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Versailles Trip Report

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Versailles Trip Report

This is part 2 of our trip report I just posted in the Paris forum. This covered our Versailles visit last July 2 and I hope those planning their visits will find this helpful. Let me know if you have questions.

Part 2 (July 2)

Part 2 of my trip report is all about our trip to Versailles. Because we are traveling with an elderly parent, I explored a lot of skip the line guided tours on offer in the internet. They were expensive, at least $100 per person, for only half a day and they do not even include hotel pick-up and drop-off. Multiply that by 4 people and that's too dear for our budget. I also did not want our visit to be rushed since our main goal was to have time to go around the gardens and visit Marie Antoinette's estate. Luckily, there are many posts in TA on how to do Versailles on your own. That's what we did and we ended up enjoying our trip to Versailles at less than 1/5 of the cost if we took the tour.

I set aside the whole day Wednesday for our trip to Versailles. The planets aligned and it turned out to be the best day of our stay weather wise: sunny but not humid. I booked tickets for the 9:30 guided tour of the King's Apartments through the Versailles website to avoid the lines. It was 7 euros per person on top of the Museum Pass we had that covered entry to everything in Versailles. The Saint Michel/Notre Dame station where we took the RER C to Versailles was walking distance from our hotel but we took the Metro so as not to tire my mom so early in the trip. We bought two one-way RER C tickets for our party of four at the ticket counter. On the ramp, there were station attendants in red vests who will lead you to the right train. Just tell them you want to go to Versailles Palace. It is the last stop and when you get off, just follow the people or the signs to the Chateau. We got there around 8:55 but since we were walking slowly, we reached the Chateau around 9:15. There was already a long line but our printed tickets had instructions that we go to a separate entrance for guided visits on the right side of the Palace. There was no line for this entrance. Inside, there was a separate and comfortable waiting area for our group of about 25 people.

The guided tour was just OK, the guide was a bit dry and the Opera was closed that day. We did get to see some rooms not open to the public and there were interesting tidbits we learned about court life. I'm a history buff and am particularly interested in the French Revolution so every thing was interesting to me. The real value of the guided tour, however, was avoiding standing in line for long periods under the sun. For that alone, I felt it was worth it and allowed us to enjoy our visit more.

The tour ended around 11 am after which we were led to another entrance to visit the other areas of the palace open to the public. Surprisingly, the crowd was not that bad on that Wednesday. I was prepared for wall-to-wall people but we were able to go through the rooms including the Hall of Mirrors easily and take many pictures. By 11:30 we were done with the Chateau. After a while, everything started to look the same so we set off for the gardens. Our main interest was really to see the grounds and Marie Antoinette's estate. We rented a golf cart (32 euros/hour) because of mobility issues and to save time. For those who don't mind waiting, the mini train is a viable and cheaper option. It allows you to get off at points in the grounds and take your time exploring.

Although a map was given to us showing the allowed routes for the golf cart, we took many wrong turns. (My family is really map-challenged so don't let this worry you). The cart stopped when we veered off the allowed route so we had to do a lot of reverse turns. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the majestic view of the grounds on our way to the Trianon. We saw MA's estate but couldn't find the allowed route to get there. We ended up parking the cart at the Grand Trianon and just walked to the hamlet (about 5 minutes pleasant walk amidst fragrant honeysuckle trees). We arrived around 12:10 and there was already a short line. When we got in, we skipped the Petite Trianon and went straight to the hamlet. This part was one of the highlights of my Paris trip. We were the only ones on the grounds as most of the people started with the Petite Trianon. It was quiet and peaceful with only the birds chirping. We took many postcard-perfect pictures including the houses which seemed straight out of Hansel and Gretel, the windmill, temple of love and fishes in the lake. It was easy to see why this was MA's refuge from palace life and I could imagine her playing with her children here. On the other hand, it may have been too idyllic a place to make her unaware of how hard life was outside.

We went back to the Palace because we had a 1 pm lunch reservation at Angelina's. By that time, the palace was more crowded and there was already a long waiting line for the golf carts. Since we exceeded the 1 hour for the cart by about 20 minutes, we paid $40. We had a restful break at Angelina's. It was a good opportunity to try Angelina's because we heard the line at the rue Rivoli branch is usually long. Service and desserts were top-notch, the sandwiches and salads were just average for the price. Yes, the hot chocolate was that good. Our lunch was pricey but it was a great reprieve from the crowds and provided a comfortable restroom break. After lunch, we went back to the gardens to take more pictures. We took the same route to the station and it was good to have our return tickets ready as there was a long line for train tickets back to Paris. There is only one train going back to Paris so just hop on the waiting train. We were back at our hotel before 4 pm and we took a brief nap to prepare for our nighttime Seine cruise.

