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Versailles

will be in Paris a few days before our Tour starts--in Versailles, but were wondering if we should leave for Versailles and see it for ourselves instead of the mini tour that's included. How much time does it take to see everything there? We were planning to arrive on Sunday morning, but should we go Saturday night instead and be ready for an early start? Thanks

Posted by
206 posts

Hello, I have never been to Versailles, but in preparation for a future trip, I have been listening to Rick Steve's podcasts and Audio tours. He does a great one for Versailles that might help you with which rooms to see in the palace. He also brings you out into the gardens, where you can walk, bike or even rent a golf cart. Good luck and ENJOY!! Cheers.

Posted by
4528 posts

We need more details to be able to answer. How long is your tour and what are you seeing? To see everything at Versailles you would need a full day. There is the palace itself, the fountains, the extended gardens, Grand Trianon Palace, Petit Trianon Palace and the Hermit village. In April the weather might not be good or all services offered, but there is often bike rentals, boat rentals on the Grand Canal, a fireworks fountain show in the evening and the fountains turned-on on certain days. I will add this: the gardens are amazing in the early morning or late afternoon when there are no crowds.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks for your reply so quickly. We arrive in August, not April. It is a tour of Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley. There is actually no tour of Versailles, just a entrance ticket provided for those who arrive early. The tour actualy starts with dinner at 6PM on Sunday. I know that the palace etc is closed on Monday so arriving on Sat nite or Sunday morning is the question. We want to see all of the buildings and gardens.
Can you go into all of the buildings?

Posted by
128 posts

There is a web site, in English, for Versailles that you can use to get an over view and plan your visit. en.chateauversailles.fr

Posted by
96 posts

We toured Versaille in early Sept and I don't remember the hours of operation but we arrived close to opening and stayed until around 5 or 6 and we could have used more time. We went through the palace and then leisurely walked around the gardens, really enjoying our time there but we didn't make it to the Petit Trianon or the Grand Trianon. I would have at least liked to have gone to Marie Antoinette's Estate but we ran out of time. When you go, you may want to do the buildings first if you are interested in seeing them and then do the gardens so that you don't run out of time. I think the amount of time you need really just depends on what you like to do and see and how much is enough for you. It is very beautiful and if you like to explore all of the garden rooms, it takes awhile. If you just hit a couple of areas and you are ready to go then you will be done much sooner. The gardens are just like strolling through a beautiful park except it's huge and magnificently cared for. If it fits into you schedule, I would be ready to arrive early. It's about 45 min to a hour from Paris so if you are staying in Paris, you can easily arrive at Versaille around opening time by just catching the train around 8-ish.

Posted by
19 posts

Thaks for the advice. I will look up the web site and then try to judge from there. We would like to go into all the buildingsare they all open? and then the Marie Antoinette Hamlet too. We may rent a golf cart to do the gardens. You mentioned the train??? We were going to take a cab from Paris to Versailles, but I imagine it will cost a small fortune. Is it a train or a subway and how easy is it to navigate with suitcases? Thanks again
Francesca

Posted by
4528 posts

Thanks for more details. Based on what you've told us I suggest the following: I'd go out to Versailles and stay in town on Saturday night. The main reason is your luggage. There probably are luggage lockers at the train station or even at the Chateau, but you don't want to run the risk of lugging those around if they are full. It's a nice quiet suburb with some nice restaurants. Don't take a cab - you will pay a fortune! The RER C goes to the Versailles station nearest the chateau and convenient to hotels in town. You can connect to RER C from the Metro. Be sure to have a ticket all the way to Versailles (it's a different zone than central city metro tickets) and be sure to board the train to Versailles (several lines run on the same tracks). Check the fountain schedule online - it's likely they will run that weekend. If so, good news is you get to see them actually run. Bad news is you pay to enter the grounds (normally free) and it's crowded. If they are doing the night fireworks show, definitely sign up for that too (since you'll be staying in town). Renting the golf carts or a bike is a great idea. It's a very long walk to the Trianons and Hamlet. Once out of the fountain area of the gardens, they are wide open and flat. If you can and the weather is good, buy a picnic lunch in town and enjoy lunch on the banks of the Grand Canal. Plan to tour the palace itself first thing. You'll avoid the worst of the crowds and as the previous poster says, leave time left for the gardens at your leisure.

Posted by
19 posts

Sounds good and I think we will definetly follow your advice. Still one questioncan you go into the Grand and Petite Trianons? I have read that it takes about 1 1/2 hours to go thru the palace, but cannot find a time frame that's needed to see the Hamlet and both the trianons. Thanks

Posted by
1804 posts

When I went to Versailles it was on a weekday when the fountains where not running. I still arrived about 20 minutes prior to opening and spent a full day there. 90 minutes was about all I could take being inside the palace as a lot of people arrived first thing and they all went straight inside to tour the palace. I spent another 90 mins-2 hours touring the Grand & Petit Trianons, an hour at The Hamlet and the rest of the time walking the gardens to look at the statues, fountains and flowers. Still didn't see it all. Next time I plan to skip the palace entirely, go on a day when the fountains are running, and get a bike to ride around the grounds. I liked the grounds better as there were plenty of places to get away from the crowds inside. The RER is easy and cheap to take from Paris to Versailles, but the palace is about a 7-10 minute walk from the station. I did not have any luggage with me and not sure how heavy your suitcases are. I'm sure they must have a coat check there somewhere where they can hold your suitcase, but be prepared to walk a bit with your luggage once you get off the train.

