(Paris) The Palace of Versailles, one of the most visited sites in France, celebrates its 400th anniversary and continues to open its restored history to the public, who will soon have access to the private apartments of Marie-Antoinette and a gallery of completely revamped story.

If the beginning of the construction of the castle on an area of ​​800 hectares dates back to September 1623 and an order from Louis XIII wishing to develop a small hunting lodge, this date remains “symbolic”, told AFP Catherine Pegard, president of the castle and estate since 2011.

“This anniversary aims above all to express the continuity of the history of Versailles during these 400 years and to show that not only has it not stopped, but that we continue to open it, to restore it, to do so to live, a common thread that has never ceased to accompany the history of France,” she adds.

Latest “nugget” to date which will open to the public on June 27: the private apartments of Queen Marie-Antoinette, 100 m2 of refinement located on two floors, where the Queen rested from the court, received her children and a circle of selected friends. They complete the restorations of the Trianon and the Queen’s Hamlet, dedicated to the sovereign.

This renovation also gives a “new understanding of history, with this paradox between public life and private life, etiquette and intimacy, an extraordinary summary of history in a few square meters”, underlines Ms.

Bedrooms, boudoir, library and billiard room – a game that the court loved since Louis XIV – become a company lounge constitute this intimate universe. Marie-Antoinette accessed it through a door hidden in the hangings of her official bedroom.

It is from this “refuge” that the queen will flee, before being arrested during the French Revolution.

In September, on the occasion of European Heritage Days, the castle will also open the gallery of its history, restored with a dozen rooms completely redesigned, refurnished and modernized thanks to digital technologies. It “brings the collections into perspective chronologically” and is suitable for all audiences, according to Ms.

“At Versailles, it never ends,” she says, assuming a “strategy of never giving up on doing work since she became aware of the delay for decades.”

However, she refuses to give an overall estimate of the cost of the work carried out under her presidency, which has been extended for months and for which she is acting on her own.

She recognizes the importance of private, French and international sponsorship, but says she has to “convince him”, because “he does not sign a blank check”.

Among the restorations that have already taken place, she cites “the Water Buffet”, a fountain highlighted thanks to a new route in the gardens of the Trianon and which had “not been restored for 130 years”.

She also mentions the Dauphin’s apartments, which “allowed to open up the ground floor of the castle”, or the apartments of Madame Du Barry, Louis XV’s last favorite, which “show another side of history, the lives of royal mistresses”.

Under his presidency, more than 10,000 m2 were opened to the public and restored, including the Jeu de Paume room, an emblematic place of the French Revolution.

As for her personal future, after three successive terms under three presidents – Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron – she “does not comment”.

“I am acting in the interim that has been entrusted to me (since October 2022, editor’s note) with all the work that is mine day after day and which has not changed,” she said.

The Palace of Versailles welcomed nearly 7 million visitors (visits to the palace and shows) in 2022, i.e. 16% less than in 2019 (8.2 million).