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Versailles in the afternoon or tour in reverse??

My husband and I are planning to visit Versailles during our time in Paris in June. We plan on making our own way there via train and pre-purchasing the passport ticket online. The only days we could go to Versailles is a Sunday or a Tuesday (I know both days are very busy)--

From what I read, most people get there early and start off with the Palace---then move to Trianon/gardens in the afternoon, making the Palace really crowded in the morning.

To avoid the crowds, would you recommend I go in the afternoon? Or possibly do the reverse of what most people do (ie start in Trianon/gardens and finish in the Palace?)

Posted by
676 posts

We visited Versailles in early July on a bicycle tour. We rode around the gardens, farm etc. before and after lunch and did not go in the palace until afternoon (not sure of the exact time but could have been 4ish). That worked well for us. We saw the crowds in the morning, and it was much less crowded when we went inside.

Posted by
381 posts

We also took a bike tour from Paris and went to the market in town first and picked up picnic supplies and then rode to a beautiful spot to eat our lunch. Before entering the palace we toured the gardens. Even with a guide and a set time to enter (late afternoon) we were pushed and shoved by a huge crowd......cattle call style. This was in May. I am not sure how to avoid this but our experience was so poor I don't even feel like we were there!

Posted by
17 posts

It will be really, really crowded no matter what time you go as that is peak season. I would recommend pre buying tickets (you can do it the night before online, you just show the ticket people the barcode) and getting there early, like 30 minutes before the chateau opens. Once it hits 10am the big tour buses roll up and it becomes unpleasant.

Be aware that the Queens and Dauphins State Apartments are totally closed for renovations. There is still plenty to see but some may be disappointed with this.

Another tip is to consider booking the earliest behind the scenes tour (9:30am in English and €7) which alllows you to skip all the lines as you enter from a different place. The tour is about an hour and I thought it was outstanding. When it is done you are already in the chateau and free to explore.

Posted by
40 posts

Thanks for all the advice. Bike tours sounds fun but Id have to re-learn how to ride....dont think ive been on a bike since I was 10 yrs old. :)

Fab advice Joanna! I know it will be mobbed--just trying to lessen the blow of 'peak tourist season' any way I can. I'll look into doing the 1st English behind the scenes tour.

Pity not everything will be open due to renos but it is what it is. C'est la vie☺ They'll be plenty to see regardless.

Posted by
106 posts

I posted a similar question with good responses (Versailles Visit Advise). We are going to go to gardens and fountains in the morning and the palace in the afternoon.

We will be there May 2. So we will let you know how it goes.

Posted by
1625 posts

We did the Kings Apartment tour, then after that tour we went out to the Gardens and rented a golf cart, there was a smallish line and plenty of carts available. The carts rent by the hour and we spent 2-3 hours visiting the other chateaus and getting off, ate a hot baked potato from a vendor. Returned the cart, by this time there was a HUGE line for carts and no carts available, as soon as we drove up it was given to the next person. Then we went into the Palace, and yes still lots of people but I think the real Win was getting to the gardens early if you want to rent a golf cart. I have bad knees so this allowed us to really cover a lot of ground in a shorter less painful amount of time. We had the Museum Pass so we got into the other Chateaus for free using the card.

Posted by
183 posts

We walked the grounds and the gardens in the morning , walked into town and had lunch in one of the cafes , then went back after 3 . Wasn't as busy and were able to enjoy the palace without all the crowds .

Posted by
9423 posts

dave, would be helpful to know what month and day of the week you were there.

jenn, of your two options, I'd go on Tuesday. As others have said, both days will be jam packed, but Tuesday might be slightly better.

It's a shame you don't ride a bike, it's our favorite way to cover the grounds. Golf carts are very expensive. Bike rentals, in the garden, are very reasonable.

There's only one chateau at Versailles, not others as Letizia said. I think she meant the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon.

Joanna's advice of booking the King's Apts at 9:30 is excellent. We were just there and missed it. But we went on a Wednesday in Feb and walked right in, very few people.

Been there many times in summer and it is a challenge inside the chateau. I love the inside (all the history that took place there!) but I love the gardens, the Trianons and the Hamlet best.

They now have an Angelina in the chateau and it is wonderful. They have a café or sit down with a server... we did the sit down.

We usually spend the entire day there, we enjoy it so much. Have a great time!

