First time in Paris

May 30th, 2001, 07:16 AM
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First time in Paris

We are going to Paris for the first time in June. We will be there for 6 days. Should we take a trip to Versaille? How do you get there? Is it far? Is it a full day trip?

May 30th, 2001, 07:38 AM
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In fact, we did this last week.

Versailles isn't nearly as far out of Paris as I thought it was. It's only about 45 minutes by car & you can also go by train.

We decided to use one of the two tour guide companies that had brochures in our hotel. They took us out in a air-conditioned mini-van.

The choices were:

*a half-day (4.5 hour) trip that left between 8-9 in the morning or between 1-2 in the afternoon.

*a full-day (8 hour?) trip that also left between 8-9 in the morning.

*a full-day trip that also included the fountain (& fireworx?) show that they have on certain days in the summer.

We took the first option because we didn't have much time in Paris. I really enjoyed it, but as a history buff, I would have liked to see & hear more.

They took us to the palace where we did the self-guided ausio tour of the royal apartments & then they drove us to Marie A's faux austrian village. I was disappointed that we didn't see more of the gardens, but c'est la vie!

I think the name of the company was Paris-vision or something like that
May 30th, 2001, 09:26 AM
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If you have six days go to Versailles. I have been there three times and it is simple to do on your own. You will end up spending three times as much using a company to take you and then you are at their mercy for time. Go to the Station at Montparnasse and purchase the ticket for the train to Versailles . At the station there are signs pointing to the palace and you have a very enjoyable 20 min. walk through the town. There are cafes, bakeries, etc. where you can eat. It is easy to purchase a ticket and sign up for the tours. You can also pay to ride the tram to visit the grounds and enjoy the places where royalty played. I usually spend about five hours there and enjoy walking the grounds.
May 30th, 2001, 10:01 AM
Jim Tardio
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The answer above is right. It's very easy to take the train there.

Versailles is very crowded. If you want to skip the long lines to go inside, sign up for a guided tour. It's only a little bit more money and you get a you see everything that everyone is getting in line for.

That being said, I found the palace itself to be very run down. everything was dusty and unorganized.

The gardens are worth a visit, especially if you are there when they turn the fountains on. I forgot when they do this, but your guide book should have this info.

I was in Paris and Versailles in April. I have some photos of both areas on my website if you'd like to have a look....go here:,france.html
May 30th, 2001, 10:21 AM
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I was just there 2 weeks ago. Our hotel was by the Eiffel tower and it took us 20 minutes to get there via our rent car. We parked up near the palace in a huge parking lot. We moved from the street because of the short time allowed on the meters. It was a very easy trip and can be done in half a day.

It is run down in some parts as the poster above stated. It is more interesting if you use the recorded tours, otherwise you feel like you are looking at just room after room. Some rooms get warm with all the people. We had advance Carte Passes that we bought on-line for our entire trip and felt they were well worth the money. At the palace we skipped the line for the Queens side but had to purchase and stand in line for the Kings side. Line for the King side took about 30 - 45 minutes. Line to get the recorded tour equipment for the Queens side took about 10 - 15 minutes.

We were not allowed to go into the gardens because they were planning a concert that afternoon and you had to be attending the concert to get past a certain point.

We felt it was a nice part of our trip but I can certainly see why other posters recommend going only if you have enough time. We left and still had plenty of time to do something else back in Paris.

Should you go: I wish I had known this, wear very flat shoes or tennis shoes, etc. You will have a long walk to the palace and it is all cobble stone. Even inside the gates. It is "very" difficult to walk on for "everyone".

We did stumble onto a gift shop there and purchased alot of neat things. There is one that is larger than the others and has more items to choose from. I think it was at the base of the marble stairs at the end of the Queens side (just before you are guided out into a courtyard, look left)
May 30th, 2001, 11:21 AM
Chris Philhower
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We were very disappointed with Versailles -- VERY crowded, not a lot of furniture (it was all sold during the revolution -- I think not having furniture contributes to the run down appearance), and the hall of mirrors only served to make it seem MORE crowded! We took Cityrama out there, had one of their guides for the tour (very good, but hard to hear because of all the crowding.) A lot of people do go out to walk the gardens, picnic, etc. The gardens should be lovely in June.

Don't think that I'm saying not to go! If you don't, you'll feel like you missed something (and I'm still glad I went.) But try to get to Napoleon's apartments in the Louvre -- they're much better furnished and therefore give you a sense of being much more opulent. Having said that, walking up to Versailles through the gold gates is really impressive! And do buy the guidebook -- I didn't take any photos because there were too many people -- the book has lovely photos.

You might also think about a trip to the Loire Valley -- Tours -- to see some chateaux. You might be able to squeeze it into a day trip (Chenenceau is breathtaking), just check out the sncf website for times for the trains. The tourist office in Tours is very helpful. We took a cab to a few of the other chateaux (we were taking another tour through Touraine Evasion the next day) and it was about $100 for 3-4 hours.

I love Lyon (I live here too) -- 2 hours from Paris by TGV and do-able in a fast day. Pretty little city -- ruins of Roman theatres, the St. Jean area, the center of silk, and most importantly -- nirvana for French food!

And Brussels is a day trip too. Only a couple of hours from Paris and there aren't an overwhelming amount of things to see.

Six days in Paris is a lot -- and you can always nap through jet lag on a train to somewhere else!
May 30th, 2001, 12:52 PM
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This is all personal preference, of course, but if you'll be there for 6 days I would stay in Paris. There's just too much to see and do and still leave time for strolling, sitting at a cafe and watching the scene and breathing in the ambiance. If you want to go it's easy enough on your own. Take the RER Line C - Direction Versailles Rive Gauche. This will let you off close to the Chateau. Trains also run to Versailles from Gare St. Lazare (Metro St. Lazare) every 15 minutes. It's about a 30 minute ride and costs $5 round trip. It lets you off in town - you have a longer walk but get to see the town. Try to avoid Sundays - tremendous crowds, unless you want to see the fountains. Then it has to be Sunday. Closed Monday. Admission about $9. For more Paris informatiomn e-mail me - [email protected]
May 30th, 2001, 01:25 PM
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Concur with those who say dump Versailles. If you want a day trip, try Chartes. Fading memory tells me its about 40 min. by train. One of the best catherdrals. Nice town.
May 30th, 2001, 02:24 PM
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I agree with Dave. Go to Chartres, although I think the train takes about an hour. Very short walk to the cathedral and the Medieval town adjacent is fantastic. Try to go when Malcolm Miller is giving tours - he is very interesting. Try a search on "Google" to find his tour times and dates.

Otherwise, stay in Paris as suggested above. There is so much to see and do. Just relax and bring your best walking shoes.

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