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Paris - Versailles or Giverny?

We will be going to Paris at the very end of June for 4 days. We were there almost 2 years ago and saw many of the main touristy spots. One place we never made it to was Versailles. We'd like to either see Versailles or Giverny on this trip. I'm trying to decide which one we should go to since it sounds like trying to squeeze them both into one day might be too much. I'm wondering what people's thoughts are, if you had to pick one, which place would you go?
Also, if you had 4 days what are some places you wouldn't want to miss? (Last trip we went to the Louvre, D'Orsay, Notre Dame, top of the Eiffel Tower, St Chapelle, Champs Elysees). Maybe some places that aren't as touristy and a little less known?
These forums were so helpful with that trip that I thought I would see what else I could find out for this one.
Thanks!

Posted by
8009 posts

Giverny. Too many tourists in Versailles nowadays

In Paris go to Les Invalides and/or Arts et Metiers musuem.

Posted by
297 posts

If you are even remotely interested in gardening or Monet, go to Giverny. We visited last summer right away in the morning. It rained the whole way there, and then the clouds parted when we arrived and we got to experience it with very few people there. I love gardening, and I was in heaven. My husband isn't a gardener, and for both of us it was one of the highlights of our trip. I can see, though, that if it is packed with people, the experience wouldn't be quite as wonderful.
We also visited Versailles. Yes, it's neat, but IMHO if you've seen other European palaces, it's similar. The gardens at Versailles are neat, but I liked Giverny better. Let's just say that I could have spent all day at Giverny. I was ready to leave Versailles in a couple hours.

Posted by
198 posts

I'd say Giverny. You can go early to be there when it opens, and then take a 1:00-ish train to Rouen and spend the afternoon/evening there, then train back to Paris. Or spend more time in Vernon.

Musee Marmottan, Montmarte, Pere Lachaise, Musee Rodin, flea markets, Musee de la Cinematheque, a Julia Child walk, or an Ernest Hemingway-in-Paris walk.

Oh I forgot -- just hanging around in cafes and enjoying being in Paris.

Posted by
51 posts

We've got the same predicament, but adding in Fontainebleau in the mix. We would pick 2 out of those three. So far I lean Fontainebleau & Giverny. Never been to any of them. Only opinion is from what we read.

Posted by
490 posts

Giverny and Versailles are quite different. I think you're right that trying to squeeze them both into one day would be too much. You could "see" them both, but it would do neither of them justice.
Giverny was a must-see for me because I really like Monet's paintings. Way more low-key than Versailles and very evocative, since many views are just what Monet painted.
Versailles is vast and imposing, a good glimpse into the aristocracy's over-the-top displays of wealth and grandiosity. It's easier to understand the French revolution after seeing Versailles.
Sorry, I can't help you pick between them. I have much warmer memories of Giverny, but I'm not sure that would be true if I weren't already a fan of Monet. On the other hand, I can't imagine never having seen Versailles. And I think the whole point of that royal opulence is to leave you feeling small and unimportant rather than warm and fuzzy.

Posted by
140 posts

Jazz + Travels - thank you for your input, I forgot to add Les Invalides to my list since we missed it on our last trip.

slbdaisy - Gardening is my number one hobby! I think if I could just visit gardens on my vacations I would be happy. Sounds like you had an amazing trip to Giverny.

Pam S - Thanks! Hadn't thought about visiting Rouen while we are out that way too. Looks beautiful!

Do you recommend any flea markets? We went to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen when we were there last time.

swagmaster - Fountainbleu looks gorgeous! We've never been there either, I can see why it's hard to choose.

Bob - My husband and I are both fans of Monet and to be able to see the scenes that he was inspired by would be so exciting. I guess if we don't go to Versailles this trip, we will have more reason to go back to Paris another time. Plus one day we would love to see more of France as well.

Posted by
4173 posts

Giverny for all the reasons already mentioned. Watch for the frogs on the lily pads.

You don't mention going to the Orangerie. It's well worth a visit for the Monets alone.

Posted by
490 posts

How nice of you to respond to each of the other posters, CatherineK.
When you do return to see Versailles be sure to spend some time on the grounds, not just the palace. The palace can be very crowded, reducing the Hall of Mirrors, for example, to a wide, unruly waiting line.
There's lots to see outside, including Le Petit Hameau. And the night time groves and fountains show in summer is well worth a visit.
And ditto to Lo's Orangerie recommendation.
I hope your vacation is wonderful.

Posted by
8173 posts

they are so different that you really need to decide yourself. The chateau is miserably crowded but the gardens on a fountain day are very nice:
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/fountains-of-versailles-a-little-chaos/
Giverny is beautiful and we didn't find the crowds bothersome except we didn't have tickets and so I waited an hour in line; definitely don't do that -- get tickets ahead and you can use a less crowded entrance or I would suspect just walk past the ticket line and through the main entrance. The way it worked when we were there was you bought your ticket and then immediately went through the entrance; I got mine, went and found my husband who was drinking coffee and reading and then we went back to the head of the line and in.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/not-so-secret-garden-giverny/
IMHO the most overlooked magnificent sight in Paris is Basilica St. Denis; it is on the metro line 13 Basilique St. Denis stop.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/confronting-mortality-at-st-denis/
Another less known but fun spot is the Promenade Plantee which starts just behind the Bastille opera house and takes you out to Vincennes.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/promenade-plantee-turning-discarded-public-space-into-a-pleasant-place-for-parisians/
I am not sure I would put this ahead of St. Denis or the promenade, but a place most of your friends will not have visited would be Lafayette's tomb
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/lafayette-we-are-here/

Posted by
1103 posts

We have been to both Versailles and and Giverny. If I had to pick one, it would be Giverny. You might also want to visit the Musee Marmottan, which contains the world's largest collection of Monet paintings. Also, it might be fun to visit the Montmartre neighborhood.

