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Palace of Versailles
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The Palace of Versailles is the second most visited historical monument in France, just after the Louvre Museum. Located in the Yvelines department (78), it is easily accessible from Paris.
Known as the most sumptuous building of the "Sun King", the realization of which was delegated to the famous architect Louis Le Vau, the Palace of Versailles became the permanent residence of the king and his court from May 1682. More than a simple building aiming to glorify monarchical power and French know-how, this castle is also a political means for Louis XIV to control his turbulent nobility. Indeed, it was the trauma of the Fronde (1648-1653) during his childhood that prompted the young king to centralize the nobles in Versailles. This partly explains the impressive proportions of the building, spanning 63,154 m2, divided into 2,300 rooms, of which 1,000 are part of the Museum.
When Louis XIV died in 1715, the future Louis XV was only 5 years old, so it was his cousin the Duke of Orleans who took over the regency and moved back to Paris. On the accession of Louis XV in 1723, the castle again became the home of the French monarchy, until October 6, 1789.
Afterwards, the castle is occasionally inhabited by the great figures of the different political regimes which succeed one another in France such as Napoleon I, Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis-Philippe I, Napoleon III ...
Visiting the Palace of Versailles is not only about admiring the architectural beauty and splendor of the Ancien Régime. It is also entering into the privacy of kings and their relatives, discovering court intrigues, in order to perceive a fragment of our past.
History of the Palace of Versailles
Louis XIII said "the Just"
For his first hunt, the young Dauphin - future Louis XIII - was brought to Versailles on August 24, 1607. He discovered there a place full of game where his father Henri IV liked to go. According to his doctor Héroard, who noted this first visit, he did not seem to return there before 1617. He returned there in 1621 and the one who has been king since 1610 is passionate about the perfect environment for the activity of hunting: ideally located between its main residence Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Paris, the surrounding woods are full of game.
Louis XIV the Sun King
The Versailles / Louis XIV couple seems inseparable as Versailles is identified with Louis XIV and vice versa. If the first existed long before the second, very young, Louis XIV had a real passion for Versailles and decided to extend it well beyond the limits his father had set. The sovereign had a real vision for the site, becoming an architect and building the masterpiece of his life which will remain eternally associated with him.
The future Louis XIV came to Versailles for the first time in October 1641, when his father Louis XIII sent him there with his brother to flee an epidemic of smallpox that was raging at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It is doubtful that, barely three years old, Louis XIV remembers this first visit ... It was not until 1651 to have a real mention of the now king at Versailles. He took there "the entertainment of the hunt", according to the Gazette de France of April 18, in the company of his governor, before being received for dinner by the captain of the castle guards, René de Longueil, president of Maisons. From that date, the young sovereign returned there regularly each year in the company of his brother, his mother Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin.
Louis XV the "Beloved"
On the death of Louis XIV in September 1715, the court abandoned Versailles for Vincennes then quickly reached Paris the following December. The estate then experienced a long period of abandonment. The governor of the place gets the Fountains to be played every two weeks in order to maintain some entertainment. The place remains a curiosity and Tsar Peter the Great will visit it twice between May and June 1717. It was not until June 15, 1722 that the young Louis XV, at his request, returned to Versailles. His first concern is to complete the work of his great-grandfather, but also to create more intimate and secluded spaces to complete his education. His shyness led him to multiply these small cabinets in which he felt more at ease than in the public spaces of Louis XIV.
Born in Versailles, just like his grandfather, Louis XVI became king at almost twenty years old. The celebrations of his marriage in 1770 at the Royal Opera to the Archduchess of Austria Marie-Antoinette mark one of the greatest events in Versailles at the end of the 18th century. Unlike his grandfather, Louis XVI spends most of his time in Versailles where he has several jobs done.
Visit the surroundings
Château des ducs de Bretagne
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
The Gros Horloge (big clock)