Queuing for tickets
An advance ticket is a sensible thing to have if you visit Versailles in the summer (or spring or autumn) and intend to have a look at the rooms inside the palace. Otherwise you may well find yourself standing in line for a long time to get a ticket, as these folks in my photos are doing.
I took my photos on a Thursday, which is not even one of the most crowded days. The palace website says: “During the high season, the Palace of Versailles can get crowded, especially on Tuesdays and on week-ends.”
Currently the palace is closed on Mondays, but they are thinking of changing that.
There are various kinds of advance tickets that you can book here on the Château de Versailles website, but you must first chose the date for your visit. The ticket is only valid on the date you choose.
Even with an advance ticket you still have to go through security, which can also involve some waiting, but not as long as the line for tickets.
Fifth photo: After a long wait in the August sun, these folks are finally getting close to the ticket office. When I came in February I just walked right into the ticket office, with no waiting at all, and found a room with about twenty ticket machines, only one of which was in use. So coming in the dead of winter is a good way to avoid the lines, but even then you will not be alone in the palace, as you may have noticed from some of my February photos.
Directions: Location, aerial view and photos on monumentum.fr
Related tip: Queuing a.k.a. standing in lines on my Paris page.
Next: Entrances to the palace and grounds
- Castles and Palaces
Misallocation of public space
In front of the fence and front gate of Versailles Palace there is a large square called Place d’Armes, which at some point in the 20th century was turned into a parking lot for motor vehicles. Besides being ugly, this is in my opinion a blatant misallocation of public space, since five hundred car owners are allowed to block this potentially beautiful space that could be put to much better use by the seven million visitors per year (which works out to an average of over 22,000 per day) who come to visit the palace and grounds.
Five hundred car owners represent about 2.3 % of the average daily number of visitors. Even if we assume that three people come in each car and that they all visit the palace, that would still be only 6.8 % of the daily average. In other words, over 93 % of visitors are denied access to this space just so a small minority can park there.
(Some websites say there are as many as twelve million visitors per year, which if it were true would work out to an average of over 38,000 per day.)
Second photo: Unfortunately the shortest way to walk from the train station Versailles Rive Gauche to the palace leads right through this parking lot, so some people actually walk this way, zig-zagging through the parked cars to get to the palace gate. Fortunately there are ways to walk around the parking lot, for instance walk up the Rue de la Chancellerie, which even has a row of shade trees, and turn right when you get to the palace fence.
By the way, if you are a motorist and insist on driving to Versailles, your chances of actually getting a space in this parking lot are slim, since the lot usually fills up by mid-morning. If you do get a place, figure on paying up to € 28.00 for a ten-hour day.
But parking is free here at night, from 7:00 pm to 8:00 am. Since performances at the Royal Opera typically start at 8:00 pm, opera goers can park here for free in the evenings.
Obviously I do not recommend coming to Versailles by car, not only because of the parking costs.
Next: Getting to Versailles in the summer
sound advise is always better
risks for tourists is none, the city is pretty quiet and upscale in general, you will have more problems in the lines at the Chateau than things to worry about otherwise. There are some sellers in front of the chateau not to be confide, and be careful about your wallet as anywhere else, but nothing major.
I first came to Versailles in 1991,and visited often, then came to be French and move here in 2003 lived by the notre dame district until moving to brittany in 2012. Never a problem on foot or by car or trains. My kids went to school here and on nearby Le Chesnay, took the public buses in the city and walk the streets, never a problem. It is really a safe city,not to say that is perfect and you wont have any incident just be careful as you would at home with your valuables.
Studies show that in 2011 6 Million visitors came to Versailles, with 98% of them to visit the Chateau. 68% of those were from foreign countries with average spenditures of 51€ per person. The most are at 10% ,the Americans, then 6% Canadians, also 4% Brazilians, and 2% Belgians. Chinese were 8%, and from France 64% are from the interior, 24% from the Paris region and 12% Parisiens themselves.
