Lavish, Royal, Overcrowded Palace of Versailles – In Photos

Let’s start off by stating this, loud and clear: I am NOT a people person. About 8 billion people on this planet and I can only tolerate 30 of them. And not at the same time. So whenever I know I’ll be in a mingling situation, or by definition overcrowding, I really have to put my “normal human” filters on and work extra hard at being normal and not show that all I really want to do is get the hell out of there.

So my day out in Versailles was not nearly as enjoyable as I thought it would be.

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Palace of Versailles – How Much is Too Much?

“Too many people” doesn’t even begin to cover how crowded the palace gets. A human mass formed at the very beginning and slowly made its way together through the many rooms in a tight, locked, uncomfortable compound. A very firmly locked compound that I did not care for.

It was one of the most infuriating experiences of my life. I had no willpower whatsoever, as I was surrounded on all sides by people who apparently think audioguides are just the most fascinating thing. I could barely circulate to get to the promised velvet rope in the hopes of snapping a photo without being almost pushed over. Sweat pearled on my forehead — I desperately wanted to take my jacket off, but I didn’t think I could handle the crowds with just one arm available. I needed all the coordination I could get.

At some point, I started to think Justin Bieber was probably hiding in one of the secret doors in the corner because I could not find another rational explanation for the crowd’s behaviour. It was already frustrating enough being stuck there and not enjoying the visit one little bit —but I noticed just how much it truly sucked when I got back home and started editing my photos.

90% of my shots were ceiling shots.

Mind you, the ceilings at Versailles are works of art of their own right, mind you — but I would’ve hoped for at least a handful of shots depicting just how grand and ornate the state rooms were. Not a chance.

So here’s to Versailles’ ceilings, the only thing you are really going to see on your visit. It’s a good thing they’re so pretty.

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Palace of Versailles – A Few Good Shots…

Although I was not kidding as to how crowded Versailles gets, I did manage to get a few good shots of the state rooms. Torrents of pushy visitors not included.

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Palace of Versailles
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Palace of Versailles Palace of VersaillesI had to actually bend over the velvet rope to get this people-free shot. Needless to say the security lady did not appreciate my artistic outburst.

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Palace of Versailles
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Palace of Versailles – The Gardens

And what better way to relax from the exhausting palace tour than to enjoy the lavish, massive gardens of Versailles? It’s one freaking chance the gardens are so big – I felt like I gained back my little personal space.

It was my second time at Versailles, and that’s probably what’s gotten me so riled up: it was just as worse as the first time. I blamed my first bad experience on the holidays (I visited on December 31st), and figured it would be better if I went back mid-week.

I was there on a Tuesday and people, it did NOT get better.

On the way back to Paris on the RER, I actually came up with a tip (this site IS called Eurotrip Tips after all): visit the gardens first, and beat the crowds. Maybe other smart people thought of this before I did, and to them I say, why didn’t you tell me before?

But since visiting the whole castle grounds will take you at least half a day, if not a whole one, you should probably start with the gardens – and enter the castle when the crowds are through.

Not that I will go back a third time to test this.

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62 Comments on Lavish, Royal, Overcrowded Palace of Versailles – In Photos

  1. BackpackerBecki
    May 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh, this just reminds me of the hideous crowd (non) control at the Vatican. Tell me, did you see many annoying ‘guides’ waving umbrellas? I could rnat about that for an age…

    I would rather have seen the Beebs hiding in the corner!! He’s annoying but not as annoying as flies to shit in tourist hubs.

    Fabulous photos though. I too took many ceiling shots in the Vatican… saves having to look at snap happy crazies in the eye!

    Reply
    • Terrence Coombes
      February 24, 2013 at 6:51 pm (5 years ago)

      Spot on! Perfect!

      I’m an avid photographer and being from Cape Town we don’t usually get the opportunities to see these famous places. So when we do, we have to make the most of it. Im glad to see that I’m not the only one who walked out of the Palace with nearly 500 shots on my camera, 475 of them being of the ceilings! My wife and I actually did the Palace first and then rushed down to the Trianons to beat the crowds, while we had to contend with at least 100-150 people in each room and quadruple that in the Hall of Mirrors, absolutely insane!

