Seventeen miles from Paris, and within the grounds of the Château de Versailles, Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle hotel offers views over the 1663 Le Vau Orangerie, the 3.7-acre Pièce d’Eau des Suisses, and the former de facto capital of France.
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“Indulge in an Opulent Marie-Antoinette-Style Stay at the Luxurious Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle“
Suite Necker Chambre
The sprawling palace outside of Paris, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, has had a long and illustrious history. Louis XIII built it as a hunting lodge in 1623. In 1682, Louis XIV expanded Versailles and moved the seat of his court and government there. After the French Revolution, between 1810 and 1814, it was Napoleon who used it as his summer residence. But it wasn’t until Louis XVI and his fourteen-year-old bride moved in, the Archduchess of Austria Marie-Antoinette, that it gained its notoriety.
These days, you too can revel in the opulent lifestyle of Marie-Antoinette (born Maria Antonia), explore her favourite places around the Château and gardens, and tour the palace like a VIP of the court.
Suite Necker freestanding tub
Unveiled in June 2021, Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is the first ever hotel set within the historic grounds of the Chateau de Versailles. Three buildings dating back to 1681 —Le Grand Contrôle, Le Petit Contrôle, and the Pavillon—were transformed by luxury hotel group Airelles to create this magnificent one-of-a-kind hotel.
With just 14 sumptuous rooms, each decked out in the 18th-century splendour of a bygone era, the hotel delivers all you need to feel like honorary member of the royal entourage.
The Royal Treatment
An attentive and dedicated Airelles butler will wake you in your royal bed chamber with citrus milk (Marie-Antonette’s favorite drink) before running your Carrara marble bath and leaving you to your gilded boudoir. Enjoy your continental breakfast of pastries, bread, fruit, cheese and tray loads more (feel free to make comments about the high cost of flour) in the Grand Cabinet while looking out over the Orangerie, then prepare to be wowed.
If you’ve been to Versailles, you know that entry queues can circle and snake for hours. But not as a guest of Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle.Thus, the royal treatment really begins when a guide offers hotel guests an exclusive our of Trianon before it opens to the public.
The Petit Trianon was originally built at the request of Madame de Pompadour, a favorite ‘friend’ of King Louis XIV. It was inaugurated in 1769. But the building reached the height of its use during the second half of the 18th century, when Louis XVI presented it as a gift to Marie-Antoinette in 1774. It’s said she often took refuge here to escape the pomp of court life, and also lived here in her latter years.
The subterranean Valmont Spa is exceptional in every way. From the the statues and hand-painted frescos around the 15-metre pool to the seriously divine signature Beauty Secrets of Marie-Antoinette session and Sun King massage in Marie-Antoinette cabin. Even if you don’t indulge in a spa treatment, make sure to take time to savour the calm of the space, settled on one of the velour relaxation beds around the pool, or disappear in and out of the suana and hammam.
The Royal Treatment, Part II
Le Grand Contrôle
Prior to a “Délices de Marie-Antoinette” afternoon tea, check out the magnificent period outfits of Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle. You can even try them on, and in fact are encouraged to get dressed up in flirty costumes down to petticoats and pastel silk shoes, then have your hair done (think ear a three-foot high “pouf” wig) in a style that would make the King and Queen (and Instagram) proud.
Wide-hooped panniers are frowned upon and a rustic “robe à la polonaise” and “chemise Gaulle” ( made from imported Indian, not Lyonaise silk) are recommended as on-point.
The decadent afternoon tea pays homage to the young queen, with ‘friends of Marie-Antoinette” dressed and willing to impart their courtly wisdom while you snack on tiers of sweet and savoury delicacies, macarons from Ladurée, and hot chocolate scented with orange blossom, Marie-Antionette’s favorite, among other delights.
For dinner, Alain Ducasse’s nine-course Sun King Grand Siècle feast is served on the finest vintage Limoges crockery, identical to those made in Sèvres for the Palais des Tuileries, in a majestic room overlooking the Orangerie Gardens.
But before the multi-course odyssey begins, guests are invited on another away-from-the-crowds tour of some of the 7000 rooms and 2000 windows of the now French Republic-owned Chateau de Versailles, which was a royal residence until 1789. It’s a highlight of any stay at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle and complimentary to Le Grand Contrôle guests. It’s not often you find yourself nearly alone in the 578-mirrored Baroque 1686 Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, or wandering through Marie-Antoinette’s Private Chambers, or in Louis XIV’s throne room. Although there will be no opera performances at Mique’s 1630s Queen’s Theatre, you can also tour the 800-hectare (2000-acre ) grounds, parterres, flowerbeds, fifty fountains, three hundred statues, and Lake of Neptune.
The Takeaway from Airelles Chateau de Versailles
A stay at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is over the top luxurious.
From the setting to the service to the rare behind-the-scenes look at one of France’s most touristed attractions, you’ll find a pinch-me moment around every gilded turn. Then, when you wake up from the Marie-Antoinette-inspired dream, a private car will take whisk you back to the airport and to reality, which is much better than to the guillotine.
Airelles has other elegant properties in Gordes, Saint-Tropez, Val d’Isère and Courchevel.
BeSeeingYou In: Versailles
Good to know: At the time of the palace’s construction, Venice had a monopoly on mirror making. To combat this, Venetian artisans were lured to France
WOW! Factor: Everything used to construct and decorate the palace was created in France
Tip: It’s an easy ride on RER line C from Paris to Versailles. Exit at the Chateau Rive Gauche train station at Versailles
Author bio: Kevin Pilley