I have wanted to visit Versailles for several years now, probably close to a decade. I’m not sure why I didn’t visit there when I went to Paris a decade ago. I don’t think I realized how close to central Paris it was. Over the years, I’ve heard from several people of the beauty and grandeur of Versailles, how it was a place I shouldn’t miss. That made me feel really good after I had missed it!
We got there at a reasonable time (if I had to guess, probably around 9), and there was a line to match the grandeur of the palace. We had bought tickets in advance, but we still had to wait in line for an hour to get in. It was cold, but we kept ourselves entertained by scoping out the fashion of tourists from all over the world. Jihfan and I still preferred the very “proper” fashion of London, especially for men, although we did see some exquisitely dressed women in Paris. We took turns guessing where each group tourists were from: USA, Japan, Spain, Italy, etc. We saw a group of students from America, and Jihfan and I were surprised by how you could even tell they were Americans by the way they walked. Strange. Emiri nearly died of embarrassment by how a group of Japanese tourists were outfitted. Let’s just say there was no doubt they were tourists… and they were wearing matching electric blue ponchos.
If I had to describe Versailles and my experience in two words, those words would be “overwhelming opulence”. You simply cannot cover the entire place in a day. I am an ambitious traveler, and there is simply no way. I will be the first to admit that I am largely history ignorant, and there is still no way. We covered the Palace, the Gardens, and Marie-Antoinette’s estate very quickly. I got exhausted because everything was so overwhelming – the history, the extravagance and visual overload, the enormousness of the estate, and the crowds. I can only take so much of so much.
I particularly loved Marie-Antoinette’s estate. The estate was where Marie-Antoinette could escape from all the pomp and manners of the Court of Versailles and retreat to simpler, rural living. Access to her estate was based on invite only. I don’t blame her, the estate, created in the manner of a village, was so cute and cozy. Each house in the village had it’s own vegetable garden and my favorite were the tulips that were growing on top of the roofs. If we ever own a house, I will grow tulips on the roof.
Buy the Passport in advance and get there early!!! – The Passport gets you into all of the ticketed areas (like the Palace, Marie-Antoinette’s Estate, etc), and you can buy it in advance at the main train station at the information desk. Even with buying it in advance, we still had to wait an hour to enter.
The Gardens (I would imagine it to be absolutely phenomenal in the spring time)