Jet lag and Versailles

We have a question about going to Versailles. We are going on a Rick steves tour and will be arriving a day early in Paris at 7am. Versailles is not part of the tour but we would like to see it. Will we be too jet lagged to go to Versailles on that first day? Is it doable?
Thanks for any advice.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5297 posts

Impossible to know how jet lag affects you, a perfect stranger. I can only say I would never be able to do it. It would be a total waste of money.

Posted by BG
SF Bay Area, USA
1646 posts

I think you will have to wait and see how you feel when you get there. The RER ride out there is pretty easy, once you find the right train. You don't say what time of year you will be in Paris, but I'm sure the Palace will be quite crowded (particularly in the morning) and you may not be up for dealing with it. If it's a nice day, you may want to skip it (or see it late in the day), but strolling the gardens, and visiting the Queen's Hamlet, the Trianons and the grand canal would be wonderful. There are various forms of transportation throughout the grounds, there is a lot of walking also.

From my experience with RS tours, you will want to be energetic and on time to the first group meeting and events planned for that day, and I think if you do Versailles, you will be quite exhausted. Versailles is wonderful, but so is just strolling around Paris on your first day.

Edit -- I agree with Norma!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

I certainly would not be too jet lagged on the first day... but have a relatively easy flight to Paris from Detroit. I suppose it does depend on time of year... I was there in Dec. late in the day, so there were about 10 people there. Therefore we could go through as quickly as we wanted with no lines. I can imagine in the summer it would be quiet different. You can probably just enjoy wandering around Paris, but if it is well covered on the tour I would probably opt for something else and want to see Paris with the rest of the group. I would certainly go early, then try to be near your hotel for an early dinner to be ready for the next day. You can probably catch a quick nap on the metro out to Versailles. If I remember it was about 30 minutes or so??

Posted by Adam
2925 posts

You can manage jet lag though a number of strategies. One of them involves being outdoors, so time touring the gardens could do double duty.
On the other hand, jet lag can be considerable. You will at the very least feel tired and around midmorning may feel the effects acutely. You might get a second wind after lunch, which would be a good time to tour the palace.
If you go for it, plan accordingly. Bring food or know where you can eat (there is food in the town not too far away). Know what you will do with your bags. Have fun!

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4034 posts

If you're up for it, I would do it. I know I could but everyone is different and you won't know until you get there. RS tours don't start until late in the day on the first day so you'll have time to rest before meeting the group that evening.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8735 posts

If it were me, I would have no trouble doing it the first day. I can sleep at least some on the plane, and I'm not totally worthless that first day. As others have said, time of year will make a big difference. If it is a priority for you, I would plan to do it.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9476 posts

There is jet lag.
Then there is travel fatique.

For jet lag the idea of being outside all day in the fresh air is the usually prescribed remedy.. trying to reset your body clock on local time.

Obviously travel fatique is another issue.. not sleeping on plane makes most of us tired.. however for many of us .. adrenline gets us going.

Remember .. the tour doesn't even start till the next day .. later in the day... not first thing in am.. so you can sleep in ( but you won't as your body will want to get up around 5 am, lol .. jet lag telling it its actually 10 or 1 or whatever. hard to tell with you since you haven't posted a location.. ( why do people do that , so hard to answer their questions without their location sometimes.!)

I could do it but as others point out.. depending on when you go . and which day of the week you go.. crowds can be an issue.

Too bad you didn't fly in a few days earlier.. its hard to "do" all the great things one would like to do in Paris in the time limit of a tour.. our tour ended in Paris and we tagged on 7 days ahead ( splitting a few to Rome) and another 5 in Paris after tour.. The tours are awesome,,its just hard in places where there is so much to see.

Versailles is worth seeing.. i love it.. ( been numerous times.. ) but I will suggest that you should try and get a ticket online ahead of time.. and if you can spend only a few euros more.. get the "Kings Apartment" tour.. as its apparently raved about and everyone who has done it says its great for skipping the long long security line as they tour members go through a seperate security line ( even with tickets in hand we waited over 45 minutes to get through security last time after arriving too late to get in right at opening.. ) .. so consider the tour.. it has time slots too.. so book one after 12( assuming your flight is in a 7 , you are in Paris by 8:30 or 9:30 am, check in/drop bags.. have some breakfast, then take train to Versailles ( about 45 minutes) .. thinking noon might be safe.

Do make it out to the Hamlet and Trianons.. I love the view up the Canal from the gardens behind the Grand Trianon .

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1813 posts

Jet lag completely puts me out of commission the first day I'm in Europe; I would never be able to do this. I don't sleep well on planes - maybe you can sleep and you'll arrived refreshed and ready to tackle it? I know lots of people who would be fine seeing Versailles the first day. It's lots of walking and you do need to have some sort of attention span left to get the most out of it! If this is your only opportunity to see it then you may want to try. Otherwise maybe save it for another time when you can devote an entire day and are completely conscious!

