In 2008 we spent the month of January in Paris since my husband Brian had a job singing in a production of Don Giovanni. Our son Colin was just shy of 2 years old and I was about 24 weeks pregnant with our daughter. On one of Brian’s days off we headed to Versailles.
In Paris we managed to see a lot of non-child friendly attractions (Museums, Galleries, Churches, etc) by adopting a strategy that would have Colin asleep in his stroller just in time to enter. That was our plan for Versailles: work hard to wear Colin out in the morning, have some lunch, then get the afternoon nap going in the stroller so we can enjoy some culture quietly. To wear him out at Versailles, Colin had a great time running around the vast grounds.
I know some parents are anti-harness, but both of our kids are runners and by runners I mean they bolt. Sometimes we would do experiments with toddler Colin to see how far he would run from us and he would rarely look back. Especially while in France we got some glares from older people when they saw our child on a leash, but young mothers would approach us dying to know where they could buy a harness for their little ones. For me it is part safety to keep my kids close and nice to let them get some get energy out.
We had a nice lunch on the grounds and then walked around until Colin was asleep in the stroller. Our plan was working so far!
On our way to the ticket kiosk, we received the lovely news that strollers are NOT allowed inside the Chateau. Vraiment. The message seems to be toddlers aren’t welcome here, and most French families probably know this. Brian wanted to slap the lady (all French like) who then suggested we might like to tour the grounds instead. We had just done that for several hours, and the weather had turned beyond nasty. I was ready to just leave, but Brian wanted to see if he could get Colin to sleep in his sling during at least part of the tour. So we paid the exorbitant entry fee, checked our stroller, and started inside with a HUGE child sleeping in the sling hammock style. He was getting a great response from the other tourists.
In the Chapel, Brian sat down on the floor because dead weight Colin was taking his toll. The attendant came and tapped him on the shoulder and he assumed he was going to be told that sitting on the floor is not allowed. Instead he offered Brian his seat. We decided not to have mean thoughts about Versailles’ anti-toddler policies. It is always great to meet nice people.
Colin was awake by the time we reached the Hall of Mirrors. The state rooms on the way there were housing a huge exhibit of antique silverwork. It was very impressive. Colin however does not seem to like the Baroque Aesthetic. What can I say, he’s a Classicist. Almost immediately upon waking he wanted home and was only propelled through the rest of the tour by, “Let’s go find the bye-bye!” (Incidentally, I do think it’s great that Colin applies the term ‘home’ to places we’ve been for like 2 days).
Colin was trying to blow out the electric candles in the Hall of Mirrors. Then he became fascinated with my scarf.
Then Colin showed his disapproval of Baroque excess by staging a lay-in on the floor of the Hall of Mirrors. We were totally unfazed by the disapproving glances. If you don’t want toddlers laying on the floor, allow strollers. (I understand the no stroller policy in high tourist season but January is not high tourist season.)
Colin shares his final thoughts on the Chateau de Versailles.
We’re glad we went all in all. We don’t have to do it again now for a long time.