Please sign in to post.

Has anyone gone to Versailles on their own and is willing to answer some questions? Thanks!

I bought the King's Apartment tickets for 9:30 am and now I have to figure out what else to do and buy.

I would appreciate anyone who is willing to answer some questions!

Thanks!

Kelly

Posted by
7146 posts

I took the RER and made a visit on my own one cool misty October day back in 1987. So my memory is sketchy, and no doubt things have changed.

Posted by
1540 posts

We also too the RER train to Versailles in February. We went early in the AM and arrived there about 10:30AM. There was still a very very long line - because of the security screening they do now days.
We got the free headsets to listen to the tour and found that most of the recording was messed up, device didn't work properly, etc. (for all 8 of us) We walked thru the palace and then took the tram through the gardens - because of the time of year, not much was in bloom; but the tram ride was nice. Then we had a nice lunch at a restaurant next to the grand canal.
It was the only restaurant, but can't remember the name.
We then hopped back on the tram and rode to the Petit Trianon walked around a bit and them walked thru the park back to the main palace and the exit.
It was very very cold and none of fountains were operating at that time of year, but we still enjoyed our visit.

Posted by
1806 posts

What's the questions? I've done it. It's an easy train ride from Paris and a fairly short stroll over to the Palace grounds once you get off the train - easy to find, plenty of signs pointing the way. I had a Museum Pass, did not purchase any sort of tickets in advance. I did, however, show up early in the morning about 40 minutes before it officially opened and stood in a somewhat short line to get into the main palace immediately. Was glad I did show up early - the main palace filled up very quickly and I felt like I was just herded along with the rest of the crowds through some of the rooms. I did not particularly care for the main palace because of the crowds inside it. The gardens/grounds are massive - I did not go on the day when the fountain shows take place and can only imagine how much more crowded it must be then. I found once you get out onto the grounds and away from the main palace, it's actually much more enjoyable and peaceful and there are plenty of places you can relax where they aren't so many people milling about. I also really enjoyed the Petit Trianon and the Queen's Hamlet a lot. If I went back again in the future, I would consider going on a day when the fountains are running just to see what they looked like, but skipping the main palace completely and just heading straight for the fountains and gardens first thing and then working my way over to the Queen's Hamlet.

If you enjoy biking, I would suggest you rent a bike or at least take the tram around the grounds. I walked all day out there and was really tired heading back on that train to Paris at the end of the day. Next time, I would definitely spend the money and hop on that tram or a bike to get around with less effort.

Posted by
31530 posts

Kelly,

I've never taken the King's Apartment tour, but have visited Versailles on my own and I'm willing to answer questions.

As the others mentioned, it's very easy to get there from Paris via RER. You may have to use a connection from the Metro to the RER, depending on which part of Paris you're staying in. Look for the word "Vick" above the driver's window to ensure you're boarding the correct train. It's only about a 10-15 minute walk from the station to the Chateau. You didn't say when you'd be going to Versailles, but at some times of the year it's a good idea to choose which day you go there. Tuesdays are often packed as the Louvre is closed that day. The guidebook has good information on that.

As Ceidleh mentioned, I also had a Paris Museum Pass which provides entry to the Chateau. However, during busy times you could still have to wait for ~90 minutes in the hot sun just to get inside (even with a Pass). The Pass does not provide admittance to the gardens on days when the fountains are running, but it's only a few Euro for a ticket so not to worry. If you also want to wander about the gardens, I'd suggest pacing yourself or use the small tourist train to get back and forth from the far end by the lake. The gardens are HUGE!

For visiting the Chateau, you might consider downloading Rick's free audio guide. I found it very useful and didn't bother renting an audio guide (good thing, as there were huge queues at the rental desk).

Posted by
754 posts

We are going to be bringing my Mom to see it in November. I think I can take the RER C which is close to our rental. I will have a Navigo card but how do I figure out what else I need to pay to take the RER out to Versailles?

Great thread BTW

Posted by
1058 posts

I highly recommend renting bicycles and riding the out to Marie-Antoinette Cottages. You can rent bicycles right by the Grand Canal and they come with a lock. It was a great way to explore all of the gardens and you didn't have to worry about waiting in line for the tram.

Posted by
11450 posts

Navigo card is sold in zones. Which Navigo did you get?
Full price is 4.10 euros each way. Regular metro ticket so not work, must buy specific one for Versailles. I a! Not sure what supplement you need for Navigo card if you just have the one for Paris.

Posted by
71 posts

Thank you so much for your willingness to help.

I tried to ask my concierge all these questions in an email and he replied that he would just help me when I get there! Ha

I wanted to do a bike tour to Versailles but we will be on a Viking River Cruise docked in Le Pecq on Sunday, Aug. 2nd. I didn't want to go all the way back into Paris because I think Versailles is only a 10 - 15 minute taxi ride from Le Pecq.

