To mark 50 years since the restoration of Grand Trianon in 1966, and following the success of the exhibition titled "The Grand Trianon, from Louis XIV to Charles de Gaulle" in 2015, This summer a new exhibition will showcase the Grand Trianon as a Palace of the French Republic during the presidency of General de Gaulle.
In 1963, upon the initiative of André Malraux, General de Gaulle decided to fully restore and refurnish the Grand Trianon to turn it into a presidential home. Major modernisation work was carried out between January 1963 and June 1966 in order to receive foreign heads of State on official visits and host them in a setting worthy of the splendour of France.
The Trianon-sous-Bois wing was fully refurnished in the Imperial style and was made private, a space for living and working reserved for the President of the French Republic, while foreign heads of State were accommodated in the opposite wing of the building. Guests were received in the large rooms in Trianon and in the Cotelle Gallery. .
Since the beginning of the Fifth French Republic various famous guests have been welcomed in the Grand Trianon, including the American President Richard Nixon in 1969, Elizabeth II Queen of England in 1972, President of Russia Boris Yeltsin in 1992, and, more recently in 2014, Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China, during his official visit to France.
The exhibition will propose to bring back to life this decisive yet unfamiliar period in the history of the Grand Trianon.
Visitors will discover what went on behind the scenes at the time of General de Gaulle's decision, and follow the execution of this huge restoration and renovation project, started in 1963 and led by Marc Saltet (Head Architect and Curator at the Estate of Versailles), Gérald Van Der Kemp (Head Curator at the Estate of Versailles), Jean Coural (Administrator at the Mobilier National) and Serge Royaux (Decorator at the Mobilier National). Part of the exhibition will also be given over to the perception of the arrival of the Presidency of the Republic in Trianon in the public and political spheres. Lastly, visitors will discover the ins and outs of the organisation process for the four official visits which took place during General de Gaulle's presidency. Archive documents, some of which have never been displayed before, including cabinet notes, speeches, press cuttings and architects' sketches, as well as videos and photographs will plunge visitors into the buzzing world of the Grand Trianon in the 1960s.
As they continue through the exhibition, visitors will discover, for the first time, the apartments of General de Gaulle, refurnished for the occasion by the Mobilier National as they were in 1966. Situated on the ground floor, they include seven rooms: a waiting room, an Ushers' Room, two aide-de-camp offices, General de Gaulle's office, a family lounge and a dining room. They will also be able to enter the huge kitchens built in the basement to cater for official receptions.
The exhibition will celebrate 50 years since this exemplary restoration work and will remind visitors of the key role played by the Palace of Versailles in French diplomatic relations.