Posted by
11450 posts

Fat Tire Bike Tours does a great fun daytrip to Versailles, ;look them up. Its a fun and easy way to enjoy the visit. It includes shopping at a market for lunch supplies and picnicing on the grounds.

Posted by
19 posts

All the info has been wonderfulthanks to all of you. Our tour actually starts at the Trianon Hotel in Versailles Aug 26, which is why we will have luggage. We arrive in Paris on the 22nd and by the sound of all your responses we will leave Paris on the 25th so that we have that afternoon and evening and then the 26th till 6PM when the welcome dinner is. Any suggestions on getting into Paris from Charles DeGaulle airport other than a cab? Thanks again
Francesca

Posted by
1928 posts

Francesca, a friend of mine stayed at the same hotel and absolutely LOVED it. If you break up your visit to Versailles over two days (which should be easy to do based on the location of your hotel), that will be perfect. (I think I understand from your last posting that you will plan to now check into the hotel a day earlier.) Two days also gives you a weather contingency. Or, one FULL day could suffice, unless you are serious garden visitor (like me), in which case you will likely still want to see more. The palace itself is interesting, but the gardens are wonderful, especially the Hamlet gardens. If the fountains are scheduled to run while you are there, what a treat!! The view of the main gardens from the palace is also nice, as the clipped boxwood look nicer from the vantage point of the palace ......up close those dear boxwood look a bit tortured (but they have to be kept closely clipped for the overall effect to work). Re: how long it takes to see the Hamlet......well, I wanted to stay forever (seriously). It is so very beautiful....charmingly so. One could easily spend over an hour just enjoying the Hamlet. The golf cart rental is probably best, as the tram had a long delay before departure, even when filled with visitors...30-40 minute delay...odd....we walked the rest of the way after our first tram stop. We were there all day and ran out of time, so we didn't make it inside other buildings and never found anything other than snacks to purchase. You may want to enjoy lunch at your lovely hotel or have them prepare a picnic for you. We took the train from Paris, and while the walk from the station is not bad at all, I don't know that I would want to do it with luggage (and we have wheeled luggage all over Paris/Italy/Greece).......it's just a bit of a dusty walk on gravel to Versailles. Your hotel would probably send a car/van to retrieve you.

Posted by
1928 posts

Re: getting into Paris from the airport, check with your hotel to see if they can arrange a shuttle, or one can also be reserved on-line ahead of time.

Posted by
19 posts

Being on our own for a few days and squeezing so much in in Paris is a lot of work! Planning to do a hop on hop off bus that has 4 routes so we will at least see everything fom the outside and now to choose where to get off and go into. there will be some time when we return to Paris before the 2nd trip to see some more and the tour does give us a drive about so we will have a few more free afternoons in Paris. We want to see everything we possibly can at Versailles so even though I would like one more night in Paris we will probably head out to versailles that afternoon instead. did you go to the Moulin Rouge. I guess it is really touristy, but fun anyway. and of course there is Maxime's. I was there in 1984( for just a few days)and it was so charming I want my husband to experience it too. Any suggestions would be so welcomed. thanks
Francesca

Posted by
263 posts

Just a follow up...my wife has a disability and can't walk far. I see where electric vehicles are for rent...does anyone know the rate and whether they can be reserved? I did look at the Versailles site about tours for people with disabilities. I see where she can get a wheelchair for the main palace, but my concern is getting to other areas of the park. thanks

Posted by
11450 posts

Tery the golf carts are non reservable as far as I know, and first come first serve, they would be a good idea though. I peronally would email Versailles and ask in case of disability if they would reserve a cart for you. They generally do answer their emails. Good luck.

Posted by
86 posts

I have been to Versailles three times and still haven't seen it all. The gardens / grounds are immense, and if the fountains are running you will be hard pressed to cover every thing in one day. There is a tour tram service that starts off to the right of the upper garden area, as you are looking out over the lower lake. This makes three stops where you can get off, tour that area, and then get back on the next tram that comes along. It will save a lot of time and wear on your legs. The gardens cover about 2,000 acres. I'd suggest you do some research on the various parts of Versailles and prioritize your visit. In August I suspect the crowds will be huge. We've been there in the early spring, and early plus late fall. As to transportation, the RER C line goes to the town, leaving a 4 or 5 block walk to the palace. You could rent a car, but driving in Paris is not for the faint of heart. Bonne chance!