I also wanted tickets for the Kings private apartments and was able to get them for 9:30am. (Bike tours don't cover this)

I assume we need to buy additional tickets for the rest of the Chateau, Tranons, Marie-Antoinette's village, gardens, and I think the fountains will be running that day.

Do I need to buy the Passport for all of the above?

Can I just buy the Passport in Paris from a Tourism Office (my concierge said I could buy all tickets I asked him about from the Tourism Office next door)

I don't really want to buy them in the US and print them out. I did that with the Apartment tickets and they are all in French - I hope I got the right ones!

I was hoping to get real tickets from the Tourism Office or at least they could help me get the correct ones.

Do I go on the Apt. tour first and then does it just flow into the Chateau? (We don't have to go back out and come back in a different entrance?) I'm sure it will be pretty busy by the time we finish our tour.

Is there a way to reserve bikes in advance? I'm sure it will be busy that day.

Can we ride bikes in the gardens or just on the grounds?

Do I need to reserve bikes at Versailles in advance?

Is there a good place to grab food and go on a picnic on our own with Versailles bikes?

Is there a good place to picnic?

That is all I can think of for now.

Anything else I should know?

I'll d/l RS app on Versailles.

Thanks Again!

Kelly

Posted by
1058 posts

I was was at Versailles mid week around the first of August back in 2008. We rented the bikes around 11:30 and there was no line and lots and lots of bikes. I don't think many tourists rent bikes. After the bike ride, we went to a sandwich shop right next to the bike stand. We had a great sandwich overlooking the Grand Canal on a park bench. If I were to go back to Versailles, I would do the same thing. It was very relaxing after the crowds inside the Palace.

Posted by
3714 posts

You can find many of your answers by going to chateauversailles.fr. You will need to choose English for the language.

My major recommendation is to not go if the weather is bad. We were there the first week of June, 2012. No flowers were blooming and the grounds and gardens were a mud wallow. There was only one indoor restaurant. It closed early and it was packed. You had to have reservations, which was not stated on the website and there was no indication that it closed at 14:00. All the little snack kiosks were closed due to the weather except the one at the Petit Trianon, but we had to sit outside in pouring and blowing rain at tables under leaky umbrellas that couldn't begin to handle the wind and water.

Even though we went on a day and at a time when it was supposed to be less crowded, it was a zoo. Part of the crowds were large and unruly groups of kids of different ages on school trips.

I investigated taking the tour you mention, but I was told we would have to go back to the beginning to see the more public part of the palace with the rest of the shuffling herd, even though all we cared about was the Hall of Mirrors. We were told that the private apartment and general tours were about 90 minutes each, not counting the waits. Three hours in such crowded conditions were not for us.

We did walk down to the Petit Trianon, and it is a very long walk. We took the little train back and it was well worth the price.

I made a bad footwear choice of Dansko clogs and I thought I was going to slip and fall on the large, round and wet paving stones as we left. There was nowhere else to walk.

I think this is a magnificent place to visit if you get there well before it opens, the weather is good, you plan to spend most of the day and you wear very comfortable and flat shoes.

The size of the place alone is astonishing and made me understand how there could be hunting on the grounds, why transportation was required to get from place to place, how easily trysts could happen and why the French Revolution was inevitable.

Posted by
2002 posts

The King's Apartment tour ends inside the main area of the Chateau and you can then tour it -- no separate entrance or admission is required. I think you can just walk from it out into the gardens -- I have done it a few times now and can't quite remember how I did it, but keep your ticket and I don't think you will have a problem. Be sure to see the Petite Trianon and particularly the Queen's Hamlet behind it -- lovely area. i believe there is now a branch of Angelina at the Trianon, and there are a few other cafes near the grand canal that are nice spots to rest and refresh yourself. The Grand Trianon is fantastic too.
If you have bikes it will be easy to reach places in the garden, or else take the little train.

Posted by
2 posts

Not to be a downer, but I found Versailles to be hugely over-rated. I was just there on June 20th. It was a Saturday, (it was the only day we could go) so perhaps my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt - soooo many people. We were there right at 9 and still waited almost 2 hours to get in. As has been pointed out here, the Paris pass does not let you skip the line into the castle, only the line to purchase tickets, which is quite small anyways. Once inside, the rooms were so crammed with tourists, we couldn't really appreciate anything. If I had to do it again, I'd skip the castle itself, and just go to the gardens. So I guess my advice comes down to: Don't go on a Saturday (or Sunday or Tuesday), be prepared for lots of people, and be prepared to wait in line.

