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Hooray for Versailles - Make this your go-to overnight stop-off near Paris

Versailles – the ultimate family stop-off

“Eiffel Tower! The big church on the hill! The Hunchback! Let’s go to Paris, Mummy!”

With a lovely gite booked (yes, off to France again) in the Dordogne last year, and with Eurotunnel tickets booked committing us to a drive not a flight, the kids had a point. Paris is an ideal distance for the overnight ‘Pillow’ stop-off.

But did we really want to drive into one of the craziest road networks in Western Europe if we could avoid it? Compromise (the definition of family holidays) – Stay at Versailles and train it in. Once sold to the littl’uns the -as it turns out- fabulous Pillow ‘Hotel Le Versailles’ received a booking and we duly arrived. Only to learn a huge maths lesson in family-holiday life:
(Kids + Cities) x Heat² = Disaster

1.    Trains from Versailles to Paris city centre are not air-conditioned
2.    Whenever the Eiffel Tower looks close, double the distance. Especially for 4 year old legs
3.    Children are just as fascinated by photos of Modern Wonders of the World as the real thing when the alternative is crepes and ice creams

So Paris itself wasn’t quite the success we envisaged but don’t despair – Versailles was possibly our best ever family day out!

It transpires that Versailles could be the perfect mid-journey overnight stop-off near Paris that was never on your radar. Never-ending magical gardens explored on a little road train or a hired golf buggy, a picturesque boating lake for parent-tiring rowing fun, surprisingly gourmet cafes and restaurants in every spare hut or shelter, and all for free (some days of the week – check it out). The joy on the children’s faces that day was one to be remembered.

Then fast forward to the evening and Versailles is like being in a town in provincial France, with restaurants on the Market Square serving great family-friendly menus, all within spitting distance of our newly discovered favourite sleeping place.

So if you are heading down South via the dreaded Route Peripherique, bypass the Paris option and head straight for Versailles for a definitely not inferior option and an experience not to be missed.

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