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One last time - clarity in panning a visit to Versailles

This topic has been visited and revisited - let the eye rolling begin.

When one is looking at things from afar- all seems simple and easy to achieve - reality can result in a different experience!

So that being said - here goes!

Simply our plan is to visit Versailles on a Thursday in mid-October.

I plan to purchase a Passport Ticket - there will be three of us.

We hope to arrive around 11:00 am or so.

We want to visit the gardens and the Queen's Hamlet - before we return - around 2:30 pm - to see the Chateau - perhaps booking a tour of the King's Apartments - I have read various reviews of this experience. Would you recommend the tour?

When you arrive at Versailles - is there a checkpoint - where you present your tickets and Passe Sanitaire - if these are still required in October of 2023? We shall see.

Is the long security line - ONLY required to enter the Chateau - if so - then I would hope that the lines are much less after 2:30 pm.

If the security line only applies to the visit to the palace - then I would think it would be easy to enter the gardens and make our way to the Hamlet - without the large crowds.

Finally, I want to be realisitic - if we purchse the Passport Ticket - how much of the estate can we REALLY see in one day?

I have read about riding bikes on the estate ...

My older daughter rides bikes - I have not ridden a bike since I was five years old - a little red Schwinn - and my younger daughter is not a bike rider. I walk for exercise - so walking for me is not an issue - but as an alternative to walking - I understand that there is a little train that can be used to access different parts of the estate - for a fee of course!

Many thanks!

Posted by
354 posts

When we went, we were surprised at how far from the chateau the hamlet is, so if your trying to cover a lot of ground that day and see as much as possible, I would plan to either rent bikes to get there and back, or plan to take the little train. I recall there being a few obvious non bike riders along the paths, so you wouldn't likely be alone in that, but perhaps the train would be your best option.

Posted by
2542 posts

We went to the Queen´s Hamlet last year and the Queen´s House was not open, but you could still walk the grounds and see the cottages. It is quite a distance from the Château Versailles. You can walk it, but trying to see the Trianon, the hamlet, the château grounds and the château itself will require being very well organized and in tip-top physical condition.

Just going to the Trianon, seeing the English and French gardens, and visiting the Hameau de la Reine is a full day, particularly if you only start at 11h00.

Posted by
888 posts

I'll give you our experience from last Sep and you can glean what is useful to you. I'd recommend downloading and printing a map of the entire complex to understand the layout and distances. The official website is very useful but takes a lot of reading to understand https://en.chateauversailles.fr/

This was our second time at Versailles but our first time to tour the inside of the chateau. We were staying at the hotel right next to the Queens Gate and had Passport tickets with timed entry to the chateau for 10 (I think). It was a Sat morning and we walked thru the Queens Gate and over to the entrance to the chateau which is on the far side of the building. They checked our tickets and CDC card. I only had a small crossbody bag - I don't remember there was much of a security check. We had downloaded the Versailles app to our phones before leaving the US. It's fairly large and you need good wifi to get it all. With our phones providing audio guidance room by room we toured the chateau. Actually quite a bit there to see so it took about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. From there we walked out onto the South Parterre and strolled down the steps to where all the different groves are. On weekends the fountains are flowing in them but not on weekdays.

From there we walked to Apollos Fountain and the start of the Grand Canal. We got lunch from a kiosk and sat on the grass. There is a casual restaurant as well with sandwiches etc and seating. We then walked to the Trianon complex. Again, I believe they checked our tickets and CDC cards and we headed to the Queens Hamlet. At the time there was a sculpture exhibit by Lalanne but I believe that has ended. There isn't any building to enter in the hamlet area. The only buildings at Trianon are the Grand and Petite Palaces which we'd seen before. There is also another restaurant (small take out place) with a seating area outside. We'd eaten there on our previous tour.

After getting a bit lost we left the area and walked back to our hotel by 3. According to my fitbit - almost 20,000 steps that day.

You can rent bikes and the website above will give you info. I know I've seen them at the Queens Gate.

Posted by
195 posts

We can't see everything-purchasing the Passport Ticket is not a good idea.

I checked the Versailles Website - I would think buying a Palace ticket for a 2:30 or after slot would work. All the plans we have in Paris will be for an afternoon entry. Well, when I book the tickets - next year.

We will need to get to Versailles earlier in the day - walking the grounds - hopefully some fountains are running and - if we can take the small train to the Queen's Hamlet - where we can walk a bit - perhaps get some lunch and then return to the chateau for our afternoon visit.

I think i I got this...

Thanks for your insights...

