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Versailles daytrip -- desire help problem-solving details

Arriving in Paris on Th. morning 9/11 from Seattle. Planning guided bike tour for that afternoon as a Paris introduction and anti-jetlag maneuver. Need input on whether to visit Versailles on Fri. or on Sat -- AND best way to get there. Really hate having to leave town the very next day after arrival (Fri.) instead of settling in, but our only other choice is to go on Sat. Two problems with Sat.: weekend crowds and our need to be back to our hotel at around 4pm that same day. If we arrive at Versailles at opening time, how bad are the crowds likely to be compared to those on a Fri? Does seeing the fountains make up for them?

Also, whichever day we go, what is quickest & easiest (non-taxi) route to RER-C from 114 Boulevard Richard Lenoir for jetlagged newbie’s? (We don’t mind significant walking, if that helps.) The site seems to indicate that we could walk to Filles du Calvaire stop, train to Invalides, and then take the RER VICK to Versailles. But I may not have used it correctly...

Posted by
5 posts

We visited Paris about 8 years ago, and of course,a trip to Versailles was on our itinerary. I can't remember what day of the week we went (may have been Friday beause we saw the fountains), but there were a lot of people there. We got there using instructions in Rick Steve's book; we didn't have any problems getting there via train, and it was a short walk to the site.

As soon as we arrived, I bought tickets for an inside tour (I think it was for some of the apartments and theatre/ballroom). We had to wait a little while, but it was so worth seeing the Hall of Mirrors, the theatre, etc. The palace is huge and the grounds are vast. We spent the whole day there and were exhausted by the time we got back to Paris (early evening). If you're going, research first what you want to see and how to get around the grounds. Oh, and wear comfortable walking shoes!

Posted by
8700 posts

Basically you have your choice of two routes: (1) Metro line 8 from Filles du Calvaire to Invalides and the RER C from there to Versailles-Rive Gauche, or (2) Metro line 5 from Oberkampf to Gare d'Austerlitz and the RER C from there to Versailles-Rive Gauche. Be aware that the RER C line divides on the west side of Paris. As you've already learned, trains with the nameplate VICK go to Versailles-Rive Gauche.

Since you're familiar with the Transilien site, you may already know about the Forfait Loisirs for Versailles that includes roundtrip transportation and an admission pass. The pass will allow you to skip the lines at the entrance. See here.

Posted by
506 posts

Lydia -

I would recommend the route suggested by Tim - Line 5 - Oberkampf to Gare Austerlitz changing to the RER C - direction Versailles Rive Gauche (Chateau Versailles) - note this is the last stop on the route and will be listed. The Forfait Loisirs will save you time if you purchase this at the train station - less lines based on your time constraint on Saturday.

Given the Oberkampf station is quite close to you on Richard Lenoir - and once on the RER C - it is quicker across Paris than the line 8. The correspondence is not as big at Austerlitz as it is at Invalides. If you wanted to - you could also walk down boulevard Richard Lenoir to Bastille - have breakfast at Bastille and continue on this same route. There is a market there on Saturdays...

I would also consider Friday versus Saturday for the reason you have already mentioned - but Grandes Eaux Musicales is fun if you have not seen this before.

The fountains always make up for the crowds - and they are magical (argument for Saturday) on Grandes Eaux Musicales days, gardens are open at 8h30 ; groves open from 10h30 to 12 noon and from 15h to 17h

On the 13th Grandes Eaux will be at 11h00, 12 noon, 15h30 and 17h...

Posted by
251 posts

I was there in mid June on Saturday and the crowds weren't bad at all. The fountains were by far the highlight of our tour. I can't imagine being there and NOT seeing them.

We stayed on Rue Cler and left from a train station close to the Eiffel Tower--don't remember name. We bought the pass and it included everything including the headphones.

Posted by
1358 posts

Based on what I have seen and read, it doesn't matter which day of the week you visit. If you can take an early train you should beat the crowd.