meunière is a classic! It is sole dredged in flour, pan-fried in butter and served with a brown butter sauce, parsley and lemon. Ok, my mouth just watered while writing that. It’s so simple yet so delicious! For a great sole meunière go to Chez Georges. It may be a bit pricey but it’s worth it!

Praslines

Praslines are roasted caramelized almonds. Although it may sound simple, the recipe has been kept secret since its invention during the 17th century. Nobody knows the exact quantity of sugar or for how long you have to roast the almonds. The only place where you can have the authentic ones is at Mazet de Montargis. And while you’re there, you can also try all the variety of candies this magical place has to offer!

Tentation de Saint-Antoine

An Anthony Bourdain favorite. Have this greasy, amazing meal at Au Pied de Cochon. But what exactly does the Tentation de Saint-Antoine is? Well, readers here’s a photo:

Enjoy tail, ear, snout and a pig’s foot with Bérnaise sauce. And if you’re already at this amazing 24-hour-service restaurant, try the French onion soup. This is definitely one of our favorite foods to try in Paris!

Escargots

You may be skeptical at first but when in Paris… you have to try them! Escargots are typically cooked with garlic butter, chicken stock or wine. L’Escargot Montorgueil has the best escargots in town. Order a dozen per person (you won’t regret it) and try to seat near a window. The restaurant is located in a busy area of Paris so you’ll love eating your escargots while watching people passing by.

Frog legs

If I had to explain how do frog legs taste, I’d say that it’s a weird mix between chicken and fish. You have the mild flavor of chicken and some of the texture of fish. A fun fact about cooking them: when you cook frog legs they tend to twitch. Luckily, you can go to places like Roger La Grenouille where you don’t have to see that. Order Grenouille à la persillade.

 

Coq au vin

If you’re a fan of Julia Child, you already know this dish. Coq au vin a classic French dish: chicken braised with wine, mushrooms, lardons and, sometimes, garlic. If you’re into wine, this one’s for you. They usually cook it with red Burgundy wine but if you go to other places in France there may be variants with local wines (like coq au Champagne, for example). Go to A la Biche au Bois for a truly French coq au vin.

 

Don’t miss the chance to experience Paris through its food. Let us know if you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

Itineraries to take in Paris to plan your next holidays

Paris itinerary to help you plan your holiday

Home » France

Paris is a charming city in the north of France. The city brims of style and glamor when you wander on the streets. Paris scores high on all the parameters related to history, art, architecture, heritage, culture, cuisine, and more.

Visiting Paris is a must in everybody’s travel bucket list. The sights, sounds, and food to savor is an experience that cannot be missed.

If you are traveling to Paris exclusively for a holiday spanning many days or passing by Paris on a Euro-trip for a few days or on transit for a few hours, this TalkTravel App list of Paris itineraries is here to help you. Whether you are here for a few hours or days together, there is so much to do in Paris to keep you engaged.

Paris itinerary if you are on transit

Assuming you are flying between destinations and you have a few hours of layover at Charles de Gaulle Airport then you can visit the following places to while away your time.

Eiffel Tower

If you are a first time visitor, head to the Eiffel Tower. It is a spectacular sight as always. Spend some time here, take pictures to your heart’s content. If you arrive in the evening, the night lights are on which makes it a lively place.

Eiffel Tower in the city of Paris
Eiffel Tower in the city of Paris

Arc de Triomphe

If you have some more time on your hands, you can walk for 30 minutes to visit the iconic Arc de Triomphe monument. You can take the nearest green line metro from the Bir-Hakeim station to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station for € 1.90.

Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Arc de Triomphe in Paris
How to reach the Eiffel Tower?

Take the Line 2 bus run by the operator Le Bus Direct from Terminal CDG 2e/2f directly to Eiffel Tower. The journey is one hour long and costs €18.00 for a one-way journey. Or you can take Ouibus from the airport to the Eiffel Tower for the same price.

You can also take the RER train from CDG to the Eiffel Tower. On this route, you will have to change to green line at the Denfert-Rochereau station. This journey costs €15 one way.

How to return to Charles de Gaulle Airport?

Take the same bus from the Eiffel Tower back to the airport for the same price. Or take either Line 2 Le Bus Direct bus or Ouibus from Étoile / Champs-Elysées station near Arc de Triomphe to return.

What to eat near the Eiffel Tower?

Your visit to the Eiffel Tower calls for a French meal. There are amazing restaurants just five minutes away from the Eiffel Tower on the Rue de Monttessuy street.

Head to either Au bon accueil or 20 Eiffel. Request for outdoor seating as you can dine on fine French cuisine with views of the tower.  They serve a mix of classic and modern French cuisine and is a moderately expensive place.

If you are on a budget, there are a lot of cafes nearby to choose from for a snack or a filling meal.

Paris itinerary for two days

Along with the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, you can visit other prominent and historic monuments over 48 hours in Paris. You must visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre museum and, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. For the evenings, stroll along the Seine River and explore the Latin Quarters.

The Louvre Museum

Begin your day high on energy by visiting the famous Louvre museum. The museum is so huge, you will need at least a week’s time to marvel at all the artifacts. Since you are on a strict timeline, you can spend 3 – 4 hours comfortably covering the most famous art pieces.

Louvre Museum in Paris
Louvre Museum in Paris

The glass and metal Louvre Pyramid is symbolic of this great museum. The museum opens at 9 am so enter early to avoid crowds. The ticket costs €17 and an audio guided tour will cost an extra €5. Buy the ticket online to avoid wasting time in the queue. 

There is a huge collection of antiquities and paintings from Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, Islamic and all the great cultures. Here is a list of masterpieces which cannot be missed at the museum.

What to eat near the Louvre?

You will be famished by the end of your tour of the Louvre museum. If you are very hungry, then you can always grab a sandwich and a coffee inside the museum itself. 

Exit from the museum and walk outside the pyramids to the left to reach Rue du Louvre street. There is a La Dame de Pic restaurant which serves amazing traditional French food at moderate prices.

If you are visiting the museum on a weekend, you can take the Calife cruise along the Seine river for a memorable dining experience. Exit from the Porte de Lions entrance and walk across the nearest bridge to cross the Seine River and the Calife is right there. Do not forget to book a table in advance as there is a high demand for it. There are dinner and river cruises on weekdays.

Notre Dame Cathedral

For cheaper options, you can walk along the Seine River to find a cafe or a simpler restaurant along the way. It is a very pleasant experience to walk along the river. Walk for 2 km to reach the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Appreciate fine French Gothic architecture in this 13th-century Cathedral. The western facade of the Cathedral is very photogenic and you can rest here for a while. You can enter the cathedral for free but you will have to pay €8.50 to climb the tower.

Cafes near Notre Dame Cathedral

There are a plethora of cafes to choose from. Most streets are lined with cafes with outside seating. You can go to Le Petit Plateau, Le Saint-Régis and more all within a walkable distance. 

