Versailles, exceptional visit : secret and splendour

Who has never dreamed of walking alone through the Château de Versailles, the emblematic residence of the Kings of France?

This unique opportunity arose on Wednesday the 8th of March. Not even the rain could overshadow the call of the Sun King.

As we were delayed, we could not be welcomed by Mrs Catherine Pégard, President of the Château de Versailles. Thanks to our efficient guide, we discovered the King’s private flats and the Queen’s large apartments: a succession of rooms, each more sumptuous than the last, bedrooms, anteroom, wardrobe, library, porcelain dining room, salons and cabinets, including that for correspondence, the seat of Louis XV’s secret diplomacy .... One’s gaze did not know where to rest to admire all the works of art, the woodwork by Verbeckt and its gilding, the brocades and trimmings, statues, crockery, paintings by illustrious artists, or the exceptional furniture by the cabinetmaker Riesener

There is barely enough time to marvel at the astronomical clock of Louis XV, a unique masterpiece in the world that Passemant took more than 30 years to design and which will tell the time, the month, the year, the phases of the moon and the movement of the planets until 9999! Or the splendid cylinder secretary in the corner cabinet which allowed King Louis XV, the sole holder of the key, to keep his papers safe from prying and curious eyes. Here we are in the incomparable Hall of Mirrors, empty of tourists, a former terrace closed by Jules Hardouin Mansart and whose vaulted decorations painted by Le Brun allegorically tell the story of Louis XIV.

Impressed by the majesty of the place, we like to imagine the extraordinary diplomatic receptions that were held here, including that of the Siamese ambassadors in 1686 and the historic signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919, putting an end to the First World War.

Without further ado, we head to the private flat of the Comte de Vergennes, a space that was used by the Senate until 2005, and which is now the reception room of the Château de Versailles presidency. We are warmly welcomed to enjoy a glass of champagne.

Under the spell of all these places steeped in history, where so many beauties and secrets remain to be discovered, we already have to leave as the silhouette of the Château fades away, the festoons, dormer windows and gilded railings continue to shine with a thousand lights despite the rain.... as an invitation to come back and keep on dreaming.

By Dominique Lugand - French class
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