What’s So Special About Versailles, France?
Well, for starters almost everybody in the world knows it is where the famous Chateau du Versailles is located—the one where Queen Marie Antoinette lived with her husband King Louis XVI and their children. And what happened to them during the French Revolution. Specifically how the word Guillotine came into the modern lexicon. No, they weren’t killed there, but taken to the Concierge in Paris before their famous public execution in Paris.
Explore more in the City of Versailles
The City of Versailles in France is located about 1 hour west of Paris. To get there after your arrival at the main airport of CDG or Charles De Gaulle you can train directly to Versailles using the RER B train, getting off at the Notre Dame stop, switch to the platform to connect to the RER C which goes directly to the Chateau du Versailles Rive Gauche station. However, there is a second train line of the RER C which goes to the Versailles Chantiers station. It ends up only being an additional 15 minute walk further away from the Chateau but it does give you a better option to stay in this area of the city and explore.
A Cleaner, Nicer Train Station: Versailles-Chantiers
Originally built in 1849, I was surprised to learn its most recent renovation was in 1932. Compared to the other train station “across town” it’s much more elegant in an Art Nouveau style with an expansive overhead ceiling, and tiled floor that is surprisingly clean. Vending machines and even a nice little café/coffee shop are located inside. Download the Transilien network map to your phone and be able to connect to further routes out from Versailles. The end point on this particular train route is the city of Brest way out on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in the Southwest region of France.
Getting Around Versailles
Walking is your best bet for getting around the city of Versailles. That’s because the city is only about 10 miles square in size yet has a population of 86,477. Phebus is the company that runs the city’s bus system. An individual ticket bought on board the bus is 2 euro (there’s a single coin for that). However, if you think you are going to use the bus more frequently there is a ticket called a carnet that can be purchased for 14.50 euro and includes 10 tickets. Each ticket is valid for 1.30 hours to make a connection to another bus. A carnet can be bought at any RATP train station. Another convenience is using UBER car service. Make sure you have downloaded the UBER app to your phone and set up payment. It’s pretty easy to use and one night I was tired of a lot of walking and used it to get back to my apartment. The driver arrived within minutes and was courteous. I also used an UBER to go a longer distance from Versailles to Roissy-en-France (near CDG) and was pleasantly surprised at getting a clean, modern Peugeot station wagon with a full sun roof on a clear blue sky day. This was really nice to do when travelling on a busy workday and having make one’s way through the heavy traffic congestion that exists around Paris. Bicycles (Velo in French) is also an option. See https://en.versailles-tourisme.com/visit-and-explore-versailles-the-royal-town/stroll-through-the-parks-of-versailles/cycling-in-versailles
Where to Stay in Versailles
There are approximately 63 hotels in or near the city of Versailles ranging from 3-stars to 5-stars. You can search them out on Booking.com to compare for yourself. Or you can take my recommendation from where I recently stayed at the Le Logis Apartments. Exceptionally done, with a clean modern tone, complete with a kitchen this is an ideal home-away-from-home situation for stays of 3 days or longer. I stayed 5 days and enjoyed all the amenities from the close location to Gare Versailles Chantiers (5 minute walk) to the convenience of having 2 markets, several restaurants and cafes on the same street. Bus stop is just right outside. The private entrance using a digicode is given upon arrival when you are met by one of the property attendants in a small adjacent office. The young woman walked us through the quiet courtyard and to our apartment advising us of where to find the outside rubbish bin, where to put the keys when checking out, etc. It was a smooth experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again in the Le Potager de Roi apartment on the ground floor.
What Else Can You See in Versailles Besides the Chateau?
The city is divided into quartiers or sections. Besides the Chateau there is the Saint Louis, Notre Dame, Chantiers, Montbauron areas all with their unique charm. The Saint Louis area has an avenue dedicated to a number of restaurants and varietal cafes that gets really buzzing during dinnertime. The Notre Dame area has the Place du Marche open farmers market with throngs of beautiful produce to buy. There is a long building adjacent to this square that has all the charcuterie et fromage you can buy. Further on is the Antique Shopping street.