      I thought we may go again some time when we visit Europe and stay in one of the B&B’s next to the Palace, which will give us a early start for the Trianons, Petite Palace while we build up our steam to do the Palace itself.

      We did however find this overcrowding a general problem throughout Paris; 3 hour wait to get into the Notre Dame and another 3 hour wait to get to go up the towers of the Notre Dame. I honestly thought that would be the case in high season, we were there in February and it was absolutely insane!

      Chatres was acutally the only place where we visited the church without having to push our way to the front to see anything, but it was definitely not without crowds. There was a crowd of 50-60 people with us on the train going to the same place on a cold snowy day!

      Makes you wonder when is actually a good time to visit?

      Regards
      Terrence & Chantelle Coombes

      Reply
      • Marie-Eve Vallieres
        March 8, 2013 at 9:29 am (5 years ago)

        Glad you can relate Terrence! :) And I’m also happy I wasn’t the only one who ended up with a majority of ceiling shots… :-P I think one of the best times to visit, in terms of crowds, would probably be a random winter weekday. That’s the only option I can see.

  2. Lucie
    May 24, 2012 at 12:02 am (6 years ago)

    I have been when I was younger and I do not remember such crowds. I’d say try during the week, early or late in winter and avoid any holidays. I doubt the May period is great, holidays and bank holidays everywhere…
    Nice celings pix though ;)

    Reply
  3. Jeff Titelius
    May 24, 2012 at 12:44 am (6 years ago)

    Wow…what an unfortunate experience you had my friend. Despite the harrowing claustrophobia and agoraphobia perhaps ; ) , you managed to capture the ceilings and the room quite spectacularly! When I was there, I was so sick with flu that to look up almost sent me crashing down because of dizzyness…and the Hall of Mirrors was under renovation…half of the room was behind mirrored scaffolding. However, I will go back one day to see it in its glory and will definitely head your advice about seeing the gardens first. Great EuroTip!

    Reply
  4. Lesley Peterson
    May 24, 2012 at 1:19 am (6 years ago)

    Lovely, lovely pictures! But the crowd looks horrendous, completely unlike when I visited. I remember having the Hall of Mirrors almost to myself. I, too, can’t stand heads getting in my way so I’m a huge fan of the off season everywhere.

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm (6 years ago)

      Thank you! I wish I had the Hall of Mirrors all to myself. That would’ve been amazing!

      Reply
  5. Sarah Thériault
    May 24, 2012 at 1:45 am (6 years ago)

    My mother and I went in what is considered low season (early Feb) and it was busier than I was expecting for that time of year. Of course that could have been because we chose to go on a free museum Sunday :) The day we went, we somehow managed to get behind this family with 2 young toddlers who were just running around screaming….it took everything in me to not accidently knock one over as it ran by me repeatedly!
    It was too cold for us to spend time in the gardens so I employed a classic Canadian technique: sharp elbows! Every Canadian who knows anything about hockey knows a well placed nudge or elbow is where it’s at! That and I used my small height to sneak in and around people.
    Then we went to Angelina’s and had some pink champagne and lunch to ease the stress :) But yes, the ceilings are absolutely stunning! It’s so amazing to imagine people actually LIVED there!

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm (6 years ago)

      Sharp elbows have definitely made my visit easier, although absolutely not enjoyable! :(

      Reply
  6. Charl
    May 24, 2012 at 6:08 am (6 years ago)

    You’re not much of an experienced traveller ifvyou expected vVersailles to be quiet. Tip for you, read a few guidebooks before you go.

    Reply
  7. Louise
    May 24, 2012 at 7:28 am (6 years ago)

    Totally agree with you!!!