The big problem is that of the 98% that come to the chateau only 8% walk in the district of Saint-Louis, 5% by my area of Notre-Dame ,and 11% by the market plaza, so you guys need to move out , plenty to see in the city history of many countries and France ,be not afraid.
Many circuits are propose by the tourist office in ave de Paris, and if in town let me know ,who knows I might be around, there often not always advertise.
Enjoy Versailles.the police will take care of you, Main HQ : 3 bis passage Pilâtre du Rozier - Tél : 01 39 50 25 48
Annexe : 20 rue de Noailles- Tél : 01 30 21 25 77 - Fax : 01 30 97 02 68
Hours are : 8h30 - 12h00 and 14h00 - 18h00 /Friday closes at 17h00 ,and close weekends if need to be at the office, policemen are always around in the city
The administrative building for the police is at 19 ave de Paris in district of Montreuil up from the chateau. tel +33 01 39 24 70 00
- Castles and Palaces
- Family Travel
Protection of visitors with guns
When I was in Paris and Versailles in November of 1995 there were several terrorist acts in France, many strikes and many policemen and guards on the streets. One of them I sat at the entrance in the Versailles Park. I’ve never seen guards with such guns that’s why I took this picture.
- Road Trip
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
As of January 2009 it appears that they have discontinued the Forfait Loisirs. If you know what day you want to travel on, you might look into booking online
Versailles may very well be the most visited attraction in and around Paris, on one of our visits the queue to buy tickets was enormous even though we arrived just shortly after it opened. There are at least two ways to avoid standing in that queue, the 1st is the purchase of the Paris Museum Pass which Versailles is included on and the other is online where you can buy before you arrive.
On the other hand, on our last visit in July 2011, the security line took longer than the ticket line, it's possible that most people now come with prepurchased tickets. The museum pass didn't cut the security line, it really offered little benefit on this particular visit.
I assume that you also skip the queues if you go on a guided tour through one of the many companies that offer daytrips to Versailles from Paris.
When we left around 3:30 or 4 pm there was still a huge queue to buy tickets, I think that it is simply crowded all day long, at least in the peak summer season.
Look for the signs to tell you which entrance to go in, in August 2008 entrance A was for those people who neglected to buy tickets before they left Paris, entrance B for groups with reservations for non guided visits and entrance C for those people wise enough to either have a Paris Museum Pass or a Forfait Loisirs or groups or individuals on guided tours.
Since the spectacle of Grandes Eaux Musicales takes place only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (except 1/05) from 11 to 12 h and 15.30 - 17.30 h, starting at 2/04/2011 and ending on 30/10/2011 the majority of the visitors of the Castle of Versailles do not see this spectacle (price 8 €).
Indeed apart from these ± 65 days of Grandes Eaux, the fountains, the basins of Versailles are completely at rest. Not a drop of water is coming out of the fountains, no murmur of moving water. It is paradoxical, everywhere in France water spouts out of fountains except in Versailles!
The problem of the water provision of the gardens of Versailles existed already under Louis XIV. Expensive work was completed to pump water from ponds or rivers. The famous machine of Marly was even built to pump the water from the Seine.
But the flow was only of 3000 m ³ per day whereas at the time of the festivals of the King 10.000 m ³ were needed to feed all the fountains with full flow during 3 hours.
Presently water to supply the reservoirs is recirculated starting from the Grand Canal by modern pumps.
It is a pity that the direction of this monument did not develop a technical solution to ensure some flow of water, even reduced, to the fountains of the principal basins.
Today it is all or nothing during 300 days/year.
- Castles and Palaces
Select a Designated Meeting Point
Boy, we sure could have used the tip I'm about to give here before we got to Versailles.
To make a long story really short, for about 2 1/2 hours I lost track of Sue and vice-versa in the Palace of Versailles. Fortunately I finally located her by looking through the window at one of the Versailles gift shops.
Anyway, here's the tip. Before going to a large place like the Palace of Versailles be sure that you and your companion(s) designate a spot and time to meet at in case you are separated from one another. In some locations it may be difficult, but try to pick out a central point and say if we are separated we will meet here at 3:00 p.m.
