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Versailles or tour of Loire Valley and castles...

Versailles or tour of Loire Valley and castles...

May 19th, 2000, 03:16 AM
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Versailles or tour of Loire Valley and castles...

We are leaving in a few days for our first trip to Paris (I already have my francs!) We had Versailles as a definite day trip on our agenda, however, I have read some negative comments that, although Versaille is magnificent, it can seem to be more of the same after spending time at the Louvre. Would a day trip to the French country side, ie, Loire Valley be a better choice. Thank you for suggestions...I have enjoyed gleaning much info from this forum.
May 19th, 2000, 04:16 AM
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A tour of the chateaux in the Loire is a wonderful idea, but so is Versailles.
The Louvre was a palace turned into a
museum, a display of magnificent paintings and sculptures. Versailles, is a more sumptuous ( and younger) palace, decorated within an inch of its life, gorgeous rooms, carvings, marble,gildings, and furniture. The unsurpassed richness of it gave me a new perspective on the French revolution. And if you tire of that, you still have the gardens to explore, and the "out buildings" like the Trianons, the Hameau, etc. Versailles is a pleasant day out, in my opinion quite different from spending time at the Louvre.
If you have any interest in looking at my Paris and daytrip notes, feel free to email me.
Enjoy your trip.
May 19th, 2000, 04:19 AM
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If you only have a day to do a side trip, go to Versailles. It is a unique place and it will make for an interesting trip. Loire Valley deserves the time (more than a day) and good planning. Look at it as a compelling reason to already start planning a return trip.
May 19th, 2000, 04:30 AM
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One more vote for Versailles. And a vote against the Louvre - - perhaps - - it depends on how much time you have in Paris, and what are your interests in art. The Louvre is the treasure chest of the WORLD's art; the Musee d'Orsay is the treasure chest for far more of what most of us recognize as the greatest art from FRANCE.

Don't get me wrong; the Louvre will almost never be a bad experience. But I would generally not put in on the top ten list for Paris. Top twenty yes. (this is academic hair-splitting at its worst, I suppose - - depending on your interests, it would be as high as #6 to #9, and at worst, #10 to #12).

And reflecting my own PERSONAL interest in buying "artsy" gifts for others when I travel, I find the Carrousel du Louvre (an underground shopping arcade, physically connected to the entrance to the Louvre) one position higher than the Louvre itself. It's possibly my number one choice for a rainy day. But you may end up with NO bad weather, if you are leaving soon.

Best wishes,

May 19th, 2000, 08:22 AM
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Thank you all for your helpful suggestions. We have 8 full days in Paris, so we will definitely be doing the Louvre...and it looks as if Versailles will be one of our day trips. We are also going to Giverney because of our love of Monet and the Normandy beaches to get a perspective of what our Grandfather's and the world endured during the World Wars...We are leaving the US on Sunday evening, and hope the "franc" crisis is over by the time we arrive...if not, we have some francs to ration! Thank you again!
May 19th, 2000, 08:32 AM
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Louvre: Somewhere I read that if you looked at every thing in the museum for 2 minutes, it would take you 3 years to go through it. Daunting, ay? Sooo - you need an itinerary. Try the website:
Also go to the library and get a book on the museum; Rick Steve's book, Mona Winks, is a guided tour of the museum. My sister, who HATED museums (bad memories of school field trips), loved the Louvre 'cause it had "old dug up stuff" (her phrase for archaeology) and she could wander around to her heart's content. In other words, if you hate Flemish painters, don't go into that gallery. Pick out what you want to see, and just do that bit. There are no culture police to demand you see certain things. The building is quite spectacular, but in a more restrained (if you can use that word in the context of 'palace') manner than Versailles.

Versailles is a whole nother kettle of fish (if you can use THAT phrase when referring to a palace). Its history from simple hunting lodge to the site of the Treaty ending WWI is amazing. If you are a woodworker, you'll be enthralled with the panelling, carvings, furniture...if you are a seamstress or upholstere, you'll be in your glory looking at the bed drapings and chair covers...look UP and see glorious ceilings; look DOWN on the Queen's Stairway, where her guards were killed, to the last man, trying to prevent the mob from taking her, and believe you can still see their bloodstains; look out the backyard (another word that doesn't fit with palace) at the created lakes, imagining them filled with boats (they were, you know) and what great parties there must have been; visit the hameau, where Marie played peasant (didn't do her a lick a good when the real peasants wanted her head).

Save the Loire Valley for your next trip; it deserves more than a day trip (and so do you).

If you buy a carte de musee, you can avoid the ticket lines and entry lines at both places; arrive at BOTH places before they open so you're the first ones in (the tour buses show up about 10:30).

if you're into jigsaw puzzles, both gift shops have very cool ones.
May 19th, 2000, 03:45 PM
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Here's a vote for a daytrip to Chartres. The cathedral and its stained glass are truly breathtaking - one can understand why they removed all of those beautiful windows to protect them from bombings during both WWs.... The town itself is also charming.

I visited both Versailles and Chartres recently, and although it is definitely an apples/oranges thing, I enjoyed the former but was blown away by the latter.
May 19th, 2000, 04:37 PM
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Lesli beat me to it. Go to Chartres - it is fantastic. You can actually go to both Versailles and Chartres in one day if you get there at 7:00 when the gardens open. Do a search for Chartres and you will find that many people agree. It was the highlight of our trip.
May 19th, 2000, 08:03 PM
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I will be visiting Paris in mid-Juin!
I too wondered about the negative reports concerning versailles. After much research I am putting Chartres at the top for day trip agenda (I gather Malcolm Miller's lectures are great, that its in a charming town). The vaux le vicomte near Melun sounds like a great day trip -- one of the big tour cos offers a night trip , they have candlelight tours. Also, Senlis & Provins sound intriguing. If you dont mind a pricey tgv trip, Bruge Bel sounds like a divine one! Please let me& all the other Fodor addicts have a report on your return! Have fun.

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