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Paris Day 3 - Palace of Versailles & the Great Tourist Crowd

semi-overcast 5 °C

Taking a train to Château de Versailles from Paris could be tricky because there're a few alternatives. This is what our Fraser staff's suggested. We took a train from Esplanade de la Défense to La Défense metro station on the 1st carriage and left at the closest exit. By the way, La Défense station is the 1st station on Line 1. As soon as we got through La Défense metro station's turnstile, we spotted a ticket counter for the Transilien ticket counter. The entrance to the train is just located right behind the counter.
We got off at the Versailles-Rive-Droite station. We turned left after leaving station, passed a open-air food market, and arrived at the palace after some 5 mins walk.

For readers who had read my Paris Day 2 diary got a dose of my highlights of how bad the crowd was during this Easter weekend. But this holiday season isn't over yet. None of the long queues outside the Louvre, or Notre-Dame prepared what we going to see in the Palace.


Let me just do a quick reckoning of the queue length for the Palace of Versailles. I counted that there were 8 ranks in the queue spans the length of the forecourt of the Palace between the 2 gates (I had to make some use of my queueing time somehow). Using google maps, the distance between the 2 gates is about 150m.

Therefore, the queue = 8 x 150m = 1.2km = The Great Queue of Versailles.

Of course, this only shows crowd waiting to get in. This was afternoon, so there were already a lot of tourists got inside. You do the maths.

I guess it's true what people saying about how few European going to churches anymore.

I did warn Etta about the crowd in this Palace after what we saw in the last 2 days. She wanted to see the fountain show, which only staged on the weekend. She further added that with the Paris Pass that we bought yesterday (read the Paris Day 2 diary), we could skip the queue for the entry ticket. There was a queue of about 20 people lining at the ticket office outside the Palace. We certainly skipped that queue to jump straight to the 1.2km long queue for people who already got the Paris Pass. We the lucky lots lots!

The 1.2km long queue took over 2 hours in cold and windy weather. With that windy condition, I was set up for the right mood for some whinging about Paris. Allow me to start a long windy whining party at earnest, shall we?

Here's interesting little trivia: do you know that the Palace didn't provide any toilet in the area between the gates when the tourists wait in the queue? Considering that Paris is the most popular city, and this is the most popular attraction in Paris (more crowded than Eiffel Tower), shouldn't they provide at least one toilet in this area? I also saw long tourist queues for public toilets in Paris in the last 2 days in Paris.

When I finally got into the Palace after more than 2 hours, we went through 2 security gates. There was enough space to put in 5 such gates. Even with only 4 gates, it would half the waiting time. Ok, I could see that they may use this bottleneck to control the flow of traffic into the Palace. After all, the visitors inside the Palace couldn't or wouldn't want to move as fast as the traffic at the security gates. Ok, I'll let this one slide.

I haven't done with talking about the toilets just yet. Yes, my head is still in the gutter. Hear me our though. After a movie, you usually see a rush of movie goers heading for the cinema toilets with that natural accumulation of nature calls. Well, our wait is longer than a average movie, and it was cold and windy. As soon as I passed through the security check point, I headed for the toilet.

You've guessed it, there was a long queue for the toilets. You may think here's another good reason to be a man. Well, to some extent. I found out the reason why even men had to queue so long for toilets was because there're only cubicles in this toilet. No urinals to reduce time. When my queueing got to inside the toilet door, I saw a couple of men watering with their garden hoses against the wall. Speaking of gutter, I thought it must be one of those toilets with shallow gutter that I may have missed. I looked as closely as I never had looked at men peeing in toilets before. Nope, there's was no gutters. They were just doing their business at the wall. They couldn't hold it anymore. Can we blame them?

Ok, now that's the part where French tourism authority could do with some improvements. Let's be fair and point out things that have already improved since my l

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Posted by FrancisQ 16:12 Archived in France Tagged paris france history travel unesco europe tourism palace_of_versailles

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