After seven years away from Versailles, the Court returned in 1722. Louis XV, aged 12 at the time, was thrilled to go back to the palace of his great-grandfather Louis XIV, where he had been born. The Palace remained his principle residence until his death in 1774.

Tired of the criticism of the Parlement de Paris and the hostility of the crowds as he passed by, the Regent eventually decided to return to Versailles, much to the delight of the young Louis XV, who found life at the Tuileries boring. During his absence the Governor of Versailles, Blouin, had continued to maintain the Palace and had put the fountains in the garden into action once every fortnight.

The king arrived at Versailles in the late afternoon of 15 June 1722, and his return was cheered by the crowd gathered on the Avenue de Paris. Stepping out of his coach, the young king headed straight to the Royal Chapel to attend mass, a symbolic act for a “Very Christian King”. Afterwards he hurried out to the gardens, where despite the heat he avidly explored the groves, trailed by an entourage that struggled to keep up. He then went to the State Apartments. In the Hall of Mirrors he lay down on the floor to admire the vaulted ceiling, painted by Le Brun, which related the heroic acts of his great-grandfather; the Court followed suit, while the Regent took advantage of the moment to change his shirt. Louis XV’s behaviour clearly demonstrated his love for the location, summing up by itself his relationship with the Palace. Out of respect for his great-grandfather he conserved the layout, but nevertheless adapted it to suit his needs and the requirements of the time. After the very official Versailles of Louis XIV, Louis XV instituted a more intimate Versailles, which was more in line with his tastes. The king's return brought life and curiosity back to the town.

Louis XV quickly settled back into life in Versailles. On 15 August he attended mass to celebrate the Assumption in Notre-Dame de Versailles, the parish of the royal family, and took his first communion there. It was not long before he commissioned the start of new work on the Palace (decoration of the Royal Chapel and the Hercules Room). With the return to Versailles the Court was again able to fulfil its role. The king’s return was all the more symbolic because Louis XV knew that he would be coronated in Reims in October. The new reign was finally beginning.

ANECDOTE

After the very official Versailles of Louis XIV, Louis XV instituted a more intimate Versailles, which was more in line with his tastes.