The secrets of Versailles

Versailles building 1

When planning my parents’ visit last weekend, we decided to spend our Sunday in the royal city of Versailles. Papa Ritournelle had the brilliant idea of signing us up for one of the château’s guided tours. This allowed us to discover the intimate life of the French kings by exploring the private apartments of Louis XV and Louis XVI followed by the Royal Opera. These are places you can not access with regular tickets so we felt privileged to be shown around these secret rooms!

Lors de la visite de mes parents le weekend dernier, nous avons passé notre dimanche dans la ville royale de Versailles. Mon père avait eu la brillante idée de participer aux visites commentées du château. Elles permettent de découvrir les appartements intimes de Louis XV et Louis XVI puis l’Opéra Royal. C’est une partie du château qui n’est pas accessible avec les billets classiques alors nous nous sentions privilégiés d’être accompagnés dans ces pièces assez secrètes !

Versailles king private bedroom

As you many know, witnessing the king’s awakening and going to bed were important daily events in Versailles. I showed you his great bedroom in my post The Palace of Versailles: visiting a royal past. It turns out this room was used only for ceremonial purposes. The one where he actually slept, as seen in the above picture, is much simpler. Below is what you may call “the royal toilet”.

Comme vous le savez sans doute, le lever et le coucher du roi étaient des événements importants de la vie quotidienne de Versailles. Je vous avais montré sa grande chambre dans mon article The Palace of Versailles: visiting a royal past. Il se trouve que cette pièce ne servait qu’à des fins cérémonielles et que le roi dormait en réalité dans la chambre ci-dessus. Et voici ce qu’on pourrait appeler « les toilettes royales ».

Versailles king bathroom

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The king’s barometer

(the ancestor of the French weather channel)

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Versailles library

The library was Louis XVI’s favorite room. He would indulge there in his passion for geography, which is interesting when you know that he never travelled outside of France and that he saw the ocean only once in his life. (Marie-Antoinette never saw it.) He closely followed and funded the great expeditions of his time, fascinated as he was by exotic lands.

La bibliothèque était la pièce préférée de Louis XVI. Il s’y adonnait à sa passion pour la géographie alors qu’il ne voyageait pas hors de France et qu’il n’a vu l’océan qu’une seule fois dans sa vie. (Marie-Antoinette ne l’a jamais vu.) Il finançait et suivait de près les grandes expéditions de son temps, fasciné qu’il était par les contrées exotiques.

Versailles dining room

This dining room was used by Louis XV after his hunting parties and by Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette when they wanted to host more intimate dinners. I love how the turquoise and gold of the design create a lively and elegant atmosphere.

La salle à manger était utilisée par Louis XV après ses parties de chasse et par Louis XVI et Marie-Antoinette quand ils tenaient des dîners plus intimes. J’aime beaucoup le mélange de turquoise et d’or qui donne à cette pièce un aspect chaleureux, vivant et presque moderne.

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Versailles dining room detail

Versailles window 1

Versailles game room

After dining, Louis XVI and his guests would gather in this room to drink coffee and play games. The king never gambled. Marie-Antoinette on the other hand…

Après le diner, Louise XVI et ses invites se réunissaient dans cette pièce pour le café et les jeux. Le roi ne participait jamais aux jeux d’argent. Marie-Antoinette, c’était une autre histoire…

Versailles game room detail

Our tour ended at the Royal Opera, a place I was very excited to visit. Louis XIV commissioned its construction in 1682. A huge lover of dance, the king later founded what became the Paris Opera Ballet school which celebrated its 300th anniversary this year on this stage and at Opéra Garnier in Paris. The Royal Opera was inaugurated nearly a century after its commission in 1770 during the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

Notre visite s’est terminée dans l’Opéra Royal, un lieu que j’étais très heureuse de découvrir. Louis XIV a commandé sa construction en 1682. Très grand amateur de danse, le roi a fondé l’école de danse qui dépend aujourd’hui de l’Opéra National de Paris et qui a fêté cette année son tricentenaire sur cette scène et au Palais Garnier. L’Opéra Royal a été inauguré près d’un siècle plus tard en 1770 pendant le mariage de Louis XVI et Marie-Antoinette.

Versailles opera stage

You may think the opera is made of marble but it is actually entirely in wood. It’s a miracle it did not burn down when it was candle-lit.

L’Opéra donne l’illusion d’être en marbre mais il est en fait entièrement en bois. Quand on sait qu’il était éclairé à la bougie, c’est un miracle qu’il n’ait pas brulé !

Versailles opera ceiling

Versailles opera seats

Versailles opera details

The Royal Opera still stages concerts, operas and ballets today. It must feel magical to attend a performance there!

Cela doit être magique d’assister à l’un des concerts, opéras et ballets qui se tiennent à l’Opéra Royal de nos jours!

Versailles opera view from stage ceiling

And this is where our visit ends. I still have a few pictures in stock which I’ll show you soon. I hope you had lovely weekend and Bastille Day!

Et c’est ici que se termine notre visite. J’ai encore quelques photos en stock que je vous montrerai prochainement. J’espère que vous avez passé un bon weekend et une bonne fête du 14 juillet !

Versailles gate

7 Comments

Filed under Paris

7 responses to “The secrets of Versailles

  1. Next time we come to France, we will definitely be taking a trip to Versailles, and most certainly taking one of these guided tours. I looked into them a bit before our last trip but thought the travel would be too much with bebe on board. Kind of sad I didn’t do it now though;)

    • We had initially bought regular tickets to the château online, thinking we could skip the line, and it turns out we would’ve had to wait outside in the sun for a couple of hours to get inside anyway. With the commented visits, they leave you inside the château to visit by yourself afterwards so it’s a much better deal in my opinion.

  2. Such opulence. I can’t help but think the king and his queen lived in a gilded and majestic prison, caged in by his role as the ruler.

  3. Pingback: Let’s go back to Versailles, shall we? | Ritournelle

  4. Lyn

    next time I will make sure I get the special tickets – it all looks so beautiful. Lyn

    • They were a little tricky to get. Buying them online didn’t work so we had to go to a specific entrance on the right of the château without knowing the schedule for the tours.

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