Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Versailles or not Versailles; that is the question!

We are going to be on the move again very soon, so I am determined to make the most of our time in Paris and to visit as much as possible of what this extraordinary city can offer in terms of art and history.
Clearly Versailles had to be on the list: isn't it one of the most significant touristy destinations in Paris?

So, we bought tickets in advance and the first bad surprise was that at weekends tickets are more expensive (€25 compared to the €18 during the week): I may see the point of trying got push people to visit during the week, but it's a bit of a disadvantage for the people living and working in Paris!
Anyway, it's a important historic site, so spending for a bit more for the entrance is not such a big deal.

We got there 10 minutes before the opening trying to avoid the long queues, but the situation was already  scary. Most groups had already arrived.  No separate entrances for groups and individuals and no staff controlling the queue. But, luckily, the entry procedures were fast enough and we managed to enter the palace in no longer than 20 minutes.

And here is when the dreadful experience really started. Basically there is a huge cordon of disordered crowd getting into the royal apartments in the main palace, making it almost impossible to clearly see the decorations or spend more than 15 seconds per room. You need to move fast or you will have people bumping into you or randomly stopping in the middle to take photos without even looking around.
It would be delightful to walk freely through the Hall of Mirrors if it wasn't for the hundreds of people in there. I know we were a plus 2 to the crowd, so I shouldn't be complaining but I guess a limit number on entries (as it happens for examples in the caves in Dordogne) would be advantageous for visitors in order to fully enjoy the experience.

By the way, despite the crowd, I managed to take a few decent pictures...

...of the Royal Chapel....
...some beautiful chandeliers...
...a view of the Hall of Mirrors (a raised view, to avoid people's heads!)....
...the King's bedroom....
...and the Queen's one.

Good thing is that once visited the palace rooms, then people thins out, a bit lost among the other parts of the site. The big complex has lot to offer, fantastic gardens, two smaller palaces (the Grand and Petit Trianon) with beautiful gardens and the funny Hameau de la Reine, a village created as a sort of leisure park for Marie Antoinette's delight, who apparently liked to play the role of a milkwoman in her spare time!

So rest of the visit was much more relaxed and enjoyable....

So, yes, Versailles is certainly a `must go` if you are visiting Paris (unless you are really claustrophobic), but you'll need to get organized and ready to face crowds of tourists and for an extremely tiring day, but it's totally worth it!

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