Versailles

What is the best way for a family of six to get to Versailles? Train? Bus? Taxi? We have the paris pass. Also what is so great about the fountains at Versailles? I'm already going to see the fountains at peterhof what makes them diffrent? Is Versailles still worth it without the fountains? Are the Audioguides at Versailles good in quality? i read rick steve has his own audioguide for Versailles. Where can i get this? When can i see the fountains go off? I'll be in paris for 5 days in early July ( I arrive late sunday and leave early saturday).

Posted by Alexander
Manhattan, KS
277 posts

Before going to these places I always recommend doing some research on the subject. Only then will you know if it interests you. Versailles is not only a landmark, but the history behind it is fascinating. Rick's audio guide is available on iTunes and some phone apps. Transportation: it's quite easy to get to and there are even some shuttle services that will take you there. Most people will suggest the RER. Is it worth it without the fountains? Only you can tell us that. I think it is. ;) I think you'll enjoy it.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

I don't think the fountains are worth it and I'll never go there when they're on again. I love Versailles, the palace and the extensive grounds, and have been 20+ times. Purposely went on a fountain day a couple years ago b/c I kept reading on the Helpline about them. They are nothing to write home about imo. The grounds are way more crowded when they're on and they blare loud, canned classical music over a very bad PA system. I love classical music, but not there. We hated fountain day. Ian, I do highly recommend getting there early and renting bikes in the garden down by the Grand Canal. Very fun way to see everything.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I agree with Susan, although I have about half the visits to Versailles that she does, but ended up trying a 'fountain day " a few years ago.. and I was underwhelmed, they are nice, don't get me wrong, but for the extra crowds and expense I was like "meh"... I would not seek to go on a fountain day again. I would suggest the RER , its 8.20 euros each return, its nice to be own your own timeline,, Versailles is huge and to enjoy it its ideal to have as much time as you like. I think the audio guides are fine. I haven't tried the RS guides but many seem to think they are very good. IF you plan to go to Versailles plan on arriving at least 30 minutes BEFORE it opens to get in line for security, even with tickets or passes in hand security waits can be long.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
549 posts

I really enjoyed the fountains from an asthetic point of view and an engineering point of view! It is pricey but it adds to your experience of the gardens. Just the fact that they are engineered to work on gravity alone is amazing to me! I thought they were beautiful and worth the $$. When they aren't on it's fine but you just don't get the full effect. Don't let that stop you from going though! For a schedule and tickets visit the Versaille website... http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage Even without the fountains on, though, I love Versailles - we spent 5 weeks nearby a few summers ago and went to Versailles multiple times just to explore the grounds. We did take an audio tour that we rented there at the palace. The RS audioguide is available from the app store as well as all of his other audioguides. I have always had a car in France so can't advise on public transport to the palace - A fun thing to do at Versailles is to rent bikes to ride around the very extensive grounds. Go to the back of the palace, down to the Grand Canal, and go to the right. There is a kiosk right next to the canal that rents bikes...the grounds are HUGE and it really helps to save time. You can go farther than you would be able to if you were just on foot...
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by Kerry
Tinton Falls, NJ
615 posts

Versaille has a special evening with the fountains going, the piped in music, special lighting effects and fireworks. My family thoroughly LOVED it! It was a magical night. We would love to do it again. I went to Versaille by day without fountains and again during this "Spectacle" that I referenced above. The gardens were nice by day, but the nighttime show with the fountains was memorable to me. Perhaps the crowds at the "Spectacle" were less because it did cost more.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
710 posts

We hit fountain day - I didn't specifically want to, but it was the day we went. Was it worth it for us? Not really. Unless there is a schedule we didn't know about, we only managed to see one musical fountain about half way thru...and the rest we always seemed to just miss them and didn't want to wait around for the next show. It was our first trip to Versailles, but the extra money paid for fountain day for us turned out to be a bust.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

Some people really want to see the fountains running and some don't care - you must decide that. It is most certainly well worth it even without running water. What I will say is that on fountain days, not all of the fountains are turned on at once. Only one or a few are on at once, which increases the effects of the crowds as so many gather around the ones turned on. And it can take a few hours to see them all run since they turn on intermittently. One little historical tidbit, they were never all turned on at once for the royals either. As Louis XIV would stroll the gardens with his entourage, the fountains nearby and ahead would be turned on. As he passed on by, they would be turned off. You won't fit 6 people in a taxi, so that option is out. The bus is slower and no cheaper, so that option is out. Take RER C from along the left bank of the Seine to "Versailles Rive Gauche." Though you can transfer direct from the Metro to the RER, it takes a more expensive ticket to reach Versailles so be sure everyone has the full fare ticket. The RER C line also splits off outside Paris, so be sure to board the right train (ask someone if you are in doubt as the train approaches). If you have a family, consider having a picnic lunch down by the canal. The kids might also enjoy a paddle boat or canoe ride on the canal, or a bike rental through the gardens.

