Versailles with Kids: Very Challenging, Yet Rewarding

We recently visited Paris to visit some sights we have, for one reason or another, missed in the past. At the top of the list for the grownups on the trip was Versailles.

Versailles
I will preface this article by saying all the members of my family from 22 months old through to the adults enjoyed their visit very much. The Palace and the associated gardens are stunning and provide a glimpse of the opulence of a certain era, and obvious clues as to why the people of France revolted and cut off the heads of the palaceโ€™s occupants.

Some might say this is a bit much…and those that did then cut off the King’s head.
 I have heard and read many times, if you are to visit only one European palace, make it Versailles. After seeing it, I could not agree more, but that does not mean our trip visit was not without its challenges.

Transportation

The typical route most people take to Versailles is the RER, a commuter rail service that gets you to Versailles from Paris, theoretically, in 35 minutes. I say theoretically because during our visit, all the stations and lines in central Paris were closed. I am not sure that during the height of tourist season is the time to shut down a main rail service in the worldโ€™s most visited city, but what do I know. We of course did not learn this until we arrived at the station, because even for my exhaustive research I have never researched maintenance closures on public transport, and the shuttle bus provided to compensate added at least 45 minutes to our trip.

The Wait

All those people want in.
I have spent my life as a traveller trying to beat the lines everywhere I go. Thus far, the hour and a half long wait on the hottest day of the summer at Versailles was by far the longest. I am truly starting to question the advantage of buying tickets in advance for attractions as most people do this now and lately we have discovered an equal if not longer line for ticket holders. We purchased tickets online yet still endured a line. Perhaps if we had arrived at opening like we had intended before the train delay we would have had less of a wait to endure.

Ticket Taking and Security

Single entry point.
The reason the line was so long, as best I can tell, was that despite the hundreds of people waiting, they were all being filtered through 2 ticket takers and 2 security lines with x-ray machines and metal detectors. I am relatively confident that Versailles makes plenty of money; they could add a few more screening stations to make that line a little more bearable.

The Fine Print

Armed with our two adult, all access passports and the knowledge that kids were free* we were now ready to enjoy our day. Not quite. We toured the palace, had lunch, and prepared to enter the gardens, where we were turned away because although children are normally free, that night there was a show in the garden and they were charging for children over 6 to enter. The show was at 10pm and we were there around 2pm and it was irrelevant that we did not want to stay for the show. On a few special days of the year, the little imps need to pay to enter the garden specifically. Back in line we got for 25 minutes with all the other fuming parents to pay 7โ‚ฌ to get our son into the gardens.

The Poorly Planned Escape

When you finally get through the expansive gardens there are exits at the end furthest away from the Chateau, and after being surrounded by people all day and wanting to get the train home, these may seem like an oasis, but donโ€™t be fooled, they all add a lot of extra walking to your trip. Now is time just to bite the bullet and make your way back through the gardens, the palace, and the crowds as this is the straightest and quickest route back to the train station.

As I stated in the beginning, see Versailles if you have the chance, just prepare yourself for the challenges we experienced, and maybe now if you know about them, you can find a workaround. If you did find a workaround to some of the challenges I mentioned please share them in the comments below so everyone can benefit.

Happy and safe travels!

This can also be viewed along with other great bloggers idea’s at #CulturedKids
 

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. We love Versailles! If you ever go back, make sure to check out Marie Antoinette’s hamlet. (https://ashleydaleyphotography.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/garden-in-le-domaine-de-marie-antoinette-chateau-de-versailles/). There’s a lovely farm that kids would enjoy and it’s also far less crowded (bonus: there’s easy parking near the hamlet!). Glad you guys still had a great time though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wherejogoes says:

    Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of your day with #culturedkids. I like it when people are refreshingly honest as forewarned is forearmed. the 1.5 hour queue with little ones is a killer but at least the place was fabulous when you did get in. The gardens look stunning, love the flowers.

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    1. The kids took it great! They ran around the courtyard where we were waiting in the queue. It was me that was the impatient one ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wherejogoes says:

        I find my kids are better travellers than I am!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the honest report – glad you enjoyed despite he queue. I am not a Paris fan but would LOVE to visit Versailles #culturedkids

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am personally not sure I can comprehend how one can not be a Paris fan :p, but I hope you get a chance to visit Versailles some day.

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  4. Oh, those queues! I haven’t been to Versailles recently, but the amount of time it took to get into the Eiffel Tour last year…..sounds as though you all managed to make the most of it, though. You can’t let having kids stop you from seeing amazing places, eh? Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids

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    1. We bought our tickets for the Eiffel Tower well in advance last summer. We missed out the previous visit to Paris because the queue was over 4 hours and my wife was pregnant with our twins and that wasn’t happening.

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  5. I went years ago on a bus trip with my mam (prob 20 years nows) so we were dropped off at entrance and picked up. No kids to wrangle either. I remember going on a little train around the gardens and seeing a little farm that marie antoinette had built for her fun. Always stuck in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the little train is still there, but we didn’t make it all the way to Marie Antoinette’s cottage. It is definitely a memorable place for me as well. We

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  6. fifi + hop says:

    An hour and a half wait is a long time with kids. I’m impressed! Versailles is worth it though. #culturedkids

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think I was the most impatient, the kids just played around in the courtyard.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. daisythebus says:

    Honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. It’s not that Versailles isn’t wonderful (I’m sure it is) but all that queuing and hassle would frustrate me, especially with kids in tow. Plenty of other things to see in this big wide world. But I enjoyed this candid account of your day out – thanks! #CulturedKids

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We went to Paris with our 11 month old last year & chickened out of Versailles on one of the days. I regretted it later and reading this I regret it again. Even though it was hard you did it and saw an amazing place. Big respect! #CulturedKids

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    1. Thanks for the support. Don’t worry, I’m sure you will make it there next time…there is always a next time, particularly for Paris.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right! Paris is one of those cities isn’t it, never gets old.

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  9. Oh wow, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have chickened out with waiting lines that long! Of course, after you’d already spend so much time getting there that wasn’t really an option. I would love to visit Versailles with our son! Thanks for sharing the warnings, if we do end up going I will make extra sure to check for public transport maintenance closures and planned events ๐Ÿ™‚ #CulturedKids

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lisa! It was the line that really got us since we already had tickets. All you can do is get there as early as possible and hope for the best.

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