Things can be bad in Paris and Versailles because there are too many visitors.
Even I, a fan of Le Louvre, wrote a tip about a bad experience there "Bad luck at Le Louvre"
About Versailles a lot of tips have been written about avoiding the lines, about the fountains that are only working on week-ends "Dry fountains" , but strange enough some visitors don't read this valuable info before visiting and then complain and VT put them on the first page!
Before visiting any place in the world, please read what others wrote on VT!
If you want to spend almost 20 Euros to stand in long lines, be shoved around by tour guides and look at construction, this is the place for you. The Hall of Mirrors, which is supposed to be the highlight of this site, was being renovated while we were there, but this info was not available prior to our visit. We did a self-guided tour, but it was difficult to read any of the room descriptions because tour groups would plant themselves in front of the signs. The tour operators have a system where there are at least two tours in each room (taking up most of the space in front of the exhibits) and when one group leaves, another moves in to take its place. At one point, a tour guide tried to shove my sister out of the way to let his group into a room. It is only because she is almost 6 ft tall and works out, that she was able to dish it back to him and keep him (and his group) from cutting in front of us. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needed to use a restroom, be prepared for at least a 20 minute wait if you are woman. And we did the tour on a weekday, when it was supposedly less crowded.
Unique Suggestions: Honestly can't recommend this place.
Fun Alternatives: Go see one of the many copies of Versailles around Europe, like Herrenchiemsee in Bavaria. Anything else you do in Paris would probably be more enjoyable.
Yeah, it's impressive...for about the first 15 minutes. And that's not including the half hour to hour you wait in line. I had a bad experience there, going in mid-July (both the hottest week of the year and peak tourist season) was a mistake. As you walk shoulder to shoulder with the smell of body odor and french cheese breath filling the dark rooms, fumbling with the multimedia earpiece that have become ubiquitous in historical buildings, and try to avoid getting hit in the eye with the umbrellas the tours use to stay together; its hard to appreciate the guild-ed baroque grandeur of the palace.
Unique Suggestions: Start with the gardens. That's a must. We received this warning, but promptly ignored it...mainly to do with confusion about whether or not you have to wait in line again to get into the gardens (you do, by the way). The gardens are trully beautiful, and the fresh air and sun make it pleasant and enjoyable. In fact, I would say you could just do the gardens and skip the palace but you're probably going to ignore me to see the hall of mirrors...it is kind of a must.
I visited Versailles yesterday. It was a total disappointment after so many weeks of reading and planning.
I am from India, in Paris for a 45-day work-cum-vacation with family. (work for me, vacation for them). Having seen most of the Paris regulars, now was the time for the big one - Versailles. We have been hearing about Versailles from every one we met - it is the greatest, most beautiful place ever, etc. The review and photos I saw always painted a most beautiful picture. Particularly, I wanted to see the Dancing Musical Fountains, so we choose a Sunay for the trip.
Well, reality for me was entirely the opposite. We reached Versailles, taking the REC C train from Paris ( a journey of an hour for us, starting from the North East of Paris). It was a very bright, even warm, day, after several weeks of cold and rains (well, for us from tropical India, it WAS cold), so we were very happy.
Once in Versailles, the road to the palace was very beautiful. I thought, it just fits in...
BUT... the first look at the palace - I was repeatedly asking my wife, is this the palace or are we in the wrong place... It was SMALL; it was DULL, and the very bright sun did not help either.
And the fountains - they were just like some ordinary fountain you find in any city park, except there were some statues. OK, I did not know much French history except couple of sentences abt the revolution... so that did not help either.
We left Versailles within 3 hours. Initially I had thought, is one day enough.
Unique Suggestions: 1. Choose a not_so_sunny day, or go in late evening.
2. Do not have great expectations.
3. learn some French history.
Fun Alternatives: 1. The two Islands right in the middle of Paris - Isle de la Cite and Isle Saint Louis. Quaitn and beautiful.
But again, the fact that we visited them on cool days, with no expectations whatever, might have helped.
2. An opera or concert at the Opera hall, Paris.
I thought that the day trips offered to Versailles is the most expensive From other travellers I have heard that when you go on a day trip, your time is very limited, so rather take the train and do it on your own.
Unique Suggestions: Go there by train and once there, collect your audio and do the palace on your own before heading off and either renting a golf cart or using the mini train. This way you are not pressured for time and can enjoy the beauty of this place at your own pace and take all the time you want. You need a full day to visit it.
