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Experience 18th Century Royal Life at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle

Experience 18th Century Royal Life at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle

Photo by Renée Kemps

There is history in the walls of Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle hotel that sits on the grounds of Versailles. The palace is one of the most opulent and grand places in the world which took around 40 years to complete and was built to impress. This hotel was constructed in 1681 and was initially intended for the Duke of Beauvilliers, Colbert’s son-in-law. It was designed by Louis XIV’s favorite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, a 17th-century benchmark in French classicism. Le Grand Contrôle became the ministry of finance, hosting powerful figures who traveled to meet Louis XVI’s ministers.

Today the space is home to a palatial hotel adorned with authentic royal artifacts, priceless works of art, and a detailed aesthetic that stays true to 18th-century decor with original pieces of furniture from the period. Additionally, you will find superior service provided by the staff, stunning views of the Palace of Versailles, exclusive access to the grounds, and experiences for hotel guests, and Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle delivers a first-rate culinary feast curated by Chef Alain Ducasse at the hotel restaurant. A stay at this hotel is a truly unique and exclusive luxury experience that will surely create lifelong memories.

 

Photo by Renée Kemps

Versailles, located around 10 miles southwest of Paris, is in a town that was little more than a hamlet before becoming the pride of royal power. Louis XIV developed a genuine liking for Versailles early on and decided to extend it beyond the chateau that had grown out of a hunting lodge of brick and stone first built by his father. The king had a grand vision for the palace and took on the role of the architect.

The residence gradually went from being a hunting lodge to a residence for leisure that saw grand parties and entertainment held in the gardens. Several celebrations took place at the palace; from 7 to 13 May 1664, Louis XIV held a party in honor of his mother Anne of Austria and Queen Maria-Theresa. The celebrations continued with horse races, lotteries, visits to the Menagerie, and theatrical performances. Molière’s famous work Tartuffe was performed for the first time on the evening of 12 May.  From 1682 it became the main residence of the French Court and government.

Photo by Renée Kemps

Born in Versailles like his grandfather, Louis XVI became king of France before the age of twenty. His marriage to the Archduchess of Austria Marie-Antoinette in 1770 at the Royal Opera House was one of the greatest events to take place in Versailles in the late 18th century. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette spent most of their time in Versailles, where they continued working to make the vision of Louis XIV come to fruition. Versailles underwent major work both inside and outside, including full refurbishment of apartments, and the completion of the construction of the large theatre the Royal Opera House.

Many spectacular events took place on the grounds of Versailles; It was at Versailles that Mozart performed as a child prodigy. Marie-Antoinette loved luxury! “It’s said that as queen, Marie habitually slept until noon and threw parties that lasted all night. She spent money like it was going out of style, sparing no expense on rich food, wine, clothes, wigs, and hats.” During this time France was experiencing hardships. The country was burdened with massive debts, commoners were taxed heavily while the wealthy elite paid no taxes. This created resentment and Royalty were forced to escape the palace down the very halls of what is now Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle hotel.

Photo by Mosaka Williamson

During the 18th century, Le Grand Contrôle became the ministry of finance. Within those walls, the building blocks of American independence were laid out in private thanks to the financial support of the King of France. The European cultural elite roamed the halls of the hotel with the noble characters of the Age of Enlightenment. In the 1700s, Le Grand Contrôle held significant political, economic and cultural influence.

The buildings of the hotel were left abandoned for a number of decades, and due to entrusted and talented craftspeople, they were brought back to their former glory, all the while adapting them to 21st-century expectations of luxury and comfort. A dedicated scientific committee of experts was set up to ensure that the restoration was both faithful to Louis XVI and respectful of the priceless historical heritage that Le Grand Contrôle represents. The attention to detail in terms of accuracy is remarkable. The paintings, furniture, and even the staff’s 18th century-inspired outfits offer a true representation of the period.

Photo by Renée Kemps

In addition to the ambiance and history found at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, what makes this hotel truly exceptional is the professional and knowledgable staff led by General Manager Julien Révah-they go above and beyond to ensure that every stay is perfect and to the guests’ liking. Each guest of the hotel enjoys exclusive benefits and privileged access to Château de Versailles and its grounds. You can make your stay even more memorable by:

  • Exploring a different part of the Palace ‘after hours’ every evening with a complimentary exclusive tour. Along with access to the main areas of the Palace of Versailles, your guide will also reveal previously unseen spaces.
  • As part of your stay, you can also enjoy a complimentary exclusive tour of the Domaine de Trianon every morning, as your guide uncovers a new room and garden every time.
  • Enjoy a picnic on the grounds.
  • Guests will also receive unlimited complimentary access to electric golf carts to take in the massive place grounds, with an exclusive entrance, and electric boats.
  • Private yoga and fitness classes are available on request whilst full access to the Valmont Spa allows for royal relaxation.
  • Bespoke experiences upon request.

Additionally, every guest is assigned a dedicated butler, with no request too big or small. To keep guests fuelled for adventure, breakfast – created by Alain Ducasse – is included in the stay, along with a complimentary minibar and daily Afternoon Tea. Created in conjunction with the prestigious Swiss brand Valmont, the spa is one of the highlights of staying at the hotel and worthy of being on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.

Valmont offers a signature ritual in homage to Marie-Antoinette’s legendary beauty. ‘Majestic Mirror’ is a treatment that rejuvenates both your face and décolleté. Or you could be tempted by the Sun King Massage, designed with Maison Caulières, for an unequaled sense of wellbeing. The gym has a mixture of cardio and weights machines overlooking the Lake of the Swiss Guards, with a personal trainer available by reservation.

Photo by Renée Kemps

The most stunning aspect of the hotel is the decor. Every room is crafted with intricate detail, original art, and transports you to the days of Marie-Antoinette with the level of luxury she would have come to expect. There are many uniquely themed rooms like “The Madame de Fouquet Room”, inspired by the extraordinary life of the celebrated socialite who married the Marquis de Fouquet. He was a hero of the American Revolutionary War and they lived together at Le Grand Contrôle until 1787. The room is meticulously adorned with delicate woodwork and period Versailles parquet floors, 18th-century cornices, and original bas reliefs that have been lovingly restored. This Room has impressively high ceilings, a 60m² layout, two bathrooms, a spacious 30m² terrace that offers sprawling views of the gardens, canopy bed, and period fireplace. You will not find a television in your room, however, guests are given iPads to use throughout their stay.  It is all about the details!

 

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Photo by Renée Kemps

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is more than a hotel is an immersive experience, a chance to step into history, and it can be any type of vacation you wish because everything is tailored to your liking. The restaurant by Alain Ducasse adds to its exceptionalism. The dining philosophy at Le Grand Contrôle is “a journey through time and experiencing gastronomic pleasures from the past to the present. A day at Le Grand Contrôle is more like a several-act play punctuated by delicious breaks – much like it was during the reign of Louis XIV.”

Enjoy life and as the French say “Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup!”

By Mosaka Williamson

 

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle

Website

+33(0)1 85 36 05 50

12 rue de l’Indépendance Américaine
78000 Versailles
FRANCE

 

 

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