If you are in the mood to bite into Paris’ famous confection called the macaron, go to Pierre Hermé on 72 Rue Bonaparte near the Cathedral. The desserts look like works of art and the macarons are delectable. It feels like you walked into an art store than a pastry shop. Check out this mouthwatering blog to see what to expect at the finest French pastry shop, Pierre Hermé.

Pierre Hermé in Paris
Pierre Hermé in Paris.
Pic courtesy: Pierre Hermé website

You can walk from Notre Dame for 2 km or take the orange metro line from Cluny – La Sorbonne station to Mabillon station for €1.90. 

Latin Quarters

When you are at Pierre Hermé, you are just 10 minutes away from the Latin Quarters. Latin Quarters is a chic, artsy and vibrant area full of bookstores, art cafes, and monuments. The streets are cobbled and give you an old world charm as you meander through them. For a detailed guide on what to visit in the Latin Quarters, check out this blog from PlanetWare.

Latin Quarters in Paris
Latin Quarters in Paris
Pic courtesy: AllPosters

There are some amazing restaurants in the vicinity like the Ciasa Mia, Les Papilles, Les Trublions, and more.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

If you have time, visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica on a hill called Montmartre. The views of the city from this height are spectacular.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris
Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris

Moulin Rouge

When you are here, you can walk a kilometer down the road to visit the renowned Moulin Rouge. The cabaret shows accompanied with dinner is a once in a lifetime experience. Book a ticket online or you can check the shows lined up for the day at the venue and attend a musical. 

Paris itinerary for three days

Three days is a justified amount of time to explore a city as vibrant as Paris though a week would be perfect. 

Catacombs of Paris

If you have the nerve to see skeletal remains of thousands of people stacked in a dark underground cemetery, then head to the Catacombs of Paris. Take the metro green line from Bir-Hakeim station near the Eiffel Tower until Denfert-Rochereau station to reach the Catacombs. Check out this quick guide to understand what to expect at the Catacombs.

Catacombs of Paris
Catacombs of Paris.
Pic courtesy: World Atlas

Musée d’Orsay

Paris can be designated as the art capital of the world. If you are an art enthusiast, pay a visit to Musée d’Orsay. A railway station turned museum, houses French art from world-class painters like Van Gogh, Monet, and more. It is 30 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower and can be reached on a bus. Take the Gambetta bus from Champ de Mars bus station near the tower until Solférino – Bellechasse stop.

Musée Picasso

Another museum you can visit is the Picasso Museum in Paris on the other side of River Seine. Take the yellow line from the Palais Royal Musée du Louvre station and alight at Saint-Paul station. Check out this guide from Paris Insiders Guide to know about the art on display and other details related to this museum.

Picasso Museum in Paris
Picasso Museum in Paris.
Pic courtesy: Paris Museum Pass

Les Invalides

Go to Les Invalides which is a complex of buildings having museums, monuments, a hospital, a grand park and lots of military history related to France. You can walk from the Eiffel Tower as they are next to each other. If you are a history buff, then this is the place for you. You can easily spend a good 3 – 4 hours here.

Les Invalides in Paris
Les Invalides in Paris

Paris itinerary for four days

Chateau de Versailles

Staying for four nights in Paris calls for a compulsory visit to Versailles. This 15th-century palace was the royal residence of Louis XIV. Chateau de Versailles requires a full day to explore the Palace and the vast gardens.

Chateau de Versailles and the Orange Garden
Chateau de Versailles and the Orange Garden

If you do not enter the Palace then half a day suffices to explore Versailles. For a detailed guide on how to visit and all the details needed to book a train ticket to Versailles, head to this TalkTravel App guide.

Paris itinerary for five days

Disneyland

For the fifth day, head to Disneyland. Celebrate and rejoice in one of Europe’s biggest theme parks for a whole day. There are amazing rides and movie inspired sets within the park to keep you busy. There is a great collection of restaurants within the park and there is absolutely no need to step out for anything. It is a dreamland with Paris and a great place to make memories. 

Disneyland in Paris
Disneyland in Paris

Visiting Disneyland with little kids can be a challenge, so read up before you head there with your young family. This blog from Battle Mum details everything you need to know about Disneyland in Paris.

Reaching Disneyland takes an hour. Hop on the Ouibus at the Eiffel Tower bus stop and get off at the Étoile / Champs-Elysées station near Arc de Triomphe. Switch to RER train from the metro station here towards Gare de Marne la Vallée Chessy. Exit at this station and walk for 5 minutes to reach Disneyland Paris.

Mont Saint Michel

If Disneyland is not an enticing activity, go to Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. This 8th-century abbey resting on a rocky islet looks surreal in the bay.

Mont Saint Michel near Paris
Mont Saint Michel near Paris

This is a one-day activity and worth every minute and cent. Check out this TalkTravel App guide to visit Mont Saint Michel.

Paris is one of the most visited and most photographed cities in the world. The city has so much to offer that a few days in Paris is never enough to know all about this great city. We hope this compilation helps you plan your time well in Paris.

We, at TalkTravel App, know how important Paris is to travelers and we have compiled very informative guides which has all the information needed for a smooth and hassle-free experience in Paris. Check out our travel blogs on our website.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at TalkTravel are happy to help. If you need any help building a travel itinerary or if you have any other query, do not hesitate to contact us. 

Download our free TalkTravel App on our Android or iOS device to talk to our local expert for free. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

*Any restaurant of business mentioned in this post is for the benefit of travelers. We do not promote any brand or business on our platform. We only suggest experiences which are popular keeping in mind the best intentions of our travelers. At Talk Travel we’re not responsible for any untoward incident during your travel with any of the services recommended in this article.

Watch these movies that take place in Paris to fall in love with that city all over again

Movies to fall in love with Paris all over again

Home » France

 

There’s always something nice about watching a movie that takes place in a city you’ve already visited. Many movies take place in iconic places like New York, London and of course, Paris! I think Paris is the perfect movie scenario, it has everything you can dream of: romantic streets, amazing architecture and many recognizable spots. I love many movies that take place in Paris and if you’re feeling doubts about visiting that city, here’s a list you can check out to fall in love with it all over again.

Prepare popcorn, get to a comfortable place and watch any of these movies to inspire your next travels! I’ve purposely left out Amélie and Before Sunset because you’ve already watched them, right?

Ratatouille

First of all, I love Pixar. Case closed. Second of all, a really important part of traveling for me is food. There’s no better way to understand the culture and customs of a place than by tasting some of their food. And Ratatouille captures it in a really nice way. Even Anthony Bourdain loved it and said about it:

They got the food, the reactions to food, and tiny details to food really right, down to the barely noticeable pink burns on one of the character’s forearms. I really thought it captured a passionate love of food in a way that very few other films have.

