One of the advantages of a day at Versailles is getting to see more than just the main Royal Palace. At the far end of the grounds are two additional palaces, smaller in size. Here you can visit the Grand Trianon and the Estate of Marie-Antoinette.
“J’ai fait Versailles pour ma Cour, Marly pour mes amis et Trianon pour moi.”
“I made Versailles for my Court, Marly for my friends and Trianon for me.”
~Louis XIV, King of France
The Grand Trianon, an Italianate palace of pink marble (hence its nickname the ‘Marble Trianon’) was built in 1687 as a less formal residence for King Louis XIV and his family. In later years, the Grand Trianon served as the seasonal residence of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, who lived here prior to moving to the Petit Trianon next door. Later inhabitants included Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Empress Marie-Louise, and King Louis-Philippe. More recently the Grand Trianon palace housed an official presidential residence and offices of Charles de Gaulle, and has been a guesthouse and meeting place for official state visits from foreign dignitaries.
Though much smaller than the nearby Château de Versailles, the Grand Trianon is a grand palace in its own right and definitely worth visiting with any of the ticket options, most especially with the Paris Museum Pass.
Your tour of the Grand Trianon takes you through several rooms whose furnishings date back to the First French Empire and the reign of Napoleon I.
These include the Boudoir of the Empress (formerly occupied by Napoleon’s mother),
the Mirrors Salon (which boasts a view of the Grand Canal), the Bedroom of the Empress (once used by Marie-Louise, wife of Napoleon and grand-niece of Marie-Antoinette),
the Chapel Salon (an antechamber and chapel used by Louis XIV),
and the Lords Antechamber (a Guards Room turned dining room also known as the Ushers Salon).
From these rooms in the Left Wing, walk through the colonnaded Péristyle to see the right wing,
or take in a view of the Trianon Gardens.
Continue on to the Right Wing of the palace and the apartments of the Emperor. These rooms include
the Round Room, the Emperor’s
Family Drawing Room, Music Room,
the Louis-Phillipe Family Room,
Emperor’s Topographical Office,
Cotelle Room, and Gardens Salon.
The Emperor’s Small Apartment and the Trianon-sous-Bois, which include Napoleon’s private chambers and the Office of General Charles de Gaulle, are only accessible with special guided tours.
Next door to the Grand Trianon is le domaine de Marie-Antoinette, also known as Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Greatly influenced by the young queen’s whims and wishes, this estate consists of the Petit Trianon, the English Gardens, the French Gardens, the Queen’s Theatre, the Orangerie of Jussieu, and the Queen’s Hamlet. A ‘royal misfit’, Marie-Antoinette preferred a low-key life away from the Parisian Court and it was here, in her small palace and rustic village that she came to escape the pressures of her very public life.
The Petit Trianon, a much smaller palace than the Grand Trianon – and a lot less grand – reflects the informal lifestyle of its former inhabitants. This mini palace was built in the 1760s for Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, and in 1774 was a gift from King Louis XVI to his wife Marie-Antoinette.
A tour of the Palace is self-guided and beginning on the Ground Floor, you’ll see the Grand Staircase, Guards’ Room, Billiard Room,
and the Warming Room (where meals from the off-site kitchen were warmed prior to serving).
Moving on to the First Floor, step into the Queen’s Apartments and Reception Rooms which include
the Living Room,
Bedchamber, and Cabinet of Movable Mirrors (with specially designed mirrors that could be moved to cover the windows and create a double mirror effect).
Continue up to the Mezzanine Level, which served as an area for the palace’s domestic staff. Rooms here include the Rooms of the First Lady’s Maid and the Lady-in-Waiting, and the Bathroom (designed and built in 1837 at the request of Louis Philippe for his son the Duke of Orléans).