Royal Historical Places
On an unassuming side street is the Salle du Jeu du Palme museum building where the seeds of the French Revolution germinated on the court between rounds of tennis which was a popular sport in the 17th century. This often overlooked detail to such a monumental piece of history is fascinating to learn. There the lawyers, doctors and aristocrats met to devise a plan to overthrow the Monarchy. On June 20, 1789 they succeeded in writing up a decree and the rest is history.
Some other antiquated sites to discover while walking the city are the:
If you take the Phebus bus to get around the city, a family place to stop at would be the Jardy Equestrian Park or Haras de Jardy. Built in 1890 for aristocratic horse breeders, the Park is now where you can watch Dressage and other horse shows. During the Christmas holidays a petting farm is set up for the entire family.
About 4km away from Versailles is the Le Golf National where the 2018 Ryder Cup Golf Championship was held. This is a relatively new 18-hole golf course that was opened in 1990.
The National Shooting Range is something you might hear as you stroll the grounds of the Chateau. Other noises in the area might be small flying aircraft overhead like Cessna’s as there is an airfield in the neighboring city of Saint-Cyr-l'École Airport.
More than a Chateau
Venture further when making the trek to Versailles. Make it more than a day visit to see the Chateau. Give yourself time to walk and explore and get the feel for this charming city. Imagine how it might have been when it was a small enclave as founded by the King of France. It had remained the capital for over a century until the revolution. Now it serves as a key focal point to visit for tourists from every country. But the hidden sights to the city remain relatively uncrowded as the residents go about their daily business. You too, can discover more to Versailles, than the Chateau.
See the other enticing 260 offered by TopVillas in France
Luxury and Comfort. Those 2 words can be very important to people looking for a top-notch vacation. Especially if travelling with family or in a larger group.
It’s not always easy to find a hotel that will accommodate several people in a group say of 6-12+ people who want to be near each other, such as adjoining rooms or the same floor or the same area of a hotel.
That’s where booking a house or villa would be a much better match. A luxury villa would not only give a group all the room they need, but also the comfort and guaranteed satisfaction from a reputable company.
One such company, TopVillas has over 4,000 luxury Villas in 18 locations around the world. They have over 263 properties in France alone.
For an exceptional example, view this property in Aiguebelle, near St. Tropez in the South of France.
Nestled on a hillside, It has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and sleeps 8. It has a gorgeous infinity pool that overlooks the Mediterranean Ocean. An adjoining patio makes it an excellent choice to entertain while having a pool party perhaps.
When you look at the weekly cost of $5264-$8316, depending on season, it comes out to about $752-1188 per night for 8 people. A luxury hotel could set you back more than that especially since you can’t find many luxury hotels that overlook the Mediterranean, have a full kitchen where you can cook a feast for guests & family (or hire a chef) and relax by your own private pool gazing up at the stars and out over the ocean.
That $752 divided by 8 equals a mere $94 per person per night! What a fantastic deal! For such luxury and comfort!
All in the chic South of France in your own private enclave of a luxury villa.
Glamorous 2 bedroom modern charmer in St. Tropez on the French Riviera
How about a unique getaway to the South of France with your significant other to have a wonderful, serene time in St. Tropez?
TopVillas has this charming 2 bedroom available at $381 per night
Walk to the town of St. Tropez 10 minutes away. Sightsee, shop, dine, people-watch, whatever suits your fancy as your base “home” away from home could be this special place for up to 6 people.
You will enjoy staying in the town of Mougins, France
Another elegant, modern villa in the Cote d’Azur is the La Pagode which resides in the lush green hillside town of Mougins. I spent some time in Mougins in 2008 and was utterly charmed by the entire area which is why I picked this property for your viewing pleasure. Would this work for you?
It has 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and sleeps up to 12. It also has a unique exotic garden and heated infinity pool. This property is in close proximity to Cannes. Perhaps you could book it for a special family vacation to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival next May 2019. And if not this one, there are plenty more to choose from.
Do yourself a favor. Take the time to carefully scroll through all the lovely photos of all the properties in all the areas of France. Maybe there is one that speaks to you more than the three I’ve posted here.
Think of the exceptional joy you can have at one of these properties. And create a lasting memorable experience to be enjoyed by all. You can be sure you’ll be well taken care of by TopVillas.
