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  • Writer's pictureParis Tour Guide

How the Palace of Versailles was built?

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Introduction


Today we will talk about how Versailles was transformed into a real Palace.


Versailles was just a Hunting Lodge


At the beginning, Versailles was not built as a Palace, but as a hunting lodge for the king retreats and holidays.


The king hired Nicolas Huau who was an entrepreneur. The objective is to build a nice hunting cabin on the hill overlooking the forest as well the town of Versailles.


The lodge was of course very modest. It did not accommodate the king very well.


After 38 years, he was unhappy with the results.

As the kings begin to have fun in Versailles, going in the forests and playing their favorite hobby : Hunting, the royal court finally decided to transform the hunting lodge into a comfortable Palace to invite all their royal guests.


Only in 1661, Versailles began to look like a Palace, or like a Chateau de Versailles which was a small palace, perhaps but very elegant and beautiful, built to please the kings and their court.


Renovations by the new kings

In 1678, the Kings Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI invested in many Renovations to make the palace bigger in order to host many new wings for the Court, for the Government, for the guests ...

Versailles became more and more attractive. Visitors came from around the world to visit the Palace.



The Hall of Mirrors

In 1684, the luxurious big room call the Hall of mirrors, was built.

It was intended to replace the old immense terrace, offering a nice view on the garden.

The gardens were immense : Can you imaging 30,000 acres, with over 400 sculptures and 1,400 fountains?


This chic terrace was famous, as it was designed and built by the architect Louis Le Vau,

The idea to renovate the terrace came from the fact that the terrace was between the private rooms of the Queen and the King. As you know, Versailles has often bad weather. It rains almost all the time during winter and autumn ...


So the king decided finally to hire a new architect.

The architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart had a great idea. Instead of demolishing the terrace, he built a gallery with 357 mirrors and closed the terrace to give what we call today the Hall of Mirrors.


Did you know that all these magnificent work was done in 1680 by a company : SAINT-GOBAIN which still exists today, and export mirrors to USA.

The company still has its quarters in the business district of La Défense in Paris?


Every material and person who participated to construct and decorate the Palace of Versailles was from in France.


During that era, when the palace started the construction, Italy or more exactly, Venice had the monopoly on creating beautiful mirrors.

So, the Venetian artisans made many trips to France to learn the new techniques from the designers of Versailles.



Versailles was the top of the luxury in the world during these centuries – everything was made in gold and in silver, even the pots were silver... It was dazzling.


French Revolution

in 1793 , French people were hungry and the queen and the king kept partying in the Palace.

So, a group of angry women from the Parisian markets marched from Paris to Versailles and attacked the castle with pikes and knives.


They besieged the gardens ad compelled the King to come to Paris with them.

By night, the trip from Versailles was long: Today it takes 40 min by car but by horse it took 4 to 6 hours. The royal court were on their trip to Paris, and they are going to be judged by the revolutionaries...


General Lafayette helped the kings to go from Versailles to Paris.

But the king tried to escape from the revolutionaries which ended badly for the king and the queen.


After what happened during the french revolution, the palace was avoided by normal people as they believed it was home to excessive parties, debauchery, and ended in a bad omen, and bad luck for the king.


The Palace is Restored in 1820

In 1820, this amazing Palace lost its attractiveness after being a proud political capital of France and even of Europe.

The palace was finally abandoned... until Louis Philippe who enterprises the Restoration.


During the 19th century, French people turned into a national assembly to host meetings and leaders from around the world.





Conclusion

Versailles is still acknowledged as a powerful palace until today.


Versailles hosted the treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties. We still use the palace to host congress of international leaders.


The artists and music superstar come to Versailles to do clips and movies... Emily in Paris Season 2 ended in Versailles as well.


In 2022, the Versailles is still the same building, the same preserved rooms and kings private apartments, cabinets, bureaus are still untouched since the revolution.

It is a national Museum that we can visit together


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