They got so many details right for this film. For example, the wine that Anton Ego orders, a Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947, actually exists (it’s a Grand Cru Bordeaux blend from the St. Emilion region)! But not only did the food was awesome in this movie, also many details of the city: Linguini’s little apartment in Montmartre, the shots of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine by night, and so many scenes where you can see the streets of Paris come alive.

Ratatouille is not only a movie about pursuing your passions and dreams, it’s also a movie to fall in love with food again!

Madame

Toni Colette and Rossy de Palma are Madame and servant in this comedy filmed in Paris. This is a story about a woman that fakes to be a princess and falls in love with a posh British art broker. Funny at times and sad at some others, this film uses Paris’ streets as another protagonist for the story. It also approaches some tough topics in a really light but witty way, like immigration.

Some great scenes happen in iconic places of Paris like the Palais-Royal, where you can see Les Deux Plateaux by Daniel Buren, or the Canal Saint-Martin. There are even appearances of the Vélib’ bikes you can use in Paris and some classic shots of the French countryside.

All in all is a funny movie that has an unexpected ending.

Before Midnight

Of course, as you can see in the trailer, there are a lot of shots of the city. You can see the Champs-Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe and also the Rodin Museum. There are scenes in Versailles, Rue Mouffetard, Pont-Neuf, and Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church (the church where everything starts). And for some really Parisian thing: there’s an appearance of the bouquinistes of Paris!

And what’s also great about this film is that it walks you through the vibe of the bohemian scene of Paris during the Belle Époque. Since I love history, I liked identifying characters like Dalí, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Hemingway.

Paris, je t’aime

From all the movies that take place in Paris, this may be one of the most famous ones! Paris, je t’aime lets you discover Paris’ different neighborhoods and fall in love not only with the lovable (well, some of them) characters but with the city itself. The film is composed by 18 short stories directed by famous people like Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Gérard Depardieu and the Coen Brothers.

Since the movie is so famous, you can check a guide on the places that appear in the movie. I personally enjoyed the ones that happen in the Marais, the Latin Quarter, and Montmartre. I won’t say more, just watch it and fall in love!

Hugo

If you love movies (as in the art of making movies) this one is for you. I must admit that there are not many “classical” shots of Paris. You can see the Eiffel Tower, the Gare Montparnasse station, and some streets. But that aside, it is about the magic of movies and how one French man, Georges Méliès, is in part responsible of us enjoying this art.

France has been for a long time a place where art, technology, and culture merge in a really unique way. We sometimes forget that many of the things we love and use nowadays originated there: photography, the Etch-a-Sketch, the pencil sharpener, aspirins, canned food, bikes with pedals, and of course, cinema! Hugo is just a little homage to Georges Méliès, one of the most influential science fiction filmmakers of all time.

2 days in Paris

A romantic comedy about a French woman and an American man that are a couple. As you can see in the trailer above, the movie takes place all around Paris. Maybe the shots aren’t that impressive, they’re just like any shot in any other movie that takes place in Paris. What’s really interesting about this movie is how it captures the cultural shock that many people could experience in Paris or meeting Parisians.

The movie is also super funny with great performances by Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, and Albert Delpy. Oh, and just a warning, it may be a bit weird to see Julie Delpy in love with someone that’s not Ethan Hawke, but I promise… it’s worth it!

An education

 

Listen if you had to choose between doing something hard and boring for the rest of your life or go to Paris and have fun… what would you choose? I know. It’s a tough question but we get to know the answer in this movie. Carey Mulligan gives some of her best performances and you’ll question your life choices after watching this film. You’ll fall in love with Paris again just by watching the idyllic shots of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower.

If you’ve listened the term bon vivant, the characters of this movie are the living example of that. Bon vivant’s literal translation from French is “good liver” or “one who lives well.” A bon vivant is someone who appreciates the finest things in life, that loves socializing and that enjoys great food and drinks. When this movie ends, you’ll want to be a bon vivant yourself.

Les Rendez-vous de Paris

Quentin Tarantino described what it feels like to watch an Éric Rohmer’s movie: “you have to see one of [his movies], and if you kind of like that one, then you should see his other ones, but you need to see one to see if you like it.” That said, Les Rendez-vous de Paris may not be as easy to watch as some of the movies listed here but trust me, it’s worth it. Three love stories happen in this movie that describes how dates work in Paris.

You can see more “normal” places in Paris, like random streets and parks. There’s also a scene where you can take a look at the Stravinsky Fountain (near Pompidou Centre) and Pont Alexandre III, which is a really popular spot for movies that take place in Paris.

Marie Antoinette

This movie does not exactly takes place in Paris but in Versailles. You’ll get immersed into the luxurious and decadent lifestyle of the French monarchy before the French Revolution. I feel this movie isn’t enough appreciated, I mean, Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman and I Want Candy in the same movie? Come on! Nothing can top that.

Besides the great casting, I completely loved the costume design of this movie and all the effort that was made in sets and props. I also recently read Marie Antoinette’s biography and I was surprised by the accuracy of most of the movie. It obviously has some artistic freedom but, in general, there are also many historical facts throughout it (even the scene where Marie’s dogs are taken away from her, that truly happened!).

 

So what, are you planning your next trip to Paris right now? Which movie are you going to watch next?

guide-on-public-transportation-in-paris

How to use the public transportation in Paris

Home » France

You’re in Paris: your dream destination. You want to see everything and explore everything. Paris has one of the best public transportation systems in the world and you can’t miss the chance to live the city like a local by using it.

As always, when you get to a new city, it may be unnerving to use the public transportation. You may feel lost (or GET lost) but don’t worry: it’s all part of the experience.

That’s why we created this guide, so you can use the public transportation in Paris and feel safe while doing it. There are many ways you can move around the city: metro, RER, bus, and bikes.

Let’s explore all your options!

Métro

The great thing about metros is that they work similarly everywhere. If you’ve used it in your city, Paris’ metro is not that different. There are 16 lines and some 300 metro stations. Here you can see a map of all the metro lines in Paris.

How to use the metro in Paris
You can identify the entrance of the metro stations in Paris by a big yellow letter “M”.

The metro schedules in Paris are these: Sunday to Thursday (including public holidays) from 6 am to 12:45 am, Friday and Saturday (including public holidays) from 6 am to 1:45 am.

The metros run depending on the time and day: at peak hours they run every 2 minutes.

How much does the Métro in Paris cost? A single ticket costs €1.90 and it’s valid for zones 1 and 2. Zones 1 and 2 in Paris comprehend the center of the city. The tickets get you to the end of each line even if that metro station isn’t inside the zones 1 and 2.

You can use this ticket for a single journey, including connections. Depending on how you’re gonna use the metro you can buy a single ticket or a book (carnet) of 10 tickets for €16. You can buy them at the ticket offices or machines in metro stations, also in some tobacconists.

Important: keep your ticket until you’ve completed your journey since you may be asked to show it if tickets are inspected. If you don’t have it you may be subject of a fine.