Posted by
46 posts

I was there Friday, July 3 for an all-day visit with my husband and college-aged daughter. We had a wonderful day, and I have a couple of suggestions for crowd management:

1) Get there by 8:30 with a Paris Museum Pass in hand and the Rick Steves Audio guide downloaded on you ipad or phone. You won't be the first people in line, but you will not wait very long at all once they start taking people through the security check-points at 9:00. Don't bring any bags that need to be checked.
2) Bypass the distribution of the official audio guides and other housekeeping. Don't stop at the WC (you can go back).
3) Head straight to the "Hall of Mirrors." Don't stop to look at anything along the way. You'll be able to back-track. When you get to the "Hall of Mirrors," enjoy the view and snap a few pictures in the majestic, mostly empty hall.
4) Back-track through the palace to the beginning of the audio tour. Follow the tour. By the time you get back to the "Hall of Mirrors," it will be mobbed, but you've already seen it sans people.
5) After you finish the main palace and the gardens, have lunch at the cafe beside the Grand Canal. Adequate food and reasonable prices, a good place to rest before you head to the minor palaces and Marie Antoinette's "Hameau."
6) After you've seen everything, head back to Versailles for a supper at one of the cafes on the square.

We walked everywhere, but for extra $ you can certainly take the tram or rent bikes. Have a great day. I certainly think it's worth the hassle!

Posted by
38 posts

Yes, you need admission to the chateau in addition to your guided tour tickets. We went just last month, and at the beginning of the guided tour they check to make sure you also have general admission tickets. We had the museum pass, but a chateau passport ticket works as well. It's up to you if you also want to add on the garden and water show ticket.

Posted by
71 posts

Thank you all for your information - it really helps!

Delecia - will they let us take a purse in? RS says to hold a backpack like a purse at most museums and they let you in with them.

Did you notice where the bikes are permitted? Could we ride them through the palace gardens or is that only on foot?

Were there places to eat by the Trianons or Hamlet? We wanted to ride bikes out there and have a picnic.

Bob - did you enjoy the guided tour?

How early did you have to line up and do they have a separate security line and places to stow bags?

How were the crowds in the other areas after your guided tour?

Would it be possible to go in the main entrance and see the Hall of Mirrors at 9:00 and then go back for the guided tour at 9:30 or do they start lining up for the guided tour earlier?

Did you buy your tickets online? I bought them from the site in English and they sent them to me in an email in French. I have them online too but can't figure out how to see them in English. (I used an app to convert but it didn't convert very well) Only 3 were available when I bought them but I checked a few days later and they were available again so I bought a 4th. But they are in French so I am not sure if they are the same.

They show the same date and time but will the 4th be with our tour group - is there only 1 tour group at a time?

Other questions.

Does the tram just go to the Trianons and the Hamlet?

Can we bike all around the canal?

Has anyone rented Segways?

Do Passport tickets sell out? I'm sure I will be there on a busy day but I didn't want to buy them until we got to Paris.

Thank You Thank You Thank You all once again!! I'm feeling much better about this adventure :)

Kelly

Posted by
2002 posts

I don't think you will be able to see the Hall of Mirrors first, then go outside and over to another area & separate entrance to do the king's apartment tour. I think there may be some confusion on some of the responses -- some seem to assume you are doing a general entry to the palace, or perhaps a guided tour of the palace. You are not, the king's tour is separate from these. You are dealing with this first. You will be going to private areas of the palace, including the fabulous opera house. I would not obsess over anything, enjoy this part of the tour, and deal with what you can do afterwards in the main area of the palace.

The tram goes to the Trianons and to mid point of the Grand Canal where the restaurants are. It does not go to the Queen's Hamlet, you must walk to it from the back of the Petit Trianon -- but it is not along walk, it is beautiful & not to be missed.
When entering the Palace your backpack will be searched. You will not be allowed to bring any food into Versailles and will have to check your bag if you are bringing food for a picnic. For the main entrance to the palace, there is a separate security line, and a separate line to check your bags. I'm not sure where you would check your bags when entering for the king's apt. tour.....I didn't have to do this.
I believe there is a cafe or tea room at the Petit Trianon, recently added. There are 2 reasonable cafes near the grand canal.

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks BG!

I didn't think I could see the Hall of Mirrors first, then go outside and over to another area & separate entrance to do the king's apartment tour but that would of been nice to see it when there were fewer crowds.

My husband always travels with something like energy bars. (He's diabetic) Would they make him check his bag for those?

I read where someone advised to make reservations for the cafes. Did you find that necessary?

Can we ride bikes through the gardens or is that just for foot traffic?

Thanks!