    Reply
  8. Alouise
    May 24, 2012 at 7:51 am (6 years ago)

    I’m so glad I didn’t try to see Versaille in the one day I had in Paris. I’d probably be just as frustrated as you were (I’m not a big crowd fan either). At least the ceilings are beautiful, and perhaps the third time will be the charm?

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes, if you only have a few days in Paris, skip Versailles and enjoy the city instead.

      Reply
  9. Alison
    May 24, 2012 at 9:28 am (6 years ago)

    Ah yes, I’ve been there three times with various visiting family members and it has always been the same. Thank goodness for the gardens. Most people only seem to venture to the first fountain so if you head father out than that you can find some peace. We were also mobbed by guys trying to sell Eiffel Tower key chains out front… Not a great place for those of us who enjoy solitude :)

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm (6 years ago)

      Definitely not! Hence why I won’t be going back.

      Reply
  10. Ele
    May 24, 2012 at 10:16 am (6 years ago)

    My method for handling crowds is “be early”. As early as possible. They open at 9? Be there at 8.45 the latest.

    I liked the way crowd were handled at Buckingham Palace. They have timed tickets. They open at 9, sell tickets until there are about 30-40 people and then the other 30 will be admitted at about 9.45 or so even if they bought their ticket at 9 sharp. It’s also about security because you have to go through scanners. But it was reasonable to handle the sight.

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm (6 years ago)

      I think that would indeed be the best solution. Timed tickets would ensure that all visitors have a great experience instead of just being pushed around by crowds.

      Reply
  11. Laurence
    May 24, 2012 at 10:57 am (6 years ago)

    Versailles. It’s one of those place that is on the list, but has yet to be visited. I’m not fond of crowds, and my partner absolutely reviles them, so it could be a trip to the gardens first and foremost if we do ever go :)

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes, I strongly suggest to visit the gardens first and then the castle, when the crowds are done. Probably much more enjoyable!

      Reply
  12. Barbara Kelley
    May 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm (6 years ago)

    I agree completely. I have been to the palace several times in several seasons and different times of the day. It’s always the same: massive pushy crowds and surly guards. BUT there’s a solution. Today I drove a friend to Versailles and got off the road at the Porte St. Antoine. For 6 euros we drove through the gate and parked at the Petit Trianon. We leisurely visited both Trianons and they had an iced tea at Angelina’s. No crowds, no pushy tourists, lots of space. Try it! it’ll change your view of Versailles. SKIP THE PALACE!!

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes, IF I do go again I will definitely skip the palace – too many people to enjoy it anyway.

      Reply
  13. Alexa Meisler
    May 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm (6 years ago)

    Sorry you had a bad time at places that should be enjoyed and awed. Big crowds are always a deal breaker. But you still got pretty good shots I must say!

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks very much! I just wish I had more general shots, not just ceiling ones!

      Reply
  14. Julie McName
    May 25, 2012 at 9:18 am (6 years ago)

    That does look bad. My memories of Versailles are the enormous queues to get in (even if you have a ticket) and lack of toilet facilities. However, I do want to go back to visit Marie Antoinette’s estate again – beautiful less formal gardens and faux-rustic buildings. I found some tips on the best times to visit here http://parisfrance.us/versailles/ – hope they’re of assistance for anyone’s trip.

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes, I did enjoy the gardens and the other estates, not so much the palace itself.

      Reply
  15. Gray
    May 27, 2012 at 3:54 am (6 years ago)

    Oh my God, I’m so with you on the crowds. They make me a little crazy. I have been to Versailles, on a cold, overcast November day, and the crowds weren’t that bad, actually. I’m becoming a fan of museums that use crowd control methods like ticketing by a particular time (not necessarily making a reservation ahead of time, but when you buy your ticket it tells you what time you can go inside). This way, they limit the number of people inside at any given time, which avoids that “smothering crowd” feel. I wish more would do that.

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm (6 years ago)

      I totally agree – this ticketing system would make the experience much more enjoyable for everybody. Not sure how they would handle it though – it’s still France after all.

