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Is skipping Versailles a huge mistake?

My husband and I are spending 4 days in Paris this June. We had planned a day for Versailles because it was a major sight, although it's not on my top lists of things to do. It seemed like something we shouldn't miss. But after reading about the terrible crowds I am tempted to just skip it. We will be there on a Sat. (I saw that RS recommended not going on Sun or Tues, but now I see Sat is bad as well), and since there are so many other great sights in the area maybe we'll just visit a few extra museums. It will allow us to move at a slower pace (and relax at more cafes!) as well. Also I'm hoping we can come back to Europe in a few years during the spring or fall and be able to see Versailles then with fewer crowds. Thoughts?

Posted by
6511 posts

With only 4 days in Paris and if it's not high on your to see list, I would say skip it. Going to Paris and not seeing Versailles is not the end of the world and, as you say, you hope to go back another time so I say leave it for then. I have been there twice; once to tour the palace and once just for the gardens and grounds (trianon palaces, Marie's hamlet). I actually enjoyed the later more than the former. The crowds were not an issue for the outside areas, although I wasn't there on a 'fountain day' so that could be an issue. Trying to avoid crowds at Versailles is like trying to dodge raindrops on a rainy day.

Posted by
672 posts

I wish we had skipped it. We got right in, but the crowds inside were intolerable and we were there in mid-September. I still have no desire to go back. Stay in Paris and enjoy that beautiful city!

Posted by
1810 posts

I think if it was something you were dying to see, you could look beyond the crowds. However, if you were iffy in the first place, the crowds would be magnified. We ended up having to go on a weekend afternoon and, while we got right in because we had followed RS directions about getting a museum pass, the crowds were thick. There was a shuttle advertised for getting to some of the outlying sites,but it was slow and too full to access. I'm still glad we went because I love it, but it was a difficult venture for my husband pre-knee replacement.

Posted by
8 posts

I think Versailles is a must see if you are interested in French Royalty. It can be very crowded and it does take a long time to tour and your 4 days will go by very quickly in Paris so you should see places that are on YOUR must see list before anything else. For me Versailles was a must, because of my interest in French Royalty. We went there this past September and it was really special for me...but yes there were huge crowds in the palace. However the gardens were not that crowded. We also saw Fontainebleau and Vaux le Vicomte. Neither one of them were nearly as crowded as Versailles and there were a lot more apartments that were open in each of them as compared to Versailles where a lot of the apartments were closed off for renovations and so on. Also the apartments in Vaux had a lot to see (furniture) where as Versailles many of the apartments are just big empty rooms, beautiful, but empty. It is not every day that a person can go to Paris, so visit all of the sights that are most important to you and save Versailles for the last. Then if you have time by all means go and see it. If you do go to Versailles I recommend renting bicycles to tour the gardens, it is not only a lot of fun but it saves a lot of time. You can cover a lot more ground on a bike than by walking. Saves the sore feet too ! One of our favorite memories of our holiday last year was cycling in Versailles along the canal with the leaves of the chestnut trees falling all around us. Beautiful ! OH how I love Paris !!!

Posted by
80 posts

If you aren't dying to see it, I say skip it. We went in August, high tourist season, with a RS tour. The crowds and heat were insufferable. How I wished I had stayed in Paris. I say relax, enjoy the cafes and city sights. I highly recommend the Orsay. Nice restaurant there with a terrace and nice view of the city.

Posted by
3696 posts

I went a few years ago in Dec. and had no crowds and no lines and while it was magnificent and opulent, I am glad I only spent a few hours of my time... no desire to go back... I would rather sit in a café in Paris! 6th trip to Paris and I went because I thought I should:)

Posted by
339 posts

I vote to skip it as well. We went 1st week in November and it was so packed that we could hardly move. I have seen the schonnbrun in Vienna and liked it better. Also the gardens were not great at that time of the year but it was a relief to get outside and walk around.

Posted by
10344 posts

In the old days, everyone went there, since it's arguably the best palace in Europe.
In recent years, I notice more N. Americans (reporting in here) are skipping it because of the long waits in line.

