Well hello my lovely blog readers. Yes, I am still in Paris. Yes, I should be enjoying the sights. But, I’ll be honest: I have seen so much art/historical sites/palaces in the past few days that our brains really can’t take it anymore. So, we have returned to our apartment for a bit of relaxing (and cheap wine drinking), which allows me to get cracking on sharing our Paris experience with you all. Now if you will remember, I posted a little bit about our first 24 hours here (just in case you missed it).
For our second day in Paris, we decided to head out to Versailles. Apparently, everyone else did too. You see, by the time we arrived at the famous palace the cue was winding through the courtyard. Why didn’t we just leave and return another day? Versailles is at least at a 30-40 minute train ride out of the city, so once you are there you are sort of committed. Little did we know that the cue would take us nearly two hours. (**Yes, you can enter a fainting motion here. Keeping that waiting time in mind, our experience of that palace is a bit slanted and wasn’t very positive but here is my honest take. **)
Entering the palace, we were given maps of the estate with a single direction of how a guest was to experience Versailles. This meant that all of the guests who were waiting to enter in the courtyard with us, were shuffling through all the rooms in the same direction and same pace. There was no flexibility in the order of seeing the palace, which meant everyone was being fed into a giant tourist machine.
To top it off, there were no control of the number of large tourist groups entering Versailles at any given point. What you were left with was essentially a major cluster. Each room was wall-to-wall packed, you could hardly lift your camera to get a snapshot let alone multiple shots. Essentially, Neal and I were miserable. The worst part? We had to finish the “tour”, as there was only one single direction for the palace. I was overwhelmed by the masses of people, and incredibly frustrated.
I was able to snap a few shots of the interior of the palace itself:
After walking through the palace, we decided to explore the gardens. I’ll be honest, at this point we were searching for a redeeming point of this visit and we were hoping the gardens would do just that.
The gardens at Versailles are massive, and I was incredibly impressed by the perfect lines of shrubs and trees, dotted with fountains and sculptures. I kept thinking to myself how lovely the gardens must be in full bloom.
From the gardens, had lunch (another frommage baguette for me, thank you) while trying to decide if we ventured on to view the Grand Trianon a smaller chateau built by Louis XIV. The debate was based on how much more mileage our feet had since standing in line for 2 hours on uneven cobblestone can wear you out. Since our Museum Pass included the Grand Trianon too, we decided to venture out…and in the end we were glad we did. It was our favorite part of the the trip out Versialles. Essentially, the Grand Trianon is a smaller chateau with much of the same decor style as the big palace. Best part? There was no wait and hardly any visitors.
We headed back to the palace, through the gardens and I was really happy to have made the extra trek out the Grand Trianon. When we made it back to the main palace, we were greeted with the fountains working. This was a lovely surprise.
As always, here are a few of my tips from my personal experience:
- Arrive early. We arrived about 1 hour after Versailles opened, that could have been our mistake.
- Don’t go on Tuesday. The Louvre is closed on Tuesday, so many people head out to Versailles that day. (Also, the palace is closed on Monday.)
- If you arrive and the line is super crazy long, head to the gardens as there is no charge for the gardens. (The entrance is to the left.) You can experience the grounds and the other chateaus on the estate without standing in a massive line.
- Wear sturdy walking shoes! The estate is MASSIVE. I saw women teetering in high heels, and I wondered how they would make it around the entire estate.
- Plan for the day: you can rent bikes or a row boat in the gardens at Versailles. We didn’t opt for it in the end (since it was super cold), but it could be a fun afternoon.
There you have it, my take on visiting Versailles. What are your thoughts? Have you visited? What was your experience like? I would love to hear from you.