The Palace of Versailles, Grand Trianon, and Petit Trianon: A Behind-the-Scenes Look with Sandra Laville

The Palace of Versailles, Grand Trianon, and Petit Trianon: A Behind-the-Scenes Look with Sandra Laville


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Versailles is considered by many to be the world's most brilliant royal court and most lavish royal palace. Did you know that the Estate of Versailles is actually made up of three separate palaces, each one intimately linked to a different aspect of public or private life at the royal French court? Discover all three in this special virtual tour: the Main Palace of Versailles, a symbol of royal power and home to the official royal administration for three generations; the Grand Trianon, a private escape from court life for the King and his mistress; and the Petit Trianon, a sophisticated country get-away for Marie-Antoinette and her closest friends, on the eve of the ominous events of the French Revolution. During this seminar, we will focus on the lay-out and decor of these three very different royal homes, and discover the inner lives of the people that inhabited them.

During the first part of this seminar, we will take a look at the main Versailles Palace as it was–and still remains–during the reign of Kings Louis XIVth, Louis XVth and Louis XVIth. We’ll discuss everything from the Court of Honour to the King's Apartment to the Royal Chapel. We’ll discuss in detail the majestic Hall of Mirrors, a spectacular passage connecting the king and queens apartments and showcasing the glorious exploits of French artistry and military prowess.

In the next part of the seminar, we will discover the palace and grounds of the Grand Trianon. Built by Louis XIVth for his escapades with his official mistress, we will discover the secret, personal life of Louis XIVth as it unfolded far from the disapproving eyes of the king's court administration and noble entourage. We will discover a succession of spectacular marble halls, galleries, and gardens. We’ll hear all about the stream of illustrious inhabitants and visitors to Grand Trianon, including Napoleon and his empress Marie Louise, and the last Queen of France, Marie Amélie de Bourbon-Siciles.

During the last part of the seminar, we will continue our virtual exploration just down the road to the interior and exterior of Petit Trianon, another small palace on the Versailles royal estate used as a get-away for the King and as an escape from the oppressive court atmosphere at the main palace. This charming palace, adorned with a dining hall, music room, bedroom, and boudoir, would become Marie-Antoinette's exclusive private abode for the last years of her reign, before the disastrous unfolding of the French Revolution. We’ll also discover the quaint and highly suggestive Hamlet built within the Petit Trianon gardens, a small rustic village built by Marie-Antoinette in the gardens of the Petit Trianon so that she could experience country life reminiscent of her happy childhood days in Austria.

Led by an expert on French history and civilization, Sandra Laville, this interactive seminar will discuss in-depth the three sections to the Versailles royal estate: the Palace of Versailles, the Grand Trianon Palace, and the Petit Trianon Palace and Hamlet. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the royal palace and the role it played in the public and private lives of the kings and queens that inhabited it.

Sandra is an art historian specializing in the link between European art, history and society from the 15th to the 19th centuries. She holds a Master's degree in Art History from the Université La Sorbonne, where she specialized in Italian Renaissance painting and the iconography of the modern European family. Originally from Canada, she also holds an undergraduate degree in Linguistics, with a double specialization in French and Spanish Language Civilization, and has lived in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Rome, before finally settling in Paris.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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