The Chateau de Versailles app is absolutely beautiful. It has a simple, organized layout that is easy to use and aesthetically appealing. It provides practical information such has ticket prices, hours of operation and directions to get to and around the museum. The main feature of this app is the audio tours.
Layout: The app greats you with a loading screen with a high resolution photo of the palace as the background. Once fully loaded, the homepage provides visitors with practical information such as the operating hours of the main attractions at the museum: the palace, the gardens, the Trianon palaces, the coach gallery and the park. Also included on the homepage are links to special events, “must see” rooms in the chateau, a general history of the palace, an online option to buy tickets online and a button to “start the visit”. At the bottom of the app is bar with tabs labelled information, visit, map, and more.
Organization: The information tab leads to a more elaborate schedule of the museum that is broken down by day. Additionally, information is provided as to what days of the week are busier than others, the time of special events, and the last admission times. The information tab has a link called “access” which provides information about public transportation between Paris and the museum as well as driving directions. A third link, “advice” is an FAQ page. The visit tab leads to the audio tours which I will explain in more depth soon. The map tab leads to, obviously, a map of the museum. But on that map is logistical information including parking, entrances and ticket offices. The “more” tab provides information about the app itself as well as links to the chateau’s social media pages.
The audio tours: Besides providing basic, logistical information to help the visitor navigate their way to the museum, the app’s main purpose is to provide audio tours and historical information about the chateau to be used while the visitor is in the museum. The app comes with “The State Apartments” tour automatically downloaded with options to download other tours. The “State Apartments” is an hour long tour that leads the visitor through many rooms on the first floor (American-second floor) of the museum. The tour can be listened to all at once or it can be broken down room by room. The information discussed in these tours is done so in a semi-narrative that places the visitor in the day-to-day happenings of the palace, primarily during the reign of Louis XIV. The history of the art and architecture of palace is also highly emphasized. Although each room is talked about briefly, the tour presents a lot of information in a manner that is interesting and that all visitors, no matter their prior knowledge of the history of Versailles, can benefit from. Along with the audio tour there is a highly detailed map pointing out what room the visitor is in and where it is in relationship to the other rooms in the palace.
Overall: This app would greatly benefit the experience of visitors to the museum. The simple layout of the app leads one to find information quickly. The information provided, whether logistical or historic, is concise and comprehensible. It would reduce the stress levels of those planning to visit the museum as all information on where to buy tickets, what time to arrive at the museum and how to get there is found in one place. Once in the museum, the audio tours would prevent the visitor from feeling overwhelmed by the large size of the museum and the (arguable) gaudiness of the interior. The tours are especially helpful as the palace does not have information posted on the walls in the majority of its rooms. The segmented versions of the tours are also greatly beneficial as the chateau is often chaotically crowded and this allows visitors to skip around. More importantly, outside of palace itself there is a lot to see at Versailles and it is not always possible to listen to an hour long tour about each part of the museum. As somebody who has had the privilege to visit the Chateau de Versailles twice, I will definitely use this app when I visit again someday.