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Versailles help please - update, we went today!

Hi: a friend and I are planning to visit Versailles this July... I have ricks book and I have looked at the website but I'm still a little confused...

Trying to decide if we should book a guided tour? It's only an extra 7 Euro. Rick says then you get to skip the main security line? On the website I can't figure out if one of the tours is just like a basic one.... I don't mind tours if they are good, it's nice to get extra info. Though audiotour ok too..

We are planning to be there at opening....

Should we do a tour? Has anyone been on one, and if so which one? Or just get there early and go it alone?

I assume we will do chateau first thing and then gardens after that.... should we go out to the Trianon that is further out?

Thanks for any insight!
Kim

Posted by
4535 posts

I haven't been on a guided tour and so cannot comment on their value. Most people here report that if you arrive by opening, the palace is less crowded. A Paris Museum Pass will allow you to skip the ticket line and just go through security.

People have had good luck going straight to the Hall of Mirrors first, before the crowds reach it. Then backtrack and see the rest of the palace.

Doing the gardens afterwards makes sense. You can spend as much or as little time in them as you want. The Trianons are favorites of mine but some people can only handle so much palace in one day. The Hamlet, even further out, is a delight. There are trams that can take you our there, bike rentals and golf cart rentals if you prefer not to walk. Those are all down near the head of the Grand Canal. There is a cafe there as well or you can bring yourself a picnic lunch to enjoy along the canal.

Posted by
13 posts

They offer an English speaking guided tour of the King's private apartments. It is absolutely worth the 7€. Even when the rest of the palace is very crowded, the private tour areas are not mobbed, as they limit the number on each tour group. At the end of the guided tour you can walk right in and tour the public rooms, thereby skipping the big long line.

Posted by
13 posts

And, yes, please don't miss going to the Trianons and the Hamlet. It's a lot of walking, but worth every single step. As for food, food is not allowed inside the palace, or is it allowed to be inside a checked bag. So, if you want to bring a picnic, you would need to eat prior to visiting the palace. We prefer to have lunch in the delightful Angelina's inside the palace after the tour, before venturing out to the gardens.

Posted by
3122 posts

The guided tours (visites guidees) are well worth it, IMO. The groups are small and the guides are not only fluent in English but very knowledgeable about the rooms you are seeing, which are not open to the general public (I believe they can be either the King's Apartments, the Opera House, or the Royal Chapel -- depending on which day you go and what time -- so check the offerings). We arrived before opening in the morning when the general public's line was halfway across the courtyard, and we were able to walk up and book a visite guidee for a little later that same morning.

Be aware that the starting point for the visites guidees is across the courtyard, not near the general public security screening entrance. If you go into the palace on your own, you'll have to allow plenty of time to get out and make your way around to the other side by the time your tour begins.

Also, regarding the gardens, they tend to be FAR less crowded than the inside of the palace. The walk is well worth it, IMO, and if you have mobility limitations (or are simply tired out) you can rent a golf cart, though the price is not cheap.

Posted by
13 posts

Standing in the courtyard, looking toward the palace, the ticket office is in the wing on the right. There is a short flight of stairs up to the door if I remember correctly. Also a small sign out front. It's not hard to find. The ticket office opens directly off the courtyard.

Posted by
610 posts

If you decide not to use the guided tour, I recommend getting there before opening. We arrived 45 minutes before opening and were the first in line and had the Hall of Mirrors entirely to ourselves. I will never forget that.

Posted by
10249 posts

You can buy guided tour tickets online at the Versaille website.

Posted by
676 posts

King's apartments tour was a highlight for us on our trip - definitely recommend!! Do give yourself time for Hamlet and Trianon. We loved it out there.

Posted by
3741 posts

I have not read every response and forgive me if I repeat what has been written before. The Kings Apartment Tour is is the only tour that ends with you inside the palace having already gone through security and, of course, having skipped the entrance line. I really don't like Versailles because of the crowds but I took two relatives there last month and did the tour in order to avoid the lines. It was horribly crowded and we did the first English language tour of the day, which began at 9:30. The tour was excellent.

Posted by
993 posts

ok so apartment tour sounds good, looks like it goes at 9:30.... I assume this doesn't include "main" areas like hall of mirrors. We can get a 9:30 tour which seems good for skip the line... but then we get into main areas at like 11.

or we could arrive early and enter at 9am, then take the tour at 11am... but I'm not sure we have that much interest in touring the palace...

