From private to public: Marie Antoinette's personal rooms reopen at Versailles

The Méridienne room is one of the stunning spaces on view once again
The Méridienne room is one of the stunning spaces on view once again Copyright Palace of Versailles / T. Garnier
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The tragic queen of France's sanctuary has been refurbished during its seven year closure and is now open to the public once again.


2023 marks 230 years since Marie Antoinette’s death - but the fascination with the last queen of France remains as high as ever giving her renewed attention in the public eye. 

‘Marie Antoinette’, a Canal+ drama, drew legions of fans and a display of her Sèvres porcelain at the Getty Centre in Los Angeles was very well received.

Palace of Versailles / S. Giles
Marie Antoinette's boudoir features toile de Jouy wall coverings with pineapples - once a sign of wealth, due to the rarity of the fruitPalace of Versailles / S. Giles

In May, pieces of her furniture went under the hammer at Sotheby’s auction house and, now, Antoinette’s primary residence is adding to the excitement surrounding the queen.

At Versailles, home to the French royal family until the revolution in 1793, it’s long been possible to get your Antoinette fix. Now, though, the iconic palace has opened up her private apartments, which have reopened after seven years of extensive restoration work.

Marie Antoinette moved into Versailles as queen in 1774 and initially lived, like her predecessors, in the Queen's State Apartment.

Palace of Versailles / T. Garnier
Marie Antoinette's impressive gold library is on show to the public once morePalace of Versailles / T. Garnier

Her husband, King Louis XVI, soon gifted part of the vast estate to his wife, which became the Petit Trianon.

The famously private Antoinette used the space as a retreat from the high pressure life of a royal court. 

She commissioned elaborate gardens and a hamlet of buildings, used for agriculture, entertaining and as bucolic refuge from the cut and thrust of the main palace.

Ahead of the relaunch of the rooms, researchers, curators, and archivists dove into the archives to recreate them as closely to the originals.

Palace of Versailles / T. Garnier
The Golden Cabinet is one of the queen's most stunning rooms on displayPalace of Versailles / T. Garnier

Each individual space had a specific theme, which has been painstakingly copied throughout.

In the Méridienne Room, which was designed to celebrate the birth of the couple's first son, visitors will see a faithful reproduction of the lilac-hued textiles Marie Antoinette herself chose for the space.

Other rooms pay tribute to Antoinette’s fascination with ancient Egypt and another, a private space for her and her closest confidants, is swathed in Toile de Jouy.

Palace of Versailles / S. Giles
The family room features portraits of France's last royal familyPalace of Versailles / S. Giles

Marie Antoinette was well known for her love of interiors and spent a great deal of time and effort working on her private chambers up until the revolutionaries stormed Versailles, marking the end of royal tradition in France forever.

The reopening of the rooms is part of the palace’s 400th anniversary programme. Dating back to 1623, the then-King Louis XIII ordered a small hunting lodge on the estate to be enlarged - the first of many rebuilds which made Versailles the iconic must-see location we know today.

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