versailles or ...

Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 07:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 103
versailles or ...

one day excursion: what would you recommend outside Paris in August?
andie is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Versailles is a good one for all the obvious reasons. some people say the cathedral at Chartre. Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau on the east can be done in one tour in one day.
I freelanced it last year, but by the time you pay the cab fare from the Melun train station to the chateau and back, a guided tour is not much more expensive.
Fontainebleau is easy. Train from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau, bus to the chateau gate, and return.
The added services of a guide are however more than worth the extra fee and the bus takes away any problems with getting there and back.
Versailles is an easy freelance, too.
My problem with it was the crowds of people. I don't know how to avoid those. I went early, but that strategy did not work. Perhaps enter the building later in the day in hopes that the tour bus throngs have migrated elsewhere by late afternoon.
bob_brown is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,652
No brainer: Versailles
PalenqueBob is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,631
I think Rick Steves suggests for Versailles to arrive about mid-day and see the gardens first, going through the chateau at the end of the day when crowds have thinned somewhat.
The official website can let you know what the hours of last admission to the Chateau are on each day.
elaine is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 288
The best part of Versailles is just sitting in the gardens, or renting a rowboat for an hour and just relaxing. Then stop at the crepes place. After all that, then go in the builiding, as all the crowd will now be outside. Make sure to see the Hall of Mirrors--it's the most impressive and memorable room inside.
allovereurope is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 10:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,544
Hi Andie,

You might like to visit Chantilly.
ira is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,028
Although definitely a minority opinion, my vote would be for Vaux le Vicomte. Great audio tour, and I like it better than Versailles.
maitaitom is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 10:40 AM
Posts: n/a
There is obviously a lot of bias toward Versailles as indicated by responses such as the "no brainer" one above and I agree that everyone should probably see it at least once. It is, I think, more than a little interesting to be able to walk through spaces and se paintings hundreds of years old and then you realize that the subject of the painting is, in some instances, the very room you are standing in..same rugs, same chairs, and that leads me to two of my only criticisms. The last time I visited I thought some of the furnishings, drapery work, etc., and so forth were beginning to look a bit worn...and it certainly isn't from conventional "use" but in terms of gardeur there are probably other sites in Europe that are now more luxurious and opulent.
The grounds are, or can be when they are well-maintained, nothing short of spectacular but during the season the place can be, like St. Peter's, Florence, etc., literally jammed with only other criticism.
There are a lot of possible daytrips from Paris now, especially with super-fast TGV services readily available.
Whatever you decide to do I hope it is a good way.
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 11:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,217
I'll speak for the minority opinion and say Versailles isn't necessarily a must-see. Like a previous poster, I found it a bit tattered and worn and the Hall of Mirrors dirty. I was completely underwhelmed after all I had heard about it.

What about Giverny or other chateaux which may be less crowded, more expansive? Fontainebleu and Vaux le Vicomte may be good choices (I'm going to both when I go back). Also, I have taken a day tour of some Loire castles which I found much more interesting and beautiful than Versailles.
amyb is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
Hi Andie,

I've been to Versailles a few times, Vaux, Giverny, Chantilly, Chartres, Senlis, and Compeigne.

If you want to see a church go to Chartres but only if Malcolm Miller is giving tours - his are fabulous. Getting there and seeing the cathedral and town will take most, if not all, of the day.

If you don't want to spend most of the day getting to and seeing Chartres then take the Notre Dame guided tour (1.5 hours) on Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday. It's as good as Miller's tour without his arrogance.

If you want to see a chateau I would recommend Versailles. Here's my suggestion for your day there. Get there as soon as it opens (9:00). Go immediately and book a tour and buy your ticket for the King's Chamber - the tour with a lecturer (recommend the 2-hour tour). They also used to have tours of the Queen's Chamber but perhaps they've combined the tours since there are varying length tours. Each tour used to be 1.5 hours. I couldn't find the tour times on the web site so can't help you there.