We would probably like to have some lunch and then see the gardens and maybe the Trianon...

Which do you think is better? Thanks for the help so far, good info!

Kim

Posted by
1918 posts

Just a note: when I was there in 2014 my daughter was in a wheelchair and we were waiting for guidance to an elevator by an employee. We stood in the hall of mirrors and it was very crowded. As we stood waiting, I watched as the employees did not allow anyone to back track- it was a "one way" only walk through rooms and and they were very stern about only moving forward.

I would do the palace first then the gardens and see how much time you have. The Trianon is further out and takes quite a bit of time. The palace is amazing so spend your time there and see all you can, then move to the gardens. That will likely be your day, and that is the best part. If you have time you can go out to Trianon (take the little train) but it will take time as it is spread out and very time consuming.

Posted by
1381 posts

A reminder the Grand Trianon, Petite Trianon & the Queen's Hamlet do not open until noon.

Posted by
32228 posts

Kim,

Be sure not to go on a Tuesday, as that's the day the Louvre is closed which means Versailles can be VERY busy, especially at that time of year in peak tourist season.

If you didn't want to take a guided tour, you could also download Rick's free audio guide for Versailles and use that instead. One point to note is that even with a Paris Museum Pass, you may still have to wait in a queue for an hour or more just to get into the Chateau, so be sure to bring a good hat and some water.

Posted by
186 posts

The guided tour is well worth the price. When you've spent a lot of money getting to Europe, that added 7 Euro is not much. Save if you're able on food, but seeing things is why you came. The Trianon and Hamlet are well worth the effort after your tour. You'll find mobs of people at the front and in the main areas, but the other areas aren't nearly so crowded. Many bus tours just stop for a quick 2 hours and then leave. Walking on your own to the other parts (you'll get a map) was the highlight of our visit.

Posted by
993 posts

Thanks all! We are going on a Wednesday, avoiding Tuesday! And we are taking the tour.

Thank you for all the advice!

Posted by
55 posts

Quick note: you cannot skip the security line, only the long ticket lines!

Posted by
993 posts

UPDATE!

Thanks for the advice! We went to Versailles today and did end up booking the Kings apartments tour after I posted the original thread. WOW that was a good call. We arrived just before 9am and the line was already out to the street and wrapping around. There was a quick bag check near the street that was fast, but then it seemed you had to get in the other line to enter regardless of ticketing... there was no other place to go in, ticketed or not from what I could tell. I don;t know what the deal was with that, but I am glad I did not have to find out.

We went to the guided tour office around 9:15 for our 9:30 tour, had bathrooms there with no line, and we waited on comfy chairs for the guide. She took us around it is was very interesting! We also went into the opera house. The mobs and mobs of people passing us by on the "other side" made me extra glad we took the tour.

We went back into the regular area after the tour around 11:30 and it was miserable. Just hordes of people shuffling along, blocking the walkways, and I didn't really think there was nearly as much interesting to see as there was on the apartments tour. I guess maybe if we had gotten there an hour before opening and been in the front it may have been bearable... but we could not get out of there fast enough!

We went down to the gardens and then into a little take out food place that was calm and had something to eat. We left around 1pm... we didn't go out to the Trianon part... just too tired!

If you do not arrive really early or have a tour- yikes! I think you can go to the office and try to buy a tour on the spot. Or else it seemed you could just pass the line and go around to the gardens... I didn;t see anyone checking tickets or anything as we left. IMO the stuff you saw on the regular tour was in no way worth the hassle of that line and shuffle of people. You could see the gardens, the outside, and I bet the Trianon stuff and be just as happy.

But the guided tour is definitely the way to go! No big line, good info and only 7 euro. I don;t know why someone wouldn't take it....

Thanks for the advice!
Kim

Posted by
2610 posts

Glad it worked out so well for you! I endured the hassle of the lines and shuffling in the palace last year, almost ready to pack it in and head back to Paris as it was cold and drizzly, but I persevered and trudged out to the Trianons and Hamlet and there I was rewarded--just a handful of people in the Trianons, had the Hamlet blissfully all to myself. I would return and just do those areas again.