If you decide to skip it, suggest you go to one of these three close-in to Paris chateaux:
Fontainebleau
Chantilly
Vaux le Vicomte

Posted by
11292 posts

As with anything else, if it doesn't make your personal A-list, you shouldn't feel bad about not seeing it. I've been to Paris 6 or so times (yes, I've lost count) and I've never been to Versailles. Nor, for that matter, have I been to the other chateaux. I didn't run out of other things to see and do.

Posted by
177 posts

Thanks everyone! I think we will save Versailles for our next trip, hopefully in a slower tourist season.

Posted by
8867 posts

If you don't want to go, dont! It's your trip to do as you like. I didn't get to Versailles until my 2nd trip to Paris. Some people never go.

Posted by
12983 posts

Hi,

My first time in Paris I had five full days (you have 4) counting the day of arrival since that was at 8 am. As pointed out, back then Versailles was the place to go, and admittedly, I went during this first visit because it was the thing to do. There were, specifically, a few sites there I wanted to see because of what had happened at those sites, such as the Hall of Mirrors. The whole aura of Versailles makes it enticing, regardless of the crowds. I went the first week in July. I'm glad I went otherwise would have missed the Battle Gallerie. Walking around the gardens is like a step back in time.

If you have something higher on the priority list in Paris or elsewhere, say chateau de Fontainebleau, then skip Versailles this time.

Posted by
11450 posts

Amanda.. there are NO must sees for everyone.

I have been to Paris too many times to count now.. the first time I went to Versailles was in 1975... no body there almost.. and that was in summer.. .lol

I have been 8 or 9 times since.. and I still love it.. but it is truly become unpleasant now.. I skipped going last year.. it was just too darn hot to even think about fighting the crowds.. The gardens and grounds and other buildings ARE lovely .. and worth a visit on their own.. and they are never crowded.. ( the area is so large).. but with only 4 days.. forget it.. not worth it even to me!

Posted by
1683 posts

If you have plans to come back, keep to my opinion Versailles for the lesser crowded periods. On the page “Tickets and Rates” you can find “visitor tips” on their website. I know not an usual time of the year but during my visit last January there were no crowds inside the palace.

Posted by
11613 posts

Skip Versailles this trip but go to the Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris.

Posted by
40 posts

Just returned Monday from London and 4 nights in Paris with my wife and 3 teenagers. We did Versailles but its the low season. To your point and others though, we did skip the Louvre (gasp), to save energy and interest for the more focused and interesting Musee d'Orsay. Go with what is meaningful to you.

As an alternative just watch these:
http://www.amazon.com/Global-Treasures-VERSAILLES-Chateau-Versailles/dp/B002QWKV2W/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1427541237&sr=8-7&keywords=versailles

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002QRPTMO/ref=pd_cbs_mov_aiv_2

Posted by
3936 posts

If it isn't high on your list - we went to see it on our 2nd visit to Paris. Yes, it was crowded inside but outside was no issue (we were there on musical fountain day - just checked my photos - it was a Sat, at the very end of Sept). The grounds were lovely.

On our first trip to Italy, everyone was - oh, you HAVE to visit Florence! We didn't go until our third trip.

If you plan on returning to Paris someday (travel IS addictive!) go see it then.

Posted by
37 posts

Thanks Wil! I went on the website you mentioned. They have a 2015 calendar that shows the expected attendance level on each day. Very helpful! On the day I was thinking of going, May 22, 2015, high attendance is expected. That made it easy for me to decide not to go this time in Paris.

Posted by
1683 posts

What a pity that your planned day will be so busy, wish you more luck next time!

Posted by
120 posts

The first time I went to Paris (2011), friends all told me I MUST go to the Louvre and Versailles to have really visited Paris.
Neither of these were on the top of my list. I was in Paris 6 days and didn't have time to do all the things "I" wanted to do.
I went back in 2013 and included Versailles in the 10 day trip. It was very interesting, but not among the top things I have done in Paris. I plan to include a short visit to the Louvre when I go back this year.

