The more I go to Versailles, the more I explore, the more I love it. There is so much more than the crowded ‘Grands Appartements’ that make up the standard visit. If you have time, spend more than just half a day there. Whilst the chateau is breathtaking and the gardens huge and impressive, it’s the harder to access parts of the palace and gardens that really hold the secret to the beauty and history still whispering in the corners and corridors of this incredible place.
I’m very lucky that my work allows me access to some of these parts of the palace. This is Marie Antoinette’s bathroom. She had running water, hot and cold. Some of her dresses, a day bed and the lace bath curtain have been reproduced in paper. It’s amazingly delicate and beautiful, the shutters are always closed, the room is hushed and in shadow. The security agent with the key takes us in, away from the crowds, and suddenly it’s like stepping back in history.
Above the King’s Private Apartments, are the Apartments of the mistresses of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. Again they can only be accessed with a security guard and a guide, and once again are a world away from what you see downstairs. The shutters are opened as we enter each room, and suddenly they seem to come back to life. Much smaller and cozier than the public parts of the palace and still lavishly furnished, it’s almost as if the ladies have just left.
The views into the courtyard and across the gardens are spectacular.
To get access to these rooms you will need to book a guided visit, but it’s so worth it. Combine it with a stroll through the Hall of Mirrors, and an afternoon spent in the gardens and at Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon and hamlet, and you have a magical day that gives you a rare glimpse into the lives of the mythical women of Versailles.
- Chateau de Versailles, Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles