What's old is new again at Château de Versailles as several important rooms reopen to the public after a major refurb to style them as they were in earlier centuries.
Exciting changes took place at the Château de Versailles during the pandemic when many people weren't looking. Perhaps the buzziest is the opening of a new hotel on its grounds last summer. Arguably the most standout hotel in France, guests are offered after-hours access to the former royal palace, suitably maximalists rooms furnished with 18th-century antiques, a restaurant overseen by chef Alain Ducasse, and a spa with treatments inspired by Marie-Antoinette.
Daytrippers to the palace don't have to splash out on the $2,077 per night rates at the hotel to experience something new. While they were away, several important rooms received the makeover treatment including the Jeu de Paume or Royal Tennis Court of Versailles which is reopening today after a €1.8m refurb project, giving the public "a forgotten part of [France's] history," Catherine Pegard, president of the palace’s public administration, told AFP.
The room was created in 1686 for Louis XIV as a tennis court for the royal family before becoming the venue for the founding act of French democracy 100 years later. This is where, on June 20, 1789, deputies swore an oath to draft France's first constitution after they were locked out of the Menus-Plaisirs hall in Versailles after refusing to submit to the king.
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Today the hall is welcoming guided tours again after eight months of closure, bringing back motifs that had disappeared after a previous restoration in 1789 and restoring the mammoth Luc-Olivier Merson painting, The Tennis Court Oath.
Elsewhere in the palace, the apartment of the Dauphin – Louis XV᾽s eldest son – is reopening today too after 18 months of work. Considered one of the most prestigious apartments in the palace, the ground floor apartment (made up of a bedroom, library and reception room) rejoins the tour circuit alongside the restored private quarters of Madame Du Barry (Louis XV's mistress).
Museum officials have tried to make the rooms look almost exactly as they did when they were at the height of their power and pomp, hiring local carpenters, gilders, marble and stucco workers to bring back their 18th-century shine.
"This campaign has allowed the apartment to regain its perfection", added Pegard, noting that the refurbishment finally opens up the entire ground floor of the palace to tours.
"Today, we push open a new door, which has been closed for a long time. Proof that at Versailles, we have never seen everything," Pegard told reporters.
As of April 1, the rooms are open to the public through guided tours. Château de Versailles is open every day except Mondays, though the Gardens and the Park are available to visit seven days a week.
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