Technically, the Palace is not a Museum. It's a Historical site and an important landmark in French History. Also, technically, it is not in Paris at all. It is found in Versailles, which is 40 minutes away by train from the center of Paris. It makes for a good day trip and has chock-full to offer on history and culture so I treated it as I would treat a museum outing.
We were only able to spend about 45 minutes inside the Palace. We were part of an English-speaking guided tour we paid for via Viator and because of that, we were able to skip all the lines except for the security checks. I thought that in itself is a good reason to get the tour. Our guide’s name was Mauricia and she had this cute little fake sunflower she waves around so we will see where she’s gone off to. She also handed us audio units and earphones so we could hear her annotations clearly. It only takes a few minutes to see that the palace really is fit for a queen. The Louis furniture were gilded and etched artfully. Everything screamed gaudy if you ask me. But this was the taste of kings and queens back in those times, and they can afford it, so whatever (or could they? We were told that Louis the XVI almost went bottoms up paying for the luxuries his predecessors lavished on the palace). I know that most people are awed by the opulence of the palace rooms, but I was just shaking my head at the incredulity of it all.
Here are some outtakes from the first hour of the tour:
However, after 40 minutes inside, my son started getting restless. My sister said maybe it was the stuffiness of the rooms, the crowded halls, or the steady buzzing of a dozen tour groups milling about. What I didn’t tell them was that I could also feel a restless energy coursing throughout the inside of the Palace --- not quite anger but closer to annoyance. The air was thick with it and it was making my brain foggy. I realized, that I was feeling presences weaving in and out, but quite strongly, especially in the King’s bedchambers. I have a suspicion my son also has the same “gift,” and my thesis is that he was influenced by the other energy in the room. The whole place felt like it was pressing in on us, so I listened and got the heck out.
When I researched about it afterwards, the Palace does have rumors of ghosts and apparitions. The reports were mostly limited to the Petit Trianon or the gardens which we never reached. The first of them was even published back in 1901, but later on was disputed and discredited. Sometimes, I still shudder when I remember how depressing it felt to be inside that ridiculously pretty palace. The other tourists seem happy enough to be there, but my family certainly wasn’t. To think we could’ve gone to Giverny instead. Sigh.
Walking through a very crowded Gallery of Mirrors.
We also had tickets to see the gardens, but nobody was in the mood anymore. So we opted to go to KFC instead, met a group of young Filipinos who were just about to go into the palace, and we gave them our tickets instead. They seem happy enough too. I hope they liked it.
The best part of our Versailles trip : KFC! Airconditioning, really nice staff, and fried chicken!
Still want to go? Go for it. I will recommend getting a skip-the-line tour if and only if you have a child with you. But obviously, I will not recommend bringing a very young child inside. They will be either bored or freaked out.
The gardens, from what we were able to glimpse, were beautiful. But do go later in the afternoon for maximum enjoyment, when the sun isn’t trying to melt your face off.
I had hell trying to find the right train station to get to Versailles. You would have to read up and familiarize yourself on the RER (which is like the regional trains) because that is the best way to get there. From the Eiffel Tower, we walked to Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel RER station. We circled the place twice to find the entrance. And it turned out to be the wrong entrance, but there was no guard so we walked right in. We needed tickets though so I left them at the platform and spent 30 minutes looking for the ticket entrance. It was ridiculous! Be sure to get into the entrance which is under the bridge along Rue Jean Rey, not the one at Quai Branly unless you have tickets or a pass already. The tickets cost about 7E, and we bought our return ticket in advance. The ticket counter is really nothing more than just a touchscreen which you will have to select your station and destination. It was easy enough, but there are station staff who could help if you get confused. They are not exactly friendly, but they will help.
Strollers not allowed, you would have to leave it in the baggage area. So do bring a baby carrier.
Do greet people in French, especially when asking for help. It just shows that you are making an effort to use their language while in their country. A simple Bonjour (hello/ good morning), Desole (Sorry), or Pardon (like excuse me and sorry at the same time) will be very helpful. At least they will just roll their eyes at the annoying tourist that you are and help, as opposed to ignoring you completely. (I joke... mostly)
Museum opens at 9am and closes at 5:30pm daily but closed on Mondays. Admission costs 20Euros for the whole place, except when the Garden has the Musical Fountain show whereas your tickets will cost 27Euros. Access to the palace and Trianon is free for those under 18 years old (or 26 if you reside in the EU). Our guided tour cost us US $300 (roughly 243Euros) for 4 adults. Ugh.
I don't mean to dissuade you from this trip. My intent is to warn you because forewarned is forearmed. If you must absolutely bring your child, then prepare for a long walk, go early or go later in the afternoon. Lengthen your patience and expect madness. :D Have a story about Versailles, hopefully a more pleasant one? Do share below!
Up next is my favorite museum of ALL time in ALL of the countries I have visited. Let me take you to Musee d'Orsay! Don't miss it. :D
Smell ya later,