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Palaces & Buildings

Marie Antoinette’s chambers at Versailles throw open their gilded doors again

After three years of extensive renovations, Marie Antoinette’s elaborate apartments will reopen to visitors at the Palace of Versailles. The public can tour The Queen’s Bedchamber, The Nobles’ Room, The Royal Table Antechamber, and The Queens’ Guard Room from 16 April.

“The work that has been done by all the craftsmen who worked on this site has led us to revisit this room and show it off in its glory,” Catherine Pégard, president of the Palace of Versailles, told the BBC. “We feel like we are rediscovering a room that we had almost forgotten.”

The official Château de Versailles Instagram and Twitter accounts have been following the restoration, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the work. The public can view up-close glimpses of the rooms, like Marie Antoinette’s intricate bedding, details of the chandeliers, or her initials carved on a fireplace.

The apartments were closed since January 2016 “as part of the technical operations necessary for the safety and security of the central body of the Château.” This included protecting the public and collections from a fire hazard, and modernising the climatic treatment of the rooms to keep the works of art safe from humidity and variations of temperature.

Whilst these essential renovations were being made, the palace took advantage of the closure and carried out other heritage restoration projects on the rooms.

“Thus, the room of the Queen’s Guards has regained the magnificence of its decor, thanks to the patronage of the American Friends of Versailles and the Society of the Friends of Versailles,” the Palace of Versailles said in a press release. “In the Queen’s room, the restorers were also able to reveal the original appearance of the spectacular rococo decoration, which thus finds all its legibility and virtuosity. ”

Some of the original furniture still remains in their original positions, such as Marie Antoinette’s jewellery cabinet. Other pieces had to be replaced with similar items or remade to look like the original. The fabrics hanging on the bed and walls, for example, were re-woven in Lyon using the original patterns.

The layout of The Queen’s Apartments is identical to that of the King’s State Apartments at Versailles. The most important room in the apartments is the bedchamber, where the queen slept, received guests, and gave birth.

Between 1682 and 1786, 20 princes and princesses were born in the bedchamber. Two queens also died there: Maria-Theresa in 1683 and Marie Leszczyńska in 1768. Marie Antoinette was not to share the same fate as her predecessors. She fled her apartments in October 1789, never to return. She was executed on 16 October 1793.

Entrance to The Queen’s Apartments is included in admission to the Palace of Versailles.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.