A couple of quick thoughts:
- Consistent with other Walks Tours on this trip to Italy and France (we had 8 or 9 tours scheduled in total), the overall quality of English spoken by our guides was fairly disappointing. On multiple tours in 2016 and 2018 in places like Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi, Pompeii, Sorrento…the guides were notably fluent and conversational. On this trip, it was quite the opposite. We had a few good ones, but the overall communications skills of the guides was lower across the board in both Italy and France. And that was the case at Versailles.
- Versailles Tour had a couple of other opportunities to be better in addition our guide’s poor English. Those would be too little time in the gardens. The guide sent us off on our own, but gave us limited input on what to see or how best to navigate. We had to wing it. We were also given only about 35 minutes. Simply not enough time. We speed walked some sections, but without carts (we should have had golf carts?) it was disappointing to see so little. This under-allocation of time was especially annoying when we got to the end of the tour and had to sit around for 45 minutes on a blustery, cool day waiting for our bus? I still don’t understand why this was the case or where our driver went? I’d have rather spent that 45 minutes touring the gardens than sitting on a bench in the courtyard next to the gift shop.
- this is not a Walks comment, per se, but of note that the folks at the Versailles gift shop were kind of snotty. I went in while waiting for our bus to ask to break a Euro 50 bill to have tip money for our guides. They refused, and not in a polite manner. So I bought a post card to get change and the woman at the counter gave me a frown and disapproving look. Not exactly tourist friendly behavior.
- many of the other sites we visited in Paris were amazing. At or above expectations. Versailles, not so much. It’s disappointing. The place is underwhelming compared to others we have toured like the Louvre, the Vatican, the Borghese Palace, the Doges Palace, etc…less than I expected and significantly under-maintained. They seem to be doing a lot of works to dress it up before the Olympics. But a long way to go in my opinion. The gardens were weedy, garden fencing was tattered, and the whole place seemed tired. I know it’s a huge property to maintain, but not at all up to our high expectations. The size and scale are awesome to observe, but the maintenance isn’t going to wow any serious gardener. When I asked our guide about all the weeds in the beds right next to the palace, she couldn’t understand what a “weed” meant…even after I pulled one and showed her. I just smiled and gave up.
- I guess we are glad we saw it. An historically significant place. But the facility was underwhelming and the time allocation on the tour was poor, as was our guide’s English. She was friendly and cheerful. But not up to standards we have had on prior Walks tours.
There are many places you want to go back and see again. Versailles isn’t in that list after this visit. Disappointing overall.
Verified · Timothy · Oct 01, 2023 · USA · Male · 55 to 64 years