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Versailles as a base for Paris?

My wife and I are in the early planning stages for a trip to France in May of 2020. First stop - Paris. Rather than staying in the city itself (we've been before) I'm considering Versailles as a base for 5 or 6 days, - the idea being that it would permit easy day trips into the city as well as to some nearby destinations of interest such as Chartres and Giverny. The plan is to collect a car upon arrival in Versailles, which we would then keep for a month while exploring the Loire Valley, Normandy and the area around the Somme before returning to Paris.
Question is: has anyone used Versailles as a base as I'm proposing to do and, if so, can you comment on the relative wisdom (or stupidity) of trying to do it this way? Tx.

Posted by
8239 posts

You might do better to stay in the center city. Versailles is 11 miles out, but it is not serviced by the Paris Metro. You have to go into town on the RER C train. It would be more efficient to have accommodations adjacent to the Metro system.

Posted by
12172 posts

I personally prefer to stay in Paris when I'm visiting Paris. Somewhere in the Marais or Latin Quarter is ideal because sights are walking distance - and Paris is a great city for walking. Paris doesn't have one train station. Trains to other destinations use Paris as a hub. Staying outside Paris probably requires a train into Paris, metro/taxi to another train station, then a train to your destination (and reverse). Staying outside Paris and trying to connect, by train, can be an expensive waste of time.

When you are done with Paris, it makes sense to get a car and stay elsewhere. A car is useless in Paris, an expensive hassle, but comes in handy out in the country. I had a bicycle in Loire but a car is probably ideal, biking is probably a little beyond what the average traveler would consider enjoyable.

Driving is easy in France and tolls aren't outrageous.

Posted by
2899 posts

Do not plan to drive into Paris - I'm not as crazy as I look.
Plan is to day trip into Paris once or twice by train during our stay, reserving the car for explorations outside the city during the rest of our time there before continuing on for the remainder of our journey. Will probably spend most of one of the days just enjoying the town and the Chateau since we've not been there before.
My initial research is indicating that the TER trains depart every 15 minutes or so from the Chantiers station in Versailles to Gare Montparnasse, taking about 12 minutes to get there and costing about 4 Euro one-way. The relative convenience of doing it this way is what has me thinking about this option.

Posted by
4595 posts

Reading what you have said, and that Paris is minor to your plans, why not? I haven't driven around the area, so will assume you have checked any potential driving or parking restrictions. It's a lovely little town and I recall thinking it would be a pleasant stay over to avoid the big city Paris hubbub.

Posted by
2899 posts

Thanks Maria. I should have made it clearer that Paris is secondary to our master plan (such as it is). While it would be nice to be able to zip into the city once or twice that really isn't the focus of this trip.
The place I'm looking at in Versailles is a short walk to the train station and offers secure parking at a very reasonable rate. Seems pretty convenient, and appears to offer more freedom of movement for day trips without the traffic hassle of being closer to the city.
Am just wondering if there's something I'm overlooking here that would make basing ourselves in Versailles a less attractive option than it otherwise appears to be.

Posted by
7077 posts

If Paris not your main focus and you only plan a couple of trips into the city and you want a car for other excursions in the area then I think it's a great idea. And the place you have picked to stay at sounds perfect for your situation. It is a nice town and I'm sure it's not crowded in the evening after the Palace closes so you can wander around.

Posted by
4595 posts

My friend who lives in Normandy part time did the drive from the 4th in Paris to Giverny. It seemed easy once out of the main centre of Paris....better than I expected, but she is used to it. 😀 A map shows me Versailles is at least on the correct side of Paris, so it looks like a sensible location.
Giverny is lovely. Ensure you have enough time for the American Impressionist museum....if it is still there.

Posted by
2026 posts

I think too Versailles is a nice place to stay. But if you want to explore The Loire and Normenday know that it will take a lot of time to get there from Versailles.

A scenic route from Versailles to Chartres is the D91 through the Haut-Vallée de Chevreuse to Rambouillet, a side road of the D10 that runs along the southside of the château. The Abbey of Cernay on the borders of a pond is a lovely place for a drink or dinner. Château de Breteuil is still on my To do list and I think worth a visit as it was once the home of Émily du Châtelet, one of the icons of the French Enlightenment and she had also a love affair with Voltaire, nice story anyway. Halfway between Rambouillet and Chartres is not to miss Château de Maintenon once home of the second wife of Louis XIV.

Further: Some 10km north of Dreux Château d’Anet, the final Renaissance resident of Diane de Poitiers, better known for her famous resident Château de Chenonceau. Her grave is in a chapel just outside the castle.

Posted by
176 posts

I would add to others' posts that using a base in Versailles sounds fine, given what you are planning to do.. Many years ago we did a house exchange where we wound up staying on the east side of Paris, in Saint Mande, in an apartment, with the house of a car. We did essentially what you did - we took the metro (you will take the RER) into Paris to visit there, and we used the car for driving to places in the countryside. It worked out well, although I wish now what I did not realize then - that it is often more convenient to use the Paris bus system, rather than the metro.

As to Versailles, I too think that it is a pleasant town. We have been to the chateau a couple of times, but also have visited other parts of the town on two occasions. It seemed very nice, without too much traffic. I cannot speak to the quality of shops and restaurants, but I would assume that as with most of France that they are good. Peter

Posted by
9436 posts

Robert, i think it’s a great idea. Though i wanted to suggest that you consider staying in St Germain-en-Laye possibly instead. It’s a wonderful town w a famous chateau, great outdoor market, restaurants, historical downtown area, great shops, views of Paris, and where i grew up. It also has the home of Alexandre Dumas which is very nice to visit.

St Germain-en-Laye is closer to Paris and has the RER as well. Google Maps shows Notre Dame-Versailles at 52 min, and Notre Dame-St Germain-en-Laye at 41 min by RER/Mêtro.

St Germain-en-Laye is a little north-east of Versailles, easy to drive and park, and convenient to drive to other places - as is Versailles. You can’t go wrong with either town, both will be a good choice.

Posted by
14580 posts

I second the suggestion of St Germain-en-Laye, accurate and precise description. It is a place, close enough, yet far enough to get away from Paris on those days when you want some relief from the crowds (that gets tedious), the noise, hustle and bustle, a relaxing and peaceful place, and all that. It has historical significance, ie, where the Austrians signed in the Chateau their treaty ending WW1 while the Germans signed in the Chateau Versailles, hence the Treaty of St Germaine and the Treaty of Versailles.

"and the area around the Somme...." In that case I would stay in Amiens on the Somme...a crucial place for both the Allies and the Germans in WW1.

Posted by
4535 posts

As I have lived in Versailles, I can say that it is a very nice place. Quiet, but there is a nice central part of town with shops and restaurants. There are three train stations, so no matter where you are located in Versailles, it's an easy trip into Paris. If you take the RER, you can transfer to the Metro once in the city. Or the Paris train stations the other lines go to all have Metro stops. And if your place has secure car parking, all the better.

Posted by
143 posts

Hi!

I did it once, stayed in Versailles instead of Paris at the Waldorf Astoria on Hilton Points. It served my purposed at the time, which was to spend a lot of time at Versailles, know the gardens, explore the city...
That said it is far from Paris. Since then I have been staying in the 6th/5th arrondissement where everything that I want to see is walking distance.
If it suits your needs, why not stay in Versailles? Write down a preliminary itinerary of every day, and see how many back and forth between Paris and Versailles you are doing.

I would also caution you that if you never have been to Paris, you should stay in Paris. But if this is a repeat visit, Versailles could make sense for you.