Posted by
8038 posts

With a timed ticket for the chateau you don't wait in a long security line. WE thought the Kings Apartment Tour was a huge waste of energy and time. The back rooms are like the ordinary gilded rooms of any chateau in France. We did it because timed tickets were not available when we visited so it was our only option to not stand in the long entry lines for security. We waited seated in a small room until fetched for our tour and there was no line except the short line of our group going through security. (this was the year before COVID). The public rooms are incredible if crowded.

If you go on a Fountain Day the gardens adjacent to the palace are stunning. IMHO they are not very interesting when the fountains are not running. Note that the fountains only run for about 90 minutes in the morning and then again in the afternoon, so you would want to arrange the chateau visit between those times in order to see the fountains. WE plan to do that with our grandchild in April.

The Hameau and Trianon are a LONG ways from the garden and chateau. There is a sort of trolley shuttle thing you can use to go there if you don't want the long walk. The Trianon is again IMHO not worth a visit if you are also visiting the chateau and absolutley not if you do the Kings Apartment -- more of the same ordinary gilded chateau rooms. The one cool thing was there were a lot of paintings of the fountains done after they were first created. I included these paintings in the snapshots of this visit to the gardens for the fountains:
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/fountains-of-versailles-a-little-chaos/
You cannot have a picnic in the garden but just outside the garden at the bottom there are restaurants, ice cream stands etc by the canal and some picnic tables -- and lots of people sitting on the ground near the canal. There are also rental boats for the canal.

What we plan to do this spring is get a chateau ticket for early afternoon and visit the fountains in the morning and then the chateau before heading back on the train.

FWIW. Be sure to get two RER tickets for each person in your group so you don't have to stand in long lines at ticket machines to get back. The tickets work in both directions so if there are two of you, you just get 4 of the tickets when you get them in Paris.

Posted by
818 posts

I was there in October, on a Tuesday. I had opening slot tickets, so 9 am, got there 15 or 20 minutes early, was maybe #10 or so in line.

When I left at 230-ish, the line was MUCH longer, and that was for ppl who HAD tickets. Easily 100 ppl in line, it went through the Cour d'Honneur, almost to that front gate.

So there are lines, as much as we all want to ignore them.

I ate a delicious, if overpriced, caramel butter crepe at La Flottille. I'm still salivating.

Posted by
195 posts

You know, I feel like I am spinning my wheels in mud.

I am NOT sure that the experience of Versailles - given the crowds and the size of the estate is really worth it. We won't have enough time to see everything - and the timing of the fountains running doesn't work with the schedule...

I am sure many people will disagree with me and some people will agree.

Things seem to be a bit of a challenge there - and I don't mean to be negative ..

I am intrigued with Vaux-le-Vicomte - the chateau that was the inspiration for Versailles and a sorted history of it's own.

The travel to this chateau is not as easy as getting to Versailles..perhaps we can take a taxi. And arrange for the taxi to return to pick us up - I read that there can be quite a bit of competition to get a taxi at the end of the visit.

I visited The Breakers in Rhode Island - along the same scale of gilt and gold - of course, smaller -- so - really - I almost believe I can skip Versailles.

Thanks for your feedback...

Posted by
13906 posts

If you are considering alternatives to Versailles, look at Chantilly. It's pretty easy to get to by train. I can't remember if you are considering getting a Paris Museum Pass but Chantilly is covered with that.

I found it very interesting, not many people when I visited pre-Covid and a lot more doable.

You don't have to include any sights that don't seem like they will work for your family. I've been to Versailles, much preferred the outdoors area to the crowded inside venue BUT also don't really have a need to go back. Ever.

Posted by
195 posts

"BUT also don't really have a need to go back. Ever."

You made me laugh - and thanks for the suggestion of Chantilly. It sounds like a good alternative!

I'll never understand the popularity of le Hameau. Versailles is a magnificent grandiose work of architecture. Le Hameau is a fake set of farm buildings for an indolent spoiled woman.

Posted by
6883 posts

I would say that going to Versailles is definitely worth it, but you do not have to visit the inside of the palace! An outdoor tour of the palace and gardens, plus the park, plus the Trianon maybe, and a visit of the town of Versailles itself, would make for a very satisfying day.
And the palace is really a sight to behold.
I regularly bike to Versailles and tour the park, it is really a pleasure to do so. But I have only been inside the palace once (hence my hazy memory about location of security checks etc. - I often pass by, but I never go in), and I will not miss it if I never do it again.

Posted by
195 posts

Bless you for your advice - I was wondering if this was a better plan!