Posted by Becky
Woodinville, WA
75 posts

We were in Paris in May and are a family of five. We took the RER from Paris. I second the advice to leave early! We took the 8:20a RER and arrived with everyone else (meaning, we had to wait in the security line with everyone else!). We had the Paris Museum Passes, but the security line was very long. Take the earlier train, and you should be fine. We were not there when the fountains were on, but we had a terrific time exploring the gardens. We rented bikes right by the Grand Canal. Marie Antoinette's hamlet/village was very fun to explore. The bikes made getting around the garden so easy (and delightful!). The pass covered entry into all of the buildings, including the hamlet, etc. We didn't do the audio guides, because we downloaded Rick's app. It was very well done. Rick's Pocket Paris was an excellent resource. Small and portable, but lots of good information, including Versailles. If I were to do it again, I think I would go to the gardens first and then tour the palace later in the day. Perhaps fewer people? I'm guessing though... Good luck and have fun!
Becky

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Becky you may be right, about 5 years ago when I took my dd we accidently slept in on the day we were going to Versailles and we had to go that day as we were leaving Paris soon.. so we didn't arrive at palace till one in the afternoon. There were maybe 10-15 people in line at security in front of us, we basically almost walked right in.. and this was in mid july. Last year took my bf and we arrived at 10:30 and it was busy, even with pass in hand we waited 45-55 minutes in the sun to get through security.

Posted by Catherine
Springfield
18 posts

We, too, are a family of five and recently took the RER to Versailles. Trains go every 20 minutes and it was very easy. We had purchased tickets online in advance, and it was a fountain day (just worked with our schedule, nothing we were aiming for). We were in line at the palace by 8:40 (I use the word "line" loosely Versailles could take some notes from Disney, there were way too many people cutting in line. Right behind us was a tour group leader from England, yelling at people and trying to shame them into behaving). The audioguides were good, but the crowds were truly unbelievable in the palace rooms. If you are short you will be straining to see anything through the sea of outstretched arms taking pictures on I-Pads. The fountains added more to the experience than I expected. The Latona (?) fountain is undergoing renovation, but others are working and are beautiful. I agree that the canned Baroque music could have been omitted, or at least turned down, but you don't hear the music at every fountain. Check Rick's guidebook for fountain times. We were disappointed we had to leave before Neptune's fountain went off at 5:20. We re-toured the house around 2:45 and found the crowds better. Not good, but definitely much better. We all agreed that next time we would arrive at Versailles late morning, tour the grounds and gardens, visit the main palace in mid-afternoon, and stay for Neptune's fountain.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

Get there either early or late. A few years ago I arrived at Versailles around 9am and walked through a few rooms before the huge bus-tour crowds started arriving. I left when the large room I was trying to view was packed with hundreds of people and tour leaders were shouting at their charges. The tour buses arrived around 10am, and there were lots of them. I went by RER, which is fairly inexpensive and easy. It is possible to buy tickets in advance at RER/Metro stations.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago, USA
75 posts

It is very easy to get to it by train and convenient. It drops you maybe 10 minutes walk from the Palace entrance. Follow the signs or make sue you have directions to walk to it from googlemaps. Or if you are feeling lazy just take a taxi ! We got there around 10 AM ( too lazy to take an earlier RER ) There were lots of people and tourists since it was the middle of may but that did not bother me much.We perhaps spent around 1 1/2 in the palace. But the highlight were the grounds. They were beautiful. Rent bikes if you want to explore it well. There is a LOT of walking involved. If going in summer take some protection hat, water umbrella because the sun is unforgiving. Make sure you check out the part of grounds made specifically for Marie Antoinette. Versailles fountains were cheesy but cute. Not a big deal if you missed it but if you are making the effort might as well. Rick steves audio guide was more than enough! Once you get them you have to find the spot to return it and it seemed like a hassle. Check out the Versailles site online for the timings of the fountain show on your day. Enjoy!

Posted by Bruce
Seattle, WA, USA
25 posts

The OP is planning his visit to Versailles in July. I'm planning a visit in July a few weeks later than the OP is, but let me tag on to this thread to ask a question - is there something going on with RER service to Versaille in July? I've found a couple of websites that have helpul "trip planner" functions where you can input a starting point and destination, and it will suggest the best combination of bus, Metro, RER, etc. to get you from point A to point B (sites are http://www.transilien.com/ and http://www.ratp.fr/itineraires/en/ratp/recherche-avancee). I can input dates in June and it will show me how to get from the hotel we'll be staying in to Versailles, but when I input a date in July, it tells me the best method of travel is a bus, not the RER. If I constrain the choices to "rail" (which includes Metro), it gives me an error message. Might just be user error, always a possibility with me!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

Bruce, I'm not sure why the website isn't working, but I doubt the RER will be shut down. Besides, there are three train stations in Versailles. Rive Gauche is the most convenient to the Chateau, but either of the other two (Rive Droit and Chantiers) work fine too. If for some reason there is work on RER C to Rive Gauche while you are there, just take one of the other lines and walk an extra five minutes.

Posted by David
san francisco, CA, USA
7 posts

You can find some informations on a website called paristoversailles.