Marie Antoinette’s Secret Apartment Reopens For Versailles’ 400th Anniversary
By Mikelle Leow, 30 Jun 2023
While Marie Antoinette most likely did not say, “Let them eat cake,” this unveiling at the Palace of Versailles takes it. The cake, that is. As part of its 400th birthday, the landmark has one last—and arguably the most surprising—gift up its sleeve flounces: It has reopened the famous queen’s secret chambers.
This comes after a long seven-year renovation of the private home, which is hidden behind a secret door in Antoinette’s palatial bedroom. It should be known that with few surviving records to follow—the French had wanted to leave the days of wealth disparity behind, after all—historians dealt with a great challenge of figuring out how the rooms could have looked.
The general public can now walk into the apartment’s boudoir, Gold Room, dining room, billiard room, and library, all adorned with pieces personally curated by Antoinette and spread over two stories.
France’s last queen, born in Austria, began decorating and filling the space not long after she arrived in the country and married the future King Louis XVI in 1774, at the age of 14. Her work with this apartment would continue until 1788—just a year before the people revolted.
Antoinette welcomed only a few confidants to the rooms, which are quite small and can only be visited in groups of 10, Versailles’ president Catherine Pégard tells the Guardian.
Her near-immediate demands for lavish additions to the chambers had apparently infuriated the king’s lead architect, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who complained to the monarch.
The opulent quarters are believed to be the first place the queen hid in when the public marched on Versailles.
Restorers hope that this trip to the past will give visitors this “precious illusion” of entering an area the queen has just departed, says Laurent Salomé, the palace’s director.
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