Thursday, March 18 at 12:00 p.m.
$8 Members / $15 Non-members
Online via Zoom • in English
12:00 p.m. (Chicago) • 1:00 p.m. (Miami) • 7:00 p.m. (Paris)
Our series inviting you to visit ten Grands Châteaux live from France continues! Today Russell Kelley explores the magnificent Château de Versailles of le Roi-Soleil, whose design inspired palaces built across Europe, in the company of its chief heritage curator Bertrand Rondot.
Louis XIV built the Château de Versailles, 12 miles southwest of Paris, between 1664 and 1715. He employed Louis Le Vau as architect (succeeded by Jules Hardouin-Mansart), Charles Le Brun as decorator, and André Le Nôtre as landscape architect, all of whom had worked at Vaux-le-Vicomte for Nicolas Fouquet. From 1682 until the Revolution, Versailles was the residence of the Court and the seat of government. It is the largest and most sumptuous of the French châteaux. Before the Revolution the park of the Château de Versailles covered nearly 20,000 acres (versus 13,000 acres at Chambord); it now covers 2,000 acres. The château itself covers 680,000 square feet divided into 2,300 rooms. In 1837, King Louis-Philippe transformed part of the palace into a museum dedicated to French history, which now includes 1,000 rooms. The Château de Versailles is notable for the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Opera, and the royal apartments; the more intimate royal residences of the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon; the rustic Hameau (Hamlet) created for Marie-Antoinette; and the vast gardens with fountains, canals, and geometric flower beds laid out by Le Nôtre. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Bertrand Rondot has been Chief Heritage Curator at the Château de Versailles since 2011. Among other works, he is co-author of Visitors to Versailles: From Louis XIV to the French Revolution (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018).
A board member of the Alliance Française Miami Metro, Russell Kelley is the curator and moderator of the lecture series on the Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France. He is author of The Making of Paris: The Story of How Paris Evolved from a Fishing Village into the World’s Most Beautiful City, to be published by Globe Pequot Press in March 2021. He has lived in France for nearly 30 years and has visited every château featured in this series many times since his first visit to the Loire Valley 50 years ago.
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This program is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française Miami Metro with communication support from the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, the French Heritage Society, and WICE - Paris.
Through our Entrée Libre initiative, free admission to this program is offered to students enrolled in French Studies in universities and French schools in Chicago and the Midwest. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.