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Versailles advice/July

We will be going to Versailles on July 3rd. We know we will encounter crowds, so are trying to plan our best to enjoy regardless. Here are some things that might affect planning......
• four adults (2 are UE residents under 26, so gain free access)
• we are going on a Tues. so I beleive that is a Fountain day
• we have all day, so are flexible on arrival and departure times, and time spent there
• we definitely want to see the fountains, village and Hall of Mirrors

Questions -
• In what order would you approach your day?
• How early would you arrive and should we buy tickets prior?
• What tickets or ticket combos should we purchase? So many options?
• Should we reserve a golf cart ride or just walk?

TIA

Posted by
11507 posts

Arrive at least 45 minutes before it opens , with ticket in hand , and get in line for security .

Do not arrive with no tickets as then you have to stand in ticket line , THEN , get in security line !!

You can order tickets online or use a Museum Pass ( which can be handy in Paris of course ) . Do not confuse Musuem Pass with the Paris Pass , the former can be a good value , the latter is not !

I’ve been over a dozen times and I’ve never bothered with golf carts , I leave them for the elderly and mobility impaired . There is a tram and if it’s a nice day just walk about , you’ve allowed all day to enjoy estate ( smart ) so you’re in no rush . There is also bike rentals on grounds if you wish .

Posted by
305 posts

I doubt there is any time that there are not crowds at Versailles. We did the golf carts - I wanted to do the bikes but was out voted. You can only go on the designated route for the golf carts , but that does include the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon and the Queen's Hamlet area (which are lovely and uncrowded). The carts will stop and not allow you to go forward if you are off the designated route, you have to reverse to the approved route. We had the Museum Pass which I highly recommend. Also the horse carriage museum across the street from Versailles is really cool and quick and worth a stop.

Posted by
985 posts

I would first check the Versailles website to see what time the fountains start up. If in morning, I would do one of two things:
If at the head of the entry line then I would likely go ahead and tour the inside of the building.
If in mid or tail end line I would go straight to the gardens if the fountains will be running and that is high on your list to see.
We went on a fountain day and found it no particular biggie. They don't run all the time and they don't run at the same time so it is hit and miss if one will see a running fountain. The tinned music didn't add a whole lot to the atmosphere.
We did rent a golf cart and were very happy to do so. We just walked up to the kiosk, handed over my d.l. and off we went. To us it was very well worth the cost to have the cart as the gardens are huge.

Posted by
1172 posts

Get there 30-45 minutes before opening time. Pre-purchase your tickets online so that you do not have to line-up twice.

We opted to rent bikes to get around and tour the grounds and loved it. Walking would not be bad at all either.

Posted by
15974 posts

July 3rd is a Musical Gardens Day and the schedule is here:

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/news/shows/fountains-shows-and-musical-gardens#the-musical-gardens

If you use the Paris Museum Pass for entry to the palace, it doesn't cover access to Musical Gardens so you'd need to purchase an additional ticket for that piece.

http://en.parismuseumpass.com/musee-chateaux-de-versailles-et-de-trianon-64.htm

Yes, you absolutely should buy tickets in advance, and the word out there is that even with pre-purchased tickets or passes, the security check queue for the palace is very, very long. There have been quite a number of recommendations from RS posters who've done it to book the King's Apartment tour - in addition to the pass, if using one - to circumvent that line as the tour has a separate entry point and much shorter queue. Hopefully some of those prior RS visitors will chime in here with recent, firsthand advice (Pat, what do you think??)

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices?public=10&visite-tid=2

Posted by
80 posts

Hello halfdozmom,
We will be in Versailles the same day. Following the advice of many on the forum, we purchased the Museum Pass, booked the tour for 9:30am and will be staying Monday night at a hotel the night prior. We were changing cities and the hotel worked out for us. Hopefully the trains are running and weather is nice. Have a great trip. Mike

Posted by
4535 posts

It can be a long walk to the hamlet, so if that is an issue for you, rent a cart, bike or take the tram. Lines can be long for all three, so be prepared if doing one of those. I do recommend at least seeing the Trianons since you'll be heading all the way to the hamlet; even if you don't tour the interiors they are nice to see.

If the weather is nice, consider picking up sandwiches and such for a picnic lunch down by the Grand Canal. Lines for the cafes on the grounds will be very long, so best to avoid those with your own pleasant picnic.

The fountains don't all run at once, they never did actually. So check out the schedule to plan your walk around the gardens. Try and see some of the lesser known fountains - you'll find them less crowded and fun to explore.

Some people have reported good luck visiting the palace late in the day when most of the tour buses have left. If you don't arrive first thing (before first thing actually), I'd recommend trying that.

Posted by
370 posts

Douglas - thank you for pointing out how helpful it is when responses take in all of the OP’s (in this case me) information and the response is directed to that!

Posted by
2030 posts

Be sure you all have hats and water with you. It’s likely to be hot. There will be a lot of walking and standing in the sun.

Posted by
5 posts

Hello!

