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3 days in Paris- a day trip to Versailles?


Jan 23rd, 2012, 05:58 PM
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3 days in Paris- a day trip to Versailles?

I am planning a 3 day trip to Paris on 2/3-2/6. What are the best things to do for a "newbie" to Paris? I will be staying on Champs-Elysees...

I've heard alot about Versailles...is it possible to do a day trip? If so, is it worth it? Or should I just stay in Paris and take in all the sites?
Kim_Pike is offline  
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 06:09 PM
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1. I would never stay on the Champs Elysées, and I've made more than 100 trips to Paris.

2. What, exactly, have you "heard" about Versailles, and what draws you there? Are you a major French history buff interested in the particulars of the Sun King's daily rituals? Or did you just "hear" that it was a "venue?" I would only advise a daytrip to Versailles to someone who had at least a week in Paris or who had a firm command of that aspect of French history.

3. What are the best things to do? Well, why are you traveling to Paris to begin with? How would we know what you would like to do? We don't know if you're interested in jazz, museums, the whores of Pigalle, the Impressionistes in museums, the parcs, the high-end restauarants, the outdoor markets...could be anybody's guess.

Here comes semiaramis....
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 06:13 PM
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Versailles to me is an integral part of Paris - in the suburbs and just a short metro/RER train ride away to a station right near the gates to the famed palace and gardens (don't miss the fab gardens and park as well - to me and others the sweetest part of a Versailles day trip.

Most Fodorites in past discussions of this will say there is so so much in Paris proper to do that you cannot afford the time to trip out to Versailles - but really this is one of the 7th wonders of the western world and is really in Paris and should IMO be near the top of any Paris itinerary.

Yet most others if past discussions are valid will say you are daft to with only three days in Paris spent the 230 minutes or so each way to day trip out to what is probably the world's most famous palace - go on a weekend and you can also experience the fantastic water fountains in the vast gardens splish-splashing to the tune of piped in classical music - the so-called Grandes Eaux (big waters) that Versailles offers many weekends in summer (extra charge though)

and in the park do not miss the recently re-habbed Hameau (sp?) where Marie-Antoinette once allegedly liked to play peasant farmer - there is a farmer's hut and gardens, etc.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Thanks for your reply.
@ StCirq

I am in Paris because I will be in Belgium the week prior for a sales meeting. I am staying on Champs-Elysees because I needed to use my Marriott points and that was the only option.

I appreciate your feedback on Versailles. Although I am interested in French history, it seems like it may be a bit much for my short stay in Paris.

As far as my interests, they are quite broad. Music, museums, fashion, great restaurants for French food (don't have to be high end). As I mentioned, I have never been to Paris so my original thoughts were to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame and Moulin rouge...in additon to any other suggestions?
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 06:35 PM
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Musée d'Orsay, the Marmottan for Monet paintings, the Musée Cluny if only for the tapestries of the senses:


The Sainte Chapelle (better than Notre_Dame for its stained glass in my opinion), walking in the passages...the list is endless.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 08:08 PM
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I would save Chateau Versailles for another trip.

But, YOU might want to peruse the official website to determine it's appeal to you personally. Note that it's much nicer (for visiting the gardens and walking from one place to another there) in the better weather.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 10:50 PM
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i would also save versailles-- it would take the whole day and you will be exhausted, most likely. if you like history, you can marry it with art and got the the amazing musee carnavalet. all kinds of amazing paintings and works of art that depict the history of paris. it's in the marais, which is a great area to explore-- and the building is lovely. we were in paris several times before going there, and couldn't believe how much we loved it. (and we're not history buffs in the least.)

go out to versailles next time-- and it will likely be warmer (for walking the grounds) next trip than it will be in february, as well.
have fun!
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 11:41 PM
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Whether Versailles is "worth" is one of the many eternal questions posed here.

There are many that advocate formula based approach; if your stay is longer than so many days, then it is worth it. Is it that simple? Is there any value judgment?

Versailles is for all purpose an all day trip. It takes perhaps one hour of so to the entrance from Paris and everything there is huge. February is not a good time to show the palace in its colorful splendor.

If you have been fascinated by the significance of Versailles in French history and its role in transitioning to democracy then the value of the visit justifies the time taken away from your 3 days, or even from a one day stay. On the other hand, if you have to ask its significance, it is probably more hassle than what it worths especially in February.

