Paris to Versailles info Please

Old Mar 18th, 2000, 01:15 PM
Jerald Hawkins
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Paris to Versailles info Please

My Wife & I are taking our 12 & 15 yo. grandchildren to London & Paris in mid April. What would be the best & most economical way to go to Versailles & be able to understand the beauty we will see there. I know one company has a Versailles + Giverny bus trip @ 585F per person but that really stretches the budget out of shape. Any info would be appreciated.
Old Mar 18th, 2000, 03:09 PM
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Jerald, we took the RER train from Paris to Versailles, guide book in hand, then wandered the grounds until all the tour bus groups left (around 3 p.m.) Then we walked right in (no lines!) and had a conducted tour of the main palace. Try the Versailles web site for more info. It was fairly inexpensive and do-it-yourself, but we enjoyed it.
Old Mar 18th, 2000, 03:33 PM
Bob Brown
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Many of the regulars who contribute to the forum can answer your question expertly. I just happened to be the first to see it. We did Versailles and Giverny "freelance" last September.
For Giverny, you take the train bound for Rouen from the St. Lazare station and get off at Vernon. There is a bus stop near the station, to your right or straight ahead depending which door you come out of.
When we went, the bus filled up quickly, so we shared a taxi. If there are 4 of you, the taxi might be easier. The expense will be offset by the saved bus fare.
Make sure you arrange with the driver to pick you up to return you to the train. Our driver spoke limited English, very limited, but fortunately we shared the ride and one of our companions spoke a little French. Give a safety margin on the time for picking you up!!
For Versailles take RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche. Make sure the car name starts with a V like Vick and that it is marked Versailles Rive Gauche or Versailles RG. The Versailles RER station is within walking distance of the palace. As I recall we took the train from the Invalides station, which is large because two Metro routes cross there as well. The RER ticket is separate from a Metro ticket. Trains run frequently.
We made both trips with no problem, except the taxi driver gave us a thrill in Vernon by being a little late to get us for the return ride to the train. But we made the train in time.
Remember to "composte" your ticket in a machine before boarding the train. The machine is usually orange and is located near the track where the trains depart.
When the conductor comes through, he is looking for violators I am told.
Given that you will be there in mid April, the weather can be cloudy and unpleasent. My first visit to Paris was in April and it was miserable. I joked that I never saw the Eiffel Tower, but I felt of it. (The idea being that the fog was so thick that I could not see the tower, but I walked up to it and grabbed a piece of one of the iron legs.) I wonder if Giverny is open by April 15??? I hope someone else will give us that information.
Old Mar 18th, 2000, 05:43 PM
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Hi, Jerald: We went to Versailles just this past Thursday. Normally I am a do-it-yourselfer, but we opted for a CityRama 1/2 day tour with driver. The reason why? We'd spent several days using the Metro, walking, etc . . . and we were just too tired to navigate even though we wanted to see Versailles. We bought the 1/2 day guided tour. Lined up by the bus at 9:00 a.m. and bus left at 9:30, returning at 1:30. Sort of nice for someone else to drive. CityRama tickets are sold at their office just behind the Regina Hotel on the Rue de Rivoli. If you are metroing to the place, get off at Metro Tuileries, come up the steps, look for Joan of Arc statue, cross the street, the buses are right there. You may want to go and buy your tickets the day before.

Again, usually I would do the RER/metro thing, but we were pooped, our feet hurt, and I snoozed a little on the bus as we were driving through the 16th Arr.

Our guide was great, gave us a lot of insight as to the history of the royalty: rooms/decor/kings/their power, etc.
Old Mar 18th, 2000, 09:31 PM
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If you're planning to take the RER, make sure that you get a RER ticket. You cannot use a standard carnet ticket on the RER (you might be able to get into the station, but you definitely will not be allowed out with that carnet ticket at Versailles).
Old Mar 19th, 2000, 05:35 AM
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I can think of 3 ways:

1. Go to Montparnasse Station and buy a train ticket to Versailles. Trains going to Rambouiellet/Chartres usually stop in Versailles.

2. Buy an RER ticket on the C Line to Versailles. At the ticket counter ask for Versailles-Rive Gauche. Before jumping on a train be sure you check it's name (on the front of the train) and that it indeed stops in Versailles (cross-reference the name to the schedule on the wall). This is my favourite way of getting there.

3. Take the metro to the Port de Sevres station. Grab the bus from this station that goes to Versailles.
Old Mar 19th, 2000, 01:47 PM
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The trains from Gare Montparnasse do indeed stop at Versailles, but not at the closest train station to the chateau. To avoid a longer walk than necessay, take the RER-C to Versailles Rive Gauche, which is the closest station.
Old Mar 20th, 2000, 02:07 PM
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All good answers. We took the train last November and did a self-guided tour. One thing you might want to consider with 12 & 15 year grandchildren. What is their attention span going to be? Don't get me wrong, I thought Versailles was marvelous, but if the kids get bored and you're on a bus tour, you'll be stuck until the tour leaves. With the train, you are free to wander at your own pace then take the train back whenever you and the children decide you've had enough. Just a suggestion.
Old Mar 20th, 2000, 02:37 PM
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One thing that has not been mentioned is the variety of tours once you arrive at Versailles. The "main tour" of the State Apartments- Queen's bedroom, Hall of Mirrors, Chapel, etc.- is where you will find yourself after entering through the "front door"-so to speak. Without a tour guide, you will need to rent an audioguide-about $5.00-to fully enjoy these rooms. These are virtually the only rooms that the bus tours(Cityrama, etc.) take you into, so touring this area after 3pm when the buses have gone is a good idea.
There are many other tour options, also. We have taken a guided tour of Louis XV's and Louis XVI's bedrooms and the Opera and I highly recommend it. We have also taken an audioguided tour of the King's Apartments-Louis XIV-and the apartments of the Dauphin and the Dauphine. This tour includes a visit to the Hall of Mirrors, also. This tour is also highly recommended. There are several other tours, as well, which you can make reservations for once you arrive at the chateau. It's almost a shame to just take the State Apartments tour and miss all the other treasures! Good luck.
Old Mar 20th, 2000, 03:04 PM
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Better than staying after 3:00 is to get there at 8:00 when the gardens open. We virtually had the whole place to ourselves and took some fantastic pictures - then came back and took some more after the fountains were on. It turned out really well and we have a lot of terrific pictures of Versailles with no people in them.
Old Mar 21st, 2000, 06:47 AM
jo ann
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Jerald: we used a cityrama tour last July (1/2 day, they picked us up at our hotel)and did not have a good experience. I had previously gone out self-guided by the train 4 times and had great success; this time we had our 10 yr old daughter and my 70 yr old mother with us, and I was worried about mom's stamina (she normally walks 2 miles a day, but the hike from the train to the castle area is lengthy, then one hikes quite a bit on the grounds, and the weather was hot, so I thought this would help.)
(a) we felt way too rushed (b) the other 4 people on our mini-bus were whiners (one woman thought it was too hot, her husband kept asking for the air-cond to be turned off as he was cold, etc)(b) this and other complaints made our guide an unhappy person so she was a trifle terse and disagreeable (maybe she would have been anyway).
If you go on your own, you'll have more flexibility (oops - it's raining today, let's wait til tomorrow to go), you can choose the segments you want, ditto on the leaving when you feel like it, and the kids may enjoy the train ride (my daughter made a "friend" on the train back from Vernon/Giverny.)
hope this helped.

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