Have some lunch - going into town is better than eating at the chateau - it's a short walk.

After the guided tour and lunch you'll be refreshed to take the audio tour of the State Apartments which includes the Hall of Mirrors.

I haven't done the coach museum at Versailles but have other places and that sort of thing is quite interesting. You may be able to fit it in before the guided tour.

Then see the grounds either walking or on the little tram they have. The gardens are open until sunset so do them last. Don't miss the Hamlet where Marie Antoinette used to play at being a peasant.

adrienne is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,305
Giverny....especially if you like the Impressionists in general and Monet specifically.
HowardR is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,652
The thing is with a Versailles type place, it may disappoint you due to elbow-elbow crowds, making it more of a travail than travel, but if you don't go you may always think 'maybe i should have gone to Versailles - it's like going to Paris and not going up the Eifel Tower, that's why i said no-brainer, not that it was the best day trip. Folks into Monet would no doubt enjoy Giverny better, though waiting in line a few hours and then entering the mobbed gardens might make it too less romantic than expected. As for Chartres, this is an outstanding day trip, trains take you to within a gargoyle's spit from the cathedral. And there are Malcolm Miller's tours, which bring the old stones to life. He's haughty and tough to take however. On our tour we waited around for an hour just to take it and then a reeking of wine Miller appeared, sized up the small size of the group and loudly declared that this handful of folks wasn't worth his time and "he had better things to do' unless we all agreed to pay twice the normal fee. Well everyone paid but this left a bad taste in my mouth - if you advertise a tour at a certain price, do the tour no matter who shows up. In summer when his tours are packed does he reduce the price. But Miller's cantakorous obnoxious demeanor perhaps only adds to the experience. In any way, Chartres and its great cathedral is well worth the hour train ride out here. And Chartres itself is a lovely regional town with other old churches, a cute riverside promenade and one of Europe's bizarre museums, Picassiette's House - the home and gardens of a local street cleaner who would retrieve trash and then fashion it into a Gaudi-like wonder. Highly acclaimed in naive art quarters a la Watts Tower, but a mile out of the town center. You could do Versailles and Chartres in the same day as they are on the same rail line, but for most this would be too taxing. If doing this, get the hassle of lines at Versailles out of the way first and go on to Chartres, where the cathedral is often open quite late at night.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Old Jul 3rd, 2003, 08:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,652
PalenqueBob is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2003, 12:22 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 167
Call me crazy...I found Versaille crowded and boring.

Didn't like it at all and wouldn't go again.

In hindsight, wouldn't care if I'd never gone.
benderbabe is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2003, 12:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Anyone wondering need only visit their local bookstore and persuse the dozens of tour guides for Paris and environs to determine which destinations are most appealing to YOU.

You haven't mentioned the number of days you plan to spend in Paris.

djkbooks is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2003, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 148
I spent a July day going to Versailles from Paris, and was underwhelmed. Probably the rain had something to do with it - the gardens were pretty much inaccessible because of periodic lightning. But I also did not find the interiors as interesting as other places that I toured.

I don't have another recommendation for an excursion based on personal experience, but others have very much enjoyed Giverny.

Within Paris, I highly recommend the Museum of the City of Paris - just beautiful, the rooms take you through the history of the city in chronologoical order. Better than Versailles in my book.
axelrod6 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2003, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 5
The town of Amboise - down the Loire Valley - touring the chateau which was the final residence of Leonardo de Vinci...Clos-Lucé... they have a nice museum there. Amboise is charming, very picturesque location. Train ride transfers at Tours - (nice town to walk through if you have layover)...

Or - take a different direction and visit Giverny - for the Monet home and the added bonus of viewing the American Art museum nearby.

Chappelle is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jun 14th, 2010 11:23 AM
Sep 5th, 2008 11:02 AM
Jun 19th, 2007 08:06 AM
Jan 25th, 2007 08:12 AM
Feb 26th, 2006 10:31 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information