“100 Days at the Palace of Versailles”, on C8: Palace of the Sun King behind the scenes

“100 Days at the Palace of Versailles” (2022) Francois Barre.


For these few hundred workers, going to work is not necessarily as important as it is for millions of others. Highly skilled, deeply passionate, they develop in the unusual setting of the Palace of Versailles and its estate located in Yvelines.

On its 660 hectares and 84,000 works of art, there is no shortage of challenges. From the refurbishment of the royal suites to meticulous gardening, including sourcing original aerial footage, protecting statues, setting the time to 156 hours and the pendulums of the estate, carefully monitoring film sets, to art programs programmed into this luxurious setting…

Not forgetting the reinstallation of works transferred to other institutions, which must be carried out without the slightest incident. Which, in the case of Jacques-Louis David’s Bonaparte Crossing the Grande Saint-Bernard (1800-1803), seems like a delicate mission: the painting (2.60m high and 2.20m) was on loan from the Louvre Abu- Dabi for four years. Back in Versailles, he is the subject of everyone’s attention, from specialized movers to a curator checking the smallest details before giving the green light to hang the work.

Work is as important as it is overlooked

Away from the crowds of visitors – averaging 7.5 million people a year – this documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at this universe, talking to those who bring it to life and fight to keep it in good condition: gardeners, artists, curators, photographers . , watchmakers, craftsmen, upholsterers, sculptors, specialized technicians…

Since 1833, and the decision made by Louis Philippe, “citizen of the king”, to make Versailles a historical museum, the estate has continued to live far from the frozen image that this mythical place sometimes has.

Who knows, for example, the as important as the unknown work of the eight fountains? From swimming pools to fountains and waterfalls (fifty-five in all), repairing 35 km of pipes, collecting water from the Royal Hamlet lake to pour it into the Grand Canal, monitoring two large reservoirs, they make it possible to offer public water games that since the end of the 17th crowds have been enchanted for centuries.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Legacy: The Palace of Versailles is undergoing a revolution

In Versailles, you have to constantly defend yourself. In particular, 824 sculptures made of lead, marble or bronze, exposed to the street and suffering from wind, sand, water, sun and pollution. Solution ? Winter covers are made to order, and for the most fragile, head to a magical place: the Sculpture Gallery, located in the small royal stable. Original works are replaced with replicas so well done that the public doesn’t notice.

“100 Days at the Palace of Versailles” by François Barré (French, 2022, 105 min.).

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