To-OP: on July 3rd it will be Musical GARDENS and not Fountains Day. According to the web page:

Timetable for the musical gardens:
Groves open from 9am to 7pm.
Groves close at 6pm on 30 October and at 5.30pm on 29 June and 6 July.
Musical displays from 10am to 7pm.
Mirror Fountain: water display every 10 minutes from 10am to 7pm.
Water Theater Grove: water display every 15 minutes from 10am to 7pm.
Neptune Fountain: water display every 15 minutes from 10am to 6.45pm.

Although honestly I have no idea what the difference is between the Musical fountain vs. Garden days. Anyone care to explain?

May I ask how one should go about renting a bike or a cart? Do you do it while there, or can you do this in advance also?

My other question is, if I have a no-fountain Thursday vs. Fountain Friday/Night-Fountain show Saturday in mid-august, would you suggest skipping the fountain and go on a Thursday (which is I'd guess is less crowded?), or not to miss the fountain and brave the crowd?

Thank you!

Posted by
2485 posts

Enjoy your visit! I did Versailles in 2000 in late February and it was crowded then. We loved it. Though I would like to return to see the gardens and Queen’s Hamlet, etc.

Posted by
408 posts

It’s likely to be hot.

Current forecast from Météo France is for a low of 18 degrees C and a high of 30 degrees C (64/86 in degrees F). 50 percent chance of rain, 20 percent chance of thundershowers. Winds predicted to be light.

Might want to take along small, collapsable umbrellas, despite some folks' advice in the past that umbrellas are neither necessary nor useful.

Posted by
5901 posts

Regarding an umbrella, I find using an umbrella when I'm on the move to be cumbersome and relatively useless. However, when waiting in line, like in Versailles, an umbrella comes in very handy.

I found going to Versailles on fountain day to be a bit annoying. That said, one thing I don't know is, do the fountains run on "nonFountain" days? Many of the fountains had a short show periodically during the day. We found ourselves almost running to try to catch the "shows" which was inefficient, because we were covering the same ground repeatedly. My husband just preferred to take his photos and enjoy the garden and if we caught a fountain show, fine, otherwise he didn't care. I felt like I paid for the fountains so I did kind of want to see them. The fountain shows took time away from other areas in the gardens like Marie Antoinette's places.

I noticed "able bodied" people on the golf carts. It seemed to me to be a lot of stopping and parking. You probably get to enjoy the fountains a bit more and its a little faster for getting to the parts that like Marie's places a little faster, but not that much.

We did the palace first and then the gardens. We were there in September. The palace was REALLY crowded and the gardens quite manageable. I don't know if the palace is crowded all day, but if we had to do over, I'd probably do the gardens first when they were pretty much empty and the palace after since it doesn't seem to matter in terms of crowds. One caveat, if there tends to be long lines to get from the gardens to the palace, I guess I'd do the palace first. I had a Paris Museum Pass, but I would definitely have the tickets ahead of time.

I enjoyed Versailles, I'm glad we went, perhaps I'd go back for just the gardens.

Posted by
4535 posts

Douglas - thank you for pointing out how helpful it is when responses
take in all of the OP’s (in this case me) information and the response
is directed to that!

You're welcome, though my post was apparently deleted by the webmaster. It's a pet peeve of mine when people trash Versailles, especially when the OP clearly wants to go there.

Enjoy your trip and hope for good weather.

Posted by
305 posts

jp00 -
The golf carts are on the upper level very near the Palace. We waited a short while in the line, probably less than 20 minutes as the flow of returning carts was good. We had our cart for probably an hour and a half and had it during our visits to the Trianon.

The bikes are half way between the Palace and the Trianon.

You have to rent both while you are there. I recall somebody here trying to get a reservation but they had a disabled person in their party and went through an agency that dealt with touring with the disabled. Not sure if they were successful in securing an advance reservation.

Posted by
129 posts

We were at Versailles just two days ago and I wanted to comment on the golf carts. This was the 2nd trip where we have rented them.
You cannot reserve these in advance.
The carts cost 34 euro per hour. After the hour, they are charged a prorated amount in 15 minute increments. The driver must be at least 24 years old. The carts carry a maximum 4 people, including children. They make no exceptions to this and babies do count.
To rent, the driver leaves a current driver's license with them. You pay when you return and they return the license.
You are provided with a map showing the paths where the carts can go. If you go off the cart routes, the carts automatically beep and stop. You then back up and turn around. There is an audio recording system that plays in the cart and annoying music.
It's a simple system and the attendants explain it before you leave.

I would definitely purchase advance tickets for the 9 am time slot. The lines are huge. Many of the organized tours from Paris stop at Giverny in the morning and then Versailles after lunch, so it gets even more crowded.
Since we had been before, this time we only wanted a quick walk through before heading to the gardens. By 11:30 am when we returned the cart, the wait for a cart was about 45 minutes
The lines to purchase tickets and enter the Chateau were huge and there were a least 50 tour buses in the lot.
If you want to just walk around the gardens you can enter before the Palace opens.

Enjoy your visit.

