24 hours at Versailles with Marie-Antoinette

An emblematic figure of ostentation and French elegance, the Palace of Versailles was the setting of the daily life of many sovereigns. The era of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI marks the last days of the Ancien Régime, and the French monarchy as it was known at the time. Though Louis XIV commissioned it, the soul of Versailles remains forever associated with Marie-Antoinette, who created a lifestyle that was both intimate and glamorous. Here we take you to Versailles in the footsteps of Marie-Antoinette, France’s most emblematic queen…

9am: Wake in the Queen’s bedroom

Visitor attraction par excellence, the Queen’s chamber was first that of Queen Marie-Thérèse, wife of Louis XIV, then that of Marie Leszczyńska, before being occupied by Marie-Antoinette from 1770 to 1789. With the rise of the Queen from royal births, the whole court could witness the intimacy of the sovereign. A total of 17 ‘children of France’, including the future Louis XV, were born in this room in public, as was tradition.

11am: Royal duties at the Queen’s Great Apartment

The official dwelling for Marie-Antoinette, here she fulfilled all her royal duties, whether political or religious, or related to etiquette. There are four rooms in total, including the Queen’s Chamber, which welcomes some 8 million visitors each year. After three years of renovation and improvements, the Queen’s Great Apartment reopened to the public on 16 April 2019. The best place to fully appreciate Marie-Antoinette’s daily life!

3pm: A stroll at Grand Trianon

Following the death of Louis XV, Marie-Antoinette was offered the Trianon estate by Louis XVI. She became the first queen owner of property and began major renovations. She also transformed a large part of the Louis XV botanic garden into an Anglo-Chinese garden, the height of fashion at the time. Under Marie-Antoinette, the Trianon estate became a private haven of peace where the sovereign loved to take refuge at the end of her reign.

5pm: A concert at the Queen’s Theatre (Théâtre de la Reine)

In order to enjoy a permanent venue entirely dedicated to music and theatre, her great loves, Marie-Antoinette commissioned the Queen’s Theatre. Out of sight, hidden behind thick foliage, the venue could accommodate up to 250 spectators and 20 musicians in the pit. Although the Queen’s Theatre no longer serves as a theatre today, its excellent conservation and magnificent restoration make it the only totally intact of its kind from the 18th century. An exceptional site accessible to the public on guided tours (External link) .

Relaxing at the Queen’s House (Maison de la Reine)

After several years of restoration, the Maison de la Reine is once again accessible to visitors. Nestled at the heart of the Hameau de la Reine (External link) , it’s full of refined furniture, contrasting with the exterior’s rustic appearance. The hamlet gardens were considered by Marie-Antoinette as a simple place, close to nature, used to educate her children about livestock and agriculture. A very modern approach to this picturesque place, which is ideal for strolls.

10pm: A public meal in the antechamber of Grand Couvert

Back to royal duties in the antechamber of the Grand Couvert! Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette set up ‘social meals’ to give the Court a facelift, and some 40 selected guests were involved. Exceptional gold tableware was used for the occasion, together with fabulous Sèvres porcelain services. It was these sumptuously laid tables that gave birth to the modern-day excellence defined by French meals.

8am: A morning outing to the Queen’s Hamlet (Hameau de la Reine)

Marie-Antoinette never gave up on her desire to shape the area of Versailles in her image. Constantly torn between etiquette due to her obligations as queen and her deep desire for intimacy, the sovereign undertook many developmental works in the area over the course of 20 years. The creation of the Hameau de la Reine, as an intimate and protective cocoon, symbolises a need for freedom and nature – in total opposition to her status as queen of France. Over the years, the Palace of Versailles has become a flamboyant witness to the tragic fate of Marie-Antoinette. Today it’s a must for anyone wanting to understand the moods of France’s most famous queen.

The Palace of Versailles