Hong Kong, China
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1. Re: Versailles Trip Report

Thanks for sharing this detailed report.

CA
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2. Re: Versailles Trip Report

Thank you! This was very helpful!

Edmonton, Canada
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3. Re: Versailles Trip Report

Great report:)) We are 2 gals that want to go to Versailles, but prob not for the whole day, we do not have a museum pass, as we only have 3 days and already have a eiffel tower/seine cruise planned and are going to do the Louvre also. So not much time to see more museums, and would just like to walk around a bit. You had mentioned that there was only 1 train back to Paris? At 4 PM, so there is no heading back to Paris earlier if you wanted too? BYW, what was the general cost of the admission to the general area, and if you pre buy your tickets online, do you still have to stand in line? We are planning on heading out there early in the morning. Thanks for any info.

The Hague, The...
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4. Re: Versailles Trip Report

atc25 means that all trains from Versailles Rive Droite go to Paris on ONE line. Quite frequent, See the "Dinner in Versailles"thread. There's another station, Versailles Chantiers, if one of those stations is closer to your hotel in Paris.

I always check out trains on www.oebb.at

Entry to Palace etc. is 18 euro for a passport, 15 for just the palace.

I would do as she did;: take the guided tour for 7 euro extra, so as to see more and skip the lines. Tour is at 9.30 so an early rise. If you buy your ticket inline you dont have to buy a ticket but you'd still be in the long line. When I saw that line 3 years ago (at 9 AM), I almost decided to not go at all, till someone drew my attention to the yellow building on the right where a tour for just 25 people starts and it was a great find.

Edited: 03 September 2014, 11:43
The Hague, The...
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5. Re: Versailles Trip Report

sorry, it is not Versailles Rive Droite but Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche. I just learned that Versailles has 3 main stations, Rive Droite (from Paris St Lazare),, Rive Gauche (from Paris Austerlitz, via St Michel/NotreDame) and Chantiers (from Paris Montparnasse)., That www.oebb.at shows the internediate stations by clicking on a connection (the red arrow on the left) and then "show intermediate stops" ..

Edited: 03 September 2014, 12:02
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6. Re: Versailles Trip Report

atc25, thanks for sharing! It sounds like you enjoyed the grounds, Marie Antoinette's estate & hamlet.....much more than the Versailles Palace. In the end, did you feel that your visit to Versailles was a highlight, or something you could have skipped? I like the idea of the guided tour if it allows skipping the line! I'm also wondering if it would be worth spending a couple nights near Versailles, and maybe split the visit over 2 days...

Paris, France
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7. Re: Versailles Trip Report

To learn how to get around Paris (and to Versailles) by métro/bus/RER use www.ratp.fr. Here is a link to a route planner:

ratp.fr/itineraires/en/ratp/recherche-avancee

Here is an interactive map of the system:

www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php…

Since parts of this website are only in French you can also use www.transilien.com or www.vianavigo.com. Via Navigo probably has the most complete English website. Keep in mind that all these sites are time and date sensitive and they will use Paris time, not your local time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that they all default to the next available departure. So you may get one route that looks very complicated (multiple métro/bus connections) but scroll forward through the next few departures and you'll often find the simplest connections for your journey.

To learn about the various types of transport passes look here:

http://vianavigo.com/en/tickets-and-fares/

A good website to learn how to use public transport in Paris is www.parisbytrain.com. It will likely answer any of your questions about what is the métro, what is the RER, what kinds of tickets you need, how to buy tickets, what kinds of passes are available etc.

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8. Re: Versailles Trip Report

Melissa - Versailles is only about 35 to 40 minutes by RER C from central Paris. There is no need to spend a night in/near Versailles just to visit the palace on separate days. I think most people will find that one full day there is enough unless you are really interested in the history of the place.

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9. Re: Versailles Trip Report

French_Mystique: Thanks! Good info!

10. Re: Versailles Trip Report

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