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The Queen’s Grand Apartment

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The Queen’s Grand Apartment

Overlooking the Parterre du Midi, the Queen’s Grand Apartment is symmetrical with the King’s Grand Apartment. But unlike the sovereign who, from the reign of Louis XIV, gave up his Grand Apartment, the Queen continued to occupy hers, which explains why the decor was changed several times during the 18th century. After the death of Queen Marie-Thérèse in 1683, it was occupied successively by two dauphines, Marie-Christine of Bavaria and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy, then by the two queens Marie Lesz

The Queen’s chamber

The chamber is the main room of the apartment, the one where the Queen spent most of her time. She slept here, often joined by the King. In the morning, she received here during and after her Toilette, which constituted a Court event as regulated by etiquette as the Lever du Roi [Rising of the King]. It was here, too, that births took place in public: nineteen "Children of France" were born here. The décor retains the memory of the three queens who occupied the room: the compartmentalisation of the ceiling dates back to Queen Marie-Thérèse, but the monochrome paintings by Boucher were produced for Marie Leszczinska, as were the wood panels. All these elements were preserved in the time of Marie-Antoinette for whom only the furniture and the fireplace were supplied new.

When the palace was invaded by the rioters on 6 October 1789, Marie-Antoinette managed to escape from them through the little door on the left of the alcove, giving onto a corridor which gave access to the Queen’s internal apartments, a dozen small rooms reserved for her private life and her servants. During the Revolution the palace was not looted, but the furniture was sold at auctions which lasted a whole year. Some items were found, such as the Schwerdfeger jewel case, which is to the left of the bed, or the fire screen, others were replaced by equivalent pieces: this applies to the chairs, partly supplied to the Countess of Provence, the Queen’s sister-in-law and partly for the visit of the King of Sweden, Gustav III. As for the fabrics which covered the bed and walls, they were re-woven in Lyon from the original cartoons. The bed and balustrade were resculpted from the old documents.

The Nobles Salon

An antechamber during the reign of Queen Marie-Thérèse, it was in this room that Marie Leszczinska granted her solemn audiences, seated under a canopy. She also had her circle here, as the regulated conversation with the ladies of the Court was called at that time. Marie-Antoinette had it entirely redecorated, only keeping the paintings on the ceiling, and had the walls covered with apple green damask edged with a wide gold stripe. New furniture was delivered, extremely modern and sophisticated. For the majestic commodes and corners destined for this room, Riesener, the Queen’s favourite cabinet-maker, followed the latest English fashion, abandoning his usual flowery marquetry for large mahogany blocks, while the golden bronzes and turquoise blue marble tablets of this majestic ensemble matched those of the fireplace, which was also new.

 

The antechamber of the Grand Couvert

The antechamber of the Grand Couvert

It was in the Queen’s antechamber that the public meals were held, whose sumptuous ritual attracted a large crowd. Only the royal family could take their places at the table and before them, seated, the duchesses, princesses or high-ranking persons who had the privilege to sit on a stool, then, standing, the other ladies and persons who, due to their rank or with the authorisation of the usher, had been allowed to enter. Louis XIV subjected himself to this performance almost every evening; Louis XV often preferred intimate suppers; as for Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, a testimony from that time reports that: "The Queen sat on the King’s left. They had their backs turned to the fireplace […] The King ate with a good appetite, but the Queen did not remove her gloves and did not use her serviette, which was very wrong of her". To counter this boredom, Marie-Antoinette asked for there always to be music in the Grand Couvert and for that purpose a platform was set up for the musicians in this room.

The Guard room

At the start of the Queen’s staircase, also known as the "marble staircase", one penetrated the Queen’s Grand Apartment through this Guard room where, day and night, twelve bodyguards accomplished their service to their sovereign. At Versailles, only the King, the Queen and the Dauphin could have a personal guard composed of soldiers belonging to these elite units, the four companies of the king’s bodyguards. The next grande salle, now called the Salle du Sacre [Coronation Room] was assigned to them, serving as the guard room.
The Queen’s Guard Room is the only room of the enfilade whose 17th century decor has been preserved: since the Queen had no need to use it, it never seemed necessary to modernize it. This is why you can still see here the marble panels characteristic of the first state of the Grand Apartments as well as paintings placed there in 1680, which came from the former Jupiter room, later the War Room.

"The service of the bodyguards, at the château, consisted in guarding the doors of the apartments, taking up arms when the princes passed, man the chapel during mass and escort the dinners of the royal family. They had to know the dukes and peers because when they passed, the sentinel had to stand to attention and stamp the right heel twice.
This sentinel also had to open the door and not allow it to be opened; but you can feel that the guard himself was very glad to be exempted from all these duties".
It was here that on 6 October 1789, at dawn, the assailants who came to demand bread from the King, attempted to reach the Queen’s apartments, before a chambermaid, warned by a bodyguard, bolted the door of the Grand Couvert and advised the Queen to run away. Retracing their steps, they then tried to penetrate through the King’s Guard room.

 

The Queen's State Apartment Closure of the Queen's State Apartment

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