The most overcrowded lines in Paris are lines 1, 2, 4, 11, 12 and 13, especially at rush hours. If you want to have views of the city take lines 2 and 6 because they run mostly above ground. Line 6 offers views of the Eiffel Tower.

RER (or Suburban Express Railway)

The RER is a network of trains that has 5 lines and serves Paris and Ile-de-France. Same as the metro, each line has its own color that’s shown on the RATP and SNCF signs and maps. It’s also air-conditioned, perfect for the hot summers in Paris! Check all the lines here.

It functions almost the same as the metro in Paris, it just doesn’t stop at every stop, which makes it faster. The only thing you need to do differently is to put your ticket through the automatic barriers when you’re going out. And what’s better, if your RER station has a connection with a metro station, you can use the same ticket for the whole trip.

The cost of the tickets, if you’re staying within the city limits, is the same as the metro. The RER stations also have ticket offices and machines where you can buy the tickets. These RER tickets cover trips and any connections within Paris (zones 1 and 2) on your outward and return journeys. Take the RER B to go directly to de CDG airport.

This network of trains starts running at 6 am and stops at around 12:45 am every day. This includes public holidays.

Important: if traveling beyond city limits, check that you have the right ticket or pass that covers the whole journey. If you don’t have it you won’t be able to go through the automatic barriers (believe me, it happens and it’s awful!). You may also have to pay a fine.

If possible, avoid the RER (and metro) at rush hours: 8 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 8 pm.

Transilien (Regional train)

These trains depart from major Paris train stations such as Nord, Est, Lyon, Austerlitz, Montparnasse and Saint-Lazare. The tickets for the Transilien can be bought at Ile-de-France ticket desks and machines in train and metro/RER stations. Check the routes here.

Tramway

Paris also has 8 Tramway lines that you can check here. You may use the same RER tickets for the Tram.

Bus

How to use public transportation in Paris
The bus system in Paris can help you get anywhere in the city

There are 64 bus lines available in Paris (check all of them here). When taking the bus, you can see the line number and the direction in front and on the sides of it. To stop a bus in Paris you must put your hand out so the driver stops.

Something great about bus stops in Paris is that there are electronic display signs that indicate how long you’ll have to wait for the next bus. They also display the first and last bus in service and the frequency at which the buses get to the stations. And some are even equipped with USB ports to recharge your phone!

Buses run from Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 8:30 pm. The lines that depart from stations or serve metro/RER interchanges operate also in the evening from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am. There are also lines that operate on Sundays and public holidays.

The most crowded bus lines are 28, 38, 62 and 68 since they service the central areas of the city.

How much does a bus ticket cost in Paris? The same as the metro: €1.90. And you also use the same ticket (except on the Balabus, Noctilien and routes 221, 297, 299, 350 and 351). The tickets are valid for a single journey with no connections with no limits on distance. So, if you change of bus or connect with another type of public transport, you’ll need another ticket. You can also buy the tickets from the bus driver but bring the correct change.

Important: get on the bus at the front and get off in the middle door or the back door. If you’re getting on an articulated bus, you can get on and off through any door (push the button next to them to open the doors). To request a stop, press one of the buttons in the bus, a stop requested light will appear in front of the drivers’ compartment.
SUPER important: punch your ticket or validate your pass when you get on the bus. If you don’t and there’s a ticket inspection you may get a fine.
Noctilien

This is a night bus service that you can take from 12:30 am to 5:30 am in Paris (and the Paris region). It has 47 lines and you can use the same tickets as in the metro or buses if it covers the zones you’re traveling to. This buses also run right on schedule and you can check the map of the routes here.

If you’re worried about traveling that late at night, don’t worry (also follow these tips if you’re a woman traveling solo).  The buses have video surveillance and there’s a security monitoring center that’s connected to it constantly.

There are also employees stationed at the major connecting stations in Paris, so if you have any question, you can ask them. And here’s the best part: on lines N130 to N154, you can ask an employee to wake you up at your stop! Can something get better than that? I don’t think so!

Buses from the airport to Paris

There are special buses that can get you from the airports (Charles de Gaulle and Orly) to and from the city. You can take three different lines depending on where you are and where you’re heading: RoissyBus, OrlyBus, and Orlyval.

RoissyBus

It connects Paris-Opéra with Charles de Gaulle Airport. The journey time is of 60 minutes approx.

Schedules from Paris (Opéra) to CDG Airport

05:45 am to 8:00 pm (runs every 15 minutes)
8:00 pm to 10:00 pm (runs every 20 minutes)
10:00 pm to 11:00 pm (runs every 30 minutes)

Schedules from CDG Airport to Paris (Opéra)

06:00 am to 8:45 pm (runs every 15 minutes)
8:45 pm to 11:00 pm (runs every 20 minutes)

Departures
– Opéra (on the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber) to CDG Airport. It has 8 drop-off points: T1-T2A, T2B, T2C-T2D-T2E-T2F, T3 Terminals.
– CDG Airport to Paris-Opéra. It has 5 pick-up points: T1-T2BD-T2AC-T2EF, T3 Terminals (formerly T9).

OrlyBus

It’s a shuttle bus that operates between Orly airport and Place Denfert-Rochereau. The journey time is of 30 minutes approx. The frequency is of 10 to 20 minutes depending on hours.

Stop: Paris – Denfert-Rochereau RER – Direction: Orly South

First departure: 5:35 am

Last departure: 11:05 pm Monday to Thursday, Sundays and holidays, and 12:05 am Saturdays and holiday eves

Stop: Orly South and Orly West – Direction: Paris – Denfert-Rochereau RER

First departure: 6:00 am

Last departure: 11:30 pm Monday to Thursday, Sundays and holidays, and 12:30 am Fridays, Saturdays and holiday eves

Orlyval

A light rail transit line (that has no driver!????). It connects Orly airports with Antony RER station. You can take the Orlyval every 4-7 minutes. From Antony station to Orly South, the journey time is of 8 minutes approx.

Approximate journey times using RER B between Paris and Antony

17 minutes from Denfert-Rochereau

25 minutes from Châtelet-Les-Halles

28 minutes from Gare du Nord

Schedule

First departure (Anthony, Orly South, and Orly West): 6 am

Last departure (Anthony, Orly South, and  Orly West): 11 pm

Vélib’ bikes

If you’re on the active side, you can use bikes to explore Paris and move around! It’s somewhat cheaper than using the other forms of public transportation in Paris. Vélib’ is a bike sharing system with docking stations all around the city. Check the map of the stations here. You can also check these tutorials before using the bikes.

Remember the first 30 mins. are “free” and then you have to pay. If you got to your destination, look for a docking station, otherwise you’ll be charged.

There are passes for occasional users that you can buy, which are convenient if you’re just visiting the city.

V-Découverte: valid for 24 hours and allows you to take up to 5 Vélib’ at one time. It costs 5 €.

