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Recommendation for day at Versailles?

I know that one of the place all of the family wants to see is Versailles. When my husband and I went, we only toured the main buildings and did not wander any further outside. I did not plan ahead for eating while there. We ended up heading back toward the train station and grabbed a quick bite at McDonald's. I now know there is a restaurant somewhere there on site, but do not know much about it.

What is the best way to see the sights and enjoy lunch for the six of us including my 7 year old twins?

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  1. It has been a VERY long time since I went to Versailles, but I remember the food as being completely forgettable. Edible, but not in the least exciting. I wonder could you bring food with you and make a picnic anywhere on the grounds? It would be a fabulous place for a picnic!

    5 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      ChefJune - thanks for the idea! Would you recommend trying to pack the picnic before we leave on the train or find a place in town when we arrive? I'm trying to remember what all was there. I'll research it a bit.

      1. re: lacapelle

        I guess its a matter of what you want to see at the Palace. I spend my time on the grounds, the miniature village, the gardens, and water features. You can park close to most of these during the week. As for food, I really like the Opera Bistro on Blvd du Roi (to the right when facing the Palace).

        1. re: lacapelle

          I would pack some basic picnic stuff (bread, cheese, sausage, wine) a pocket knife and a roll of paper towels and bring them along. If you find something better, then take advantage spontaneously. Picnics in France are so elemental and so delicious!

        2. re: ChefJune

          The restaurant/food stand on the grounds isn't particularly memorable. My suggestion is to have b'fast outside the Palace, and pack along some food as June recommended. But if you do, make sure you carry the food so your hands are free (as in a backpack).

          The best way to tour the entire grounds is by bike (this is why you'll want to pack your picnic in a backpack) which you can rent just beyond the gardens and ride around the Grand Canal. Just outside of Marie Antoinette's little farm house, there was a man selling fresh-squeezed OJ...delicious!

          1. re: ChefJune

            These ideas are wonderful! I'll be talking them over with the family as we plan our itinerary. I don't want to make too many specific plans - just to arm myself with a bit more knowledge of the area will be a tremendous help!

          2. It depends on what you want to see on your trip. http://www.chateauversailles.fr is a good place to start. For the most efficient visit, arrive early and book one of the tours. They only book the tours starting at opening time on that day. You'll see areas no available "on your own" and the docents are very knowledgable and have spoken English well. With a 7 year old, I would think that if you are at the chateau at opening time and have one of those tours, you will be approaching the extent of interest--however, you know your 7 year old best. Aftewards, I'd suggest a leisurely lunch at one the many places in the area around the church. There is a wide range of prices available--and it's on your way back to the train station that you take back to Paris.

            1. Also Gordon Ramsay just opened a brasserie at the Trianon palace. He's scheduled to open a restaurant by the end of March.

              1 Reply
              1. re: souphie

                I checked out the website on the Trianon. Definitely looks to be open this spring. Could be an interesting choice.

              2. I don't know what day of the week you'll be there, but the market hall on the Place du Marche Notre Dame -- which is what, a ten-minute walk from the palace? -- is one of my favourite places in the world for food shopping. The covered market is open Monday to Saturday, and a massive open-air market takes place right in their midst on (I think) Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Cheese, fruit, bread, saucisson, quiches ... you name it, it's there.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kelly

                  I don't know about the other days but Sunday morning for sure, they usually start packing up about noon to 1300. Its my favorite open market in France.