Posted by
4 posts

My fiance and i returned from a wonderful day in Versailles. We are super happy with our day. We did a bike excursion with Fat Tire Tours. The day exceeded my expectations. By riding the bicycle you make it a experience not just a destination. We rode the bikes through town, went to Farmers Market, bought delicious cheese, bread, fruit, and wine. We had a picnic on the grounds outside the gardens. No need to be a seasoned bike rider to do this tour. Bring a backpack, sunscreen, super comfortable shoes and cash.

Have a great time ! PS. No one paid me to write this comment!

https://www.fattiretours.com/paris?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=CPC&utm_campaign=Branded&utm_term=Paris&gclid=CjwKCAjwsdfZBRAkEiwAh2z65oouHaHiJaufDom01jaCJ-16-pm7wzB8fvZ-VIU1P7Mdv7yeUYEn5BoCPmkQAvD_BwE

Posted by
370 posts

So, we’ve decided that my hubby and I are going to do the gardens, estate and village (we’ve been through the estate in the winter when it wasn’t super crowded), and our son and DIL will do the estate, then join us for the village. They have free entrance.

Should we still plan on being there early? We will buy our garden/estate tickets online.

Posted by
9429 posts

I went to Versailles last Friday, 6/22. I got there at 12:30. The “security” (a very quick look in your bag) line was very short, took maybe 5 min. It was a fountain day which I didn’t know. I never saw a fountain running in the 6 hrs I was in the gardens.
halfdozmom, to just do the gardens, as I did, you still have to go through the security line (which you probably already know). I did not buy tickets for the gardens ahead of time. I waited 3 min in line and bought them there.
I’ve been to Versailles probably 25 times in my life (grew up in Paris) and I love it there. Absolutely go.
This is the first time I did not tour the palace, I just went straight to the gardens b/c my most favorites to visit are the Petit Trianon and the Hamlet.
The gardens between the palace and the Grand Canal are beautiful, and the rest of the grounds are as well, in a different way.
I’ve complained about the music blaring on fountain days over a very bad PA system on this forum, but they must have put in a new PA system because this time it was not scratchy and blaring - it actually sounded good.
We usually always rent bikes, and I did this time. They are located right next to the Grand Canal. €20 for any amount of time over 4 hrs. They are a great way to get around, on your own schedule, inexpensive, fun and you can see so much more of the grounds than any other way.
I don’t like the little train. You have to wait for it, often in the sun, they smash you in w too many people, it costs I forget how much, it’s an uncomfortable bumpy ride, and they don’t take you through the pretty gardens. That said, it’s still an option when you’re tired.
You cannot, however, ride a bike to the Hamlet anymore. Used to be a great advantage of renting a bike. They have a back entrance where we rode to and could enter the Hamlet there. That back entrance has been closed for 3 yrs now and I was told permanently closed (I hope not). Now you can only get to the Hamlet by entering the Petit Trianon (cost: €12) and walking there. Bikes still a good idea to get to the Grand and Petit Trianon. Google Maps says the Hamlet is 550 meters and 7 min from the Petit Trianon to the Hamlet. It felt longer and took much longer than that for me and I’m a good walker. It is a beautiful walk.
I love the Petit Trianon and it’s well worth the €12. I’ve always loved the Hamlet, but it has undergone extensive renovation and it felt very “Disney” to me this time. Like it was brand new, built by Disney, didn’t feel real/authentic like it used to. Still worth going though. Be aware there are no bathrooms there (per the woman selling tickets at the PT), I didn’t look for any when I was there so can’t say if she was right.
I did not find the palace gardens too horribly crowded. More people than I would have liked, but you have to expect that in summer months.
I left it up in the air if I would tour the palace towards the end of the day and decided not to. There was not a long line to get in later in the afternoon. I think a good strategy when Versailles is crowded is tour the palace 1 - 1.5 hrs before it closes. Most people tour the palace, then do the gardens/grounds which means the palace is less crowded later in the day.
As to umbrellas, I always carry mine in Paris because it can be sunny/blue skies one minute and pouring rain the next minute. I also use it if I’m in the sun for more than 5 min. I bought a small umbrella at a fantastic umbrella store (Simon) on Blvd St Michel this trip b/c it only weighs an ounce or so. It is as light as a feather. So, carrying it in my purse adds no weight. It is German, just came on the market 2 wks ago, and is very well made.
As to carts, we rented them in 2005 after my son’s open heart surgery and they were great, and a lot of fun despite crazy expensive.
I hope you enjoy your day there. It’s a special place, with so much fascinating history. I hope you can get away from the most crowded parts and enjoy.

Posted by
381 posts

We also took the Fat Tire Bike Tour from Paris that included at stop at the market in town for picnic lunch supplies. Regardless, if you take the bike tour or not, I would consider picking up a picnic lunch at the market and find yourselves a spot on the grounds to eat and just absorb where you are!!!

Posted by
8161 posts

I would buy a timed entrance which gets you in within half an hour of your appointed time and then not worry about it. The fountain days are great and are included in the full priced passport on those days. They run on a limited schedule and I would build the day around that. I cannot imagine going and waiting in the hours long line or getting there an hour before the chateau opens now that timed tickets are available.