It is indeed a rare occasion when humble citizens such as ourselves get an opportunity to live like royalty and wake up to views that would accommodate the lavish tastes of Louis XIV, King of France.
France’s Palace of Versailles, the definition and benchmark for European 18th-century splendour, is set to witness the opening of Le Grand Contrôle – an ultra-luxe boutique property with 14 rooms & suites, Haute-gastronomy restaurant, Valmont spa and 49-foot indoor swimming pool within the famous grounds very soon.
Le Grand Contrôle will take up three buildings of the Palace section designed by Jules-Hardouin Mansart, a French Baroque architect and builder whose monumental work was intended to glorify the reign of Louis XIV of France.
Le Grand Contrôle Versailles
The opportunity here is for us to explore the soul of France and the illustrious home of Louis XIV, while staying at the only hotel to operate from the Palace of Versailles. It is as if France’s royal family has invited us to stay in one of the most prestigious monuments ever created.
This extraordinary establishment invites us to step into another world and immerse ourselves in the life of the court of the French royal family during the Enlightenment. The historically accurate, restored decor allows us to fall into Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s reign, when the glamour of Versailles was renowned around Europe, and the royal court was a glittering, unparalleled centre of brilliance and beauty.
The ultra-exclusive Grand Contrôle will have direct access to the Orangerie and the Pièce d’Eau des Suisses. This new ”old” hotel is a stone’s throw from the world-famous Hall of Mirrors and the French gardens steeped in French history.
To ensure that 18th-century ambience is true to the spirit, all modern technology is hidden away from view. For instance, telephones etc. have been kept out of sight, in case the spirit of Louis XIV comes floating by for inspection! The suites come with an absence of television however are amply decorated with antiques, art and artefacts from the 1700s.
The Uniqueness Of Airelles Hotels
Under LOV Hotel Collection’s umbrella, Airelles has created a handful of one-of-a-kind properties that whisks visitors away to another era. With cookie-cutter hotels operating globally, Airelles is all about exceptional, wonderfully unconventional properties.
The four properties in the portfolio include the magic of an Austro-Hungarian palace in Les Airelles in Courchevel, the irresistible charm of a stately French home in the 18th century at La Bastide in Gordes, the splendour of castle life in Ramatuelle at the Chateau de La Messardière St. Tropez and the grandeur of a medieval citadel on the slopes for Mademoiselle in Val d’Isere.
The ultra-luxe boutique hotel is exclusive with just five guest rooms, nine suites, Spa Valmont, an indoor pool and an Alain Ducasse restaurant. Private guided tours through the castle and the Petit Trianon offer unparalleled historical immersion. The experience of staying in the footsteps of royalty comes with a tiny price tag of €1,300 a night.
Haute Gastronomy at Versailles
Versailles is home to Alain Ducasse’s fine dining restaurant and café. Alain Ducasse enjoys legendary status in the world of gastronomy, being only one of two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars throughout his career.
During the day ‘ore’ is an elegant French-style café, open to all visitors in a prestigious setting. By night, Ducasse au château de Versailles opens on private hire only to become the stage for grand dinners and exclusive events inspired by the Royal court.
At the table, French haute cuisine, inspired by recipes from the past, is interpreted here with boldness and modernity. “In this unique setting, I wanted guests to dine as in the time of the King. French cuisine with a contemporary touch, but whose inspiration draws from the food served at the time. More than a meal, this is an experience,” Alain Ducasse said.
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Places to Stay when at Versailles
As of date, within the grounds of the Palace, only the Airelles Le Grand Contrôle is slated to open soon. Within the city of Versailles, stay at the Waldorf Astoria’s Trianon Palace, open since 2009. The luxury hotel built in 1907 boasts Palace views is tucked between the Palace of Versailles and the Grand Trianon, amid centuries-old trees and rolling gardens.
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Things To See & Do At Versailles
The key landmark in the city is the Palace of Versailles. Opulence, grandeur and elegance are the Palace’s definition, adorned with gold, crystal, precious gems and beautiful fabrics. The Gardens of Versailles accompany the beautiful Palace covering 800 hectares of land with sculptures, manicured lawns and grand fountains. The Gardens gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1979.
Other landmarks to visit are the Grand Trianon, Royal Opera of Versailles, Versailles Cathedral, Hall of Mirrors, Royal Chapel, Notre-Dame de Versailles and Petit Trianon.
The city of Versailles, beyond the Palace, is a beautiful city with a charming centre and grand, royal planted avenues. The city has five food markets, including the covered Halles Notre-Dame. The National Equestrian Academy is a unique school and performs shows by horsemen and is famous throughout the country.
The city is becoming a magnet for food lovers as it’s eateries gain attention. Gordon Ramsay’s au Trianon at the Waldorf Astoria is a two Michelin stars holder, offering exquisite French cuisine. At the Waldorf, La Veranda provides a diverse menu, including a detox menu and a good option of healthy foods. ◼
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© This article was first published online in Feb 2021 – World Travel Magazine.