Posted by
12172 posts

The question is which would you enjoy more?

Versailles is huge with heaps of 17th and 18th century opulence. The gardens are huge too with sections that are formal, informal and forest. There are smaller palaces and a fantasy peasant village there too.

Giverny is about a painter and his gardens. The gardens have beautiful views, that you have seen in paintings, from lots of angles.

I personally view Versailles as a place to see the palace before the crowds then spend an entire day. I see Giverny as a place to arrive very early and leave when it gets crowded.

Both places get packed with tourists depending on the weather and time of year. The palace and grounds at Versailles seemed to me to be able to hold many more people, the palace gets packed but the rest didn't seem too bad to me.

I'm not that into post 1500 history or over the top palaces. I really like Monet, so Giverny for me (ideally in the spring). If you're idea of France is luxurious palaces, however, you probably would prefer Versailles.

Posted by
15 posts

Giverny. Versailles is loaded with tourists (actually Giverny can be as well). But Giverny is more intimate. We went on a tour and had the chance to also visit Auvers-Sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent his last months and painted many scenes there. He and his brother Theo are also buried there. When we went to Versailles, there were so many people in every room that it wasn't that much fun. Also what you see is a series of square gold leaf rooms that are very similar to one another. The hall of mirrors is not as interesting as I had hoped and the mirrors are actually scraped up with graffiti in some places.

Posted by
4132 posts

Giverny was the most crowded, the most tourist-crowded, of any place I have ever been in Europe, with the possible exception of the Sistine Chapel. Including Versailles.

I do not think you should make your decision on that basis. Popular places are crowded. Ask yourself which of these two very different destinations calls to you more.

Posted by
2215 posts

If you opt for Giverney, then I would definitely add Musee Marmotten and L'Orangerie. Marmottan has scenes of the garden from the same prespective, in diffent seasons. It was in a room in the basement when we were there. It's a bit out of the way, so it doesn't get as crowded. L'Orangerie gets quite crowded, so that is best as soon as it opens. Love every suggestion from others. We've done evening concerts in St. Chappelle and also the sound and light show at des Invalides and loved them both.

Posted by
196 posts

I am going to throw my vote to Versailles. I think it is must-see. I, too, was there this past October with two friends & the crowds were not overwhelming. Two ideas: buy the one day Passport at the ticket counter. It is only slightly more expensive than the Palace ticket & it also lets you in the two Trianons & the Queen's Hamlet. Also, I asked at the counter if we could get on the English speaking tour of the King's quarters. The young lady at the counter called over & was told there was space available so we paid the extra 7 euros & started right out on that tour (if you don't ask....). Highly recommended; our own small tour group & you see the spectacular Opera House at the end which is not part of the normal Palace experience. Be advised of a couple of things; there is construction going on all over the grounds. Parts of the Queen's quarters were closed in the Palace & parts of the Queen's Hamlet had scaffolding all over them. Also, it is bad enough when you have to deal with the tour groups clogging up some of the rooms but now you have what I call the "cell phone selfie" crowd. When we got to the entrance to the Hall of Mirrors, as wide as it is, it seemed like everyone & his brother or sister had to turn around & take a selfie of themselves at the entrance. Don't even get me going on selfie sticks! Still, Versailles is worth the trip.

If I can say two other things as to what to see: it has been said before but the Basilica of St. Denis is under touristed but should be a must-see & is right on the Metro line. All those kings & queens crypts out in the open! Also, there is a nifty new timed system to climb the tower up to the gargoyles at Notre Dame. You go up to a machine set next to the entrance to the steps, pick a day & time & you get a printed pass showing that info that lets you in. No more 2-3 hour waits. For a same day visit up, you really need to get there by 10-11 am to get a ticket before they are gone for the day. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
140 posts

Thank you everyone for so many more great suggestions and help with deciding on Versailles or Giverny! I've got a growing list and it looks like we will be "forced" to take another trip to Paris after this to even start to see it all.
So many great people on these forums and the best help!

Posted by
2466 posts

If you are going in June for 4 days, I would pick Giverny. The flowers should be in full bloom.

If you want to go to Versailles, I would pick the King's Private Apartment Tour. You meet at a certain spot, and can go back in to the chateau after the tour. You have to pick a day when the English translator is in, however.
http://en.chateauversailles.fr

I would, frankly, go to the Champs-Elysees and start at the Arc de Triomphe at Metro Etoile, and maybe climb up. Otherwise, it's just a big bunch of American shops, best avoided - and expensive! The really swanky shops are on the South side of boulevard Matignon and the North side of boulevard Haussmann.

Then, you can make your way across the Seine to see the Eiffel Tower at Pont de l'Alma - maybe take a sunset cruise here:
http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/home/