Kelly

Posted by
2002 posts

Thanks Kelly,
you will see people biking and riding Segways, driving golf carts throughout the Versailles gardens. The garden area is huge.
Most people walk. the gardens never seemed over-run by vehicles of any kind -- though I never went in peak tourist season.
You don't have to make reservations for the cafes. It may be possible to do so --- but certainly not necessary, but again, when I went they were not crowded.
As for the energy bar, last time I went to Versailles I accidentally had a small packet of cookies in my purse that no one saw. i didn't even know it was there. So chances are you could get away with bringing one in. He could put a couple in his pocket!

Posted by
11450 posts

Kelsea you can bike through most of the grounds EXCEPT the formal gardens nearest the palace. You will have to walk down through them to the head of the canal, where you can rent bikes.

Posted by
71 posts

Fabulous! Thank You BG & Pat!

A few more questions.

Would we be smart to buy the Passport online here or when we get to Paris from a TI? (We will be there 11 days before we go to Versailles but I'm worried Sunday, Aug. 2nd will be really busy) Do they limit the number of Passport tickets sold? I would like to have an actual ticket in my hand instead of a printout.

If we bring a backpack and don't have food in it, can we keep it with us or do we have to check it? (We are going through the King's Apartments so a different security line correct?)

Can my daughter bring in an SLR as long as she doesn't take flash or use a tripod?

Slowly but surely this is coming together. My family thinks I'm nuts and we should just go with the flow - show up whenever etc. - if the only knew! Ha!

Thanks!

Kelly

Posted by
1783 posts

Hi Kelly, we visited Versailles on our own on a Thursday in May. We took an early train from Paris, had coffee at McDonalds, and were in line at the Palace at 8:30 a.m. There were already about 20 people ahead of us. The gates opened at 9 and we went straight to the Palace. We pretty much had the place to ourselves for an hour. We have photos in the Hall of Mirrors with absolutely no other people there - amazing! We walked through the gardens to the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet (very cute).

We purchased a 2-day Paris Museum Pass and activated it at Versailles. I think the Pass was $42 per person (admission to Versailles would have been $25, we also visited the Orsay, Cluny, Consiergie, and did the steps at Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe so we thought it was a great deal).

From the Paris Museum Pass website:
The PARIS MUSEUM PASS includes access to all unguided tours, open according to the season: the "Grands Appartements", the Hall of Mirrors, the King's Bedchamber, the Queen's Bedchamber, the apartments of "Mesdames" Louis XV's daughters, exhibitions, the Trianon Castle and the Estate of Marie-Antoinette.

Cameras are no problem. They checked my purse at Security but there were no questions about my protein bars.

Hope you have a great time!

Posted by
2002 posts

Kelly,
Yes, you will go through a different security line for King's Apt. tour. I'm not sure what they will do about a backpack -- it's something that you will just have to experience when you get there.
You can bring in cameras.

Posted by
11450 posts

No backpacks allowed inside palace( there is a cloakroom) ...this will be same for many museums also, they are afraid folks will wear backpack and knockmor scrape at exhibits when they turn and move about. So!e women who wear small backpacks have said they occasionally get on with them if they wear them under their arm like a purse, but places like Versailles and Louvre are likely to notice and say no, since you have to put bag down for security check.

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks Donna,

I appreciate that added info!

How did you like the Orsay, Cluny, Consiergie, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe? Were they a lot easier with the pass?

Was everything at Notre Dame included in the Museum Pass?

Thanks!

Kelly

Posted by
191 posts

Last August I took the King's apartment tour. I purchased both the tour tickets and the passport tickets directly for the chateau website (you need both) (http://en.chateauversailles.fr/prepare-my-visit-/single/tickets-and-rates) I made sure to print all the tickets out and took them with me so I didn't have to worry about buying tickets during my trip.

We took the afternoon tour, so in the morning we visited the gardens.

Do not wait in the huge lines that snakes around to get into the palace. Your tour meets at the guided tour reception area which is a building to the right in the huge courtyard. It will say on your guided tour ticket where you should go and you can always ask for some assistance. The reception area had a seating area to wait in and they can answer all of your questions about your bags. You then go as a group through a separate entrance and through security.

Have fun!

Posted by
71 posts

Thanks Donna, BG, Pat, and Stephanie,

Stephanie, that sounds great! My family will be thrilled to skip the lines!

I was going to just buy the passport tickets from a TI in Paris just in case but it looks like buying the online passport worked for you.

Did they have a certain date on the passport tickets?

What area of the Chateau do you enter after the King's apartment tour?

Thanks!!

Posted by
191 posts

The passport tickets are for a specific date, so you buy them just like you did for the tour (select ticket type and select date).

The tour ended at the Royal Chapel which was a highlight for me because we were able to enter and wander around the chapel since we were part of a tour. The guide was happy to give directions at the end of the tour to help people find the easy route to where they wanted to go.