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Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Lisbon, Portugal
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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
New Mexico
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61. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Euromanic - can you post a link to your review?

Thank you!

Montreal
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62. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Versailles Palace is quite unique, one of the most crowded but certainly worth seeing, in my opinion ..palaces are all different, I have been to many and never found them to be the same

it is reputed to be the most crowded on weekends and Tuesdays, and during the hours that tour groups visit (between 10am and 3pm roughly)

and going to Garnier opera house is really a different experience, best during a performance when the theatre comes alive

Melbourne
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63. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

I'm sorry - is it just me, or do you sound like a jaded tourist? Everyone knows to stay away from major attractions in Paris this week- the busiest in the tourist year.

Anyone who thinks Versailles is 'overrated' should stay at home, because if such magnificence fails to delight, then there is simply no hope!!

Pennsylvania
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64. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

I'll chime in and say that in 3 trips to Paris I have had no desire to visit Versailles. I appreciate the history but I to have been to numerous palaces and grand houses and castles the world over. Due to the crowds reported at V -- which I have never experienced anywhere else- - I have never put V on my list of places to visit. I suppose if I had not had the chance to visit all those other wonderful places than I would want to visit Versailles.

NZ
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65. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Perhaps it is time to lift the price, allocate time slots and have timed entrances to sections as they do at the Alhambra. The experience would then be much pleasanter for everyone and give a far greater understanding of the building, it's history and it's occupants.

Los Angeles
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66. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

I took Euromanic's comments to be about the relative lack of luxury (as we'd define it today), despite the appearance of it. People have come on these boards attempting to find items in Louis XIV style, because they want their own homes to reflect the glory of his. But, it's true that our homes today put more money per square foot into things like electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. Louis spent his on gilding things with weak solutions of gold. It impresses people. The sheer size of Versailles is impressive, especially if one likes monumental objects. It is an extravagant set, that's for sure.

The fact that the original tapestries, hangings and so forth are not at the current château (for the most part) and most (all?) of the original furniture is either in museums or private hands and what we're seeing are either substitutes or good reproductions means that is not the same as it was in Louis's or Marie's days. That's still history, of course, but it didn't seem to me that many people were reflecting on history at all while there (after a while, everyone's main goal seemed to be just to get to the next room and finally out into the relative open of the Hall of Mirrors).

At any rate, if one wants to view the place as the "most opulent palace ever" one certainly can, or one can think about how much better most of us live (in terms of relative ease and comfort) than Louis XIV did (I'd much prefer my type of plumbing to several servants with chamberpots). We may have different views of "magnificence."

I'm glad I made the trek (on a trip where we had a month in Paris so I didn't feel I was missing out on anything else). It was a Thursday, there was no ticket line, the security line was brief, but the interior was still massively crowded and I could only occasionally see past other people (and I got tired pushing - they seriously need to have a different way of moving people through the rooms). I still like the architecture and magnificence of the Palais du Louvre far, far better. Louis XIV is too over the top, to me "magnificent" implies some notions of proportion - and I found Versailles to be somewhat amusing, but not awe-inspiring. It looked like someone gave decorators free reign with gold, mirrors and fabric - that's not a supreme achievement; less is sometimes more in my own personal aesthetic.

If you are on your 4th or 5th trip to Paris and you have enough time to spend the day at Versailles (and I would definitely plan to make it an entire day), the gardens alone are worth seeing (as suggested above). If there were a way to see the main rooms without the crush (very late in the day? maybe?) then go for it, otherwise, I think seeing the King's Apartments (the the History Rooms) would be great.

There's a question asked somewhere above about whether one can go directly to the Hall of Mirrors after the tour - or does one have to start back at the beginning of the rooms? That would be good to know.

I'd rather have a great refrigerator than the gilded chairs; Louis didn't really have that choice.

Paris, France
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67. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

I think this link leads to my review:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187148-d188…

I know that common folk had less than the king three hundred years ago, but Versailles showed me that even a poor person lives far better in many ways than the royals did back then. The overall historical trend has always been towards improvement of the human condition.

The Hall of Mirrors is a good illustration. A technological tour de force when it was made, its mirrors are of terrible quality by even supermarket mirror standards today. And they still ooze mercury vapor, too. And they didn't have smartphones, tablets, or thousands of other wonders that everyone has today.

Hudson, Wisconsin
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68. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

I've been to Paris three times and it wasn't until our last trip over that my daughter, son and I visited Versailles. Unlike many of you, I'd never been to a grand palace before and I really did want to see it, including the chateaux. We went on June 20th, a Thursday, and arrived early in the morning, right at opening. The weather was overcast and slightly drizzly but not bad when we got there but it might have been raining in Paris which may have kept the crowds down because they were not bad at all. We had no problems seeing what we wanted to see and even got a few photos in the hall of mirrors that made it look like we had the place to ourselves!

While we were in the chateaux, the skies opened up and it POURED. I made the executive decision that we'd be having lunch at Angelina. No complaints there, especially with their addictive chocolat l'Africain (hot chocolate) and it granted us access to a bathroom, not always easy to find at Versailles.

The gardens are amazing. What everyone says is so true. They are huge and gorgeous and you could wander around them all day. We loved the Trianon palaces as well and spent a lot of time exploring the farm, too. By then the sun was shining and it was getting warm.

I guess I just want people to know that some of us had a good experience at Versailles, even during what I would call the busy season. I'm glad we went and both my children (ages 13 & 16 at the time) comment on Versailles from time to time. Versailles may not be for everyone but don't be too quick to dismiss it, especially if it's something you've always wanted to see.

Bedfordshire...
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69. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

Nice post, Mom. I am good at 'executive decisions' too :).

I'm glad you enjoyed your visit and I particularly like your last sentence.

Val-de-Marne, France
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70. Re: Château de Vesailles: overrated...

No smart phones, no tablets... I wonder how Louis XIV even made it to Versailles in the first place since there was no RER C either :-/