Even the Sun King himself sometimes tired of the over-the-top splendor he had created at Versailles. He heard Mass daily in his spectacular Royal Chapel, around 10:00.
I read somewhere that courtiers attending mass were seated such that they looked at the King in his elevated gallery. Right now I can’t verify that, but it makes some sense. The chapel was built and carefully decorated to celebrate the association between Louis XIV and his namesake, the only French king who became an actual saint: Louis IX, AKA St. Louis the Confessor.
Louis XIV was anything but saintly in his younger years. He built a smaller palace, the Grand Trianon, as a private retreat where he could take his mistresses and closest friends. It originally had a facade of blue and white porcelain tiles, following the rage for Delft tiles. But the tiles deteriorated quickly. The Grand Trianon was rebuilt in red marble. By the time it was finished, in 1688, the Sun King had repented of his wild youth and “secretly” married the Marquise de Maintenon.
Louis XV, the successor to the Sun King, built himself a smaller palace yet: the Petit Trianon. Not many tourists make the trek to see it.
Marie Antoinette famously frolicked with her friends in the Petit Trianon. It’s my personal favorite at Versailles.
Louis XIV ended up spending a lot of time away from Versailles altogether, once he had all his nobles gathered there where he could control them. Instead he went off to the absolutely charming chateau that he gave to the “secret” wife who tamed him in his old age.
It seems that even an absolute monarch with the world at his feet eventually can settle down. Madame de Maintenon came in for a lot of criticism for taking the King away from the goings-on at Versailles, but I like to think the two of them were very happy together.
I wrote about the beautiful Chateau de Maintenon in these previous posts: