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Château de Vesailles: overrated...

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Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Hi everyone,

I am in Paris at the moment and today I visited the Château de Versailles. I had big expectations given all the "hype" around it, but in the end it turned to be extremely disappointing, to say the least. Inside, it's not THAT different from nor more impressive than any other European "château", be it Rosenborg Slot in Copenhagen or Palácio de Queluz in the outskirts of Lisbon - and one could name lots of other palaces in Europe that don't have the worldwide visibility that Versailles has. Ok, Versailles has its peculiar history, Louis XIV, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and so on, known worldwide, but that's it. The positive part of this visit: the gardens. Wonderfully planned and enormous, really awe-inspiring.

I arrived early in the morning and there was a big queue to get into the palace. I bought my ticket and I decided to visit the gardens first, but after lunch, aroun 2 pm, the queue was even bigger that in the morning, spiraling throughout the courtyard in front of the palace's entrance. Once inside, the hallways were crammed with tourists taking pictures like crazy to every single detail, stopping right ahead of you (instead of stepping to a corner or so) to take a picture and not letting you go through and, even worse: the HEAT was unbearable... A sort of claustrophobic experience inside a palace. Oh, and inside the REC C train as well: both from Paris to Versailles and back. The train is packed with tourists and the heat is awful. Perhaps the only way to truly enjoy the palace is visiting it on a grayish, rainy cold winter day in mid-February, where one is able to breathe and not being pushed by others through the hallways and rooms? I don't know nor will I ever now because I won't make the trip a second time.

Edited: 17 April 2014, 19:06
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31. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

sorry. Accidental double post.

Edited: 18 April 2014, 14:24
Tucson, Arizona
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32. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Adequate crowd control is indeed the key. Versailles certainly lacks that as does the Louvre and the list goes on. Tourism has been increasing for a variety of reasons -- new middle classes with discretionary income in some countries, increasing population, etc., etc. Most tourists attractions, however, operate the way they have for decades when a significantly smaller number of people passed through their doors. Versailles and other popular attractions need to assess how to handle better the sheer volume of visitors or the situation will only become worse.

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33. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Whenever I go to Florence, I have to visit the Uffizi and I always buy a card which allows priority admission, meaning I avoid the queues, which often make the Eiffel Tower and Versailles pale in comparison. Trouble is, even though I can just walk in, unless I choose a good time, the place will be absolutely packed, with large tour groups standing in front of all the famous paintings for 15 minutes at a time listening (or not) to the guide droning on and on and on. As commented above, all the major 'must do's' in Europe have been slow to adapt to the exponential increase in visitor numbers over recent years especially if you also consider the '5*' special exhibitions at places like the Grand Palais, Musée D'Orsay, etc etc.

Maybe we should all conspire to put people off. "That Van Gogh guy isn't all that" etc

Good work, Agent Ricardo! Your next mission,should you choose to accept it, is Florence. Botticelli? Michelangelo? Donatello? Pah!

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34. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Really disappointed to read this post...I still want to go to Versailles since I've never been to Europe but getting pushed and shoved by people taking pictures, I feel like it would take away from the experience...

Bellflower...
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35. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Bonjour, TravelChic,

By all means, go to Versailles. Absolutely do not go on a weekend. Some posters say to get there early, before tour buses arrive. If you stay away because of crowds, you may as well skip the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, etc.

Ricardo D's experience of Versailles comes from a different perspective because of his other travels. Aside from the discomfort from the crowds, perhaps he would have liked the palace more if he had not been to these other places.

Versailles' "peculiar history" is part of what makes it a worldwide attraction. That is true of many places.

@ Ricardo, I am sorry that you had an unpleasant experience.

MrsJAS

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36. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Travel chic, go with an open mind, you might just catch Versailles with a different mood from the OPs you'll never know if you like it until you've been there to judge for yourself. You may have a totally different opinion.

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37. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

TravelChic, Consider taking one of the interior tours to avoid the crowds.

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38. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

I totally disagree about the Louvre, D'Orsay and Tour Eiffel being comparable in crowds to Versailles. I've been to the first three places several times and will go back - again and again. Only twice have I seen Mona Lisa's room even remotely as crowded as the rooms in Versailles (which in general, are smaller rooms, of course). And they *do* have crowd control at the Louvre. They closed the entrance from the Grand Galerie on one of our last trips and had people exit into the large format painting area, allowing in new people only as others exited.

Never has the D'Orsay been so crowded that we've been touched by anyone. It's true you might have to stand in front of some of the more famous paintings, but there's plenty else to look at (and lots of seating and areas that aren't crowded). It is not a uni-directional march toward an exit (as with Versailles). I guess we've just been lucky with the Eiffel Tower (there can be a line, but people do not jostle each other in it, the elevator experience may not appeal to the claustrophobic, but we were able to go all around the top of the tower as we wished, snapping pictures - along with everyone else - and never felt packed or crowded; there were a lot of people, of course, but we were not physically pushed together nor were taller people obstructing our views. We had a shorter person with us and she had absolutely no trouble finding her own viewing spots all around the platform.

It is of course possible to go to Versailles when it's less crowded. Again, people who had advance tickets and were in the security line by 8:30 am have reported it's not crowded. Our trip was in early June, btw (and there was no line for tickets to speak of, the security line was only about 15 minutes - but the inside of the place was packed). Since only a trickle of new people were coming in, it certainly occurred to me that they could have done a better job holding people back while others managed to exit.

I would certainly take one of the special tours if I went again, that's for sure.

(And while the Uffizi was crowded - my DH was really upset with the lines and their procedures, good to know there's some special skip-the-line card), it was nothing like Versailles (and we weren't there just to see a few main paintings - I thoroughly enjoyed it once we were inside). That was in June, too.

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39. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Well, I was impressed. But I live next to a corn field.

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40. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

It's sad to read that Versailles can be so crowded that it can totally spoil the visit, such as for the OP. I've only visited once, in June in the mid-sixties when there were no crowds at all; in the hall of Mirrors there were only the three of us and it felt like a private viewing. The Louvre was also quiet and peaceful and Notre Dame (2 minutes from my lodging) had hardly anyone around; on my most recent visit to Paris, a while ago now, I was horrified to see such long queues there.

I've just about given up visiting large cities and historical sites unless in winter (apart from the Pont du Gard, which I visit all year round) and feel so lucky to have visited many places in the past. We're also very lucky in UK to have so many grand houses, castles etc to visit, and such organisations such as the National Trust running them - and of course some of them can become crowded, but use is made of timed tickets to help regulate crowding. Of course people want to go to see the main sights on visits, they've probably paid a lot of money for the trip and might not manage to visit again. Without good crowd control some places will find there's much more bad publicity, which might improve things for future visitors.