V-Séjour: valid for 7 days and it allows you to take up to 5 Vélib’ at one time. It costs 15  €.

Once you’ve bought your pass, these are the prices charged in case you use an elecrtic bike or you use the bike for more than 30 min.

Time usedNormal bikeElectric bike
0-30 min0 €1 €
30-60 min1 €2 €
+60 min1 € per 30 min2 € per 30 min

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has used Vélib’ bikes!

How to save money using Paris’ public transportation

First things first, if you’re traveling with children to Paris and they’re under 4, transportation is free! For children between 4 and 11, there’s a half-price reduction. You can also buy a carnet for 10 trips at a reduced price, like we mentioned before. Now, there are also travel passes, cards and some other ways you can save money while using public transportation in Paris.

Mobilis pass

This is perfect if you’re visiting Paris for a few days. Mobilis pass allows you to have unlimited travel for a day in the zone you choose, it’s a magnetic ticket and you must write your first and last name and the day’s date on the ticket when using it. You can use it in the bus, metro, RER, transilien, and tram. Mobilis pass can’t be used in the airport buses. The validity period of the travel passes starts at 12 am and ends at 11:59 pm. You can buy Mobilis in all metro, RER and tramway stations, and at all bus points of sales.

How much does the Mobilis pass cost?

ZonesCost
1-27.50 €
1-310.00 €
1-412.40 €
1-517.80 €
Navigo pass

If you’re staying in Paris for a week or a month (or forever!) you can buy a monthly or weekly Navigo package… it’s cheaper! Purchase them from ticket offices, machines in the stations or on its website. The Navigo pass allows you to use the public transport networks in the Île-de-France region: metro, RER, bus, tramway, and train (except Orlyval, SNCF train lines with reserved seating, and the Optile special fare lines).

Tip: you’ll need a passport-sized photo for the Navigo pass. You can take a photo at the metro stations booths or bring your own photo!

How much does the Navigo pass cost?

ZonesNavigo WeeklyNavigo Monthly
All zones22.80 €75.20 €
2-320.85 €68.60 €
3-420.20 €66.80 €
4-519.85 €65.20 €

Read carefully about the zones and specifications of the Navigo pass here.

Paris Visite

The Paris Visite allows unlimited travel on bus, RER, metro and tram around Paris and its suburbs, you also have access to the Montmartre funicular. Valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days. When you buy this pass the seller most of the times gives you a Paris Tourisme map and an SNCF map (if you don’t receive them, you can ask!). It can be purchased in advance here.

Important: Fill in the date you decide to use it and the number of the card. The pass works for full days, not for hours. The day starts at 5:30 am and finishes at 5:30 am of the next day. So if you start using it at 6 pm, the day will still end at 5:40 am of the next day.

Adult prices of the Paris Visite pass

DaysZonesPrice
1 day1 to 313.20 €
2 days1 to 321.50 €
3 days1 to 329.40 €
5 days1 to 342.20 €
1 day1 to 527.80 €
2 days1 to 542.20 €
3 days1 to 559.20 €
5 days1 to 572.40 €

Child (from 4 to 11 years old) prices of the Paris Visite pass

DaysZonesPrice
1 day1 to 36.60 €
2 days1 to 310.80 €
3 days1 to 314.70 €
5 days1 to 321.10 €
1 day1 to 513.90 €
2 days1 to 521.10 €
3 days1 to 529.60 €
5 days1 to 536.20 €

 

Public transportation in Paris apps

RATP App

RATP is a great addition to the apps on your phone. It’s a super complete app where you can find times and maps (in real time!) of the next metro, bus, RER, Noctilien, tram and even the airport lines. If you turn on your geolocation you’ll even be able to see all the stations available, including Velib and availability of bikes. When planning your itineraries you can find the best routes to take and even things to do near the stations.

Download it for iOS and Android here.

Citymapper

Citymapper works in many cities around the world. If you’re a frequent traveler, this app is a must! What’s great about Citymapper is that you can find the fastest route for where you’re going combining different services (not just public transportation). It also guides you around stations and you can get notifications if a line you’re going to use isn’t working.

Download it for iOS and Android here.

Google Maps

Listen, you probably already have this app in your phone so better use it! We’ve already written about how great is Google Maps to have offline maps available in your smartphone. The only thing you need to take into account when using this app to plan your itineraries is to check if the route really is the best. It has happened to me that Google Maps suggests a crazy expensive route just to be 5 mins. faster… which doesn’t make sense at all!

Download it for iOS here.

 

Now you’re ready to enjoy Paris like a true local! How will you move around Paris?

Day trips french country side

Beyond Paris: Day Trips to the French Countryside

Home » France

Yes, Paris is the epitome of French culture, cuisine, and history, and any traveler should give it plenty of time to explore. However, its central geographic location is ideal for the further exploration of the French countryside outside of the city and for multiple day trips from Paris. From grand palaces to rural vineyards, the open spaces outside of Paris provide even more of a insight into the culture and people of France. The following day trips from Paris are not only exciting and noteworthy, but they can also be quite affordable as well.

Orange Garden - Chateau de Versailles
Orange Garden – Chateau de Versailles
Versailles

Once home to Louis XIV and other kings of France, Versailles is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum, and is open to visitors. This ornate and extravagant palace was constructed in the 1600’s and is famous for its beautiful gardens, Hall of Mirrors, Opera theater, and numerous royal apartments. In addition to viewing exhibits that portray the lives of the royal families, visitors can also browse the numerous art galleries that contain over 60,000 works of art from the 16th through 19th centuries. Also, the gardens themselves make for an enchanting afternoon, as guests can take in the perfectly manicured flora alongside the grand fountains.

Visiting Versailles from Paris is quite easy, as multiple trains run daily and take less than an hour for the trip. From Gare d’Austerlitz, take the RER C train to Gare de Versailles – Rive Gauche. Wear comfortable shoes as the palace and its grounds are quite large. Read a more detailed guide for your visit to Chateau de Versailles here.

Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint-Michel

This unique island sits just off of the northwestern coast of France, and is only accessible by foot during low tide. Jutting upwards from the sea, the small island appears to entirely covered by buildings, and looks similar to a castle. In fact, it is a historic monastery and small town with a population of only 44 people. Visitors can meander their way around the homes, shops, grand halls, and monastery buildings looking for beautiful views over the sea and countryside as well as hidden alleyways and charming architecture.

To get here, five trains run daily to the town near the island, where buses connect. The entire journey takes under 4 hours. Buses also run the entire distance from Paris, departing from various stations in the city. Read a more detailed guide for your visit to Mont Saint Michel.

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley, to the southwest of Paris, is known for wine, vineyards, and various castle-like palaces often referred to as chateaux. An easy 2.5 hour train ride from Paris will take you to the Château de Chenonceau, a beautiful and striking palace that seems to have been built as a bridge across the river. Built in the 1500’s, the estate is now a museum housing historical artwork and furnishings from various periods in French history. This chateau, as well as the surrounding gardens, make for a breathtaking day trip, but other nearby destinations can also be visited in the same day.

