Versailles for children -- 9 and 12?

Old Feb 10th, 2002, 08:43 AM
  #1  
Jennifer
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Versailles for children -- 9 and 12?

Hi,

I'll be in Paris with my nine-year-old son and twelve-year-old daughter in March. Although I've never been to Versailles and would like to visit it myself, I'm not sure how much the children would enjoy it. I realize all kids are different, but if anyone has taken children about the age of mine to Versailles, I'd really appreciate any comments that you'd be willing to share.

Thank you!

Jennifer
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 10:13 AM
  #2  
Marsha
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I took my 8 year-old daughter to Versailles in March 2000, and she didn't like it very much. We took one of the tours that were offered, but the subject matter was way above her head. It was very crowded and she is short, so she felt smothered by all the adults around here. The only thing that she liked was the Hall of Mirrors. Unfortunately, the tour did not include Louis XVI clocks (which I remember from a prior visit) which might have been more interesting. It was also rainy and cold that day, so we didn't go out into the gardens. I wouldn't recommend Versailles for a child or early teen.
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 10:40 AM
  #3  
Jennifer
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Thanks very much Marsha. Your daughter's feelings are kind of what I suspect may be that for my children, although they're a bit older. I've read several books on going to Paris with children, and unless I'm mistaken, I don't recall Versailles being recommended.

I really appreciate your response!

Jennifer
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 10:44 AM
  #4  
Andre
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Jennifer,

If the weather is cooperating, GO FOR IT!

The main problem with getting to Versailles is the long, boring train ride (about an hour) through the suburbs.

The gardens are unbelievable! You can rent bikes, a rowboat etc. Best bet is the "grandes eaux" every Sun May to Sept from 3:30 to 5 PM when they turn on the spectacular fountains. Sure beats Disneyland in my book.

The interior of the castle may be a bit more tricky for small kids. I think you might be able to see the Hall of Mirrors and the "chapel" (more of a small cathedral actually) without joining a long tour.

Take a look at www.chateauversailles.fr
It will give you all the info you need to plan your visit.

They also mention special tours for kids. Here's the link:
http://www.chateauversailles.fr/en/540.asp

Bon voyage!
Andre
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 10:44 AM
  #5  
Linda
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I can only guess that children wouldn't like it that much unless they are into history. I was there last May, it was hot and VERY CROWDED! Marsha put it correctly when she said her child felt smothered--I'm 5'3" and felt the same.

The rooms open up onto one another with the doorways along the right. The rooms are roped off and you move (no, inch along) straight down the length of the building ending at the the Hall of Mirrors which was impressive and the highlight for me (the crowds also disperse there so that helped). At the other end of the Hall you proceed down the other side in a similar fashion. It's not just the sheer amount of people which slows things down, it's the tours. Each group tries to congregate near the roped off section--and there are several tours in the same room--so the guide can speak. I could see hardly anything inside the room, just the artwork on the walls.

Our big mistake was that we went on VE day--a national holiday. The day before we'd traveled from London, I think it was Monday, where they were celebrating VE Day. Woke up Tuesday morning in Paris and couldn't figure out why the streets were empty--we found out when we got to Versailles. When we approached Versailles (which is huge, virtually encompasses your field of vision from side to side) the front lot was filled with buses. The land around Versailles is public property and absolutely beautiful and full of French enjoying a splendid day off. All I could think of was Disney during a school vacation week!
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 11:12 AM
  #6  
Think
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Do your children like walking around large old homes where you live? Will they be interested in the furniture, paintings, walls, gardens?
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 11:38 AM
  #7  
patg
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If you do decide to take them, you might help prepare them by buying a computer game called "Versailles", a mystery game that follows a young page through the palace. The reproductions are very good, and it would be a painless way to give them a sense of its place in history. It's a fun game for both preteens and adults.
 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 12:13 PM
  #8  
Bob Brown
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I agree that a child could very well feel smothered going through Versailles.
I felt that way too. When I feel squeezed in, I start getting agressive feelings.
A child could well feel claustrophobic and threatened in that mob. I can remember being drug into places like that when I was small, and I recall feeling more like it was a fight for survival than it was a thrill.
If you could go through the palace later in the day after all of the tour buses have taken their hoardes elsewhere, and someone was along who could present the reason for all of the opulence at the child's level, I think it could be a most beneficial experience. But unless the child is about 5 feet, 5 inches or more in height, I think they could well feel like they were being smushed on a regular tour.
I am a little more than 6 feet, and I felt like I was being enveloped when I was there.
Thank heaven Fontainebleau and Schönbrunn was not that crowded and I was able to enjoy it more.
If you want to show the children a little about French royalty, Fontainebleau might be a better choice. All the trappings of monarchy and empire are there and the crowds the afternoon I toured the castle were not nearly as severe and opressive as they were at Versailles. I honestly was glad to get out of there!!

 
Old Feb 10th, 2002, 03:59 PM
  #9  
Jennifer
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Wow, I cannot thank you enough for the valuable responses! I think the specialty tour for younger children may really be what we're looking for. It's interesting that people mention height -- the kids are 5'0" and 5'8"! So, although they're young, I'm glad I'll have their passports with me, because I doubt people will believe their ages.

I'm still going to bat the idea around a bit. We're making a list of top priorities and we'll just move down and if we reach Versailles on the list, we'll go. Of course, number one is the Catacombs. {yuck} I only hope it's as good as the kids think it will be.

Thanks again,

Jennifer
 
Old Feb 11th, 2002, 05:26 AM
  #10  
lina
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Jennifer, thanks for asking this question. I'm 5'2" and hate the feeling of being smothered.

We were planning to see Versailles this time round - and now I'm getting cold feet. I'm wondering if Vaux le Vicomte might be less aggravating. Though I'm not so sure it would be any better for Jennifer's purposes; kids probably wouldn't enjoy it any better, or would they?
 
Old Feb 12th, 2002, 06:05 AM
  #11  
Susan
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Hi, We are heading to Paris this week with our kids, ages 11 and 14. We were planning to visit Versailles on Sunday morning. These messages are worrying me! I know that my kids will be interested in Versaille (they loved Hampton Court in London last year), but will it be that crowded in February?? Please advise! We can still change our plans for the visit to Versaille.
 

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