I know, you're probably thinking why didn't they just use their cell phones to call each other. For one, we did not take our cell phones to Europe with us (didn't want to stay connected as we were on vacation). And even if you do have cell phones make sure they are charged up before you start on your day (WOW 2 tips in 1, no extra charge)
You will want to move in.....
Versailles was an ubelievable experience and I was glad to have finally sen it for myself. The beauty of the palace and the gardens are so incredible, you might want to move in. I can see how Royalty became accustomed to such fine living....I know I could.
Don't lose your ticket!
Somewhere between going through security and trying to get the audio headphones I either dropped our ticket or neglected to get it back from security. When we got up to get the audio tour headphones that is included with the Forfait Loisirs, they asked to see the ticket and refused to give us one unless we produced the ticket.
After looking around the courtyard for it and unsuccessfully trying to check with the security people, we tried a different tactic, we inserted our return train ticket which was the same size into the slot on the Forfait Loisirs slot and voila, we were the proud renters of headphones! You have to produce that ticket several more times throughout your visit, at the Petit and Grand Trianons, so make sure you hold onto it.
Reading a map!
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, the catchy title of the 1992 bestseller by John Gray, succinctly expresses an ancient dilemma. What--if anything--do men's and women's brains do differently?
The general statement that men and women respond and behave differently under the same circumstances is true; For example, from the crib, male babies tend to be more aggressive and females more passive. As adults, in spatial operations, men have the edge in such skills as negotiating a maze, reading a map, and quickly discriminating between right and left. Men also perform better than women when asked to visualize an object and imagine rotating it. On the other hand, women tend to perform better than men when asked to look at objects of different shapes, sizes, and colors, and then to group them in some order.
This still doesn't explian why a woman turns the map all around when a man is asking for the road to travel, while I like the map at one point so I can better visualize our position. Help!
- Castles and Palaces
- Road Trip
Long ticket queues
Versailles may very well be the most visited attraction in and around Paris, the queue to buy tickets was enormous even though we arrived just shortly after it opened. There are at least two ways to avoid standing in that queue, the 1st is the purchase of the Paris Museum Pass which Versailles is included on and the other is the Forfait Loisirs which you can buy before you leave Paris which is a combined train and admission ticket.
I assume that you also skip the queues if you go on a guided tour through one of the many companies that offer daytrips to Versailles from Paris, but then you have to remember that you will be rushed along and cannot spend time as you see fit.
Fountains are not always on
I would have really liked to see the fountains in action but our visit to Paris did not including a Saturday or Sunday when the fountains are on. The Grandes Eaux Musicales, the fountain show, is only on the weekend and public holidays from 1 April to 30 September, the rest of the time the fountains are turned off.
Where Can I Sit Down?
This is a desire that is expressed by all children below the age of 10, by seniors and those with walking disabilities who are making the "Grand Tour" of the Apartments and the Hall of Mirrors. It is a long walk (4-500m) with a tall staircase to climb and descend at each end. The extremely crowded onward flow of people makes turning back next to impossible. There are a few benches on the ground floor near the ticket area and at the far exit (see the illustrations). After exiting you may find your way to the terrace behind the palace and sit on the steps. Beyond that you will be lucky to find a bench somewhere in the gardens or near the left refreshment area (see Restaurant Tips).
- Family Travel
Caution: Tour Guides!!
This woman ( a 'professional" tour guide ) got in front of my camera while I was trying to take a picture and started shouting at me to move out of the way so her group could get the shot I wanted. This photo just looks completely insane. So, my point is, beware of the tour guides, they can be vicious!
Just a warning tip - no danger at all (exept for eventual pickpockets at the entrance)
But whenever visiting this marvellous Chateau - respect your personal time schedule and interests because this place is so huge - and time so short whenever visiting it for only one day.
- The flower scéne in the garden is May/June - if nature grills are on time (not in 2006)
- Fountains are jetting water every day - but the time is limited - start around 16hr00 or early morning till midday
- Castles and Palaces