I feel like I was misled, duped, or conned even when buying tickets for Versailles. As we all do, I read up on visiting Versailles. There seemed to be a consensus of “buy your tickets before you go” and “the lines will be very long.” Even the official website (and especially the official website) recommended buying tickets in advance.
Well, to me it seemed that therefore, there would be TWO lines. Don’t you think? One for those who bought tickets ahead on line and one those buying tickets on site. To me the recommendation to buy tickets online implied that the line for those who did not buy tickets would be longer.
Well NO! Buying tickets online does not avoid any wait at all. There was only ONE line. One line for both online ticket holders and ticket buyers. How long was it? The estimated wait was THREE hours to get in. Here is the line. Look carefully, there are a lot of people in a long snake-like line.
Now, it is true, it is possible to get “timed” tickets online. But those were all sold out for the day by the time we bought ours. And, timed ticket entries must be used within a HALF HOUR of the time. Even if there had been some available, I might have not bought them because of concern about getting there (by metro and train) for a specific half hour window.
Note that the website did not say buy “timed” tickets. Regular tickets in no way save you standing in line.
So what to do? There was NO WAY I was standing in line for three hours. However, that meant losing over 50 euros on the tickets we had bought online on the advice of the official website. The tickets are only good for that date and they say they are non-transferable.
Luckily we “made lemonade from lemons.” There was ONE employee supervising the line of approximately a thousand people. I did manage to ask if there was a way to see the gardens (that we had paid extra for). Yes, there is a separate entrance to the gardens with no line!
Note, we had paid extra for the “musical gardens” because we were forced to. Note the extra 7 euros for the garden show below. On days when it is playing you cannot enter the gardens without the show tickets.
The gardens were beautiful. We had to buy a garden ticket for fille (since she was free to see the palace). Since we wanted to save time buying the ticket we paid 9 euros at the corner store instead of walking around to the garden ticket entrance and paying 7 euros.
The gardens were really nice! I especially loved the topiaries.
However, the musical shows were really so-so. Not worth it in my book.
The Grand Trianon in the Trianon estate though was worth it. Not many people go after having been to Versailles. It is also a quite long walk from Versailles. So, NO CROWDS!
By the way, the Grand Trianon is known for its pink marble exterior.
So in summary –
- we visited the gardens – which we might otherwise have skipped after a lengthy time in the chateau
- we visited Trianon – which also we might have skipped after a lengthy time in the chateau
- Trianon was not crowded.
- The gardens were not crowded – mostly because they are vast.
- Being forced to pay 7 (and 9 euros) extra per person to see the garden since we went on a day when the musical fountains play. Not worth it.
- Buying tickets for the chateau which we never used.