One of the famous day trips from Paris is visiting the Palace of Versailles. This magnificent palace truly represents the grandeur of the French monarchy. But tucked away in the vast gardens of this iconic palace lies a hidden gem: the Grand Trianon. In this in-depth guide, we’ll look into the secrets of this elegant retreat and whether it’s worth visiting.
What is the Grand Trianon?
The Grand Trianon is a stunning palace located within the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This pink marble palace, often called the “Marble Trianon,” is a masterpiece of classical architecture by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
It was commissioned by King Louis XIV in 1670 and was built in 1687 as a private escape from the formalities of the main palace and to pursue his affair with Madame de Montespan.
Château Versailles even shared that “Grand Trianon is perhaps the most refined architectural ensemble found on the royal estate of Versailles.” And we actually agree. Too bad, it’s often missed.
What can you see in the Grand Trianon?
Visiting the Grand Trianon is like stepping into a world of refined elegance. As you enter this palace, you’ll notice that the chambers are less extravagant than those in the Palace of Versailles and yet, equally beautiful. We even felt like this was just the “enough” grandeur we wanted to see in a palace.
With almost no crowd, you can explore the palace at your own relaxing pace. This is why we actually find Grand Trianon more inviting. It allowed us to fully experience the place without the rush or the feeling that we just wanted to get it done.
Just like the main palace, you’ll explore lavishly decorated chambers starting with the Empress’ apartments. The apartments are adorned with period furniture, porcelain, and paintings that reflect the artistic tastes of the time.
As you exit the Empress’ apartments, you’ll see the distinct marble columns and the first site of Trianon’s garden.
The king closely monitored the progress of the construction and personally oversaw the creation of the Peristyle. However, the Grand Trianon’s colonnade is actually mislabeled as a ‘Peristyle’.
A Peristyle typically refers to a row of columns encircling a building or courtyard. Despite this, the name chosen during Louis XIV’s reign has persisted. This magnificent colonnade contributes to the Grand Trianon’s defining characteristic of light and transparency, seamlessly connecting the courtyard and the gardens.
As you continue to the other side of Peristyle, you’ll lead into the State Apartments. You’ll see some interesting rooms here like a music room converted into a billiard room by Napoleon and a yellow family room with game tables! Truly, relaxation is the theme of Grand Trianon.
Looking for more hidden gems in Paris? Here’s the complete list.
What was the purpose of the Grand Trianon?
The Grand Trianon served as a place of relaxation and solitude for the French monarchs. Here, they could escape the rigid etiquette of the main palace and enjoy more intimate moments with their closest companions. The picturesque gardens surrounding the palace offered a serene backdrop for leisurely walks.
This is the same charm that captivated us. After the grandeur (and crowds) in the Palace of Versailles, Grand Trianon gave us the refreshing break (even relief) we needed. We could definitely understand why the royalty required it!
Who built the Grand Trianon?
The Grand Trianon was designed by the brilliant architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. It’s a testament to his skill and vision that this palace remains an architectural marvel.
How much is the Grand Trianon Ticket?
General admission to the Grand Trianon is €12 per person. This is also included in the Paris Museum Pass, which gives you access to most museums and other attractions in Paris. We used our Paris Pass to enter both the Palace of Versailles and the Estate of Trianon.
PRO TIP: Even if you can get free access to the main palace and Estate of Trianon for free, you still need to book your free visit here.
Completing the Estate of Trianon: Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet
Located within the magnificent Palace of Versailles complex, the Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet are two charming retreats with their own unique stories. The Petit Trianon is a neoclassical palace, while the Queen’s Hamlet is a rustic village built for Queen Marie Antoinette. These picturesque sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of French royalty during the late 18th century.
Exploring the Petit Trianon: A Royal Residence
The Petit Trianon is a delightful palace nestled in its own private garden. Commissioned by King Louis XV for his mistress Madame de Pompadour and later gifted to Queen Marie Antoinette, it was designed as a place of relaxation and escape from the rigors of court life. The neoclassical architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens make it a serene and elegant destination.
Queen’s Hamlet: A Charming Village
The Queen’s Hamlet is located just a short walk from the Petit Trianon. This old village shows a striking contrast to the formal luxury of the Palace of Versailles.
Queen Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution, envisioned a small town (aka hamlet) where she could experience the simple joys of country life. To realize her dream, she created a charming village, complete with rustic cottages, a lake, and a fully functioning farm.
Strolling through the Queen’s Hamlet, you’ll encounter picturesque cottages with thatched roofs, a mill, and even a farm. It’s a place where the queen and her closest companions could play as shepherdesses and milkmaids, contrasting the grandeur of the main palace.
Today, the Queen’s Hamlet is a delightful open-air museum that transports visitors back to the romanticized vision of rural life that captivated the queen.
The Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet offer a more intimate perspective on the lives of French royalty and the idyllic escapes they created. Exploring these enchanting sites allows you to step into the world of tranquility that charmed royalty.
Is Grand Trianon worth visiting?
Grand Trianon is worth visiting with some important notes to consider. Firstly, if you’re visiting Grand Trianon or the Estate of Trianon collectively with the Palace of Versailles, spend a day in the area. Start your morning at the main palace, and then dedicate the rest of the day (and your energy) to exploring the Estate of Trianon. Oh, and take the mini-trains if you can’t handle long walks.
Secondly, if you want a relaxing and refreshing visit to the Trianons and the main palace, consider staying in the area. Spend a day at the main chateau and half at the Trianons. This way, you can enjoy a serene nature walk to the entrance of the Grand Trianon. We cherished this French scenery so much!
So, if you’re planning a trip to Versailles, don’t forget to explore the Grand Trianon. It’s a chance to step back in time and experience the grandeur of the French monarchy in an intimate and more relaxing setting. With its relaxing atmosphere, does Grand Trianon appeal to you?