Posted by
96 posts

Francesca You asked about getting from CDG into Paris. We took the train, the RER. I believe it is the Blue line B3. It is pretty inexpensive and easy. This is the link for the map of the RER http://www.aparisguide.com/maps/rer.htm If you decide to do the train, this is what we did. We arrived on American Airlines so I'm not sure if you will be in the same terminal or not but once you are in the terminal watch for the overhead signs showing the little train sign and know that you are going to walk a good distance so don't think you missed it. You walk and walk and walk. Once you get to the end where the train is you will have to purchase your ticket. You can either go to the ticket office and buy your ticket from a person or you can use the automated machines. We have used both but there will probably be a line in both places so pick your preference. The machines do take credit cards so don't let someone tell you that they don't. You can also English on the machines so you will understand what you are buying. There are 2 different color of machines. I believe we used the yellow ones. They were for tickets into Paris and there were more of them. The other color was to buy tickets to areas outside of Paris. When you get your tickets, you will go down the escalator to the train platform. There are digital signs next to each track and they list the stops for that train. Check your map and look for the stops you need to be looking for. You can have this figured out at home by using this map. It seems kind of confusing but it really isn't.

Posted by
19 posts

the train information will be very helpful--thanks so much. My husband gets very anxious in foreign countries and usually opts for the easy way--a cab, but will complain about the cost!! He's too funny--I will be very persuasive about taking the train and saving the $ for other goodies.

Posted by
19 posts

Just tok a look at our hotel to see if they provided transportation and they mentioned taking the underground or the rer? What is the difference?

Posted by
11450 posts

The RER is a suburban train system, it mostly travels above ground, until it enters Paris proper where it then goes underground. The metro is underground, it is a subway system of trains within the city only. You can switch from one to the other on the same ticket if you stay within the city,, if you go beyond the city( say to Versailles) you need another ticket that covers that zone.
It was weird for me understanding and dealing with it too in the beginning, I come from a place with no trains or underground at all. BUT,, it is really fairly simple,, the lines are numbered, named, color coded etc,, and even a child can figure out a route ( I say this because my kids learned it and they are not rocket scientists,, lol ) . Once you get over the intimadation factor its actually fun,, its so quick , the trains come every few minutes ( the metro ) in the city,, and all you have to do is understand that each train goes in two directions. You figure out which direction you want to travel in from where you are,, and then look at the LAST stop on that line(on a map, they have pocket ones and big ones all over the walls in the stations) in the direction you want to travel . The same is true of the RER,, there are two end points on each line, look for your direction and follow the signs to that platform. Leave yourself lots of time to go places , so that you don't feel pressured into making snap decisions. And remember, worst case scenerio,, you get on train going wrong way,, simple, get off next stop and find platform for train going back in other direction. I hope I didn't botch that explanation up too badly..

Posted by
19 posts

ok then, if I am at Charles DeGaulle Airport I would take the rer and thn possibly have to switch to an undeground train? We are staying at the Brighton Hotel right actoss from the Tuilleries.
thanks so much

Posted by
19 posts

Well I did it!! Found directions from the airport to the RER train at the ariport, one change onto the metro then only a 3 minute walk to the hotel. Thanks for all the help!!

Posted by
96 posts

Nice! Have fun. Also, don't throw your used tickets away until you go above ground. Sometimes you need them to change between the RER and the metro (it's all considered one ride so you don't want to have to rebuy another ticket if you don't have to). You can also buy a "carnet" of tickets (that is 10 tickets) for a discount but I don't know if you need that many since you're heading to Versaille and beyond, but just in case, now you know.

Posted by
11450 posts

Francesca,, I have stayed at the Hotel Brighton,, its very nice. have a good trip.

Posted by
19 posts

In 1984 I spent a few days in Paris. We stayed at the Intercontinental right across from the Tuilleries so I figure the Brighton must be very close. If I remember correctly, the location was great, which is why I chose it. Thanks for the comments and send as many as you like--they are appreciated.

Posted by
241 posts

You might want to go to Reims too - cathedral. Epernay - champagne tours nearby.
S

Posted by
17 posts

Francesca, I'm going to be the outlier here. I would skip Versailles. Like you, it was on my 'to-do' list for many years. But for me, and I know many folks will disagree, I'm not sure it was worth the hassle. The place is poorly run in terms of managing the thousands of daily visitors. The chateau is huge and fancy, but if you've been to other chateaux, you get the gist. And you really do feel like cattle being herded somewhere. God forbid a fire ever break out in that place....... The grounds and gardens are spectacular and if you do go, I would actually skip the palaces and just do the gardens. That way, you bypass most of the lines and still get to see the grandeur of the place. It could also be that I'd just come from the D Day beaches in Normandy which was a really profound experience - so seeing this giant spectacle to wealth was jarring. Like I said, I've had folks disagree with me on this, but you asked! Have a great trip!
Renee

Posted by
175 posts

I agree with Renee. The inside of the chateau didn't interest meit's like all the other chateaux, only a lot more crowded! The gardens were spectacular, and I would like to see Marie Antoinette's Hamlet, but since Versailles is pretty low on my priority list, I don't know when I'll get back. Look around the website and see what interests you specifically. If you're really into that time period, A whole day wouldn't be enough. If you feel like you need to see it because it's Versailles, consider sticking to the exterior. Have fun on your trip!