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Forget day trips to Versailles — a new hotel is opening on the palace grounds

Forget day trips to Versailles — a new hotel is opening on the palace grounds

For the first time, visitors will have the chance to stay "just a stone's throw" from the Palace of Versailles' glittering Hall of Mirrors, once the epicenter of lavish royal engagements of the French monarchy.

Le Grand Contrôle, which opens its doors in spring 2020, is a 14-bedroom luxury hotel decorated in the opulent 18th century style, "restored with the greatest respect for the original spirit of the building," according to the group behind the hotel.

The hotel promises a "unique journey through time to the Age of Enlightenment and the court of the Kingdom of France."

The Palace of Versailles
Courtesy of Airelles

The building itself, constructed in 1681, was actually once the center for the palace's finances. It was originally built for Paul de Beauvilliers, Duke of Saint-Aignan, first gentleman of the King's Chamber, minister of state, governor of the duke of Burgundy and son-in-law to France's Minister of Finances Jean- Baptiste Colbert.

Architect and interior designer Christophe Tollemer masterminded the hotel's decor, having already worked on other luxury hotels in the Airelles brand, the group behind the Le Grand Contrôle, which also boasts two skiing locations and a Provencal palace in its portfolio.

What to Expect

Details of its newest location in the heart of the historic Palace of Versailles are being closely guarded, with Airelles yet to share prices for a stay or to reveal when bookings will open.

It has said in a release that guests will enjoy "exclusive access and experiences" at the Palace, but more details as to what exactly that means are yet to come.

The hotel itself features a spa and indoor swimming pool, along with a restaurant from Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse, who already sources vegetables from the queen's garden at Versailles for his dishes at five-star London hotel The Dorchester.

The gardens of the Palace of Versailles
Courtesy of Airelles

Le Grand Contrôle offers views of the Orangerie, the garden which contains fruit trees from across Europe, some of which are more than 200 years old, along with the Pièce d'Eau des Suisses, the basin of water stretching out in front of this section of the gardens.

The Palace of Versailles is around 90 minutes from Paris, via the RER C metro train, with Versailles Château Rive Gauche as the nearest station to the grounds.

Paris Orly is the nearest airport to Versailles, though international flights are also available from the Charles de Gaulle and Paris Beauvais airports.

The history behind the Palace

The Palace of Versailles was the primary residence of the French monarchy from 1682 until the start of the French Revolution in 1789. The reign of King Louis XVI was known for its extravagance, a reputation garnered by his wife Marie Antoinette. In fact, their wedding marked the inauguration of the Royal Opera, the main theater at the Palace of Versailles. Upon his accession to the throne, King Louis gifted Marie Antoinette her own chateau in the middle of the estate's gardens, known as the Petit Trianon.

From rumors around the luxurious interiors of the home, to her excessive spending on fashion and gambling, Marie Antoinette earned the nickname Madame Déficit. She was also briefly embroiled in scandal surrounding a botched scam over a 2,800-carat diamond necklace.

A notoriety for excess caused resentment among the French people and spurred on the downfall of the monarchy in the French Revolution, making it the last time the Palace of Versailles was used as a royal residence.

Following the revolution, the palace was turned into a museum and has ever since welcomed day trips from tourists.