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Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

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Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

Hello Paris Forum

I'm going to be in Paris this time next week, on a belated 'big birthday' treat for my partner, and we each have the 6 day Museum Pass. We are no strangers to Paris and it's many wonderful experiences but we have chosen to spend this trip with a strictly 100% focus on museums and galleries - bit of a busman's holiday for me as I work in the Museums/Galleries field but c'est la vie! I've done all the itinerary schedules (what's open on what day, where is open late night, google map route planning etc) to avoid clashes, criss-crossing the city and to basically maximise our time but I'm lacking some up to date and specific information that I can't locate online. Can anyone help me with the latest on:

1. RER C timetables to Versailles - I've not been to Versailles for maybe 20 years and I understand that an early start is now recommended to avoid the queues. I'd like us to be at the palace for about 09:00 to join the security queue as we already have the tickets included in our passes. The only timetables I can find online, however, stopped in August. Our apartment is right by Au Pied de Cochon so our nearest Metro is Les Halles and I'm planning on us getting the underground from there to St-Michel to pick up the RER C or, if the weather is lovely to take a quick stroll overground to St-Michel as we could probably do it in less than 20 minutes. What time would folk suggest on being at St-Michel to be at Versailles for about 09:00? Are there currently any works going on for any of my planned route? Am I right in recalling a walk of maybe 5 minutes or so at the other end to the palace? Is 09:00 about the right time to be doing this for a late September visit or should we plan to be there earlier? This will be on the Tuesday if that makes any difference...

2. For our other 'early start' day (I've promised my partner no more than two for the week) I thought it would be fun to launch a commando-style raid on the Louvre and try and get into the Mona Lisa room before the crowds build up. We did this in Berlin last year - don't worry, we didn't run but walked briskly - and it was great to have the Ishtar Gate to ourselves for a few minutes! We've both been to the Louvre several times already in the past and will be spending a few hours in the lesser visited galleries most days of this trip so we'd agreed that we wouldn't even bother visiting La Gioconda but then I came up with this idea as a bit of fun really. As a Museum Pass holder, and staying less than five minutes walk away from the museum, what would be our best line of attack? The Richelieu entrance (our nearest) and whizzing round internally or walking round to the Porte de Lions entrance and starting from there? Would 08:45 be too late? Has anyone done this? This will be on the Thursday...

Thanks :-)

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1. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

You can get the timetables for RER C here, valid through December 14:

transilien.com/fichehoraire/fichehoraire/init

Easiest to do is just use www.ratp.fr or www.transilien.com and decide what time you want to be at Versailles and enter a time of departure that corresponds with your desired arrival time at Versailles, then search an earlier or later departure time if needed. It is a 46 minute journey from Châtelet-les-Halles to Versailles Rive-Gauche and a 37 minute journey from Saint-Michel Notre Dame. I'd say it's a 5-10 minute walk to the château entrance from the train station. It's been ages since I've been to Versailles but I'd guess if you could arrive 15 minutes before opening with ticket in hand that should be reasonable.

Here is info about works on RER C (in French):

transilien.com/trafic/…

Basically, it says there's work from today to the 20th of September and after that, the line will be affected in the late evenings in both directions until March 31st 2014.

Don't know about the Louvre entrance other than to say why not just use the Richelieu entrance if it's nearest to you? A poster on this thread from July 2013 noted that the Porte des Lions entrance is closed on Tuesdays and Fridays but I don't know if that info is still current:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k66815…

Edited: 15 September 2013, 23:03
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2. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

I've also heard that the Louvre is less crowded in the evenings when it is open.

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3. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

The one thing I've always noticed about the Louvre is that the crowds get less and less as you ascend each level, being least crowed once you're on the highest level.

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4. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

Thanks French_Mystique - I had got stuck in the pdf timetables of the parisbytrain website! The transilien is so much better and has exactly what I was looking for: a real-time journey planner :-)

We've already got plans for our evening trip to the Louvre F1racegirl but, yes, I understand that it could be another opportunity to see the Mona Lisa in a less crowded space so we might drop by her room then if the early start plan doesn't hatch! So much else to see, that's the problem, and if all else fails we have seen her twice before so it's not the end of the world if we miss her out this time. What I really don't want to miss is the Zodiac of Dendera as I've never seen it before...

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5. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

I only ever recommend the parisbytrain website to people when they don't understand public transportation in Paris since it's good at explaining things but when it comes to actual journey planning the RATP or Transilien websites are the ones to use, or vianavigo too.

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6. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

Regarding both Versailles and the Louvre what is the latest on handbags/shoulder bags/backpacks etc? Can you get away with a satchel type shoulder bag or do you need to check them into the cloakroom at these sites?

BTW I'm now thinking of rescheduling and visiting Le Conciergerie and Sainte-Chappelle (first) in the morning and then heading out to Versailles to catch the quieter afternoon crowds just after lunch. Any tips for visiting Sainte-Chappelle/Conciergerie?

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7. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

<<Louvre and try and get into the Mona Lisa room before the crowds build up.>>

The Porte des Lions entrance at opening time is definitely your best bet, especially with museum pass in hand. Check the official website for hours/days open. There's a check room there, but, it's really best not to haul anything that needs checking since you have to return there to collect and could be quite a hike, depending on where you wind up when you're ready to leave. Crowds may be less evenings, but Mona Lisa room will still be very busy.

Important Note: (see the Conciergerie website) The museum pass does not gain you priority access to Sainte-Chapelle. Best to get there at opening time, as the lines grow longer throughout the day. However, the combo pass, when you visit the Conciergerie first, does include priority admission to Sainte-Chapelle.

You could very well visit Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle in the morning, then head to Chateau Versailles. If you do, save the palace for last and for 3 PM or later to avoid the mob. Have a nice lunch somewhere instead of rushing around.

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8. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

Thanks djkbooks - great advice!

I've found the bit on the Louvre website regarding checked luggage and I assume that a gents shoulder bag, one of those like an old fashioned school satchel, would not fall into the category of "voluminous bags" so we shouldn't need to check anything into the cloakrooms :-)

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9. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

spotted this note on the museum Pass website, saying the Conciergerie will be closed from Sept 27 - Oct 21.

…parismuseumpass.com/news-temporary-closure-…

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10. Re: Early Starts: Versailles + Mona Lisa

Thanks CarltonCaz - I had seen that and have scheduled our visit for the 24th as a result - it's very nice to be reminded that I was on the ball last week when I made my initial plans! Just hoping for some dry (and slightly warmer) weather now...leaving in 3 days time :-)