Chateau-de-Chambord
Chateau-de-Chambord

Nearby is Château de Chambord, another massive castle-like palace known for its distinctive French Renaissance architecture, and surrounded by a large expanse of yet more beautiful gardens to explore. Here visitors can ride bicycles and take boats around the estate. Inside the chateaux, tour guides and a high-tech historical guide on an iPad explain the history of the palace and local areas, as well as describe the various artwork.

These two palaces are only two of the many in the region. Others include Chateau Amboise, Chateau d’Angers, and Chateau Chambord, among others. In fact, the region is home to more than a dozen such palaces, all with spectacular architecture and gardens.

If it’s wine you seek, the Loire Valley will not disappoint. Various vineyards and wineries are located in the region, many of which can be visited either on a pre-booked day trip to the Loire Valley or independently. Some of these estates may require private transportation to reach, while others are accessible via public transportation. Some of the best that are accessible and allow visitors include Bouvet Ladubay (in Saumur), Chateau des Vaults (in Savennières), and Pierre & Bertrand Couly (in Chinon).

Fontainebleau

Not too far southeast of Paris lies the city of Fontainebleau, home to the Chateau de Fontainebleau and the Chateau Vaux le Vicomte. Arriving here is quite easy, as various trains take visitors multiple times per day on the 45 minute train ride to the Thomey station from the Gare de Lyon in Paris.

Chateau de Fontainebleau
Chateau de Fontainebleau

The Chateau de Fontainebleau dates back to the 1100’s and was home to several French kings and assorted royal family members. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum. Visitors can take in the furnishings depicting period life, various artwork, and grand architecture with a guided tour or on their own.

Paris as a Base

By taking day trips from Paris to visit these amazing destinations around northern France, it’s possible to still enjoy the fine dining and cuisine of Parisian restaurants when you return to your home base in Paris. Or, you could still find a great party hostel in Paris and enjoy the nightlife after your trips, too. Either way, all of these day trips from Paris will surely give you a in-depth view into French history and life outside of the City of Lights.

Author Bio

Bryan Tighe has visited over 50 counties and is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip, a travel planning website that focuses on travel costs. Also an avid photographer. He enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.

Mont Saint-Michel in France

One day trip to Mont Saint Michel in France

Home » France

Mont Saint Michel is an abbey precariously perched on a rocky islet in a bay off northwestern France. This UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts tourists all year round for its magnificent architecture. Read this travel guide to know all the information needed for a hassle-free visit. 

This rocky islet off the coast of France will take you back in time to the medieval days. The experience of walking along the narrow cobble-stoned alleyways to reach the Gothic styled abbey remains unchanged over the centuries. The stunning views of the abbey and its svelte spires rising 302 ft towards the heavens surrounded by reflective water lends a magical aura to this place.

This offshoot from the mainland is a commune with a population of just around 50 people. Among all the World Heritage Sites in France, Mont Saint Michel is one of the most famous, attracting 3.5 million visitors a year.

A visit to Mont Saint Michel is a rewarding experience not just for the visual spectacle but for the secrets the walls of this abbey hold over the course of its history. Visiting the abbey involves waiting for the water from the high tides to recede to be able to cross the bridge. This is followed by climbing steep steps to reach the top of this island for the splendid views of the bay.

A lot of people confuse Mont Saint Michel to be a castle but it was a church when it was first built in the 8th century. It has withstood several threats and sieges, hosted monks and prisoners alike in its course of history.

During the 11th century, local historical events led to Mont Saint Michel being transformed into an abbey, a major pilgrimage site. During the Hundred Years’ War in the 15th century, the abbey became an impregnable military stronghold of the French against the English.

Later in the 18th century, this Benedictine abbey became a prison during the French Revolution which was finally shut down in 1863. Eventually, Mont Saint Michel was declared a historic monument in 1874 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Watch this beautifully captured video to appreciate the vast landscape and the mind-blowing architecture of Mont Saint Michel.

Where is Mont Saint Michel?

Mont Saint Michel is roughly 300 km (approximately 190 miles) from Paris in the north-western part of France. This place is located between Normandy and Brittany in the bay where River Couesnon ends its course into the sea.

This place makes for a good one-day trip from Paris. If you wish to stay overnight, it is best suggested to rest in Normandy as you have a lot of options.

When is the best time to visit Mont Saint Michel?

The weather in this part of the country is similar to Paris. It is slightly humid here since it is a beach destination. The best time to visit Mont Saint Michel is from March to October when the weather is at its best. July and August are the high seasons so crowds are at an all-time high. Low season is between November and February because the weather is frigid cold.

MonthHigh / Low (°C)High / Low (°F)
January3 / 937 / 48
February4 / 1039 / 50
March5 / 1241 / 54
April6 / 1343 / 55
May8 / 1646 / 61
June10 / 1850 / 64
July12 / 2054 / 68
August13 / 2155 / 70
September11 / 1952 / 66
October9 / 1648 / 61
November5 / 1241 / 54
December4 / 1039 / 50

Where to buy tickets to visit Mont Saint Michel?

Entry to Mont Saint Michel and to explore the island is free but access to the abbey is priced at €10. Follow the golden rule of buying tickets online to enter the abbey at Mont Saint Michel. You can purchase the tickets here. The abbey is open from morning 9 am to 7 pm in the evening.

How easy is it to reach the top of Mont Saint Michel?

  • For disabled visitors
    – Restrooms for disabled people are located at the beginning of the main street called La Grande Rue, right after you cross the drawbridge.
    – The shuttle bus drops all visitors at the entrance and there is no vehicle that is allowed inside the island
    – Tourists in wheelchairs or canes can access the Grand Rue which is a cobble-stoned alleyway. Unfortunately, it is impossible to reach all the way to the top. The abbey is practically inaccessible since the route is steep and has large steps.
  • For senior visitors
    – The cobble-stoned pathway to reach all the way to the top is narrow and the climb is steep. There is no vehicle to ferry senior visitors or disabled tourists
    – Unfortunately, there are hardly any benches along the way to sit and rest
  • For parents with kids
    – If you have a baby in a pushchair, then it is not recommended to bring the pushchair owing to the terrain. The climb to the top to reach the abbey is steep with large stairs, so please carry a comfortable baby strap
  • – Try not to bring a pushchair to Mont Saint Michel as you cannot leave it in the luggage storage at the Tourist Information Centre due to security reasons
    – Please be cautious of young kids as the ground here is uneven and almost vertical. Have an eye on them at all times
  • For visitors with pets
    – You are free to carry your little dog in a pet carrier which is allowed on the shuttle bus but your dog is strictly not allowed inside the abbey.
    – Large dogs are not allowed in the shuttle buses (excluding guide or service dogs for disabled visitors)
    – Instead keep your worries aside and leave your dog in a kennel at the Tourist Information Centre at a price of €8.10 inclusive of tax per day and per dog.
  • Travel tip for those who cannot climb Mont Saint Michel all the way to the top, it is best advised to marvel at the scenic landscape from the bridge. But then beware that the bridge is 2.5 km long and the shuttle bus doesn’t stop mid-way to drop, you might have to walk the bridge on your own from the shore.

