Thursday, June 8, 2023

Marie-Antoinette’s Rooms at Versailles

Reopening this month. Marie-Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake." And as for a love of luxury, hers was no more than anyone else in her class. As Queen of France she was obliged to maintain a certain level of glamor. Personally, both she and her husband loved simplicity, which they tried to cultivate in many ways. From Lonely Planet:

Welcoming almost 10 million visitors each year, Versailles today is one of the most visited monuments in the world. Among its last residents was Austrian archduchess and French queen Marie Antoinette – wife of Louis XVI, the Sun King’s great-great-great-grandson – whose image has conquered the hearts, imaginations and cinema screens of generations.

Often painted wearing elaborate wigs and dresses of rich blue silk, Marie Antoinette, who lived at Versailles between 1770 and 1788, was known in her day as well as ours for a style that was the opposite of understated. And although her infamous comment regarding bread-starved peasants (“let them eat cake”) is probably apocryphal, she wasn’t shy about enjoying life’s luxuries. Now, following a painstaking seven-year restoration project, her private chambers at Versailles will reopen to the public on June 20. Among the newly accessible rooms are the Meridian Room (cabinet de la Méridienne), the Library and the Gold Room, as well as a series of richly decorated chambers on the upper floor. The two floors to reopen were once exclusively reserved for the queen. She would retreat there following public duties, only inviting a select few family members, friends and their children to join her.

“[Marie Antoinette] always had to be up to date with the latest fashions,” says Hélène Delalex, heritage curator for Versailles and the Trianon. “She had a very self-assured taste. Being exacting and impatient, she completely redecorated her chambers roughly every three years.”

The first floor contains a vast library of gilded bookcases, hidden doors and shelving units held together by an intricate system of cogs and pulleys. In the Meridian Room – redecorated in celebration of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI’s second child (but first son and thus heir) Louis Joseph, born in 1781 – an ottoman sits in the alcove underneath a ceiling of stained glass. On the second floor is a billiards room, dining room, boudoir, three bedrooms reserved for her most important ladies’ maids and three rooms for servants. (Read more.)

Versailles website, HERE


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