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Versailles - Half Day?

I was wondering if Versailles is worth it if I only wanted to dedicate half a day to it?

If so, how would you plan your time there? I think I'd want to do the morning and get there early. What could we/should we see?


Posted by
71 posts

I've been hearing mixed reviews about whether to go to Versaille. We'll be there in February with our two teenagers and the idea of it not being worth going without the gardens concerns me. Do others agree?

Posted by
430 posts

Claire --

It is a very tough call. For me, Versaille is not a must-see on a trip to Paris. That said, if you go to Versaille, it would be to have the whole experience. For me that includes the gardens, Marie Antoinette's Hamlet (, and a meal in the village. That takes a solid 1/2 day if you arrive early -- and it takes good weather.

If you and your kids love seeing palaces, but not gardens and hamlets and cute villages with lots of ambience, then it is still worth it.

Posted by
9110 posts

At the risk of getting trounced by the Versailles lovers, here's my experience.

I was underwhelmed by the place (a couple of times), so I don't go there anymore. However, when traveling with others who have not been there and insist on going, I'm happy enough to dedicate a half day to the excursion by taking them to he gate and dropping them with instructions to contact me when they're done. My wife and I then go wander the village, drink coffee, etc. Nobody, absolutely nobody has ever stayed more than three hours. A half day is fine; a full day isn't.

Take it for what it's worth. It could be that I just have unsophisticated friends.

Posted by
264 posts

Hi Jesse,

Yes, it's absolutely worth it! Plan to be there early when the Chateau opens and there will not be lines nor crowds. Any trip to Paris is not complete without seeing Versailles!

Since your time is limited you can make the most of it by taking the guided visit. You will be able to see many areas which the public are not allowed to access. Also, the guides are among the best I've ever seen anywhere. The information they provide really makes your visit "come alive."

The experience of walking where Mozart (aged 7 1/2 yrs) played a concert for the king; also where 20,000 fish wives from Paris stormed the place and stole the king's flour to make bread when they were starving in Paris and started the French Revolution are not to be missed!

Bon Voyage!

Posted by
717 posts

Hi Jesse,
What time of year are you going? If it's pleasant weather you can spend a few hours touring the Palace (get an audio tour) then head to the gardens. The Domaine du Marie Antoinette is especially fun (for my wife and I, anyway) and you could spend all day in the gardens exploring the paths, fountains, cafes, renting bikes, etc. As for the earlier comment that no one spends more than 3 hours, I would say that I certainly did, and I repeatedly encountered the same people throughout the day well after that 3 hour point. However, with a half-day, you could certainly take in the palace and explore a bit of the gardens. Given that so many palaces in Europe are Versailles wannabes, why not take in the original (and many say the best) when you have a chance. With a half-day, I'd do it.

Posted by
7209 posts

The Gardens are as nice as the Palace IMO. Be prepared for HORRIFIC queueing at the entrance.

Posted by
1525 posts

Yes, you can see it in a half day - that is, if you don't count transportation time to get there & back, or if your tourist day (like mine) is 12 hours long. You can see what you need to see in 4 hours. Get there when it opens! That is the key.

I would devote about 90 minutes to the palace, itself. Certainly a person could linger longer, but my tolerance level for ostentatiousness is pretty low. Then head through the gardens to the Grand & Petit Trianon, each worth about 25 minutes (and far less obnoxious than the palace). Finish it off with a short walk to M.A.'s Hamlet (which is the highlight for me) and then walk back out through the gardens again, following a different path. The gardens are interesting, but frankly, I expected better. It's HUGE, but mostly greenery. I have seen much more interesting small gardens. The fountains are amazing, but they are not turned on most of the time, and when they are you have to pay extra for them.

Taken as a whole, it is a must see, no question. But I would not be interested in seeing it twice. The various chateau in rural France are more interesting to me.

Posted by
2193 posts

IMO, it’s a must-visit site & half a day is doable, but…

Not only are the queues very long, the interior can be so crowded as to be nearly impossible to appreciate and enjoy during peak season. In summer, prepare yourself for heat and much BO. In light of this, I also found the gardens to be much more pleasant. That’s my experience anyway. I would love to visit again in the off season, hoping to have a more laid-back experience similar to other palace visits I’ve had in places like Würzburg, Munich, Vienna, Madrid, etc.

Posted by
320 posts


First, I echo Ed's comments above. Personally Versailles doesn't do much for me.

Second, if you do go you can do it in a half day but get there early. As other posters have pointed out the lines can be quite long. On my third (and final) visit to Versailles in 2004 I laughed to myself because there I was in one of the largest homes in the world and I was getting claustrophobic pressed up against scads of other tourists :).

Just my humble opinion - have fun.

Posted by
430 posts

I'm going to make the same recommendations as many, but for different reasons.

I love Versaille, and love the gardens even more.

If you are going in peak season -- June-September -- just stay away. The palace is so crowded it cannot be enjoyed. Just stay away.

If you are going in dead of winter -- December-February -- just stay away, it's not worth it without the gardens and a stroll in the village.

IF you are going in March-May / October-November -- it is a must-see, spend as much time in the gardens and strolling the village as the palace.

That's just my $0.02 -- and easier to swallow if you assume you'll be back in Paris... just tell yourself "We'll be here in the spring in a few years, we'll see the palace then."

Posted by
1525 posts

Just my experience; We were there in early July, 2009 on a Saturday for the fountains, when you would expect the crowds to be their worst. But I don't recall it being unbearable. Some rooms of the palace were overcrowded, but not all. The outdoors and the Trianon were fine. The line was not overly long to get in, but we had museum passes, and that may have helped.

It's fair to be warned of crowds and lines, but I would not tell you to stay away. Do it. Just be mentally prepared.

Posted by
417 posts

I have been to Versailles twice, and loved it both times. I believe that it should be included on any trip to Paris. It is easily one of my top sights ever visited in Europe. No other palace can compare (note, this is a palace, not a castle).

Once again, I will echo the others and say get there early, and crowds are no problem. See the palace, walk the grounds, if you have time go to M.A.'s cottage. If not, then simply enjoy wandering the gardens.

You can rent a bicycle near the Grand Canal for a few Euro. I feel this lets you see more of the gardens, and is a fun way to get around. The village has some nice and fairly inexpensive restaurants a few blocks away from the palace. They may be worth your time after a visit, but before you return to Paris.

Posted by
3580 posts

I agree with Jon. If you can get to the palace by 9 am or whenever it opens, you can be ahead of the crowds. When I was there, tour buses started arriving around 9:30 and some of the rooms were jammed with hundreds of people by 10 am. I hurried on thru the palace, seeing as much as I wanted to, and emerged around 10 am. The parking lot was full of buses by then. The other option would be to wait until late afternoon after the tours have left. The grounds and out-lying buildings are probably less crowded.

Posted by
934 posts

To me Versailles is like Pisa.One visit is enough but Im happy that I did both.

Posted by
3 posts

No way - Versaille is MASSIVE you need a full day if coming in from Paris!

It is the most amazing structure and pay extra to go out to the gardens and plan your visit to be outside when the fountains are going and the music from "that time" comes on -- incredible!!
you will be happy that you spent one day! It deserves that..try and make it to Marie Antonettes home also - we didn't make it there :(
i'm heading to France in April

Posted by
223 posts

Thanks for all of the advice - it will still be a tough decision - I really wanted to go, but I also want to do it justice. I'll be there at the end of April and it sounds like that is a great time to visit.

I can afford a little more than half a day, but I don't want to spend the entire day there because I only have four days in Paris.

For those who did think it was possible to go - what would be your suggested itinerary. How long would you spend in each place?