After taking a moment to marvel at the Hall of Mirrors, visitors are invited to enter yet another high-ranking Palace room, the King’s bedchambers, located within the private royal apartments. These rooms are sumptuously decorated and their walls have witness history.
The King’s bedchambers were not only a place for rest. They were also the setting for important Palace ceremonies. Each day, it was here that the king had his waking (lever) and retiring (coucher) ceremonies, accompanied by his courtiers. He would also take his private meals, known as Petits Couverts, in these chambers. Being invited to be present during one of these ceremonies in the king’s bedchambers was such a privilege that it was cause for rivalry between members of royalty.
As a matter of respect, the queen could not enter the king’s bedchambers. To see her, he would visit her adjoining apartment.
The bedchamber’s decor is truly fit for a king. Its furniture is opulent and overelaborated with gilding. In the center is a monumental canopy of drapes, which protected the ruler from cold. The top of the bed is adorned with four bouquets of white ostrich feathers, a luxury product reserved only for the royal couple.
A gilded railing stops visitors from reaching the bed and used to sanctify the king’s own space. Courtiers who were invited to attend the lever or the coucher of the king were not allowed to cross it.
Above the fireplace stands a bust of Louis XIV sculpted by Antoine Coysevox.
The bedchamber is the central room of the king’s apartment. To get there, visitors cross through the bull’s eye antechamber, which served as a vestibule during lever and coucher ceremonies.
Passing through the bedchamber of the king of Versailles, visitors reach the council chamber, where the king worked and gathered with his ministers.
Under the reign of Louis XIV, the king’s private apartment changed appearance many times, at the whim of the monarch’s taste. The Sun King died in this bedchamber on September 1, 1715, at the age of 77. During the 18th century, the chamber was occupied by his successors, Louis XV and Louis XVI, but these heirs neither liked nor disliked the room. They did not hold the lever and coucher ceremonies, and preferred to sleep in the adjoining room, which was smaller and more comfortable. On October 6, 1789, it was from this chamber’s window that the royal family fled as they left the palace for Paris.
In the Versailles king’s bedchamber and within the hallways of the royal apartments, it is not uncommon for rumors to escalate, shaping the course of France’s great History.
A visit to the King’s bedchambers is included in a tour of the king’s state apartments. The rooms are accessible at the end of the Hall of Mirrors.