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
721 posts

Hi Hurley,
How many hours will you have been traveling and is this your first experience with jet lag? We're west coast, so it's usually been a loong trip, but I would still say to do it. You could do it either your first day, or your second day before the RS tour, especially if you're booked into the tour hotel. His tours don't usually meet until about 6pm, so you've got a whole day. You could by your train ticket the first day then you'd be ready to go first thing the second day. Sometimes, if you have something to do, it helps get you started. Last trip, we did Giverney on our second day and we were up and ready to go so as to be there just after it opened.

Have so much fun,

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1422 posts

From a time perspective, the morning of your arrival will be consumed by airport procedures, travelling into Paris, getting settled into your hotel and having lunch. By the time you reach Versailles you probably will have part of the afternoon for sightseeing. I'd want most of a day.

Posted by BD
2 posts

Thanks for all your comments and information. We are from Colorado and our travel time to Paris will be about 12 hours. This is our first time going to Europe and do not travel a lot so we're not too sure how the long flight will affect us. We would like to see Versailles and will be arriving on Sunday August 31 with tour starting Monday afternoon September 1. The web site shows Versailles closed on Monday so Sunday will be our only opportunity on this trip.This forum is great. Thanks again for all your info.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

12 hour flight can be grueling... so take all the advice available about how to sleep on the plane, or at least get some rest. Archives should give info from plenty of travelers as to how they deal with long flights. If archives are not available simply post a new question about how to deal with long flights and jetlag.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4235 posts

I am absolutely with Pat on 'jet lag vs travel fatigue'. Jet lag is bad enough; the travel exhaustion I have the first few days is nearly debilitating. With this being your first trip, I would not recommend all that is required of you to pull this off :-(

Assuming your flight arrives on time, and depending on whether you need to collect luggage or not, it could be 9:00 before you can leave the airport. Then, you've got to make it to your Paris hotel (I know nothing about luggage storage at Versailles, so look into that). Your stomach may be telling you it's time for lunch...then you've got to get your train tickets arranged for the trip, make the trip, then stand in line...I wouldn't bother. There are so many other things to do in make sure you're well-rested for your tour. Take it easy that first day, and don't plan such an ambitious day. But that's me ;-)

Is there a particular reason you'd like to see Versailles - the grandeur of the buildings, the gardens, the guidebook tells you to? You can easily replicate the experience in Paris proper. If you're dead-set on Versailles, then go for it. Just assume it will be a short trip, and you will have been up all night sitting in an airplane seat...ugh. Anything above and beyond my dire predictions will just be icing on the Versailles cake!

Posted by KevinK
Suburban Indianapolis
64 posts

Make your decision after you land and get to your hotel. If you feel good do it and if you aren't up for it there's still plenty to enjoy in Paris. It's a win-win!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5072 posts


You have simply three choices, 1. play it by ear, as suggested above, see how you feel when you arrive.. 2. cut out Versailles on the day of arrival, leave it for next time, 3. go ahead and see Versailles regardless how you feel, jet lag or no jet lag. If it says a 12 hr flight, chances are you could be 20 mins early.

Also, if you are on time at seven, get to the hotel, freshen up, have a hot lunch with out being rushed, and get out to Versailles by 13:00, it's very doable. You have ample time to spend at Versailles. It depends on how desperately you want to see this place since it's not included on the tour.

My first time in Paris after an eleven hour flight from SFO, arrived at 0900, checked in at the hostel, had a hot lunch there, by ca 1330 I was at Les Invalides after taking the Metro from the hostel, spent almost the rest of the afternoon at that museum.

Since this is your first trip, the best option is to see how you feel upon arrival, if you don't want to push it. If you do, I'd suggest go to Versailles.

Posted by Scott M.
Dallas, TX, USA
1168 posts

I took a rather expensive tour of the Palatine Hill, Forum, and Colosseum in Rome after a long flight from Dallas. I had counted on sleeping on the flight, but for some reason was unable. The tour was so terribly difficult because of the jet lag. All I wanted to do was run away. I would try something less ambitious on your first day.

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
1046 posts

We all handle jet lag differently, but I wouldn't attempt it.
By the time you clear passport control and collect you bags almost 2 hours will have passed. Then you have your journey into the city and to your hotel, figure another hour for that.
Now after you've dropped your bag(s) off at your hotel it's off to find the metro and go to Versailles. If I remember correctly the RER takes about 20 minutes and the walk to Versailles takes about 15 minutes. Also kept in mind that it being a Sunday there will be more people there than on a normal day.
Now if it were me, I'd skip Versailles and stroll around Paris a bit, find a place and get the makings for a picnic lunch and go to Luxembourg(sp?) Gardens and enjoy my picnic and the scenery.