*The prices mentioned are valid as of June 2018.

Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel

Tips for visitors before heading to Mont Saint Michel

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes as there is a lot of walking and scaling of stairs involved
  • Keep yourself well hydrated, do not forget to carry a bottle of water
  • It is possible to visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris and return all in one-day if you plan your day well. If you start early from Paris then you can reach La Mont in 4 hours, explore the island for 6 hours, have lunch and head back the same day
  • If you have time on your hands, then you can stay overnight in the seaside town of St. Malo or in the city of Rennes (in Brittany); in Caen or Bayeux (in Normandy).
Mont Saint Michel-road
Mont Saint Michel-road

How to reach Mont Saint Michel?

By train

Option 1: Take the SNCF train from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Pontorson station near Mont Saint Michel. This round trip costs around €120 euros depending on the schedule. Check the GoEuro website for more details. You get great discounts on TrainLine if you book in advance.*

This train journey is 3 hours long one way with one or two transits in between. Once you alight from the train in Pontorson, right outside the train station you will find a bus station to go to Mont Saint Michel.
This bus journey is for 30 minutes and costs €3 one way.

Option 2: Take the SNCF train from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Rennes which is a direct train. This round trip costs around €100 euros depending on the schedule on the GoEuro website. You get great discounts on TrainLine website if you book in advance.*

From Renne, take a bus run by the company Keolis to Mont Saint Michel, the journey is 1.5 hours along and costs €15 one way. There is 25% discount for travelers under 26 and over 60.

It is easy to find the Keolis buses outside the Renne train station. These buses are blue and white in color. You can buy the ticket from the driver himself at the beginning of your journey.

By bus

You can take a bus from Paris Quai de Bercy bus station. These buses ply directly to Mont Saint Michel. This journey is 5.5 hours long and costs around €80 one way. You can book the tickets on GoEuro. You can get good discounts on OuiBus website if you book in advance.*

By car

Option 1: It is definitely alluring to drive from Paris to Mont Saint Michel. While the thought is fun to execute, please beware of the traffic that you might encounter in the interiors of Paris until you hit the highway towards La Mont.

There are a lot of car rentals in Paris, the popular ones being Europcar or Hertz to name a few. Please book the car online in advance. You will need to pay an initial sum when you book the car. The price depends on the car you are renting. Pick and drop the car from the Charles de Gaulle Airport or from Montparnasse for an easy exit from the city to join A13 highway. The average cost of booking a car for a full-day drive depends on the distance driven.

Distance and time taken to reach La Mont:
Paris – 360 km / 4h00 (via Caen)
Paris – 380 km / 4h30 (via Le Mans)

Option 2: Another viable and recommended option is to take a train to Rennes or Caen from Paris and rent a car from these places to go to Mont Saint Michel. This is cost effective and also the drive is more fun on the A84 (exit 33) highway.

Distance and time taken to reach La Mont:
Rennes: – 70 km / 1h20
Caen – 130 km / 1h30

Car parking charges are slightly expensive. The tariffs are as follows:
Duration <30 minutes – free
Duration < 2 hours – €6.30 Duration >24 hours to <48 hours – €23.40 hours

How to reach Mont Saint Michel from the bus station?

  • There is a free bus shuttle service called ‘Passeur’ line which plies from the shuttle hub, located next to the Tourist Information Centre next to the car park.
  • It takes about 12 minutes for the shuttle to drive from the hub to the end stop, located 350 meters away from the city walls.
  • The Passeur will take you to the Mont-Saint-Michel end stop, located 350 meters away from the city walls. It runs non-stop from 7.30am to 12.00am.
  • For a unique experience, you can take a horse-drawn carriage called ‘Maringote’ line. A one-way journey costs €5.30.

What to do inside the city walls of Mont Saint Michel?

There are two gates into the walled city. The Porte de l’Avancée, the main gate at the end of the bridge, leads straight to the Grande Rue. La Grande Rue is a crowded narrow street with a lot of cafes and souvenir shops bustling with visitors. This street leads you up to the abbey.

The second gate is the lesser-used Porte Échauguette, to the left of the main gate. It is the quietest route up. For rewarding vistas of the coast, head up the Porte Échauguette. Make sure to head to the Terrasse de l’Ouest, which offers a stunning panorama over the bay.

What to eat at Mont Saint Michel?

Restaurants on the island are expensive. If you are a budget traveler, it is suggested that you eat on the mainland at affordable rates.* Here are a few suggestions for famous eateries on La Mont:

  • Le Mouton Blanc – This award-winning restaurant serves mouthwatering lamb dishes like roast lamb casserole and rack of lamb
  • La Sirène – is a creperie which is an awesome breakfast place. There are pancakes, ham, salmon, egg, or vegetables. The sweet crêpes are accompanied with your choice of fruit, chocolate, nuts, cream, or caramel. Also, there is coffee, wine, and Normandy cider
  • Auberge Saint-Pierre – Serves Italian cuisine and seafood dishes. The outside terrace provides stunning views of the bay
  • Du Guesclin – Three set menus are provided to suit a variety of tastes and budgets
  • La Mère Poulard – One of the oldest restaurants running since the 19th century has hosted a lot of celebrities here. They are famous for their fluffy omelets which are very expensive, costing more than €20
  • La Cloche – This is another famous creperie serving very tasty crepes
  • When you are on the island on the mainland, do not forget to devour the richly-flavored lamb meat called agneau de pré-salé or ‘salt meadow lamb’

Guided tours to Mont Saint Michel

There are some amazing guided tours to Mont Saint Michel from Paris which includes pick up and drop, a guided tour and lunch at Mont Saint Michel.*

Things to do apart from visiting Mont Saint Michel

There are many things to see and do including museums and churches like the La Chapelle-Saint-Aubert.

On the Grande Rue on the way up to the abbey, keep an eye out for the parish church of Saint-Pierre, surrounded by a cemetery and housing a silver statue dedicated to Saint-Michel.

La Chapelle Saint-Aubert at Mont Saint Michel
La Chapelle Saint-Aubert at Mont Saint Michel.
Pic courtesy: Tourisme en France

There’s also the Maritime Museum, which offers insight into the surrounding environment of the island and its ecology.

There are interesting events organized at Mont Saint Michel on special occasions. You can participate in the Marathon organized in the month of May every year.

There is a Christian Art Festival which is free for all the visitors with shows and concerts scheduled for the whole weekend. You need to be on the lookout for schedules.

