Trip review April 16- 29 2023 part 1
Now that I’ve been home for a bit and over my jet lag, I’m offering my impressions of this fantastic trip.
A word about planning this trip. 3 nights in Paris is not 3 days in Paris. Plan ahead as all the things you want to do are the same things that everyone else wants to do. Call Tauck and get the day-to-day itinerary, so you can purchase tickets for the sights you don’t want to miss. AlanS can speak to how hard it is to get tickets to The Eiffel Tower. The lines for tickets are long and when I was at Versailles, visitors showed up without tickets and were turned away. Also, museums are closed one day a week. Versailles is closed on Monday and the Louvre on Tuesday. Check your itinerary.
I would say, this is a casual-to-casual dressy trip. Dress for the weather. Bring a raincoat and umbrella. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Ladies, bring a pair or flats to change into for dinner. The French dress everything up with a scarf. Jeans are okay.
I flew into Paris 3 days ahead of the start of the trip. Using my gift of time and paying for 1 other night before the Welcome dinner gave me almost 3 days to explore Versailles. There is so much to see at Versailles, I was never bored or felt like I allowed too much time for this historic sight. I arrived Paris at 8:00 am along with lots of other international flights. Immigration was very crowded and not all entry lanes were open. Consequently, it took over two hours to clear immigration, collect luggage and find the Tauck transfer company. It is approximately an hour to 1.5-hour drive to Versailles. I arrived about 11:30 and was able to check into my room at The Waldorf. Since I already had breakfast on the plane, I was ready to find my way and take the Palace tour. My first picture is time stamped 1:00. Tips for this visit – download the Chateau De Versailles app before you travel. Its very comprehensive with maps and commentary of all the main tours. Bring your ear buds and you are ready to tour. I purchased a 1-year solo pass which gave me total skip the line access and discounts to other small group tours. I was uncertain if the concierge would have a pass for me (which he did) but as I was there for 2.5 days, I didn’t want to waste time in line purchasing tickets. As I was there on a Sunday, I was able to see the Carriage Museum which is housed in the old stables. Only open on the weekend, go if you’re lucky enough to be there. Also, all the fountains are on over the week-ends only.
I cannot stress enough how large this estate is and the amount of walking you will do to cover the entire estate. At over 30,000 acres there is a lot to see. There are cobble stones, gravel, and steps…and more steps! Bring water and wear comfortable shoes.
The Palace tour is a great orientation and history of the Chateau, takes about 1.5 hours and ends after the HALL OF MIRRORS. It’s hard to back track if you want to spend more time in a certain room and the flow of people is constant and one way. I managed to take a few good pictures waiting for people to move out of my frame. Don’t forget to look up as the beauty of the ceilings is amazing!
After the tour I was getting tired and decided to head into town for lunch. It was close to 3:00 and I discovered all the restaurants were closed and not reopening until 7:00. There were places to eat takeaway in Versailles, but I wanted a meal and then to crash for the day. I ended up at the bar in the hotel and had a 38 Euro cheeseburger and fries, which was delicious but costly. Oh well. Live and learn!
Versailles offers all kinds of small group tours, but I found only one in English. So, from home I purchased a tour to The King’s Apartments. At the end of the tour, we were able to go into the Opera House! What a hidden gem that was! This is a great tour with only about 20 people. You’ll never get entry if you wait to purchase a ticket when you arrive. I do recommend this tour which begins at 9:30 in the morning. From there I spend the entire day visiting the gardens, fountains and walking to the Grand Trianon, Petite Trianon and the Queen’s Hamlet. It was rainy that day, so stopping for a sit-down lunch La Flottile was a treat and delicious. There is a lot of walking! Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to cover the Estate. At the end of the day, I did purchase a one-way train ticket from the Grand Trianon back to the Palace. I was pooped but satisfied. At 7:00 I walked into town and enjoyed a lovely dinner at Lucette. Local restaurant serving seafood. The Concierge can make other recommendations.