      Reply
  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    May 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm (6 years ago)

    I was in Paris with a friend a couple weeks ago. We only had 4 days, and she wanted to go to Versailles. I opted out assuming I would hate the tourist crowds. Looks like that was a good decision :-)

    Reply
    • Marie
      May 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm (6 years ago)

      Indeed, best decision ever! Versailles is no fun because of the crowds.

      Reply
  17. Barbara Kelley
    June 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm (6 years ago)

    I totally agree. And it doesn’t matter when you go: in season, out of season, early or late – the place is always packed. But there is a solution (if you have a car). Drive to the Porte St. Antoine in the afternoon and pay 6 euros to drive past the guard and park in front of the Petit Trianon. You then buy a ticket for the Petit and the Grand Trianons. You tell yourself they’re just like the Grand Palais. Except that there are no crowds!!!

    Reply
    • Marie
      June 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm (6 years ago)

      I will definitely skip the palace next time, if there is even one!

      Reply
  18. Abby
    June 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm (6 years ago)

    How disappointing! The tourists-free shots you did get are stunning!!

    Reply
    • Marie
      June 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks! I guess my anger fed my creativity!

      Reply
    • Marie
      June 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm (6 years ago)

      I went just for the sake of it, and hated most of it!

      Reply
  19. Melissa
    June 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm (6 years ago)

    You have summed up exactly how I feel when I am in crowds. It’s like humans lose their sense of decency when a of them get together. That being said, I went to Versailles on a Saturday in June last year with my mum and besides the giant line to get in it wasn’t that bad inside the palace. Yes it was difficult to get tourist free shots but that’s standard. I’ve now tried to use tourists in composition of my photos. I’ve also gone to the Vatican for mass and I was unsure how I would get on since again I’m not a fan of crowds. I was actually impressed at how efficient everyone was at getting us in and seated. I agree with the above poster who said to go early but might I add the suggestion to also go late. I was able to avoid the crowds at Trevi fountain by seeing it in the evening.

    Reply
    • Marie
      June 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm (6 years ago)

      I really hate having tourists in my travel photos, so that’s why I ended up with ceiling shots, haha.

      Reply
  20. Turtle
    June 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm (6 years ago)

    It’s annoying but I guess crowds are just part of tourist attractions – particularly in Europe. I got such a shock in my travels when I went from South America, where sometimes I was the only person at a tourist site, to Europe where you were always having to fight with these crowds. It did kind of ruin the mood.

    Reply
    • Marie
      June 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm (6 years ago)

      Wow, I would love to get a whole place to myself!

      Reply
  21. Gilda
    June 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm (6 years ago)

    Yes, totally crowded. We were there pretty early so we caught glimpses of things “below” but all of our pictures show tons of people…we didn’t finish the gardens though we were so tired and hot and crabby. Not sure we’d go back though….maybe when we’re done with all that is to see in Paris and other areas….

    Reply
    • Marie
      July 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm (6 years ago)

      I don’t think there is such a thing as seeing it all in Paris ;)

      Reply
  22. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena
    July 1, 2013 at 11:52 am (5 years ago)

    This was funny. I travel quite often and live in NYC and hate crowds just like you (traveling and NYC do not help this). I hope I can avoid the crowds on my trip and I will definitely visit the gardens first. Thanks! :D

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      July 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm (5 years ago)

      Glad to see I’m not the only one with that problem! ;)

      Reply
  23. Terrence Coombes
    August 18, 2013 at 2:25 am (5 years ago)

    @Attorneys… We were in Paris in Feb, it was busy, very busy everywhere we went. Two hour wait to enter the Notre Dame and another 3 hours in the queue to go up the towers. Versailles was just as bad, entering the Palace and the grounds is very quick, but working your way through there is a total different scenario. Maybe we just decided to go at the wrong time of the year, but it was definitely very busy everywhere we went.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      August 20, 2013 at 10:47 am (5 years ago)

      Yes, February is one of the busiest months b/c most French children are on yet another holiday. Hence the long queues everywhere!

