Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Grading – B
After seeing the Palace of Versailles, Grand Trianon is a bit underwhelming. However, it is still an architectural, historical, and landscaping achievement.
Estate of Trianon: 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm (Closed Mondays and May 1)
The cheapest ticket you can buy for just this part of Versailles is the Palaces of Trianon ticket for €12. This allows you entry into the Trianon Estate, the gardens (except on musical fountains/gardens days), the park, and the Coach Gallery. Trianon is free for those under 18, EU residents under 26, and those with disabilities. For more ticketing information, click here to go to the Versailles website.
For information on visiting Versailles Palace, click here for a previous blog post. For information about visiting the Versailles Gardens, read my post here.
Keep reading for more information and find my tips at the end!
The entire Estate of Trianon is an area outside the gardens of Versailles, that features Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, the Queen’s Hamlet, and the Queen’s Theater. This post will only detail Grand Trianon, as my family and I had run out of energy after a long day of touring the rest of Versailles.
History of Grand Trianon
On the grounds of Versailles, northwest of the main palace and near the north end of the Grand Canal, you can find Grand Trianon. Built in 1687, Grand Trianon was constructed to be a private residence for King Louis XIV. Not only did the king want to escape the pomp, ceremony, and busyness of the court, but he also wanted a place to carry on his affair with his mistress at that time, Madame de Montespan. After all, during those days there was an actual position for the chief mistress of the king; a woman with this position was given her own apartments. Madame de Montespan was to live at Grand Trianon along with her seven children, whose father was King Louis XIV. However, when Grand Trianon was completed in 1688, King Louis XIV had seen his mistress fall to scandal, parted ways with her, and married his second wife (the caretaker of his children with Madame de Montespan), the Marquise de Maintenon.
Grand Trianon is much smaller than Versailles and portrays a more intimate, yet still posh environment. The palace is a one level building with a courtyard on one side and an ornate garden on the other. Grand Trianon is known for its pink marble and porphyry stone, the balustrade (a row of columns topped with a railing) that runs along the roof, and its beautiful pink marble columned peristyle, which joins the two sides of the palace together.
Despite being a smaller palace, the rooms of Grand Trianon are still very ornate, with high ceilings, marble fireplaces, and elaborate decor. However, due to its single level and much fewer rooms, it seems a more practical place for a king to live. During the French Revolution, the original furniture from Grand Trianon was stolen or destroyed. Most furniture in the palace today is from the early 1800’s, when Napoleon ordered the restoration of the palace.
The Bedroom of the Empress, pictured below, was once the bedroom of Louis XIV. Because Grand Trianon became a commonly used palace for Napoleon while he was emperor, his wife Marie-Louise, used this bedroom, giving it the new name of Bedroom of the Empress.
The Mirrors Salon, also pictured below, is said to be the finest room in the east wing of the palace. This room overlooks the Grand Canal and has floor-to-ceiling mirrors around the room. Louis XIV used this room as a meeting place for his council.
Architects and historians admire the refined craftsmanship and attention to detail here, both inside and outside the palace. It seems every small feature of the home has intricate carvings or embellishments. A few are pictured below:
Once a guard room and later a dining room, the Lord’s Antechamber showcases a red marble fireplace and contains paintings by Verdier and Houasse. Despite not having the original furnishings, the paintings in Grand Trianon are amazingly the originals. You can see some of the paintings in the photos below.
Of course, more rooms can be found within Grand Trianon. Only a sampling of rooms are featured in this post. You can also take small, guided tours through rooms closed to regular visitors. Follow this link to find out more information on guided tours of Grand Trianon.
After visiting the palace of Grand Trianon, be sure to visit the gardens as well. You’ll find them smaller than those of Versailles, with plenty of symmetry and detail, but not as much grandeur. Be sure to stop by and see the Buffet d’Eau, also know as the Cascade Fountain. This elaborate fountain was built in 1703 of various types of marble and finished with lead sculptures.
If you have young children, it’ll be nice for them to be unrestrained in the gardens. The walkways are large, the grounds are huge, and there are fountains, small ponds, and even an outdoor amphitheater to see. Hopefully you’re here to tour on a nice day to get a fulfilling experience out in the gardens.
Tips for Touring Grand Trianon
- Keep in mind the estate of Trianon doesn’t open until noon. My family and I were able to arrive at 9am, tour the Palace of Versailles and the gardens, and arrive at Grand Trianon around noon. Because Grand Trianon is in the outskirts of the Versailles grounds, I’m guessing half of the visitors don’t venture out that way. You likely won’t see as many crowds here, but remember the Trianon palaces are smaller. Fewer people can tour the rooms at a time. Come as close to opening as possible if you want the best experience at Grand Trianon.
- Wear good walking shoes. The grounds of Versailles are huge and wearing good shoes will ensure you have a good day visiting. It is about a mile walk from the Palace of Versailles to Grand Trianon. You can look into renting bikes, riding the little train, or renting golf carts for transport around the grounds. Find more information here.
- Download an audio tour if you’re interested in learning more about Grand Trianon. There is an official Versailles app at iTunes that includes tours of Grand Trianon and the gardens. Be sure to bring headphones to use while you listen.
- Bring water. Food and drinks are available but there aren’t a ton of options. Better to carry your own water so you have it when you need it. I’d recommend having your midday meal before heading out to the Trianon Estate. There are only a couple of places for snacks and drinks in that area.
- If you are visiting in the summer, be sure to bring sunscreen!
- If you’re traveling here in the summer, it doesn’t hurt to bring a light coat or sweater. Due to the large expanse of open area on the grounds, it can get a little breezy. Be sure to check the weather forecast before arriving.
- If you are visiting the Palace of Versailles and then spending the day on the rest of the grounds and at Trianon, I highly recommend you buy tickets online. This permits you to stand in the ‘palace entrance’ line, thus skipping another line where you first must purchase tickets. (One less line to stand in!) Go directly to Entrance A at the entrance to Versailles Palace if you’ve purchased tickets online.
I hope all of this information makes your trip to Versailles a well-informed one! Have you seen Grand Trianon? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments.
cover photo: en.chateauversailles.fr
sources: wikipedia.org, en.chateauversailles.fr