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to go on a travel adventure to the country of the language you want to learn. The reason is because you will be integrating your newly learned language by practicing it with the locals. This is called immersion and is one of the best ways to learn a language.
However, if you are limited on time to visit a country, you can always learn online. Pimsleur languages has been around for several decades and has many languages to choose from that you can easily learn online in 30 days.
In my case I wanted to learn French. I had only taken 2 years of German in High School. And that didn’t necessarily make me fluent in German even when I visited Austria or Germany. But as an adult I wanted to take up French because I have traveled to France so many times and still found it hard to speak French.
So in 2010 I decided to enroll my family in a French language school in Perpignan, France. Perpignan is in the south of France, in the Catalonia region near the border of Spain. My daughter was 16 at the time and had already been taking French at her school back home. My husband and I never took any French language courses other than a Pimsleur CD audio course I purchased to listen to while we drove around town.
We went to the ALFMED school for 2 weeks. Our teacher, Natalie, was wonderful and quite experienced in teaching French. She gave us daily 1-hour lessons to learn. Our lessons were supplemented with city excursions to local historical sites. We made friends with a lot of our classmates, some we are still friends with to this day. It was an enriching experience and totally worth the cost!
But I still couldn’t speak French as I had no one back home to practice speaking it with in their native tongue. I then took 2 semesters of an online French language course at my local community college. The accompanying book with its CD was helpful at least for the first semester of learning the basics like the alphabet. By the second semester my mind was a bit boggled with learning how the French speak their numbering system. For example you learn that the 70’s require you to think to say how they think they speak it. (Boggled yet?) 70 is 60 + 10. 70 is pronounced soixante-dix (60+10). 80 is pronounced quatre-vingts or 4 x 20. 90 is pronounced quatre-vingt-dix or 4 x 20 +10. The next time I went to France I still couldn’t count my change or pay the bill but I knew I had to do something.
I looked into Alliance Francaise next. There was a local branch in my hometown of Dallas. But that got me to consider looking into Alliance Francaise in Paris since I was making so many yearly trips to Paris. In November 2014 I enrolled for 6 private one-on-one lessons at AF Paris. Admittedly I was a bit intimidated to join a full class at first. My teacher said I had a basic understanding of French and my accent was good. She encouraged me to join an A1 level (not complete beginner) course in progress. There were 10 students in class ranging from age 16 to 75. From Colombia, Spain, Iraq, Russia, USA, Brazil, Iran. It was quite diverse which I think made it so interesting. Yet we were all helping each other as we stumbled upon words and phrases. AF teachers only speak in French. You have to start learning right away. It is language learning through immersion – not only in class – but as soon as you walk out on the street and go to catch the bus or grab a bite to eat you start practicing your basic French right away.
There are a lot of different French language learning schools in France. Ideally you look for ones that are FLE certified. The Sorbonne University offers a French language course with French civilization culture history. This course is highly popular amongst young people however I talked to a few who took the course and said there were a few older people (like their parents age) in the classes.
Keep in mind that if you are a U.S. citizen you can only be in France (or other European countries) for up to 90 days without a visa. If you plan on staying longer you have to apply for a visa. But to enroll in a French language course for several months or up to a year requires you first go to campusfrance.usa and apply. Once you are approved your next step is to apply for the visa at your nearest consulate. You cannot apply for the visa more than 3 months out and you can’t apply until you have enrolled and paid for the course at a school in France. And your school course must be full-time from 20-25 hours per week for more than 3 months.
Once you have the student visa and you travel to France you have to register your visa at an OFII office in France within a week of your arrival. This makes everything official and it also allows you to work up to 20 hours a week should you desire to do so. But you will be so busy with a full-time 20-25 hours a week school schedule you won’t have much time for anything else save for socializing.
Even if you take a language course in school, it still comes in handy to keep refreshing your memory with an online app – one that you can use across all kinds of devices from your Mac to your iPad to your iPhone. Or your Android phone. You can also buy the CD set in case you find that more convenient. Check out what Pimsleur language courses offer. Right now you can save 25% by clicking on this link below;