As many others have said here -- DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO - IT IS YOUR TRIP.
Have a great time!

Posted by
43 posts

Hi AmandaR

Interesting one this.

I was lucky enough to go to a private "soiree" held in the hall of mirrors at Versailles, it included a visit of the palace and the wooden theatre and it was without a doubt one of my best travel experiences ever and as a result I have it on my personal list of best five attractions in France.

But I do have a wobble about whether it should be as I can imagine that if crowded it could easily loose its appeal, like anywhere really. So I was very interested to see Will's tip about the expected crowds on a given day. That would be the decider for me, yes it's a top place to visit but only if you can manage it without the hassle of crowds as otherwise I think your better off just enjoying Paris.

Best

Peter Horrocks

Posted by
14 posts

We are going to Paris next month, and while Versailles isn't really isn't anywhere near the top of my list of things to do, we'll be 9 days into a 30 day vacation, and so I booked a bike tour around Versailles because I thought it would vary the texture of our trip a bit. We are traveling with my teenage daughters and my mother-in-law, and I think the day out on a bike, shopping for lunch at a market and then eating it on the grass on the grounds of Versailles sounds like a fun excursion. The tour includes entry into Versailles, but my guess is that my daughters and mother-in-law may choose to brave the crowds to go inside, and my husband and I will choose to relax on the grounds outside and people watch.

I know with this trip that there will be many amazing things that we don't get around to seeing. But my priority is to find a way to feel relaxed, despite the crowds and heat.

And like Mark, I'm thinking that we will also be skipping the Louvre.

Posted by
250 posts

Amelia, my daughter and I did that tour and it was a highlight! I highly recommend.

Posted by
10344 posts

Is skipping Versailles a huge mistake?

No, not any more. 15 years ago it would have been. But since the number of people traveling to Europe has increased from parts of the world where people didn't use to have the disposable income to travel internationally, sights like this have become so crowded that--well, just makes me glad I saw them in the old days.
So these days, I would understand if someone said, I'm going to watch the videos of Versailles but visit Vaux-le-Vicomte or Fontainebleau on a weekday, instead of Versailles. That's what I did last week (but I'd seen Versailles years ago).

Posted by
914 posts

I've been to France twice and have never been to Versailles. All of the Versailles anxiousness on this forum is equivalent to all the Stonehenge anxiety I see in the England forum. Like others noted about being glad they saw Versailles back in the day, I'm glad that I got to see Stonehenge back when you parked in a grass field and walked across/under the road to see the stones and that was pretty much it. With the exception of the Colosseum (the sheer scale of it blew me away) I'm finding more and more that the big attractions we're "supposed" to see are my least remembered moments from my travels.

Posted by
7 posts

Just returned from France. We had 5 days in Paris, debated every night should we go or not. We ended up not going. So we had a great day in Paris, at the Orssay, fabulous two hour lunch, in a restaurant in the 5th. We made the decision not to go, didn't look back and thoroughy enjoyed our last day in Paris. Have to make peace with the fact you can't see it all.

Posted by
1129 posts

If YOU have to see a castle and don't want to battle with Versailles, I suggest the Chateau de Maintenon which is on the same train line (a few before Chartres). You could take the day and visit the Chateau de Maintenon and the Notre Dame de Chartres. It makes for a nice day outside of Paris without the massive crowds.

Posted by
23 posts

My husband and I will be on the Rick Steves "Paris and Heart of France" tour in just a few days and have booked the Fat Tire Versailles Tour for the end of our trip (not included in the RS tour). A friend I work with recommended it. They had been to France 2 years ago and did the bike tour as an afterthought, and it turned out to be the highlight of their trip.

Posted by
697 posts

If you aren't that interested, then don't go. Its only a mistake if you really have your heart set on seeing it. I've been twice (once on a French club tour with my daughter's French club and once with my husband). Both times it was very busy inside, the 2nd time almost intolerable. We went to Paris in May and I felt no compulsion to go back to Versailles. With 4 days, I say skip it. So many wonderful things to see in Paris, and so little time... Enjoy!