When we reach the Palace of Versailles, we saw 2 queues - one very long queue for the entrance tickets and a very short one for guided tour of the Palace plus some state rooms and bedrooms. The price was quite substantive (I forgot how much it was). Anyway, we bought the guided tour tickets because we don't want to wait long. However, the guided tour was not really so great and the additional rooms shown were nothing special. We went through the same areas as the unguided tour, but they probably paid less for it.
Fun Alternatives: If you plan to visit Versaille Palace, try to buy the tickets in advance, not at the Palace itself.
I cannot say that the place was not worth visiting, because the PARK is charming, even in the autumn (better if you have a bike, because it is really huge:)) The park is FREE and not a bad place to spend a whole day and make a break in your sightseeing schedule.
The PALACE outside it is not impressive, unless you're an architecture freak
The ticket to the PALACE is absolutely OVERPRICED and you have to WAIT HOURS in a long queue just to get the ticket. And then I wish you courage and patience (!) inside - to make your way through the crowds of tourists (it's even in November, and I imagine what a nightmare in spring or in summer !)!
Inside it is decorated - well, royally :) (no wonder, after all ;)), - so be ready to be exposed to numerous rooms full of painted gold furniture, huge wall-size paintings, etc. I don't say it is bad, just nothing really special, especially for France, where the gentry has been swimming in luxury and now you have so many splendid and interesting castles, e.g Loire castles, to compare. (Well, as a matter of fact, even in my homeland, Ukraine, there are far more beautiful palaces and castles - e.g. the palace of count Vorontsoff in Crimea, where both the interior and exteriour are really gorgeous and decorated with far more taste (I've been several times there and never tired of the beauty and charm of the place - and believe me, I am not that patriotic or homesick ;)
The Versailles audio-guide will tell you about the life style of the french royal family, the history of the palace, its decortation, architects and artists, etc. It's included in the price of the ticket, so I'd recommend to take it and do not bother about the guided tour
TRIANONS: 100 percent waste of your time and money :(
To SUMMARIZE. If you have already seen other palaces (or if you've just seen e.g. Napoleon's rooms in the Louvre museum), Versailles might disappoint you. If you have no other plans to do in France, go there, but keep in mind the queues
Unique Suggestions: If you decided to visit the park, do it in spring or early summer, the parc is said to be full of flowers and look quite romantic. The entrance to the parc is free.
If you firmly decided to get inside the palace - buy a day ticket rather than a "pass". The only difference that the pass give the access to Trianon, but there is ZERO intersting inside Trianon, but you can walk in the Maria-Antoinetta park (if you have chieldren, they would like a mini-cattle farm with animals ;))
Fun Alternatives: In France - Loire castles, or simply see "Napoleon's" rooms in the Louvre museum in Paris. Actually, in the Louvre you can see a lot of pieces of royal furniture (and most of it originally taken from Versailles).
when you go to Versailles there are many sellers who sell flying plastic white birds, even if you have children do not fell tempted to buy them as they will work once or twice, and then they will not work anymore
I've been to Versailles on 2 separate trips and both times, we arrived on early trains and were able to visit the property without throngs of people.
We didn't realize it the first time but this was CRUCIAL to a positive visit. When we were leaving (around noon) there was a huge line waiting to get in. Not fun.
Unique Suggestions: I have 2 tips for you...
1) If you're not sure you want to go, GO! At least go and see the palace itself even if you don't visit the other buildings. The hall of mirrors (see pic left) is amazing. Truly amazing.
2) If you go, be there BEFORE it opens and try to get in and out by noon. Noon is when all the TOUR BUSES start arriving so it gets really packed in the afternoon.
If you play your cards right, you can visit the highlights and be back in Paris proper by 2-3 pm.
Fun Alternatives: The Hall of Mirrors was the opulent setting for state events and is where the Treaty of Versailles was ratified in 1919 ending World War I.
The room is 233 feet long.
Besides its reputation, Versailles is overcrowded, dirty, with no furniture into the rooms
The famous Hall of mirrors lost its glamour, the mirrors are attacked by time and have no glitter any more
The little train tour to Trianon is boring and unconfortable
And if you even wish to go to the bathroom you have to que for hours and even pay 40 cents
Unique Suggestions: Have patience and try to imagine the glamour of Louis XIV ` s court
Fun Alternatives: There is no alternative because in the end Versailles is a must see
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