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Versailles-just the outside

We have limited time, but wanted to visit Versailles. We probably don't have time to go into the palace. In a worst case scenario, can we go through the security entrance and take some pictures on the outside of the palace (and not go into the palace)? We saw some pictures with a large entrance golden gate. Is that the gate to go through security? And do we need a ticket to go through that gate? We will be happy if just to take some outside pictures, due to our limited time. Any advice? Thanks.

Posted by
7051 posts

You do not need to pay to go in to the palace itself if you just want photos of the outside. The gardens are free to enter and you can get wonderful photos of the palace. If you're there when the weather in nice, the gardens and the smaller outlying palaces and Marie Antoinette's hamlet are also great photo opportunities and can be seen in a couple of hours. I don't remember having to go through a security line just to enter the gardens but that was 3 years ago and it may be that now you do have to. Hopefully someone else can answer that from more recent experience.

Posted by
15896 posts

The gardens are free to enter....

....except on Musical Fountains Show or Musical Gardens days. At these times there is an entry free except for children under 6.

From the website:

"The access to the Versailles Park is free for pedestrians and cycles, but there is a charge for vehicles: €3 for a motorcycle, €6 for a car, €30 for a bus (with 12 seats or more).

The access to the Gardens is free, except on the days of Musical Fountains show and Musical Gardens

From November to March, the access to the Gardens is free every day.
From April to October, there is an admission charge to enter the Gardens on the days of the Musical Fountains show and Musical Gardens (on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, and on a few additional dates (mainly bank holidays)."

Additional info:

Thought I'd mention this as you didn't say what time of year you intended to visit.

Posted by
15896 posts

I just saw this on another of your posts about Paris Disney:

We have about 3 to 4 hours to spare. We've looked through the Rick
Steve's travel book, and will have visited the places we want to go on
our 3.5 days trip. So, we are wondering where to spend our 3 to 4
hours. We are also thinking of Versailles,

You were including your travel time to/from the chateau (or Disney) in this estimate. Personally, I wouldn't do Versailles with this short amount of time. We've spent a full week in Paris without running out of things to do so surely there are things to do/see in the city which you've overlooked? You also mention that you are a "family of 4" so it's possible you're traveling with young children?

Posted by
1172 posts

Honestly, don't bother going. Yes, it is pretty but unless you actually have time to tour inside or spend some time touring the gardens ( we rented bikes and biked for over 2 hours) I would not bother.

Posted by
2466 posts

If you have limited time, I'd suggest going to Disneyland and let the kids go nuts.
You didn't say how old your children are, but they will probably get more out of the castle and the night parade than Versailles.

It takes time to get to Versailles, and you will probably be disappointed that you bothered to go there anyway. If they are teen-agers, let them go to Versailles the next time, when they know some history.

Posted by
15896 posts

You didn't say how old your children are, but they will probably get
more out of the castle and the night parade than Versailles.

But they don't intend to enter the Disney property: just go to see the fireworks from "outside" somewhere. I wouldn't make the trip just to do that either.

We're not interested in going into Disneyland-Paris, but may want to
hang out on the outside for the fireworks.

Posted by
8118 posts

It would be an expensive trip from Paris to Disney just to hope to catch the fireworks from outside.

Versailles is too far away to visit in such a short time. We did the gardens on a fountain day a couple of years ago and spent the day in the gardens and on the Estate. As noted above the gardens have a fee on fountain days (in the late spring through mid fall) and it is totally worth it. Even on those days the lines to enter the gardens are short. The rest of the time including winter, the gardens are free. If you want to enter the Hameau or the Trianon there is a fee. I walked from the Trianon through the Hameau with just the fee paid for the Trianon FWIW.

With that amount of time let me recommend St. Denis the oldest gothic church in Europe which is on the 14 metro and contains the amazing tombs of the French kings. (their bodies met a grim end during the revolution)
It takes about an hour to get to Versailles and back including the walk to the chateau; security occurs close to the chateau and involves a very very long line. Having tickets does not allow you to skip that line.

Posted by
4535 posts

If you have a half day, Versailles without touring the palace could be a good plan. I know plenty of people that visit and don't tour the interior. You can easily spend 2-3 hours on the exterior and in the gardens and on a nice day, everyone in your group can enjoy it. Kids of most ages will probably enjoy it as there are so many things to do and see and younger kids can run around a lot. Plus skipping the interior avoids the boredom that often accompanies kids and museums.

As noted, there is no entry fee for the gardens unless it is a day with the fountains running. But those fees are modest and there really isn't a line. And you get to see some of the fountains run (not all operate at the same time - they turn them on and off in a sequence). The Grand Canal has paddle and row boats you can rent. You can bring food and have a picnic down by the canal. You can rent bikes or a gold cart (1st come 1st serve). You can tour the Trianons - which would be a quicker and less stressful way of seeing some of the interior opulence of the palace. You can tour the Hamlet, which most kids would find fun.

The formal gardens have lots are areas to explore with smaller fountains scattered throughout. Kids should enjoy that.

There are only 2 main reasons I'd advise not to visit Versailles that way. 1: If you really only have less than about 3 1/2 - 4 hours the time spent getting out there and back means you have little time spent in the gardens to enjoy them. 2: If the weather is not good, spending several hours outdoors won't be enjoyable.

Posted by
2466 posts

Disney is undergoing some "renovations" during October 2017 through September 2018:
So, it probably won't be that you can see the fireworks anyway.

If you truly have limited time, I'd just let the children go to the Eiffel Tower, climb the Towers of Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe and call it a day. Maybe the Catacombes, if they are old enough. Let them wait for Versailles.

I would not subject your children to Basilica Saint-Denis - they will probably be too bored.

Posted by
14 posts

Wow! Lots of information. Touring the outside, gardens, and perhaps the Hamlet would be perfect for us, giving our time limitation, mobility, and attention span in my group. Thank you all so much! Happy holidays.

Posted by
10254 posts

Neither Versailles nor Disneyland Paris is worth the effort, given you have only a few hours and 3.5 days total. You've read through the RS book and picked a few places, but once you are in Paris, you will undoubtedly have more ideas of things to do, places to visit, and sights to see. Why don't you leave the time open and choose once you are there. Planning ahead has its benefits, but so does being spontaneous.

Posted by
12172 posts

If you have limited time, I don't see the point in going to Versailles. I view Versailles as a day trip from Paris, something to plan for most of a day. If you want to limit it to just a look at the front of the building, I don't think it's worth the time spent getting there and back. There are many palaces and other sights in Paris that would be a better use of your time.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you everyone for your advice! We ended up going to Versailles and it was so beautiful. We didn't book tickets for the palace...just walked the gardens, which was enough for us. Even then, the trip took us about 4-5 hours. The day we went, it was very, very cold...though it was only about 45F, with the wind chill, it felt like 30s. Besides your advice, the Rick Steve's guidebook really helped us decide what we should do.

We'll need to go back to Versailles again next time. But, we're happy we did it! Thanks again.

Posted by
6586 posts

Thanks for reporting back, some posters do it but most don't. Glad you had a good time.