Mont Saint Michel is at its glittery best during Christmas when the whole island is lit up and there are Christmas trees on the streets and the ramparts are decorated. Nearly seven kilometers of light bulbs are strung along the island’s walls. During high tides, this glowing monument with the reflecting water is a sight to behold.

Mont Saint Michel is a monument that has caught the fascination of many travelers around the world for its uncanny looks. No other landscape has the distinct feature of rapidly changing tides around it which dictates the way travelers visit a place. As if the views from the top of the island wasn’t enough, the features of the monument slowly appearing from the horizon as you approach it makes for a jaw-dropping experience. It is loaded with history and quirky tales from the recent past alike. Hiring a guide will do a great justice as every aspect of the monument will be uncovered to you in great detail.

Why was Mont Saint Michel built?

Mont Saint Michel Abbey has a history of 1,300 years starting from the 8th century. Previously this place was known as Mont Tombe. Legend has it that archangel Saint Michel began to appear to the Bishop of Avranches, St. Aubert’s demanding the construction of a church on this rocky islet.

St. Aubert disregarded the visions he was having until Saint Michel placed his flaming finger on the forehead of St. Aubert. The skull of St. Aubert with this perforation can be seen at Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches. It was then that the construction of the church began in the year 708.

Skull of St. Aubert at Avranches, Mont Saint Michel
Skull of St. Aubert at Avranches, Mont Saint Michel

History of Mont Saint Michel

Two centuries later in 933, the Duke of Normandy gifted the site to the Benedictine monks, who began building an ambitious abbey church under the patronage of William the Conqueror. The abbey became a major pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages.

Abbey of Saint Mont Michel
Abbey of Saint Mont Michel

During the Hundred Years’ War, the Kingdom of England repeatedly launched assaults many times between 1423- 1434 on this site but were unable to seize Mont Saint Michel to bring it under their control. It was during this time that the church evolved into a military citadel – an impregnable fortress in the sea—the only spot in Normandy that never fell to the English owing to the abbey’s strong fortification.

Ramparts at Mont Saint Michel
Ramparts at Mont Saint Michel

With the French Revolution in the 18th century, the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel was closed and it was turned into a prison. The prison was shut down in 1863 and eventually, Mont Saint Michel was declared a historic monument in 1874 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel

The story of the tides around Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel stands smugly in the bay where River Couesnon ends its journey into the sea. This region is famous for sudden changes in tidal levels and this has shaped the landscape of this place over the years due to the deposit of sediments brought in by the tides.

Tides at Mont Saint Michel
Tides at Mont Saint Michel

The distance between the shore of the mainland and the island is approximately 2 km today whereas the distance between them centuries ago was a whopping 7 km. The highest tide can rise up to 45 feet and sweep in at some 200 feet per minute.

The tides bring fertile soil to the shore and these sediments are perfect for the growth of grass. Incidentally, the people of Normandy gradually started irrigating this stretch to reclaim land, pushing out the edge of the shore and bringing more of the land by the sea under cultivation. This salty grass that grows on the sandy ground makes for excellent grazing. The sheep reared in this area has a unique and mouthwatering taste when cooked. A very famous lamb dish from this meat is served in restaurants here.

It was estimated that if the sediments are allowed to build up then by the year 2040, the island would be part of the mainland itself. To prevent this, the task of building a dam was taken up to ensure that all the water that comes from the tides slowly flows back into the bay. The cost of the project was $300 million with two objectives. One was to build a bridge to access the island from the mainland. The second one was to build a dam on the Couesnon River to hold the water during high tide and then release it when the tide recedes.

This dam opens up to let the sea water enter at high tide and then releases it again at low tide in order to push water and sand out, relieving the buildup of silt around La Mont. Though there is an honest effort through this dam to maintain the maritime character of this place, nature seems to be slowly creeping in with its tides and the sediments. It is a true testament that nature always has its way no matter how hard humans try to negate it.

Interesting facts of Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel in the night
Mont Saint Michel in the night
  • Mont Saint Michel is a commune with only 50 people residing in this island. During the mid-19th century, the island hosted more than a 1,000 people but today as per census records from 2015, there are only 50 people.
  • When the prison at Mont Saint Michel was finally closed in 1863, ironically there were a lot of protests due to the closure of the prison from the merchants who resided there. These merchants had thriving businesses at Mont Saint Michel providing food and lodgings for the family members of the prisoners.
  • Right below the choir, three floors beneath you is a cellar which has a massive wooden wheel. This wooden wheel was turned by prisoners like guinea pigs to haul goods up to the abbey. And before the prisoners came, the stones and construction material were brought here by boats from the mainland and drawn by rope to the top.
  • There is a statue of St. Michael, the archangel atop the spire some 300 feet in the air, his sword held aloft and his heel crushing a dragon, representing Satan or sin.
Mont Saint Michel-spire
Mont Saint Michel-spire
  • Sometime during the 15th century, part of the church came crashing down. The new choir that was built in the church harmoniously blends into the structure that did not crash. This subtle difference in architecture and the difference between the old and the new is easy to miss but if you pay attention to the interiors of the abbey, you will notice this architectural marvel.
  • The placing of the church, the monastery and other buildings on this island follows a structural hierarchy of feudal society. On top of the spire is the statue of St. Michael representing God, then there is the abbey and monastery. Below this is the Great halls, then stores and housing. At the bottom and outside the walls are the fishermen and farmers’ housing.
  • This region experiences very powerful tides and tourists should be precautious to not walk to the islet by foot when the water has receded or during high tides. The water levels change within fractions and there are high chances of getting stranded in mudflats which act like quicksand.
  • The threat of drowning in the water during high tide is real even during the Middle Ages, so much so that pilgrims who planned to go to Mont Saint Michel would draft a will because they were not sure that they would return.
  • In the Bayeux Tapestry (an embroidered cloth depicting the Norman conquest of England) from the 15th century shows two Norman knights being rescued from the quicksand in the tidal flats during a battle here.
  • There are times when tourists are stranded on the islet when the tides increase all of a sudden where even the bridge gets submerged. The tourists are allowed to leave only when the water recedes, the bridge is clear of water and it is safe to return to the mainland. There are instances in the course of history since the 8th century of people losing their lives when they were trying to cross the tides to reach the island.
Mont Saint Michel from the meadows
Mont Saint Michel from the meadows

We hope that you enjoyed reading our detailed guide to visit Mont Saint Michel. We have shared all the relevant information needed to visit this heritage site. As suggested, book your entry tickets online in advance to enjoy a hassle-free experience.

Do write to us, in case you have any questions and we at TalkTravel App are happy to help. If you need any help in building a travel itinerary or you have any other query, download our free TalkTravel App. It is available for download on your Android or iOS device. You can download the TalkTravel App for free and reach out to the local expert without any additional cost. You are free to ask any doubt before or during your travel and our local expert will be ready to assist you.

We wish you a safe and happy travel!

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