Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Staircases: Ground Floor

1) The Queen's Staircase

The Queen's Marble Staircase is also known simply as the Marble Staircase. When you reach the top of the Marble Staircase you will enter the Queen's Guards' Room and thus enter her apartments. The staircase derives its name from the incredible amounts of marble that went into the building of the staircase. Beautifully gilded reliefs of bronze has been added above the doors - one of them is adorned with two sphinxes and dates back to 1681. Golden engravings continue all the way near the ceiling and includes the arms of France flanked by palm leaves and the iconic fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy. Red, white and black marble has been used to make out the foundation of the staircase. Occasionally pilasters are crowned with golden tops.

A large painting by Jean Belin, Blain de Fourtenay, Meusnier Philippe and Poerson Charles-François. Remarkably enough two false doors has been added to create the much sought after symmetry - both doors are made of glass. One of the main "attractions" of the room is the golden sculpture on the landing of the first floor. Two large intertwined L's adorns a shield topped with a crown and flanked by olive branches; the shield is carried by two cherubs. On the first floor three large windows illuminates the staircase.

When Versailles was stormed in 1789 the infuriated peasants ran up the Queen's Marble Staircase and gained access to the Queen's Guards' Room.

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de la reine

2) The Fleury Staircase

Named after the Cardinal Fleury who was tutor to Louis XV the Fleury Staircase connects the Queen's apartment on the first floor with the private apartment of the Dauphine. The staircase will soon only be a memory of the past since it has been scheduled to be demolished to make room for air vents. 

Rez de chaussée - Aile centrale - Escalier - 57d Escalier Fleury

Photos by Christophe Duarte

3) The Billiard Staircase

The Billiard Staircase is well hidden away, tucked in as it is between three of the Dauphin's most used chambers and several of the private ones - consequently there are no windows so all lighting would have been by candlelight. The style follows the same simplicity used for the other private staircases.

Billedresultat for versailles escalier de billard

4) The Staircase of the Dupes
Marie Antoinette would use this particular staircase to reach her bathroom on the ground floor from her small apartments on the first one. The staircase is made of stone and is still hidden behind the panels. It is one of the many personal staircases that were not to be used by the public and has not been decorated accordingly - this one has bare stone walls and resembles more something from a medieval castle.

Billedresultat for escalier des dupes

5) The Semi-Circular Staircase of the Dauphin

The Dauphin's private staircase is uncommonly plain considering that it was made for the most important member of the royal family save the King. The staircase actually opens up unto to Antechamber of the l'Oeuil de Bouef which meant that the Dauphin could get directly to his father/grand-father if he needed to.

6) The Water Carriers' Staircase
Given the name and the proximity to the Queen's bathrooms it is likely that these stairs were used by the servants who carried the water to the royal bathtubs.

Billedresultat for escalier des porteurs d'eau

7) The Semi-Circular Staircase

Not much of interest can be said about this staircase except for the fact that it connects the King's private apartment on the first floor with a corridor connecting to the apartments of Mesdames Tantes on one side and the vestibule on the other. It looks out onto the Courtyard of the Stags.

Billedresultat for escalier semi circulaire versailles

8) The Staircase of the King

The King's Staircase was created in 1754 and in order to make room for it the cabinet des Coquilles was removed completely. It is located in the midst of the King's private apartments which makes it possible that it was for his use only - after all who would dare to use the King's private staircase without permission? Also - quite conveniently - the staircase leads up to the second floor where it opens up into Madame du Barry's apartments. The style looks as if it has been taken straight from the Petit Trianon of Marie Antoinette, so perhaps the Austrian Queen got some inspiration there? The staircase has a view of the Courtyard of the Stags.

9) The Epermon Staircase

The Epermon Staircase leads from the first floor - with direct access from the King's private chambers - to the second floor where it leads out into Madame du Barry's chambers. The staircase is designed with the characteristic simplicity that implies that it would not have been used by other than the King and his most intimate relations - notice that the steps themselves are made of wood rather than stone as is otherwise the norm.

Rez de chaussée - Aile centrale - Escalier - 82b Escalier d'Epermon

10) The Louis-Philippe Staircase

The Louis Philippe Staircase is of a simple construction compared to other staircases that can be found in the palace. The floor's pattern changes between black and white square tiles; this pattern is continued on both levels of the staircase. The surrounding walls are made of green and grey marble. It has been named after Louis Philippe who became King of the French in 1830 with the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. The sky-light lets in light through most of the day; otherwise there are the two standing candlesticks.

View from the bottom of the staircase

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