Weird History

What Was It Really Like To Live At Versailles?

During its heyday from 1682 to 1789, Versailles wasn’t just a palace - it was the center of France’s royal world. French royals, nobles, and state officials lived together in the sprawling palace complex. But despite the regal setting, everyday life for courtiers at Versailles was often stressful, regimented, and surprisingly unsanitary.

The palace of Versailles was King Louis XIV’s pet project. Before it was the center of French court and state life, Versailles was a simple - albeit regal - hunting lodge outside of Paris. As a young man, Louis transformed the site into a palace fit for a Sun King and moved his court and government offices there in 1682.

Life at Versailles wasn’t always easy for nobles. Everyone who lived there had to participate in an elaborate system of weird etiquette rules aimed at establishing the king as an all-powerful monarch and his courtiers as obliging servants.

Versailles, its elaborate rituals, and its community of courtiers outlived Louis XIV. His successors - Louis XV followed by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette - continued to lord over the palace until the French Revolution dramatically ended the royal world in the late 1700s.