Visiting the Grand Trianon


Here is a place I wanted to visit for a while: the Grand Trianon. Now this is done, after an amazing corporate event in Paris with my colleagues. The Grand Trianon didn’t disappoint me. This miniature palace, designed by Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Gotte for Louis XIV, was build in 1687. It replaced a modest summer house for picnics, tiled inside with blue and white Delftware, and known as the Porcelain Trianon, erected on the site of the village of Trianon, which had been razed in 1663. The Grand Trianon served as Louis XIV’s retreat from court life where he could commune with nature. vThe U-shaped low building with an Italian-style roof, also known as the Palais Rose because of the profusion of pink marble from French quarries, has extensive wings to the north which are not immediately obvious. Baroque rhythms and play of light are set up by the flat pilasters and round-headed windows of the wings accelerated by the colonnade or loggia. The loggia, huge French windows, and mirrors were part of the plan to bring the outside inside, creating a ‘palace of flora’ for Louis XIV. The botanical aspect of the Trianon also permeated the interior decorations, including the woodwork and the paintings which were based on nature and mythological themes such as Europa and Narcissus, in contrast to the mighty Apollo myth of the château. During the reign of Louis XIV apartments were occupied by members of the royal family including the kings sister-in-law, the Princess Palatine, and the Duchesse de Bourgogne. The duchess, of whom the king was very fond, was his grandsons wife, and mother of Louis XV Czar Peter the Great also stayed here in 1717. Louis XV rarely used it and Louis XVI gave the estate to Marie-Antoinette who invited only personal friends here and adopted a less formal way of life. Napoleon, after his divorce from Josephine in 1809, often stayed here with Marie-Louise, his second wife. Napoleonic souvenirs and Empire furniture have remained. Louis-Philippe installed his younger son here and introduced 19th century Romantic furnishings. At the time of President de Gaulle, one entire wing was restored to receive Heads of State on official visits and this custom continues, with visits from President Chirac at certain times. It is a fascinating idea, when you think to all these kings, queens, and presidents who preceded you.

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