Versailles is an undeniably awesome palace, yet in the corners of the palace estates lies Le Grand Trianon. Next door to Marie-Antoinette's getaway, Le Petit Trianon, Le Grand Trianon is a remarkable, beautiful place in its own right, with fabulous grounds, impressive architecture and a great art collection.
Billed as a palace out 'in the sticks', even the sweeping drive up to the front feels imposing but rustic. Gilded gates mark the entrance, as at the main site.
Built at the request of Louis XIV for his maîtresse-en-titre (official mistress), it needed to be splendid, but not too splendid. It was soon rebuilt, however, and became first a refuge for the Sun-King and his wife, the apartments for the Dauphin.
The Malachite Salon is the largest room. It was used as Louis XIV's study, then as a bedroom for the Duchesse de Bourgogne and later as the emperor's Grand Salon. It is home to some of the most famous art in the palace, paintings by Charles le Fosse. The malachite after which it is names was a gift from Tsar Alexander I in 1811.
The royal bedroom reminds you that even here in the countryside, being a French royal meant no privacy, as even waking and dressing were public spectacles, with each aspect carefully choreographed. The railing kept monarch & courtiers apart, but note the number of chairs around for the wealth of attendants.
The Music room was first the antechamber for Louis XIV's apartment, its wood panelling the oldest in the palace, but it was developed and redesigned as the palace grew, eventually becoming a billiards room for Louis-Philippe's sons. Nowadays this palace is used by the French Republic to house visiting foreign officials.
In November 2014 the Japanese sponsored a flower display; giant chrysanthemums flowered in the peristyle, continuing to foster a friendly politics of cooperation between France and Japan. Palaces have their place in politics even today.
Le Grand Trianon has also played its part in international politics, hosting the negotiations and signing of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. This reduced Hungary to just a third of its pre-war size.
In 1920, the Grand Trianon hosted the negotiations and signing of the Treaty of Trianon, which left Hungary with less than one-third of its pre-World War I land size. To the Hungarians, the word "Trianon" remains to this day the symbol of one of their worst national disasters.
Heading down into the gardens from the Long Gallery are magnificent steps. wandering around the ordered gardens, or just relaxing in the shadow of the glorious architecture are equally lovely. The gardens are worth exploring, famous for their flowers, shrubs and even orange trees.