      Reply
  24. Anthony
    November 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm (4 years ago)

    I have never been to Versailles but I had the very same experience at the Vatican Museums recently. I however did find a reprieve in the Etruscan galleries. Hardly anyone was in there. I suppose that gallery was my Garden of Versailles. The Sistine Chapel was my Hall of Mirrors. It was frightfully over crowded.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      December 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm (4 years ago)

      I did have the same experience at Vatican. SO crowded. I would rather wait outside and visit a less crowded attraction only when it is my turn, rather than being in there with 349039 other people!

      Reply
  25. Raj
    January 10, 2014 at 11:11 am (4 years ago)

    If we gathered everyone who commented on this post we could make a full day crowd. Anyone, i hate people too and am going on a friday this april. Some of the online advice has been to skip Versailles and go to Chateau de Fountainebleau instead

    Reply
  26. Jean R.
    June 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm (4 years ago)

    Just got back from Paris a week ago. My experience mirrored yours – the only relief we found was in the Hall of Battles (not sure the official name )- no competition there. We arrived early afternoon and on recommendation of a guide did the gardens first, entering the Palace after 3:00. No problem with lines until we got inside. The worst was the tours – too many individuals on each tour and too many tour groups. Love my ceiling pictures.

    Reply
  27. A
    September 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm (3 years ago)

    I just came back from Versailles today. It was infuriating and the worst experience ever. I googled “Versailles sucks” to see if by any chance anyone else thought the same and I found this hilariously accurate blog post! I too have all ceiling photos. The crowds plus the heat and lack of air was very upsetting. Crawling from room to room was utter torture, as was walking the mile of lumpy cobblestones with my flats that nearly gave me sprained ankles several times. Not to mention that our tour bus left without us and we got stranded in Versailles! She told us to wait at the gate at Five Two Five (5:25) and when we arrived early at 5:10, we later realized it wasn’t Five Two Five, it was Five TO Five (4:55).

    Versailles sucks, period.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      September 30, 2014 at 9:30 pm (3 years ago)

      I feel your pain, Ann! I’m sorry you had a bad experience too.

      Reply
  28. Val
    May 26, 2015 at 4:14 pm (3 years ago)

    Went today. Relate. Was so frustrating . People pushing you from both sides. Stopped even looking was just trying to get out of next exit. Took ages due to not being able to get through. Lined up for two hours to get in castle. As you said would go straight to gardens next time. Would not even enter castle as enjoyed Napoleans apartment at louvre more without the crowds , and only 40 min line up to enter. Castle is infuriating .

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 28, 2015 at 9:36 am (3 years ago)

      I’m so sorry to hear you went through the same kind of experience as I did! They really should not allow so many people in. It’s such a shame!

      Reply
  29. Beth | Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere
    October 24, 2016 at 12:39 pm (1 year ago)

    Haha!!! I didn’t realize until you said it, but I have a lot of ceiling shots from Versailles too! 😂 I visited with my boyfriend in late May, so while it was horribly busy, I imagine it can get even worse. The sad thing is, the chateau is gorgeous! I feel like I would actually love Versailles if only I could visit by myself.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      November 4, 2016 at 4:15 pm (1 year ago)

      That’s hilarious – I feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one annoyed by this.

      Reply
  30. Liz London
    January 8, 2017 at 5:41 am (1 year ago)

    So glad I saw this blog! My husband and I just got back from Versailles and had the same experience. We waited until 3pm to go, started with the gardens, still spent 40 min in line (though it moved pretty quickly at that point) but then got inside just as they announced closings. I couldn’t believe it. Usually places stop admitting people an hour before closure but that wasn’t the case for us! We ran through the building in about 20 minutes. (Oh, and no strollers…would have been nice if we knew that before hand so we didn’t have to carry our 1 year old and all the crap we packed in the stroller for the day)

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 17, 2017 at 12:51 pm (1 year ago)

      Aw, that’s awful! Sorry you had a bad experience too.

      Reply

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