Posted by
40 posts

Some really great advice from you all...thanks heaps. I think we'll get the 9:30 Kings Apt guided tour. Will do the Tues instead of Sun as we fly in from Australia via Bangkok on the Saturday. We do pretty well with jet lag going Australia to America (I'm originally from Boston), but not sure how it will be going the other way around the world. I dont want to plan a big day with an early start after that massive flight.

Will probably also buy the passport. That way after the guided tour we can play it by ear depending on the crowds.

Really excited to go! Its our 1st trip to Europe and Paris is just the start. Will be going to Zurich to visit friends, then Venice Florence Tuscan countryside Rome and finish in Positano. A month in total and cant wait!!!

Posted by
81 posts

We were in Versailles last week and while it was "off season" it was TERRIBLY crowded, notably with tour groups (mostly from Asia) who nearly stampeded us going from room to room taking pictures (but not really "looking"). If the grounds were in bloom I would definitely have reversed course and saved the Palace until later when the crowds, presumably, thinned a bit.

Posted by
106 posts

Reporting back as I said I would.

We arrived to Versailles a little later than I had wanted which was about 9:30. The line to get in was incredible...going down Place d'Armes and making a loop. The line seemed to move somewhat quickly but would have been at least 2 hours. And this was the line at the entrance, not the ticket line...so museum pass was useless to shave any time off. This line is a result of added security (which is everywhere in Paris now...can't even get to walk under the Eiffel Tower without passing a level of securty--plus another level to go up).

But as planned, we headed for the gardens with our internet purchased tickets in hand (which were totally unnecessary as we strolled right in. (The entrance to the gardens is left of the main entrance to the chateau). We spent our desired time here and left for lunch and another tour we had planned. If you want to see everything, fountains, Trianons, and Hamlet, the golf carts are about $30. Well worth it to see it all and go at your own pace. One thing we did not account for, is that we had already walked a couple of miles from the train station before we even got to walking in the gardens...so bear in mind that there will be ALOT of walking. It was our last day in Europe as well, so we should have just sprung for the GC.

Also to note. Fountain days are really not worth it. We went because we never had, but there are only 3 fountains that run...and one was broken and another does not run on Tuesdays. We had thought it was all the fountains that run, but alas, not so much. But the Mirror fountain that was running, was beautiful and the kids enjoyed it. And for our visit, it felt like we were the only people in all the gardens.

We came back to the Chateau around 4:00 and there was no line whatsoever. We walked right in. The palace was not very crowded either. I wanted to arrive a little earlier but this still afforded an average stroll through the palace. If you are interested in soaking everything in and reading all the info on the walls, etc, 2 hours would be sufficient but we did fine in the 1.5 hours we had. Gift shop closes at 6 and not 5:30 so no need to rush out of the palace for that purpose.

Posted by
40 posts

Thanks for your report back expat. We've actually booked the 9:30am Kings Apt tour to beat the queues. We're going on a fountain day (Tues) as it would be the best day for our scheduled time in Paris. Not far now...we leave in about 2 weeks☺

Posted by
281 posts

Completely off topic, but my wife and I just visited the châteaux at Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte southeast of Paris on a short trip north. Crowds were non-existent. No lines, except for a brief one at the cafeteria at Vaux-le-Vicomte. The gardens aren't yet planted with many flowers given the cold spring, but the contrast with the hordes at Versailles on the times we've visited it was striking. There were moments when the two of us were the only ones in a grand room or corridor. Very pleasant.

Posted by
9423 posts

"the golf carts are about $30."

Actually, they are 32 Euros per hour.

You cannot see the gardens, the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and the Hamlet in less than 3 hrs even in a golf cart. If you don't see all these places you have missed a lot.

Bikes are 19 Euros for a full day.

Posted by
4132 posts

The "reverse" option is one of Rick's suggested crowd-beating strategies. (The other is rriving early.)

We did this last June and missed all the crowds. There is a city bus from in front of the train station to a driveway that leads up to the Petite Trianon. Other than that, walked everywhere. The grounds are totally worth seeing.

Posted by
4535 posts

Regarding the golf cart/bike issue - there is also a tram that can take you out to the Trianons. It departs near the Grand Canal.

Posted by
9423 posts

True Douglas, but it does not go to the hamlet unfortunately. Although the tram is functional, I don't enjoy it. You have to line up and wait for it (quite a while in some cases - not pleasant when it's hot out and you're standing in the sun, or when it's cold /windy)), they fit as many people as they can so you're squished in, it goes very slowly, and it's expensive imo.