From June 18th to November 9th, 2016, the Palace of Versailles invites visitors to rediscover the Trianon-sous-Bois palace, which in 1963 became the president’s personal residence, during the De Gaulle era. After visiting this iconic president’s office, which has been historically recreated for the event, visitors can also see how the Grand Trianon is used to host chiefs of state during official visits.
Last year, the Versailles Palace showed an exhibition that explored the history of the Grand Trianon, and this year’s exhibition will be focused on what would become of the Grand Trianon during the Fifth French Republic, starting in 1958. It was President Charles De Gaulle that in 1963 decided to renovate the site and turn what was once a getaway for Louis XIV (and his mistresses) into a presidential residence.
The Trianon was built on the Versailles Estate as a retreat for Louis XIV, where dinners, shows, and games in the gardens regularly took place. It was also a home where many different kings and ambassadors were hosted: from the ambassador from Siam in 1686 to Czar Peter I of Russia during the reign of Louis XV. Following the French revolution, the Trianon was abandoned.
This exhibition takes visitors back to the 1960's, when President de Gaulle decide to renovate the Trianon-sous-bois wing of the Grand Trianon palace to turn it into a presidential residence. The first part of the exhibition reveals the key steps that it took to make this colossal renovation and restoration project possible, through archived documents, speeches, office notes, newspaper clippings, architect sketches, videos, and photographs.
Continuing on, the exhibition will reveal, for the first time ever, General De Gaulle’s apartments, refurbished in the Imperial style as they were in 1966, a special event made possible by France’s national furnishing and restoration service, “Mobilier National.” The apartments include seven rooms: a waiting room, an usher’s sitting room, two ADC offices, General De Gaulle’s office, a family room and a dining room. The public will also have access to the extensive underground kitchens designed to serve official receptions!
And what did the public during the De Gaulle era think about the way that the Grand Trianon was being used? The exhibition examines both the public and political perceptions of the renovation at that time. Besides the four official visits during the De Gaulle presidency, the Trianon also hosted President Nixon’s in 1969, Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1972, Russian president Boris Elstine in 1992, and most recently, the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jingping in 2014.
We are excited to visit Versailles and see the President’s apartments at the Grand Trianon, as well as the Olafur Eliasson exhibition in the gardens and the renovated horse-drawn carriage gallery!
A President in the King’s Palace, De Gaulle at the Grand Trianon
Open starting May 10th, 2016
Where: Grand Trianon at the Versailles Estate
Hours: 12pm-6:30pm, closed on Mondays
Prices: 18 euros Estate price, 10 euros Trianon entry, free for European visitors under 26 and all visitors under 18 years of age
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