If you look up any guidebooks, there is usually a page on "Paris highlights." Rick Steves and Fodors have such sections. You can cross check what you "heard" are the places to visit vs. what guidebooks say as well as what people in this forum say. Some think the "first hand" posting of this forum is superior to guidebooks, but one must realize that it is a still a compilation of anecdotes each one having different view on what it means to be "worthwhile."
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Jan 24th, 2012, 01:44 AM
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I've been to Paris twice for short trips and each time considered going to Versailles. I am a history geek and think I would love it, BUT there is so much to see and do in Paris (including time to sit and people-watch) that I decided not to do it and spend all my time in the city instead.

Maybe one day....
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Jan 24th, 2012, 05:43 AM
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I'd skip Versailles too with only 3 days. If you want to see voluptuous interiors go to the Louvre and see the Napoleon III apartments.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 06:18 AM
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Hi KP,

For a newbie with only 3 days in Paris, I suggest staying in the city.

Enjoy your visit.

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Jan 24th, 2012, 06:18 AM
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I say go for it. You aren't going to make a dent in seeing things in Paris in 3 days anyhow.

Here's a site: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-to-cha...lles-by-train/

When we went, the train's name was "Vick". I didn't see that when I quickly read the instructions at the above site. Perhaps others can simplify for you.

If you love modern art, see Pompidou Centre (nice rooftop resto); Impressionism, Musée D'Orsay (had 2 restos when we were there) and Orangerie.

Ste. Chappelle is stunning. Go on a sunny day. It may have changed but when DH and I visited Carnavalet, it was helpful to be able to read French as most of the labels were in that language only.

Please let everyone know how it goes.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 07:05 AM
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You don't have to pre-book to Versailles, so see how you feel when you get to Paris and have explored some. I wouldn't go on such a short trip, particularly in winter.

I've stayed at your hotel on a business trip and on points. It's very comfortable, good service. As you might expect, the bar, breakfast, etc. are expensive. I found some nice, reasonable restaurants on the streets off the Champs. I wish I had taken notes but remember they were across the Champs and down a side street toward the river.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 10:26 AM
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BOTH Versailles and the Louvre are former palaces. The Louvre is closer to the Champs than Versailles. The closest RER C station to you is Invalides. It is 36 minutes to Versailles Rive Gauche from there. An additional 15 minutes walking to the gates.

I'd completely skip the Moulin Rouge, we went our first trip, and compared to Versailles, it was a complete waste of time, IMO. Three days, with no jet lag to worry about, Versailles is completely acceptable.

As for the whole Paris v. Versailles debate, your history books should tell you that the Paris Peace Conference of 1918-19 was primarily held at the Palace of Versailles. It appears as though Versailles was disambibuated from "Paris" by various travel websites, and the member contributors.

Kinda of like separating DisneyWorld from Orlando. (DisneyWorld is in Kissimmee, FL, NOT Orlando).
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Jan 24th, 2012, 11:49 AM
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If you do go, I'd recommend catching an early RER train to Versailles Rive Gauche to miss crowds. You could spend less than a day, focus on interiors and a glance from back terrace at fountain/gardens.

Have a look at the Destination guide here
Michel_Paris is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2012, 12:28 PM
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Versailles is just not worth the time in such a short visit to Paris.
And I also might suggest that you really "do" have a different choice than the Marriot on the very sterile Champs. For a more memorable short trip, pay for a hotel--even go to Priceline--in a more fun part of Paris with some life to it. You don't have to spend a mint on it. Have a real trip to Paris. ;o)
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Jan 24th, 2012, 12:54 PM
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It appears as though Versailles was disambibuated from "Paris" by various travel websites, and the member contributors.

Historically, and perhaps more than geographically, Versailles is distinct from Paris. Louis XIV decided to expand Louis XIII's hunting lodge because of his experience during the Fronde when Paris was anti-Royalist. This was further emphasized when the riotous population made Louis XVI move back to the Louvre during the French Revolution. And finally, the Paris Commune was suppressed by the Versaillais, and ever since Versailles has the reputation of being a conservative if not reactionary stronghold. Versailles is not Paris, even if it is included in a visit to Paris.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 02:06 PM
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I would leave Versailles for a trip when you have more time. There is so much to see and do in Paris and so much of it is more interesting and rewarding than Versailles (in my opinion). After 8 trips to Paris, we have been to Versailles once. We always intend to go back but never find the time.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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I guess I'm one of those "rule of thumb' people.

In my case, I usually recommend a day at Versailles if you are in Paris 7 days or more - unless it's a 2nd or subsequent visit.
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