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Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

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West Palm Beach...
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Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

Yesterday, my daughter and I embarked on the long-awaited Versailles tour. I already addressed the RER issues in a separate thread, but that was hardly the only bad part of the day. I had booked the private tour ahead, so that we could skip the giant line. That part worked out well. However, when I went to the tour group building and tried to check my backpack, the man yelled at me in French and threw me out. It was clearly marked, with pictures and everything, as the place to leave your backpacks. Plus there were cubbies behind him, some with backpacks and some empty. I even went around the corner and asked the woman at the information desk, and she assured me that indeed was where I should leave my backpack. However, the man yelled at me and threw me out again, so I gave up and carried a heavy backpack all day.

After the tour, which was quite nice, we went out to get in line for the little train to the Queens Hamlet. I was quite surprised that it is an extra charge on top of the passport and the private tour fees we'd already paid. In the 30 minutes that we stood in the line, out in the open baking in the sun, we could have walk taken a nice shady walk out to the Hamlet ourselves. Then the train dropped us off with another 15 minute walk left to get to our destination. Then, there were dozens of paths to choose from and no indication as to which one to take. The train ride itself was also miserable, packed in literally thigh to thigh with other very sweaty travelers.

For all the expense and hassle, if I had to make a recommendation to anyone else, I would just tell them to go to the Napoleon III apartments in the Louvre (very similar in terms of opulence and splendor) and visit the many wonderful gardens in Paris. I did not personally think VersIlles was worth it, but that's just my opinion!

Saratoga Springs, NY
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1. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

I'm sorry you had such a rough time. I hope this serves as a warning to some tourists, or makes them reconsider.

I know most people think Versailles is a must-see. Even when they can't name a single resident of the chateau. I think your advice to see the Napoleon III apartments at the Louvre is very sound. It's much cheaper and much less hassle.

Wasn't Paris very hot yesterday (and today)? I *love* French history, can rattle off a bunch of facts about Versailles and the people who lived there. But I visited Versailles during a heatwave and was miserable. I definitely would urge people to not go to Versailles when it's extremely hot.

Kaua'i, HI
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2. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

Aloha from Kaua'i!

I have been to Paris 3 times (with a return this September!) and in those trips have been to Château du Versailles 4 times.

I adore it and a trip (two weeks) to Paris would not be complete for me without a day spent at the Château and the grounds - we spend a full day there usually.

I am a big French Monarchy nerd, so everyplace there resonates in my mind with the dramatic and amazing things that have happened there. I can fully understand however if someone just was going to see it without a interest in the history that it could be a "death march" of sorts! lol. I have been there when the masses of people barely gave me a glimpse of the Bedchamber of Queen Marie Antoinette or the Hall of Mirrors - my usual tact is to have my hubby go ahead to the gardens and I patiently wait in the room until I have a break between tour groups (it does come usually!) and I can soak up the history of the room without a crush of people.

My last visit was the best in 2012 - we got there 1/2 hour before the Château opened and there were only a handful of people there (September) - I had a wonderful 10 minutes sitting in the security guard's chair on the bedchamber all alone just with the ghosts of Versailles to keep me company - fabulous! Same thing in all the other rooms as well. This year I am planning to get there even earlier in order to try to replicate that experience.

We have never used the train to explore the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and Hameau - it is a lovely walk and we usually have lunch at the little cafe by the Grand canal as well as a jacket potato from the vendors by the. Grand Trianon.

By the end of the full day - I am so happy to have been there and experienced the amazing history and beauty of the place - it is pretty much the only "must do" for my trip this year (other than my La Parisienne race)......

Totally can understand people getting fed up with the crowds that are all too common in the Château however. Even my endless patience since I love it so much gets tried at times - but it always worthwhile in the long run!

If you have a love for French Monarchy history - you will love it - if not - possibly a place to skip if crowds get to you!

Malama Pono,

Janet

los angeles
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3. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

One great thing about the principle of liberty is that we are allowed our individual experiences!

Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

Although it hasn't occured in Paris, I have been yelled at in Rome and Barcelona. I had no idea what they were saying and the feeling is rather intimidating. It brought me to tears. People who work in the tourism industry anywhere in the world need to practice patience. Otherwise, they should find employment elsewhere.

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5. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

I will say that often in different countries sometimes I think two people are in a major argument and actually they are having a friendly conversation! They tend to be much more animated and sometimes think by talking loudly to us we will understand better? I assume the OP knows when they are being "yelled" at but having watched many times I end up seeing it was not meant as anything negative. I assume there was some reason for them not being able to take the bag but OP will never know.

Paris, France
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6. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

Versailles is a madhouse in high season, and the government is constantly finding new things to charge for …making as much money as possible is far more important than simply preserving the site as-is. In this heat and with dozens of busloads of tourists crowding shoulder to shoulder, you have to be really, really interested in the site to have the endurance to visit it.

Victoria, Canada
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7. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

Look I love Paris, and I love visiting Versailles, but this heat has made me miserable. Honestly if this was my first time to Paris I don't know if o would come back, we are dripping with swear till tem att night and the last few days all sogjrseeinf has been planned based on what will be coolest.

Versailles is wonderful , you just hit a miserable time.

Tucson, Arizona
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8. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

Joan1, I hear you on the heat. It was like that when I was there in June. Our washer got quite the workout and I would have headed elsewhere if we could have afforded to walk out on our paid-for lodging. I can truly relate to the OP's discomfort with the heat and crowds at Versailles.

California
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9. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

The heat comments validate my decision to go in October. I know there are no guarantees of cool weather, but my chances are good!

Looking for Book reccomendation on French Monarchy History, fiction and non-fiction. I would love to know the history of the places I visit and Versailles is a must for me.

Paris
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10. Re: Versailles report - not my favorite part of the trip

I'm a little bit puzzled about the comparison of the Napoleon III apartment in the Louvre with the palace at Versailles. Actually these places are apples and oranges. As others have said, if you don't know or care about the history there, just skip it. It isn't worth the aggravation you will suffer.

Edited: 18 July 2014, 22:23