The staircases of the King’s private apartments (le Petit appartement du roi) have a complicated history.
The original staircase was the famous Ambassador’s Staircase. It was so grand that Louis XIV used to receive ambassador’s and foreign dignitaries on it. Later, in the reign of Louis XV, it was also the venue for Mme de Pompadour’s theatre, which was made of wood and could be assembled and dis-assembled on demand.
In 1754, wishing to create a suite of rooms for his daughter Mme Adélaïde, Louis ordered this grand staircase to be demolished.
This left his private staircase in the private apartments as the only major staircase on the north side of the Cour de marbre. The private staircase was known as le degré du roi.
After the Revolution, the Château was left empty, indeed it was actively emptied of all its furnishings, until King Louis-Philippe (r. 1830-1848) decided to turn it into a museum. His interventions were destructive. Most of the apartments of the princes and courtiers were demolished to make way for the history galleries of the new museum. Fortunately, the state apartments and the king’s and queen’s rooms were largely spared Louis-Philippe’s attentions. He did, however, make one useful addition: he built the last of the staircases of the King’s private apartments. In his honour, it’s still known at the Louis-Philippe Staircase (l’escalier de Louis-Philippe).
It was constructed in 1837, the same year that the museum opened. Though somewhat anachronistic in style, it’s nonetheless handsome and suitably grand. Why anachronistic? One of its principal features is a skylight, which was a decidedly 19th century innovation. However, the added light is welcome!
Today the Louis-Philippe Staircase is the main staircase on the north side of the Cour de marbre, and it’s the one that you exit the King’s private apartments from at the end of your tour of them. Otherwise, it remains roped off.
I hope you’ve found this article about the staircases of the King’s private apartments informative. To read more about the King’s private apartments, please check out the earlier 2-part series of posts.
Part 1 is here: http://versaillescentury.com/2016/09/02/versailles-a-visit-to-the-kings-private-apartments-part-1/#more-136.
And Part 2 is here: http://versaillescentury.com/2016/09/05/versailles-visit-private-apartments-part-2/#more-167.