A room in Chateau du Versailles where people actually lived.

Long, long ago, far, far away, when we used to be able to go to the Chateau du Versailles, we usually exhausted ourselves the miles of gardens. Inside the vast chateau we usually only saw the grand rooms of parade, where formal court life was theatrically enacted. The crush of tourists pre-Covid shows pretty much what Versailles life was like. The palace was filled with aristocrats, politicians, servants bureaucrats, and any stray peasant who could rent a sword and hat at the gate. Hardly anyone, now as then, gets to see the residential apartments where people actually lived. Even the king had low ceilings and often small rooms so they could easily be heated. This room is the major room or salon of the "Prime Minister". We usually have both commodes (grand chests of drawers) and chairs very similar to what you see here. Often they are by the same makers who made for the Royal Court. (Photo by Christophe D)


The apartment of Madame de Pompadour is my favourite, with its bathroom with hot and cold running water and two bathtubs (now vanished). The lift she used to take up to her apartment still exists but was moved to Fontainebleau long ago. There was much bickering between her and the king about the flush toilet, which the king was eventually embarrassed into having plumbed in for her. Most contemporary Australians could have lived in comfort in her apartment in 1745, especially now we know there are alternatives to toilet paper.

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